Category: I Love L.A.


 

heavyd

The weekend!

I didn’t realize til this morning the Oscars nominations come out Tuesday, so we’ll take a few days off from the movie reviews and see how that falls.

In the meantime, something upbeat to start the weekend.

And I miss Heavy D.

Have a good one gang!

 

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MJ-TEAM

Happy MLK weekend everyone!

Some of the Black Panther conversations I’ve had this week turned into ‘What other pop culture things felt like everyone had to see it right away (before we had social media)?’

Michael Jackson video premieres definitely were on the list, thus today’s choice (particularly with the cast, setting and director of this one).

Next movie review Monday night.  If you’re not working the next few days, enjoy yourself!

 

 

disasterartist

If you’ve lived in LA for any period of time, you’ve seen the billboard.  You may have even gone to one of the midnight screenings of ‘the Room’ (I admit at this point I still haven’t seen it, but I’m familiar with the ‘making of’ story, as most film geeks are.  As now Golden Globe winner James Franco clearly was….)

‘The Disaster Artist’ is an enjoyable watch, that (somewhat surprisingly to me anyway), covers so many of the good and bad parts of being a filmmaker.  You need a certain amount of passion to get ANY movie made.  But a bottomless pit of money and resources do not automatically translate to a good film.  And if you’ve spent any time on a set, good or bad, the making of a movie is not remotely as glamourous as you would believe.

Tommy Wiseau, as portrayed by James Franco, is (probably) a middle aged man with a thick Eastern European accent, who idolizes Brando and James Dean.  When more than one acting teacher suggests with his look and dialect, he could easily break through the door as a serious villain, he blows them off because he only sees himself in the image of his heroes (yet another lesson in there the vast majority of actors I know have to deal with in the early stages).

When Tommy meets a genuine young actor named Greg (played by Dave Franco in one of his most likable roles), the journey to ‘the Room’ begins: the two leave San Francisco to take their shot in the City of Angels.  How Tommy, a well intentioned but ultimately wildly insecure and naive actor wrote and directed a cult classic has to be seen to be believed.  Fun bit parts by everyone from Alison Brie to Seth Rogen to Hannibal Buress to Judd Apatow sell the Hollywood element to this outsider story that would be tragic if it weren’t at turns funny (like the source material I suppose).

Recommend.

 

 

hiphopheads

A solemn day for my tribe today. Marek Jacobs, one of the young brothers who brought me into Alpha at the University of Kansas, passed away after a fight with stomach cancer.

I can’t tell you the specific first time I met Brother Jacobs, but I imagine it was something along the lines of the picture you see above.  He was one of the brothers who was DJ’ing the Burge parties when I was a freshman, and I was one of the young brothers who would post up every Saturday night in front of or right behind the DJ table.  When I crossed the burning sands, I was one of the brothers who he passed the torch of the KU radio show, ‘The Hip Hop Hype’, to.  The very first documentary I did in Lawrence, which I can’t tell you the title anymore, but the subject was young black men adjusting to living/going to a school on a predominantly white campus; Marek was there.

When word got to me he was in a hospice, I sent a card to him, just to reiterate my appreciation for him.  He didn’t live to see it, but I hope he’s at peace now.  One of my last, best memories of him was after one of my shorts showed up on BET, and Sanaa Lathan read my biography afterward.  He loved that.  He saw something I did on TV.  He saw a movie star name check KU on TV.  He saw a return on his investment in me.  That makes me happy.

Tomorrow is promised to none of us.  Appreciate your people while they’re here.  And appreciate your own gifts.

 

 

denzel-roman

When you have the catalog of Denzel, they won’t all be Hall of Famers.

That’s my takeaway from ‘Roman J. Israel, Esq.’  Denzel follows up ‘Fences’ (and the Oscar loss to Casey Affleck) with this character study about an attorney who’s out of step with his times.  Throwing out his cool trademarks (and removing his dental cap so we can see the natural gap in his teeth), Roman is a brilliant mind who’s functioned as the ‘office’ half of a legal firm for decades.  When a heart attack claims the public face of the company, Roman is drawn back out to a civilization he cares for, but who doesn’t have the same type of sympathy for him.

Carmen Ejogo and Colin Farrell carry the supporting roles here (and carry them well), but the pieces gel here in a way that’s good but not great.  The case that Roman is building, that the plea bargain system weighs far too heavily toward letting innocent people take time versus going to trial, is a very real and accurate argument; the dramatization of it here just doesn’t completely work.

Still worth seeing though if you’re a Denzel fan.

 

 

2017

I asked my family what they wanted for the holidays and the answer across the board was ‘My Time (and Attention).’

What perfect symbolism.

Hope for the best, prepare for the worst.  Who can really say if we’ve seen the worst yet?  But, when they literally came for the Muslims, I was ready.  All the other daily/weekly outrages that came (and are coming), it didn’t take a lot of soul searching to figure out where I stood.  There are little things that annoy you that you aren’t worth getting into a fuss over, and there are hills to die on.  I know I’m far from the only one where this year publicized more than one hill I was ready to sacrifice myself for, for the greater good.

Something else ironic about 2017.  Life came for me years ago, really.  Before any of the current world affairs craziness, I hit that psychological point of ‘Look, I’m going to have fun.  I’m going to laugh.  I’m going to love.  I don’t need any more stress.’  (Now we call this self-care, we definitely didn’t have the term back then.)  Many of you reading this know me ‘in real life.’  I don’t usually wear my stress on my sleeve, or my pain, or my insecurities.  There was definitely a part of me that felt, ‘Unless the war comes to my doorstep, I might be out…’

WELCOME TO 2017!!!

Literally hours before I started writing this, I was told another of the guys who looked out for me when I was younger is passing.  A part of me is heartbroken this morning, another part of me is again thankful that for the infinite number of personal and professional opportunities I’ve been given to Omorosa myself, I always stopped short when the vibe I felt was ‘This is cool right now, but long term if you want to ‘go home’, this will be a problem…’

I’m grateful for all of it.  I’m grateful for all of you. God willing, we’ll meet back here in 2018.

Peace be unto you.

 

 

kenobi

A lot of thoughts about the past 12 months (I know that’s a huge understatement).  We’ll get to that next week.

We know what this weekend is.  That review is coming Sunday night.  This scene from ‘Rebels’ speaks to me alot personally and is a nice animated version of how I feel (and also why Kenobi is my doppleganger in that mythology).

Enjoy!

 

 

rickman

Jedi talk and year end reflections will be coming REAL quick, so before we don’t have a chance to later…

Happy Holidays Everyone!

 

 

aaron

I’ve spent today trying to think of a good anecdote about my friend Aaron that I can share leading up to the premiere of his new show ‘S.W.A.T.’ on CBS tonight.  I have plenty of course, most safe for work, of those the majority are stories either I alone know, or only a few other people know.

And that’s probably the best thing I can say about him.  He’s one of the good guys.

When we were kids, we’d call it ‘man code’ (and to be clear, we don’t have criminal secrets, but in light of how the chickens are coming to roost all over Hollywood this year, even the term man code now makes me cringe).  But we do both value a certain ‘say no more than what needs to be said’ mentality.  We’re both eldest siblings with sisters behind us, the KU and USC connection is public knowledge, so is Kansas City.  2017 has put it out there in different ways, but we’re both loyal to the religious communities we represent, even if it’s not the first thing out of our mouths. Love for black people, love for the Business while recognizing it as a business.

Here’s a story I’m not sure he knows: not all that long ago, I was dating a girl who didn’t live in L.A.  This was during the ‘social media age’ so in doing her ‘FBI profile’ deep search on who of my friends she was apathetic to meeting versus whose opinion she valued, Aaron was one of the two guys she was genuinely concerned ‘wouldn’t like her’.  That still kills me. But it speaks to a certain type of brotherhood that other people pick up on, which I can respect.

Long story short, on a personal level Aaron is one of the good guys. Professionally you can see what he’s working on starting tonight, 10/9 Central I believe.

Good luck homie!

 

 

bb-01286

Finally got to see ‘Dunkirk’ on the big screen last week, courtesy of Warner Brothers.  There was a dessert service after the Q&A with Nolan, so yes, ‘For Your Consideration’ season has begun!

I’m not a World War II buff by any means so Dunkirk didn’t hold a strong meaning to me beyond doing a cursory Google search on why it’s important. After I did that though, it made complete sense to me why the British hold it in such high regard, and why Nolan wanted to make this movie.

Interested to note during the Q&A, how they decided early on to ‘not’ try to be ‘Saving Private Ryan’.  A, because he considers it a masterpiece and B, in true Christopher Nolan style, he wanted to focus on the practical details of ‘how would this happen in real life?’ as opposed to ‘this is how these things play out in a movie’…

(Prince of Gotham nodding….)

Relating directly to war (without spoiling some of story points of ‘Dunkirk’), Nolan also says he was attracted to doing a different type of war movie, because, in talking to veterans, war is very much like life in that, death often happens completely randomly, and the ‘good guys’ or ‘heroes’ may never get the credit they really deserve, and ‘the bad guys’ may not always suffer in proportion to the damage they’ve done.

(cueing up the Hans Zimmer as my eyes mist up…)

As far as ‘Dunkirk’ the movie goes, I personally wouldn’t call it Nolan’s best, but it’s solid.  With the studio backing him up, I’ll be shocked if he doesn’t finally get a Best Director nomination this year.