Category: What I’m Working On


 

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!

 

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the-beatles

Just because…

Told the homie yesterday I realized there’s a certain starlet I’ll always associate with a Beatles song.

Just because, not counting layovers at McCarran, have my mind on this year’s Vegas day trip.

Just because, they finally posted an HD version of this video.

Just because I love this song.

Enjoy!

 

 

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.

 

 

Ben Koepp

Some of my people who saw ‘The Big Sick’ before me predicted I would like this movie.

They were right.

A classic (financially speaking) middle class movie the studios don’t focus on anymore, ‘The Big Sick’ is a rom com for the modern age.  Kumail is a stand up comedian in Chicago paying his dues; Emily is an innocent heckler at one of his shows one night.  They meet cute after his set…you’re familiar with the genre beats if this is your kind of movie.

The deserved shine for this film comes from all the elements that separate it from the pack. Holly Hunter and Ray Romano are both great as Emily’s parents, dealing with the grief that gives the movie its title.  The arranged marriage subplot where Kumail’s parents repeatedly try to set him up with beautiful women from his own culture obviously comes from a specific place.  (And I’m not the first to make this joke, but more than one of those women seemed compatible enough to question, ‘What’s the problem here, other than this is an ‘arranged’ setup?)

I’ve heard some comparisons to ‘Master of None’.  I understand, to a degree, the benefit of grouping similar things, but this film is funny and different in ways completely separate from how Aziz’s show is funny and different.

‘The Big Sick’ is a definite recommend here if you haven’t seen it yet.

 

 

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.

 

 

Olivia_olson

We’re getting within range…

Enjoy!

 

 

finn

So, let’s talk about it.  If you haven’t seen it yet, last warning to stop reading…

I liked it.  I’ve also heard the full gamut of reactions: some people think it’s the best episode since “Empire”, some have called it absolute trash.  I’m in the middle obviously, but I think there are some valid questions to be asked.

First though, what I liked…

  • Subtle Nostalgia: Luke referring to Palpatine as ‘Darth Sidious’.  R2 using the ‘Help me Obi-Wan Kenobi’ video to bring Luke back into the fold.  And I don’t mind saying the eyes got a little misty when Master Yoda showed up.  There’s a lot of nice little moments like that.
  • Taking Chances: I love ‘the Empire Strikes Back’; I had legitimate concern they were going to just run all those story beats with the new characters.  But to their credit, pretty much from the beginning, had no idea where the story was going and couldn’t predict what would happen next.  Did every gamble work?  Hold that thought…
  • Supreme Leader Kylo Ren: We know who the bad guy is for Episode IX.  One of my nerd complaints about the Sith (which hasn’t been done in the movies until now) is we never see the Apprentice’s lust for power go full coup d’etat on the Master.  As far as the Dark Side of the Force goes, Kylo has no peers now.  Having said that…

Let’s get to the complaints which I think have some merit:

  • Great ideas, questionable execution: Kylo is the Supreme Leader now but…would someone as powerful as Snoke not sense the lightsaber two inches from him is being pointed at him?  Luke sensed Ben had the dark side in him but…would a Jedi Master really consider killing anyone in his sleep?  Let alone his star protege? Let alone his nephew?  I…don’t…know…
  • The Last Jedi: It’s really obvious now the story hole that’s been created by Carrie Fisher’s passing (RIP).  Still, this is the ‘Skywalker Saga’.  The people still aren’t fully invested in Ben Solo, and Rey is…not a Skywalker?  OK well…have fun with all that, JJ Abrams.
  • Finn: I’ve had a couple days to think about this now.  Adam and Oscar are clearly the ‘I’m a serious actor, not a movie star; only sitting on the end of Kimmel’s couch because Disney will break my kneecaps’ types; Jedi Bae is set up to have Keira Knightley’s acting/modeling career if that’s what she wants (and I really don’t know that she does, another conversation for another day).  Boyega is following Harrison Ford’s path: not the main character of Star Wars, but using the franchise to make himself the lead in his own franchise(s).  And that’s how you play the game.  But Finn, man…  His intro in this movie is half comatose, walking around in a leaking water bottle; the casino stuff was super cool but maybe not necessary (the idea/execution thing again), and when it looked like he was sacrificing himself by flying into the battering ram…I felt myself getting angry.  I brushed off the ‘Magic Negro’ critiques from ‘Awakens’; this time I felt it before the credits rolled.  We’ll see if JJ gives him a lightsaber again for Episode IX.

So a lot of nitpicks, but overall I still enjoyed it.  Go figure.

I guess the last word is I have more concern now for what Episode IX will be then I thought I would…

 

 

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!