Category: Sunday Soapbox


A few non spoilery thoughts on number 9 out of 10 from Quentin…

  • This was his love letter to the LA he grew up in, and it shows. The atmosphere is before my time, but Hollywood and some of the specific locations played well (especially with the LA crowd I saw it with). The Dome, the Valley, even a freeway on ramp I take all the time, but seeing it in the movie was a very ‘Oh wow’ moment.
  • Kind of crazy this is the first Leo/Brad collaboration. They reportedly want to work together again, and it shows on screen. Leo’s new school Methodness and Brad’s eternally laid back cool are perfect compliments. And in actor’s speak, for two of the guys of my lifetime to play actors who never came close to being ‘The Guy’; I’m sure that was fun.
  • The Manson Family: Wasn’t ruined for me so I won’t do it for you. Even within the film, the suspense of how ‘that night’ played out was not overly telegraphed. It’s the most Tarantino sequence of the whole movie, and the way it plays with history is generally accepted. Tarantino rarely wastes words or elements in his scripts, so things that are set up early (that seem meaningless) do come into play at the end, and I had to nod at the craft a little.

Enjoyable if not great by his own standard.

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Me and Vishnu talking about 1/30 in our own words.

Enjoy.

Liked it, didn’t love it. Spoiler free thoughts as usual. First what I dug…

  • The celeb who makes fun of themselves is ‘kinda’ played out at this point, but Ed Sheeran hit the perfect balance. He never really goes into over the top mode, whenever Jack one ups him, he falls back into ‘I mean, man, that’s one of the best songs I’ve ever heard’ mode, which is a nice in joke for this story.
  • Kate McKinnon. She still hasn’t really had her solo breakout yet (as a movie star), but man when she is put in the right part, so much fun to watch.
  • There’s a line early on where Lily Allen’s character says (I’m paraphrasing), ‘How do I get out of the friend zone and become the woman who inspired ‘And I Love Her’ and ‘Something’? And I audibly said ‘DAMNNNNNNN’ in the theatre and I really wish the whole movie would have focused on that and not kept going back into fantasy world.

Also in the ‘ehhh’ file…

  • You probably know the premise here: ‘the Beatles’ never existed so the main character writes their songs and takes credit for it. Some other things apparently didn’t happen in this alternate universe, and it’s REALLY random and some of it predates the Beatles and the ‘joke’ of it takes you out of the story when it happens.
  • To clarify, the Beatles don’t exist as the most iconic pop band of their generation, but the lads from Liverpool do exist, just as completely anonymous people living ‘normal’ lives. They never see the perks of fame, they never see the dark side of fame. You can probably take an educated guess where this goes. I won’t spell it out other than to say, it’s cute and idealistic, but still a little off putting.
  • I will spoil this since it has no real effect on the story: Lily Allen’s character dates a guy, when the A romance comes together, her live in boyfriend LITERALLY steps to the side with a smile and says something like ‘well those are the breaks mate.’ WHAT IS IT WITH DUDES IN RICHARD CURTIS MOVIES?!? Or is it English guys in general who are like this? Either you think love is this rare but magical thing that, if you’re lucky, happens a handful of times in your life (and thus you will deal with some type of devastation/heartbreak when it doesn’t work out), or you’re just ‘well maybe next time’ all the time which is not freaking love?!? I need answers.

With all my complaints, I still have to recommend this. The kid does a credible job covering most (not all) of the songs. Especially one of my all time favorites by any artist. Worth seeing (or getting the soundtrack).

Hope all had a good Father’s Day.

Everyone doesn’t have good relationships with their fathers. Some don’t have any relationship. Some do but it’s really toxic.

I have a great one. First of one of many good breaks I’ve caught in life, but probably the most important.

So I’m running back the ending from ‘Call Me By Your Name’ to start the week. I catch the ‘allergies’ every time. One of my favorite character actors working today. Great, mostly monologue lifted directly from the book.

Enjoy.

Obama opens this doc by saying ‘Some people are attracted to the power that is part of being in the spotlight, others work best behind the scenes. Clarence Avant is the latter.’ Truer words never spoken, cause 99% of the audience of this Netflix doc will surely have never heard of this man…

Like a shadow version of Quincy Jones, Clarence Avant has been in every part of entertainment (and politics) for decades (and of course him and Q seem to be best friends.) Unlike Quincy, there is no sense of flash about the subject of this doc (which has the perfect title). Can’t possibly go through every story mentioned in the two hours but a few of my favorites…

In the early 70s, Clarence got the heavy hitters of the time together for a benefit concert. That meant Sammy Davis Jr. got the call. The black crowd boo’d the hell out of him (this was shortly after he hugged Nixon). Sammy said his piece, performed ‘I Gotta Be Me’, and at the end the crowd was cheering again. Sammy is clearly touched. It’s a moment.

I’m old enough to remember the E.T. storybook narrated by Michael Jackson. Apparently that was done without getting clearance from all the parties, legally. But the guy everyone got along with was Clarence, he stepped in and got everyone on the same page. And Michael was so impressed, he asked Clarence to help him put together his first solo tour. Yes, the ‘Bad’ tour. I mean, come on…

Clarence was on board super early when a young man based in Chicago was rising in the Democratic Party. He was asked to speak at the convention, but not in prime time. Clarence fixed that. The rest is history. Even though Clarence really didn’t think that guy would really run the Presidency in a few years. But no one saw that coming. Even though Obama still teases him about it apparently…

Super educational, super informative journey through pop culture. Worth streaming.

‘Oh Allah, if you know this matter to be good for me in my faith, my livelihood, and the end result of my affair, then decree it for me, make it easy for me, and then bless it for me. And if you know this matter to be bad for me, my faith, my livelihood, and end result of my affair, then turn it away from me, and me away from it. Decree for me what is good, whatever it may be, and then make me satisfied with it.’ – Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)

I have a warm relationship with both of my parents in their twilight years. ‘I Love You Black Man’ is both a statement and a way to live among my inner circle. That feeling of ‘I got you, you’re not alone’ between myself and my allies in the Community is stronger than ever.

This has been the first year, where 24/7/365 I’ve met my own standard for who I aspire to be, as a Muslim, a Black Man, a world citizen. Insha’Allah (God willing) the first of many more years still to come. Many of you have picked it up in the way I talk, the way I carry myself: I will not lose my family, my friends, my allies, my people, or my reputation by doing something I know I shouldn’t be doing. Not anymore.

Even when everything in this country, in pop culture, in this specific life I’ve chosen, has been designed to turn me against my own identity and question my self-worth, every time I’ve gone (or been advised) to go over a line that had the very real potential of permanently turning me against the people I love, or the people who love me, I knew to stop. I’ve made references over the past couple of years of my struggle to understand my own fortune. Now the answer is obvious.

Faith. And this was the year my faith became absolute.

I’ll borrow from one of Malcolm’s signature statements to describe the full ownership of my Calling as I enter this Ramadan:

If I die, knowing I have left the vast majority of people who have crossed my path in a better place than I have found them; if I have made just one person looks at Muslims, and the religion of Islam, in a more positive light, than all the credit is due to Allah, the Lord of all the Worlds. Only the mistakes have been mine.

Sincerely,

Abdul-Malik Raushaun Abdul-Aziz

(Malik Aziz)

Ramadan Mubarak.

My words are coming Sunday night.

In the meantime, one of the Office homies just put this video in one of our chats. Good people man. Again, I’ll speak on that Sunday.

In the meantime, this PSA…

$1.2 Billion. You’ve all seen it by this point but as usual won’t be too detailed…

Someone half joked they should go ahead and give Kevin Feige the Thalberg at the Governor’s Awards this year (which is basically the Academy acknowledging someone has had a Hall of Fame career as a producer). It’s a funny line but I mean… he’s got to get it someday right?

We’ve all been trained to think of the great film series as trilogies (Star Wars, the Godfather, the Lord of the Rings, etc.) We’ve just witnessed a nearly universally agreed upon great film series told over TWENTY PLUS FILMS. It’s absurd. We’re all even conditioned now to not get up until after all the credits are rolled. They’ve changed the movie going experience.

As far as this film on its own, ‘The Dark Knight’ is the last time I remember everyone (film geeks, hardcore fan boys, casual fans, adults, kids) ALL being this happy with a sequel walking out of the theatre. The nitpicking can begin after repeated viewings, but as I started telling people Friday morning, ‘It’s as fast a three hour film as I can remember.’ From the first scene to the last, you’re in. The payoffs feel earned all the way through.

What’s really scary now is what’s next. The last ‘Skywalker’ film is coming out this year, and it’s lot of ‘Well OK’ right now. This generation of Star Wars is supposed to be ‘we have women and diverse leads now’ but the MCU can very easily take that thunder. DC seems to have found its way by finally saying ‘Don’t worry about a ‘Universe’; this is this story and sure we’ll reference other characters in this world from time to time.’ You’re telling me the next generation of Marvel films can’t start being true one-off stories (and probably do it much better with an already well established Universe)? My, my, my…

Genuinely looking forward to seeing it again in the theatre…

Oh yes…

So, other than giving me bittersweet flashbacks of the young Moroccan girl who was the first one to call me habibi, I can’t say enough good things about the new Hulu series ‘Ramy’.

The premise is super simple, Ramy is a young Muslim American living in New Jersey trying to find his place in his own culture and his place in the world while making his way in modern day society. ‘Master of None’ came to mind for some obvious reasons but you quickly have to put that comparison away. Aziz’s story was/is about a young New York actor with only passing references to his Muslim heritage.

‘Ramy’ goes all in.

All in to the point where I know there are words and phrases and customs used for in jokes here that killed me that many of you may not realize why it’s funny. All in to the point that the personal life history of the character (the Muslim girl whose maybe ‘too’ traditional for you, the Jewish girl you connect with because, ‘not celebrating Easter’ for example, is a better bonding point than you would think, the white person whose a little too attracted to your ‘otherness’ and not interested enough in you as a person (the sister’s story), there was a lot of ‘Oh damn’ as I worked through the ten half hours. Let’s leave it at that.

The cliffhanger at the end of episode ten…I don’t know where we go from here. But I want to find out.

High recommend, even with my obvious bias.

I was worried I was catching this exhibit at the end of its L.A. run, but as it turns out, it’s here til September 1st.

For the L.A. folks, if you haven’t made it down to the Broad lately, I can’t recommend enough ‘Soul of a Nation’. The exhibit covers several decades of black art (up to the present), and how artists specifically have tried to use their platforms to express their own feelings of isolation and rebellion.

There are pieces that reference Dr. King of course. I was naturally drawn to the pieces that referenced Malcolm, Angela Davis and Fred Hampton. Even the photographs and some of the Black Panther materials are interesting to see for those of us too young to have lived through that time (even if you don’t think of them as ‘art’ in the traditional sense.)

I still feel fired up just thinking about it. Again, the exhibit will be here til September 1st; if you get a chance and you’re in town, must see.