Category: Movie Reviews


 

tituss-burgess

At this point, I’ve been around the block enough times, that I don’t do as many of the ‘For Your Consideration’ screenings as I used to.

This one intrigued me just because I’m a fan of the brother and his show.

Then (after the fact) I heard he performed my theme song after the Q&A, and I hated myself for a good week.

So thank you Netflix for putting this online.

Now if you’ll excuse me I have to find a lonely street to walk down…

 

 

wet-hot-american-summer-ten-years-later-paul-rudd-marguerite-moreau

I was sitting at my desk when an L.A. number I didn’t recognize came up on the phone.

It was the Casting Director for ‘Wet Hot American Summer: Ten Years Later.’  He tracked me down through my IMdB page.  The producers, Michael Showalter and David Wain, had a small part they wanted to fill, and they remembered me from other projects they cast me in, and the part was mine if I was available.

You know my response, but I’ll tell you the why (which is what I told the CD): when I was still in the ‘trying to break into the union’ phase, they gave me one of the jobs that got me over the hump.

So a few lessons/reminders here:

Relationships: ‘The State’ alums are the most famous, but there are a few other people over the years where we’ve done enough stuff together where at this point, if I’m free, I’m going to say yes before I even see the script or know what character I’m supposed to play.  One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever heard as an actor is ‘You only need five casting directors/producers to fall in love with you to have a career’.  If you’re playing the long game, building five relationships is an incredibly realistic number.

Reputation: I knew these guys respected me, honestly had no idea I did anything beyond being professional to make myself memorable, considering the hundreds of actors they know and I’m sure are trying to get their attention.  Anyway, made it to the set an hour before my call time with my lines memorized, shook hands and spoke to anyone who wanted to talk to me, from the security guards to the extras; a long day for the crew by the time I got there, and I did my part to get my scene (the last scene of the night as it turned out) wrapped in less than an hour.  So no, my lines didn’t make it into the final cut, but no one on set can say I made their jobs harder.  Maybe they’ll remember that…

Growth: I’m smiling as I look at the previous two paragraphs.  When I came to this town, I knew NOBODY.  And I had no playbook on how to conduct myself and treat others in a game where I was/am a complete outsider.  You figure these things out. You endure.  You try not to get too high or too low on any one thing.

And of course, you keep going.

 

 

paul

Alright, I’ve talked to people who know things…

So it sounds like my scene was cut down but not out, so…the next time you can see me in front of the camera is here.

I’ll have deeper anecdotes in a couple of weeks.  A quick one for now:

When I was in the makeup trailer, I was asked the usual, where I’m from.  So I told them Kansas City.  And the young woman perked up and we had a nice conversation because her friend ‘Paul’ is also from KC.

So I guess at least two former Jayhawks are on this.

Enjoy:

 

 

spiderman

Didn’t really go in with any expectations, and have to say I enjoyed it.

Not another origin story (thank God) but picking up where ‘Civil War’ left off, the first real ‘Marvel’ Spider-Man movie feels that way.  Not just because of the Iron Man and Captain America cameos, but just in general tone.  There are stakes, but not ‘the whole world will collapse if Spider-Man fails’ stakes (another big plus); there’s a lightness that never goes into camp…it’s not a ‘game changer’ but it’s enjoyable.

It’s early but I already feel like Tom Holland is my favorite Peter Parker.  In physique and the way the character is written, actually feels like a teenager trying to be cool and figure life out, but even with his intellect and powers, he can never completely win.  That matches everything I have in my head about Peter Parker.  Michael Keaton is equally relatable as the Vulture, the main antagonist for this adventure.  While we’re here, my favorite in joke in the movie kind of has to be seen as a ‘Batman joke’.  Don’t forget though folks, Christian Bale and Kevin Conroy got the idea of using a deeper tenor for Batman because Michael Keaton did it (in a way more subtle manner I’ll give you) in 89.

So yeah, this one is a winner.  Glad the web slinger looks to be fully back on his feet cinematically.

 

 

hasan-minhaj-07

What’s up?

So I don’t have a lot of deep thoughts this Eid. The train is rolling so this will be assorted quick hits…

‘Hasan Minhaj: Homecoming King.’  Uploaded to Netflix right around when Ramadan started, so I didn’t say anything that weekend.  But if you haven’t seen it yet, give yourself an hour to watch it.  Funny dude coming from a point of view we still don’t see often enough.

For someone who enjoys social media, I have to say…really didn’t miss it.  I’m back, and I enjoy being plugged in.  Do I need to be plugged in 24/7/365?  Don’t feel like it anymore (this space included).  Definitely shifting more into a ‘when I have something worthwhile to say/share, I’ll do it’ mode…

Having said that, I got all the texts, memes, notifications, songs and more while I was ‘away.’  They were all appreciated.  A lot of important phone calls made the past month.  The Dark Knight persona has served me well, but in terms of the truth of my life, it’s always nice to be reminded I’m not ‘alone’.  Not at all.

The future has never looked better; I’m looking forward to sharing my journey with you in due time.

Peace!

 

 

batmanandbill

Bob Kane created Batman.  We know this because we’ve seen his name in the ‘Created By’ credit for more than 70 years now.

Bill Finger is the person who, among other things, came up with the idea of the Bat logo on the chest.  And wearing a cowl instead of a domino mask.  And Bruce Wayne.  And Gotham City. And the Joker. And the blue and black color scheme. And ‘the Dark Knight’.

All of which begs the question…

HOW IN THE BLUE HELL IS BILL FINGER ONLY RECENTLY GETTING HIS DUE?!?

The Hulu documentary ‘Batman and Bill’ is the most comprehensive single piece that tries to rectify this creative wrong.  The short version of this story is classic Hollywood: Bob Kane was connected to the publishers and personality wise much more driven by celebrity and public validation.  Bill Finger (as the second paragraph alone illustrates) was more the ‘creative genius’ type, more interested in craft and ideas than notoriety.

Marc Tyler Nobleman is pun intended, the hero this story deserves.  I won’t ruin all the details of the journey for you; I will warn you that on a human level that has nothing to do with comics, you’ll feel a level of pity, disgust, and contempt at how the lives of Bill Finger and Bob Kane played out as Batman became one of the most iconic characters in the world.  Thankfully, ‘Batman and Bill’ ends on a happy note.  With a level of sarcasm, I’ll say it ends with one of the best parts of ‘Batman v Superman’…

The hardcore fans will find it; if you like documentaries and ‘behind the scenes’ stories, it’s excellent in that regard as well.

 

southside-you

I’m here for more biopics moving in the direction of ‘A Day in the Life’ over trying to capture a person’s whole story in 120 minutes.  ‘Southside With You’ is the better of the two features that came out about President Obama last year.

Already a big part of their mythology, the movie dramatizes the first date of Barack and Michelle, when they went to go see ‘Do the Right Thing’.  Parker Sawyers and Tika Sumpter both do great giving us the essence of these two people, years before they were even plotting to end up where life took them.

As I said up top, I love the day in the life approach, but the pitfall in going that route in biopics is stretching reality for the sake of dramatization.  First date, are you getting more information about this person you already have some level of interest in?  Definitely.  Are you getting their entire back stories on the first date?  Even in a movie, not very likely.  Michelle grills Barack about his dating past, he says he’s been in serious relationships with white women, but has grown weary of always feeling like the outsider.  That’s great character detail and feels very organic in a real and a movie first date.  Barack deep diving into his rocky relationship with his father?  Felt a little more forced.

As a whole though, solid date movie, and at less than 90 minutes, it moves quickly.  Streaming on Netflix, worth checking out if you didn’t catch it in the theatre.

 

dearwhitepeople

For the oldheads among us, the double victory run of the studio system acknowledging that a) there’s an audience for ‘Atlanta’, ‘Insecure’, and ‘Get Out’, and b) not only that, but it’s quality storytelling, continues with the Netflix version of Justin Simien’s ‘Dear White People.’  And I know I’m not the first to say this, but I agree it’s an improvement over the film.  Taking full advantage of the platform, a line of dialogue in the film that serves as backstory is nearly always fleshed out into a half hour episode that gives the audience more empathy for ‘why’ even characters you may not gravitate toward, do the things that they do.

Was the film geek in me biased from episode one with the ‘She’s Gotta Have It’ visual tributes?  Sure, but nods like this are subtle in each episode.  (Quick setup for the completely uninitiated: like the film, the story is set off when a blackface party is thrown by one of the fraternities on a predominantly white campus).  Justin directed a few of the episodes, I noted Tina Mabry’s name in the credits, but if you have to pick one episode, yes, the now Academy Award winner Barry Jenkins ‘Episode V’ is the strongest.

Ten not quite half hours.  I honestly wasn’t planning on getting through the whole season in one weekend, but sometimes the story keeps you that engaged.

Check it out.

 

the-beatles-8days

Ron Howard’s tribute to the rise of Beatlemania, is a good movie, if not a great one.

‘Eight Days a Week’ is made for the hardcore Beatles fan, which is its blessing and its curse.  If you’re invested in the mythology of the Fab Four, you know this story, and you’ve probably seen 90 percent of the footage here somewhere else, whether it be ‘The Beatles Anthology’ or one of the excellent docs that focus on John or George.  Doesn’t mean this film doesn’t work for what it is.  It’s still cool to see, like everyone else, the Beatles were working small clubs for little money before they became a phenomenon.  The focus on their brief run as live artists drive home the point that beyond the marketing and the pop stardom overdrive, these were four talented musicians. (I always thought it was cool that even though John and Paul were the obvious leads, there was always a spotlight song for George and Ringo in the early albums/shows.)

It’s not the farthest reaching comparison, but with so much info already being public knowledge, I’d like to see whoever makes the next Beatles documentary take the approach Spike Lee has done with Michael Jackson: pick one of the iconic albums, set the time and place in the world and in the artist’s career, and then break down the track list and everyone who was influenced by it.

I’m nitpicking some because we’re definitely in a golden age for documentaries.  ‘Eight Days a Week’ is still worth checking out if you love the boys from Liverpool.  On Hulu, iTunes and most digital platforms.

 

JLA-AlexRoss

It’s a dope trailer.  And the song of course, clinched it for me.

To borrow another title from that catalog, Don’t Let Me Down Warner Brothers.

Enjoy!