Tag Archive: denzel washington


 

shaykh

The official answer to it all is, ‘It is the will of Allah.’

If I go before I resurface next month, Surah 2, verse 286 should be on the front of the program: ‘Allah imposes not on any soul a duty beyond its scope.’

When my mind is quiet though, (which is often now), I feel incredibly fortunate.

At least once a day as of late, I’ve felt overwhelmed with gratitude.

A lifetime (really two lifetimes at this point) worth of experiences that let my family and my people live vicariously through things I could do and places I could go has turned on me; now I have feelings of guilt that I’ve come out of the other end, and somehow, for all the honest mistakes and reckless things I’ve done, I avoided the backbreaking choice that would have put me into a hole I couldn’t climb out of.

This will sound absurd to some, but I don’t know sometimes how I’ve avoided doing anything to turn my bloodline permanently against me.

This will sound absurd to some, but I don’t know how I avoided being reckless to the point of turning my Muslim people against me forever.

The people who don’t represent the same thing I represent but who respect what I’m about; I am embarrassed on a daily basis by how flush I am in genuine relationships.  I continue to do better, but I’ve also come to accept it’s just impossible for me to spend time with everyone I’m cool with.

Leading into this Ramadan, I’ve also accepted that if the law of averages hasn’t derailed me yet, I don’t intend to ruin my own plans.

The peak version of ‘Malik Aziz’ is somewhere in the spectrum between post Mecca Malcolm (part of the world Ummah but sensitive to the concerns of the community I was born into) and Denzel (no desire to be ‘a minister’, but I can use my life and my art and my reputation as the best possible selling point of the type of person my community is capable of creating).

24/7/365 now I hold myself to that standard.  There’s not a lot more to be gained by wondering why life seemed to wait for me to catch up to what I’m trying to achieve.  It’s just time to go for it.

All praise is due to Allah, only the mistakes have been mine.

 

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roman-j-israel-esq

Here are the nominees for Best Actor in a Leading Role:

Timothee Chalamet – Call Me By Your Name

Daniel Day-Lewis – Phantom Thread

Daniel Kaluuya – Get Out

Gary Oldman – Darkest Hour

Denzel Washington – Roman J Israel Esq.

Who I’m Cheering For: Multiple names I admire on this list, but looking at all the names above, I realized I’m screaming the loudest on Sunday if Kaluuya wins.

Who Should Win: If the critieria is ‘degree of difficulty within the film they’re nominated for’, it would have to be one of the kids: Chalamet or Kaluuya.

Who Will Win: Commissioner Gordon is due for his ‘lifetime achievement Oscar’.  And I’m fine with that.

 

 

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.

 

 

denzel

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

Enjoy.

 

 

fences-denzel-washington-and-viola-davis

Woo…

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.

 

darkknightdetective

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.

denzel

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

(And you know you are too.)

spikeartfradieu

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…

Enjoy!

Bleek_Gilliam_Quintet

A beautiful Terrance Blanchard composition.

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

And Spike…man.

(smiling)

Enjoy!

o-TRUE-DETECTIVE-MONDO-facebook

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…

Gugu-Mbatha-Raw

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.

Enjoy!