Tag Archive: denzel washington



Still in a Denzel state of mind for a variety of reasons.  I know many of you won’t mind today’s song choice.







The movie adaptation of August Wilson’s ‘Fences’ is fantastic.  Debatably the most well known play in the ten play cycle, Denzel directs the film version with virtually the entire cast in tact from the Broadway version that won him a Tony.

‘A Streetcar Named Desire’ came to mind a lot while I watched this.  Like that film, the camera doesn’t move a lot; from what I hear, there are going to be other films in the next couple of months that mesmerizing cinematography will come from.  You come to Fences for the great writing, and the great acting.  And you get it.  Without spoiling too much of the story for those unfamiliar, the audience I was in really turned against Denzel’s character by the end of the film (which is one of the best compliments I can give to one of the most admired actors of all time, period).  And Viola Davis?  Ma’am, I know you caught the short end of the stick the year we thought you would win for The Help, but that aside…

On the page, this is a supporting performance.  On the screen, naw.  And I’m really looking forward to seeing four or five other female performances this season that are genuinely in this league.

Here’s the crazy thing: my favorite performance in the film wasn’t even either of the two leads; it was Mykelti Williamson as Denzel’s brother.  He was only in a few scenes, but as they say, there are no small roles (especially when the writing is this strong…)

So yeah, Christmas release.  High, high, high recommend.



In my actor/writer/producer cycle, 2016 has been a writing year.

But not all that long ago, I was asked to come in and read for a Shakespeare play.  I’ve had a monologue from Othello in my utility belt for years; this was the first time as a professional someone asked to see it.

Earned a callback but the part in that production ultimately went to someone else.  I wasn’t remotely upset. Like I said, I’ve been focused on other things this year.  More than that though, just knowing I have my Shakespeare strong enough to book now gives me a lot of confidence for the long term.

(While I’m talking about it, there’s a great piece in the Atlantic this week about what ‘Method acting’ means right now in Hollywood.  I’m a Method guy myself so I don’t agree with all of it.  But I think it’s a fair critique to say for every Heath or Denzel who goes away to learn accents and skills so their characters instincts appear ‘natural’ by the time the audience sees it, there’s a ‘Tropic Thunder’ element that’s been attached to Method acting too.  And there’s no doubt in my mind the most likable and respected actresses we have couldn’t get away with half of the questionable behavior some of the guys get away with and we’d write it off as ‘they’re just so into their craft and their character, you have to take this as part of it.’  Anyway…)

Beyond writing, 2016 has always been designed for me as a year for the detective work.  I’m ‘active’ obviously, but most of my time has been spent doing research.  Who’s working on what? What agencies represents who? Who doesn’t get along with each other? How does my brand fit into all of this? (I’m already sick and tired of that word but, business.)

My Method lets me play several different things well, but some parts just naturally fit better. Starfleet Captain? LAPD Detective? Morgan Freeman? The handsome black professional in an interracial relationship?  I’ve played all these men and played them well.  Crack dealer? Car jacker? The heartthrob who has at least one scene with no shirt on? I…can play these roles too.  But it’s rarely what I project or what people see when I walk into the room. (And just so we’re absolutely clear, I’m cool with a lot of the guys who play these roles, so this isn’t a disrespect thing.  My point is Philip Seymour Hoffman, rest his soul, had a nice long career playing all the parts within his type and Channing Tatum is having a nice long career playing all the different parts that fit his type.  There’s room for all of us.)

I didn’t come into this ‘artform’ thinking that I’d need the analytical part of my mind as much as I do, but…business.  Like most things in this town though, you hang around long enough, you figure out what your place is.

I’ve found mine.


We all got our ‘Uncle Denzel’ jokes in, but I’m all in.

(And you know you are too.)


Nope wasn’t in the room Saturday night, I was (literally) down the street.

But thank you internet (and the Academy) for letting us see this.  I’m big on letting people know you appreciate them while they’re here to feel your appreciation.

Your East Coast bias aside Spike, I can personally attest to two of the seeds you helped plant and nourish getting those standardized test scores high enough to grow into a movie producer and a movie director (and a LOT more).

And as you know there are hundreds if not thousands more. So thank you.

First, I could watch this introduction all day…

And then, his actual acceptance speech…



A beautiful Terrance Blanchard composition.

And within this clip, Denzel, Wesley, Giancarlo, John Turturro, CHARLIE MURPHY!!!

And Spike…man.




The family and friends don’t get to see the millions of middle steps in between ‘here’ and ‘There’ so today and tomorrow’s posts are for you…

Here’s the ‘why’: NBC and the American Black Film Festival run a competition called ‘the Star Project’ where the non movie stars among us can audition for the network as an opportunity to get to ‘There’.  Seven monologues to pick from, you (should) pick the two that you have the most connection to.

Now I will take a page out of Denzel’s book and say I’m not really inclined to go over everything I research to go from being myself to whoever I’m trying to be ‘in the moment’.  But for entertainment’s sake as much as anything else, here’s a little backstory to give you some context of what you’re watching:

True Detective Season 3: Set in Chicago, Joseph Gordon-Levitt is the pretty boy womanizer with a bad attitude who always gets his man (even if it’s not always by the book.).  I step out of my comfort zone to play Detective Cole Langston: a philosophical, outside the box thinking, always calm type who’s hard to categorize.  The woman in between us is my on again off again girlfriend played by Gugu Mbatha-Raw, because she’s a great actress…


Yep, that’s the only reason…

Anyway, a simple, gang related homicide on the South Side should be open and shut.  But, because we’re a little too good at our jobs, me and HitRecordJoe uncover a conspiracy that goes all the way up to the mayor of Chicago (played by character actor extraordinaire John Doman).  The Mayor calls in a favor to his buddy the Chief of Police (Academy Award winner J.K. Simmons) to shut down the case, but of course we don’t play by the rules.

So in the last episode, we find the last body, we ‘catch’ the killer and solve the case (in theory, the lawyers have to figure out what holds up in court).  And after everything we’ve been through, HitRecordJoe is waiting for me to say something.  Am I angry? Devastated? Has my spirit been broken?

And I hit him with this before the final credits roll.



You guys can thank W. Kamau Bell for today’s post…

On the last episode of the ‘Denzel Washington is the Greatest Actor Ever’ podcast, they finally got around to ‘Glory.’  No one really argues about this film.

I had to go back and look up the clip below though.  I remember the first time I saw this like it was yesterday.  Sitting in class during black history month, I say without trying to be funny that I teared up AND caught the Spirit the first time I saw this scene.

The power of cinema and I love my people and the importance of seeing some version of yourself and people you know I rolled into one.



Denzel Washington Visits "Late Show With David Letterman"

We’re in full film geek season, so I’ll start the week by hyping up my favorite new podcast.

While I don’t ‘agree’ with the title, W. Kamau Bell (of Totally Biased) and Kevin Avery came up with a GENIUS concept.  Alphabetically, go through the IMdb of Denzel and argue/debate/fawn over why Denzel is one of the best who’s ever done it.  They’ve got the checklist that covers if Denzel does all of his ‘Denzel-isms’ in the movie (and you know what they are), and hopefully going forward they’ll continue to grab guests like David Alan Grier, who did ‘A Soldier’s Play’ with Denzel back in the day and gives some interesting insight (as well as have his own absolutely hilarious stories).

Instant must listen for the (black) film geek crowd.  Check it out!



So what happens when the Wyandotte Siskel & Ebert get together for their annual breakdown of the Academy Awards?  Only one way to find out…

MALIK: Y’all know what time it is, it’s the 2014 Art Fradieu Oscar Preview!  5 posts leading to Sunday night, we’ll cover Writing, Directing, Supporting and Lead Acting and Best Picture.
Now if you’re here, you know me: KCK native, repping the SAG-AFTRA crew, but blue collar down to my roots. Might walk in the room in a suit, might rock a hoodie and a wave cap, ya feel me?
My guest this week also started in Wyandotte, but he knew early on he was ‘too good’ for where he came from.  Literally.  Proudly crossed the tracks to go to Pembroke Hill, proud Morehouse Man.  His all time favorite song is Billy Joel’s ‘It’s Still Rock and Roll to Me’.
But professionally, you have to give him his respect: 2 time NAACP Image Award nominee, for writing on ‘Friday Night Lights’ and ‘Southland’ respectively.  Helped get the popular cult hit ‘Sleepy Hollow’ off the ground; putting the finishing touches on directing an ESPN 30 for 30 doc I (and many others in our circle) are very hyped about.  Ladies and gentlemen, my old friend, Aaron ‘The Servant’ Thomas!
ART: Thanks for that intro, Malik “Koko B. Ware” Aziz…. But, let’s get one thing straight – I’ve been nominated for 3 Image Awards, not 2, and the only thing I be serving is real talk, knaw mean? Looking forward to this year’s Oscars, especially because 2013 was heavily hyped as the year of the critically acclaimed African American themed film. Between Fruitvale Station, Lee Daniels’ The Butler and 12 Years A Slave, there were certainly more conversations about the black experience in America and its representation on film than ever before. Now, as we both know, you tend to prefer a Julia Roberts starring vehicle over, say, a Lupita Nyong’o type of actress, but that’s the beauty of this year’s Oscar season – you have both to consider! So, without further ado, lights, camera, action…
Here are the nominees for Best Adapted Screenplay:
Before Midnight
Captain Phillips
12 Years a Slave
Wolf of Wall Street
Who Should Win
MALIK: For me this is either Philomena or 12 Years.  You look at that list and see we had some great adaptations of real life stories this year.  I define both screenplay categories as ‘that movie you just watched was 90 percent on the page’, so by that standard I’d go with 12 Years.
ART: All of the entries this year are well deserving, naturally. And, each has its own merits.
Before Midnight, written by actress Julie Delpy, director Richard Linklater and actor Ethan Hawkes, is a great third entry in a trilogy spanning decades. It certainly has a strong cult following. But, I’m still confused as to why it’s considered an “adapted” screenplay. Adapted from what source material, exactly? Sure, the characters were established previously, but the story itself was not. Am I missing something? That’s my writer’s soapbox for the day.
Captain Phillips, written by Billy Ray, adapted from the book by Richard Phillips and Stephan Talty, was really well done and admired mostly because it did what films like Black Hawk Down did not – bypass the temptation to portray a bunch of dark, African aggressors as only that. This film went deeper, by displaying their humanity as much, if not more, than the likeable American main character. Solid story telling.
Philomena, written by actor Steven Coogan and Jeff Pope, adapted from a book written by Martin Sixsmith, was emotionally gripping, but my concern is that it may be perceived more as a display of acting for Dame Judi Dench (no offense, Malik) than writing.
The Wolf of Wall Street was fun, but has received backlash for a script that seems to praise a morally questionable main character in Jordan Belfort. Despite Leo and Scorsese’s claims that the story is meant to criticize Belfort’s excesses, it seems to fall on deaf ears when you consider the comic tone and cool music used to make Belfort’s journey seem so fun.
Flat out, this category should go to 12 Years. Based on a short slave narrative, the emotion in 12 Years is sincere and the story, triumphant. Hollywood has often criticized the mere thought of slave movies as too depressing. That may be one of the reasons so few mainstream industry films have taken on this subject matter throughout the century (that, and telling such a story would require entirely too many black people to be involved). This story managed to blow that excuse out of the water, by finding a story that gives an audience a happy ending that hasn’t (totally) scared Hollywood, while also not downplaying the horrors of the history behind that story.
Who Will Win
MALIK: This isn’t considered a glamour category (no offense Aaron and all my writing friends), but I could see 4 out of the 5 nominees taking this one.  I’ll again go with 12 Years.
ART: 12 Years. A win like this makes everyone involved feel good.
Who We Want to Win
MALIK: 12 Years just to hear Ridley get on stage and speak.
ART: Ditto that. Selfishly, I also want him to win because it’s always great to see diversity recognized behind the camera. Everyone gets caught up when Denzel Washington or Halle Berry wins an Oscar. But, actors are stars and performers (no offense) and have always been recognized (Sidney Poitier and Hattie McDaniel) with no real change in the industry following said wins. I don’t feel like any real progress is made until we see more writers, editors, directors and producers gain entry and recognition. They make up the engine of the movie business.
Here are the nominees for Best Original Screenplay:
American Hustle
Blue Jasmine
Dallas Buyers Club
Who Should Win
MALIK: Man.  There are some screenplays I really, really like in here.  But..it’s gotta be Her right?
ART: Another tough category. You may be right, though…
American Hustle. Lost in the shuffle of buzz surrounding American Hustle and David O. Russell is the fact that the screenplay is credited as co-written by Eric Warren Singer. Some of this is because Russell has the reputation for using a ton of improvisation in his films. This element both helps and hurts the perception of the screenplay. It hurts, because some may see the screenplay as simply a blueprint for each scene and not necessarily the guiding point. On the other hand, it helps… Well, it helps the improvising actors look smart and brilliant. In this case, a nomination may be the award for this script.
Blue Jasmine. Written by Woody “they won’t leave my skeletons alone” Allen. A great role written for a great actress. Which, again, can help or hurt. My sense is that Kate Blanchett’s performance may outshine the screenplay, as solid as it is. One might argue that this screenplay and Before Midnight should switch places, as much as Blue Jasmine was “inspired” by A Streetcar Named Desire.
Dallas Buyers Club. Written by Craig Borten and Melissa Wallack. Amazing story. And, learning the background on how the story came to the big screen, an amazing achievement as well. Great performances and a world that much of the public was not privy to prior to seeing this film. A darkhorse candidate.
Nebraska. Written by Bob Nelson. The little engine that could. Great story. Solid film. But, I also ask if it passes the test. Which test? The test of, whether or not it’s a film I’ll be thinking about a year from now. Not sure about that with Nebraska. But, I am sure about it, with…
Her. Written by Spike Jonze. Yes, the premise is wacky. Dude’s in love with his cell phone. Yes, it seems like an idea someone thought about during a long layover at the airport. Yes, it may well be the future for some people. But, it was the freshest and most unlikely story to resonate – and it managed to do just that.
Who Will Win
MALIK: I think Spike Jonze is pretty respected in most parts of town so I’ll go with him, but I wouldn’t be remotely surprised if American Hustle picks this one up.
ART: Spike Jonze and Her. But, don’t write it in stone. I could easily see conservative Academy voters sitting down to vote and muttering to themselves, “Wait a second, this clown is in love with his phone?! Can’t do it.”
Who We Want to Win
MALIK: Yeah, I want Her to win.  Loved the twist on the romantic genre.
ART: Her. Crazy, geeky fun.
Tomorrow, we break down the Best Director nominees…