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‘Joker’

Been a little busy as you may have heard, so just now seeing this. I’ve heard every reaction, positive and negative to this film, and in a way, I think everyone is right.

My thoughts:

First, what I liked. Joaquin is definitely different (enough) to me than what everyone else has done. So that’s a win. I don’t know how much I buy the laugh as a disability, but I did like the mental illness angle to a point. The fears of creating a new real life madman (any more than anything else) may have been a bit overblown, but watching this did make me think of ‘Fight Club’ in a good way. (I’m a fan of that movie and didn’t think this one was on that level but same ‘angry loner’ vibe.) The nods and twists to the Batman mythology we all know I really liked. Won’t spoil them here for my friends who haven’t seen it yet but I definitely liked how they took advantage of the lack of an established Joker origin. And Bob. DeNiro playing off one of his old iconic roles was a nice touch that didn’t feel overly forced to me.

On the flip side, I don’t feel like I saw a great film because it never fully committed to any of the points it was making. When I was ready to go all in on the mental health angle we had to spend time with Thomas Wayne. When we were digging deeper into the Thomas Wayne angle it became about his dream of being a stand up comedian. All interesting plots that mostly come together. Maybe too many stories?

Joaquin will probably be one of the five when nominations start rolling around. His performance wasn’t the problem. We’ll find out sooner as opposed to later.

HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA – NOVEMBER 07: (L-R) Vishnu Vallabhaneni, Lena Waithe and Malik Aziz attend the AT&T Filmmaker Mentorship Program Premiere at NeueHouse Los Angeles on November 07, 2019 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Michael Kovac/Getty Images for AT&T Filmmaker Mentorship Program)

‘1 Out of 30’

Written by Malik Aziz

Directed by Vishnu Vallabhaneni

Produced by Lena Waithe and Rishi Rajani

An AT&T Hello Lab Short Film

Enjoy.

Saying ‘Eddie Murphy is back’ is a little insulting, but I think it’s fair to say ‘Dolemite Is My Name’ definitely leans as far into R rated Eddie Murphy as we’ve seen in a long time.

Based on the come up of Rudy Ray Moore, ‘Dolemite is My Name’ on paper feels like a traditional ‘A Star is Born’ rags to riches story. But how many movies have you really seen that takes you into the chitlin circuit (the stand up road tour for black stand up comics)? How many movies have this cast list: Eddie, Chris Rock, Snoop Dogg, Titus Burgess, Mike Epps, Craig Robinson, and Wesley Snipes just off the top of my head? What about the meta irony of ‘I know there’s an audience for my movie but I don’t know how to get it to them? (wayyyyyyy before Netflix was a thing). This is a fun time capsule movie for that reason alone.

As long as you know what you’re getting into (the language and themes), definitely worth seeing. ESPECIALLY if you kind of know what you’re getting into.

Recommend.

So, for those who missed the post yesterday or just want to see it on its own, here’s the trailer for ‘1 Out of 30’, the short I wrote for the AT&T Hello Lab Mentorship Program.

Trailers can overhype or oversell the wrong things to pull you in, but bias aside, this one is pretty accurate in teasing what’s coming to you in a couple of weeks.

Enjoy!

Two weeks from now, ‘1/30’ goes live to the world.

Here’s a roundtable that got the class back together to introduce you all to the trailers for each of the short films.

Part of a special group, have a special mentor, in a special moment.

Enjoy!

Episode 7 of the behind the scenes making of the AT&T shorts takes you to the set of ‘Postmarked’. Angela wrote a beautiful story and Malakai is a committed director and if you watch film and television at all you’ll probably recognize an actor or two who appear in this short.

Enjoy!

New episode of the behind the scenes of the AT&T shorts.

You know Lena, you know Ava, most of you don’t know Shooter yet…

She’s a sweetheart, she’s genuine, and of course very talented.

Episode 6…

Within context, I was as heated as I’ve been in awhile that I had to give up my ticket for this because family came to town.

Very thankful this was recorded and I (and you) can listen to these five speak about their films and their journey. Thank you to Muslim Public Affairs Council and MuslimARC for this.

Enjoy!

Episode of the ‘making of’ webseries of the AT&T Hello Lab shorts focuses on Fragile.com. Alison and Brittany have created this dark horror story that speaks to the times we live in.

Enjoy!

One thing I’ve been asked about more than a few times referencing ‘1/30’ is how has it been having someone who is not Black or Muslim directing this story. I’ve told anyone who would listen that Vishnu (the director) from pre-production on has been hyper sensitive (in all the right ways) about not being disrespectful to my point of view.

Lena backs this up (which should surprise no one) in the intro to today’s behind the scenes webisode for the AT&T Hello Lab.

Enjoy!