Tag Archive: don cheadle


 

kendrick

Back from the vacay.  Thought about waiting until tomorrow to posting a song…

But this grabbed my attention.  You know why…

Enjoy!

 

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Even if, as the myth goes, ‘Every actor really wants to direct,’ every actor can’t.  Completely different skill set, you have to be open to so many other things outside of yourself, while still maintaining ‘your vision’.

But Don Cheadle can.

His debut feature, ‘Miles Ahead’, is a fun film that, if you have to give it a genre, I guess you’d throw it in ‘biopic’, but it’s really about a moment in time in the life of Miles Davis.  Kind of…

The setup: during Miles’ retreat from the scene in the 70s, a Rolling Stone reporter (played by Ewan McGregor) goes to interview the famously reclusive musical genius on the verge of a (studio induced) comeback.  From there we get not a full life story, but a window into where Miles may have been at that moment, with flashbacks to his marriage to his wife Frances (played by Emayatzy Corinealdi who some of us recognize from Ava’s Middle of Nowhere).

From jump I remember Cheadle saying he wanted to make the type of film Miles himself would approve of.  Personally I think he did.  As I alluded to at the beginning, you have to put it into a category because, business, but it’s very individual.  More because I’m a film geek then guilt by association, the time period and ‘directorial debut’ reminded me a little of Confessions of a Dangerous Mind.  You’re never lost as a viewer, but the style of the storytelling has you questioning at the end, ‘How much of this really happened and how much was amplified for my entertainment?’

That’s storytelling.  Kudos Don.

Available now on Netflix, Google Play, most home video outlets I’m guessing.

don_cheadle

If you haven’t seen it yet, this is what has me and many of my ilk hyped up the past couple of days…

Enjoy!

Philip Seymour Hoffman

 

Actor Philip Seymour Hoffman-1527808

When I started on the path that I’m on, I was told to put into a sentence ‘who’ I wanted to be.  That sentence with minor edits was ‘A guy who can be anything from the 2nd to 5th player in a blockbuster/genre piece, but who can easily be the headliner in a smaller, character driven ‘indie’ project.’

So with that sentence, you know the guys I admire as ‘character leading men’.  Jeffrey Wright. Don Cheadle. Gary Oldman.  And the great actor who died today.

Today was a double stomach punch, the Actor and the Film Geek is disappointed he won’t see any more Philip Seymour Hoffman performances.  Some of you are still putting the name to the face, but if you’ve watched movies in the past 25 years, you know the face.  And you’ve watched his posture, his cadence, his accent; all the different types of research character guys love to do when they get a new project and can create a role from the inside out.  I hear he was equally amazing on stage; sad to say that’s something else I want to get experience seeing him do.  It would seem his demons caught up with him, even after he fought them off for awhile.  Very sad to hear.

I’ll leave you with this, one of his most memorable performances.  You get:

a) the endearing Beta who needs the approval of the Alpha

b) the ‘this is getting really creepy really fast’ stalker

c) the shocking ‘I apologize…but only because you’re upset since I really want this to happen’ desperate lover

d) and the sympathetic ‘being friend zoned by someone who you have a one way love affair with’ lonely man.

IN TWO MINUTES!!!!

Rest in Peace, Philip Seymour Hoffman. You will be sorely missed.

 

Brooklyn’s Finest

 

This morning I caught a movie I’ve been waiting for for months, Brooklyn’s Finest, and I have to say I wasn’t disappointed.  If I had to use one word to describe it, the word would be dark.  You can watch the trailer and know what type of world you’re getting into, but to watch how it all plays out, this film at times makes Training Day (also directed by Antoine Fuqua) look like Police Academy. 

The three central characters of the story are a cop played by Ethan Hawke, who willingly bends the rules to provide for his increasingly expanding family, an undercover cop played by Don Cheadle who is ready to get out of undercover work and wants his regular life back, and a retiring cop on his last week of the job, played by Richard Gere, who just wants to get to retirement without any trouble.  You don’t have to be as big of the fan of the crime genre as I am to know you’ve seen these character types; Donnie Brasco and Se7en immediately come to mind.  So as with any genre film, you judge it against how it takes these archetypes and give you an interesting take.

I thought in this case the cast of characters was stronger than the story that was told.  And is that a surprise?  Kansas City bias aside, I’d pay full price to watch Don Cheadle drink a glass of milk, he doesn’t disappoint. I’m not the first person to note the (deliberate?) similarities between the kingpin character played by Wesley Snipes here and his trademark role of Nino Brown.  The East Coast locale and type of story surely played into seeing a few familiar faces from a certain greatest TV show of all time that came on HBO and was set in Baltimore.  He looks the exact same, but the difference between Ethan Hawke’s LA cop in Training Day and his Brooklyn cop here gave me more respect for him as an actor. And much of the film revolves around Richard Gere’s character.  I think the best compliment I can give him is the man still has ‘it’: the ability to be the anchor in a ridiculously talented ensemble.  And there’s a few other ‘names’ who pop up but I won’t name who.

The crime genre (and its most lucrative subgenre, the gangster genre) have both hit that point where greatness is almost impossible to get to.  So when a film does a good job, you acknowledge how hard it was.  And Brooklyn’s Finest is a good film; worth checking out for the great acting alone.  

the-fresh-prince-of-bel-air_324x218

One of the most popular sitcoms of its era, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air told the story of West Philly teenager Will Smith as he brought his street-wise hip hop sensibilities to the Banks household, moving in with his aunt and uncle in Bel Air, California.

On to the tale of the tape…

Relevance:  In the middle of a new golden age for black sitcoms, The Fresh Prince, in addition to having a black star and an all black cast, would over its six year run have guest appearances by numerous black stars making their own moves on the career ladder (Tyra Banks, Don Cheadle, and Tevin Campbell immediately come to mind).  How many sitcoms in history have had their theme song rapped by its star?  The defense rests.

Legacy:  Very, very easy to forget with all that’s happened since, but Will Smith was damn near done before this project got greenlit.  Like a lot of young brothers who get money young, he spent freely and the IRS was on him.  The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air gave Will a second career as an actor, and to his credit he’s taken full advantage of the opportunity.

Craft:  With all due respect to TBS, this show was truly very, very funny.  Well cast, well written, and very well performed, the show consistently brought the laughs, which (should be) the goal for any sitcom.

Crossover:  And let’s pass some of that praise on to NBC and its various station managers across the country.  When the show was for all intents and purposes cancelled after three seasons, both fans and affiliates let the powers that be know how popular the show was in spite of it not ever being the number one show in America.  Three more seasons later, The Fresh Prince of Bel Air more than earned its place as a syndication favorite.

Apollo:  Another show where you could pick from many choices.  I’ll go with the running joke that we all know: Jazz (Jazzy Jeff) getting thrown out of the mansion repeatedly for either a) hitting on Hilary, b) pissing off Uncle Phil, or c) usually a combination of both.

Next time on the TV show countdown, something much more serious.  Until then…

 

george_clooney_1

Enough people have picked up on this one both off screen (see the Photos section) and on screen (the short and some of my past roles) that I might as well acknowledge it.  While I’m just another branch off Stella Adler’s ‘Method’ tree, and my social consciousness started with Malcolm, there are also multiple direct and indirect ways I can point to my respect of George Clooney.

  • The Actor

He’s played Batman, shall we start there?  And wasn’t the reason that film nearly killed off the franchise, he just couldn’t save it.  He co-starred with J.Lo at her absolute APEX (I knew more than a few of my college buddies are nodding their heads right now, remembering Out of Sight).  And he walked into a personal irritant of mine (trying to remake an already good movie) and nailed it.  Ocean’s 11, anyone?

This also falls under the overall concept of image, but Clooney is also a throwback style wise.  He was never a thirtysomething (now a fortysomething) trying to pass himself off as a 20 year old cool kid.  He found his cool as a grown ass man, and man did he run with it!  Part of being self-assured, he doesn’t seem to take himself too seriously.  Especially in comedies, there’s always that vibe of “I’m not the guy curing cancer or AIDS, I’m not bringing peace to the Middle East.  I’m an actor, and I’m having fun doing it.”

  • The Writer/Director

Two films as a director: Confessions of a Dangerous Mind is based on the autobiography of Chuck Barris.  The same Chuck Barris who hosted The Gong Show and created The Newlywed Game and The Dating Game claims to have been a covert assassin for the CIA in his spare time.  Well, OK.  Clooney takes on a supporting role in this good, not great film.  It wasn’t a blockbuster at the box office, but most critics agreed he did fine for his directorial debut.

His second film was Good Night and Good Luck, a look at Edward R. Murrow’s televised attacks on Senator Joseph McCarthy.  Clooney once again took a supporting role in another film based at least in part on television in the 50s, 60s, and 70s.  Coincidence?  Hardly.  Clooney’s aunt is Rosemary Clooney, a popular singer in her day; his father’s career was in television also.  The lesson: choose material you’re comfortable with.  Good Night and Good Luck become one of the year’s critical hits, and Clooney became the first person to be nominated for directing one film and acting in another (his win for Syriana).

  • The Activist

Clooney was a low key celeb supporter in Obama’s presidential run; the cause he’s most known for is Darfur.  Along with Don Cheadle, his vocal support for the region has helped shine a spotlight on a part of Africa that I’ll be the first to admit I didn’t know about.  Their efforts have been recognized by both the United Nations and the Nobel Peace Prize committee.

  • The Brand

Intelligent without being overly preachy.  Stylish without being a complete fashion snob.  A serious artist with a rep for not taking himself too seriously.  A public figure willing to use his spotlight to draw attention to a cause he believes in.

I’ve followed in worse footsteps…