Tag Archive: george clooney


 

chuckbarris

We lost Chuck Barris last week.

If I’m being generous, I have ‘cloudy’ memories of the Gong Show.  I do remember ‘Confessions of a Dangerous Mind’ as Clooney’s first film as a director, and the scene below was a heavy influence on the last short I directed ‘Santa’s Third Wheel’ (love story, body language over dialogue).

Rest in Peace Chuckie Baby.

 

george_clooney_p

Like some of you, I get a little nervous when a film seems to be too overtly political.  There’s a delicate balance in doing those right.

But as most of you know, if Clooney is involved I’m willing to give it the benefit of the doubt. Especially when I spot a couple other people who I love are in this movie.

mclooney

So ‘Trojan War’ is done and a living product now, officially.  It’s been a great ride, a ton of memories I’ll never forget, chief among them the outpouring of support.

I love my people.  In every possible way that statement can be interpreted. Beyond the superficial links between us, that sense of ‘take care of the people who take care of you’ is a common value that binds me and Aaron.  Somewhat ironically, it’s cut both ways the past few weeks.  I’ve pumped up the film and its players every chance I got leading up to the premiere (as most of you saw).

The flip side of that is choosing to be quiet publicly as (in no particular order) Donald Trump, Ben Carson, and Quentin Tarantino have…gotten my attention. If any of their news is still relevant next week (likely), we can address it then.  For one, this week has been about having fun and reminiscing about a great time to be a Trojan.  And two; sure nobody is interviewing me or quoting me today.  But I personally saw twice (TWICE!), conversations I’ve had with people on this project, where the context was clear, then the exact same thing is repeated word for word, to a reporter, put (and edited) in print, and turned into something else.  (One of them you can probably guess with little difficulty). So again, even if, in all likelihood me talking anything political would have never been picked up…why take a chance on being an unnecessary distraction?  One thing I must admit I like about being ‘on’ all the time, is that it’s made me fast-forward to acting like ‘the best version of Malik Aziz’ now, instead of waiting on being ‘big-time’ and then trying to clean up my act. More ‘hey Malik is this thoughtful and intellectual and passionate film geek’, less ‘man Malik retweets a lot of those booty clapping videos’ (half joking).

(In terms of the one relevant news item you can connect to the film; what started as a bitter, season ticket holder sniping has turned into ‘Alright, get him out of here, but if he really is drinking his life away, get him help.  We’ll use the rest of this season to figure out who should lead the program.  We’re full strength now.’)

Moving forward, ‘Trojan War’ is the biggest, flashiest project I’ve been a part of.  I’ll always point to it as something I’m proud of.  In terms of my endgame, it’s a door, a gateway, a bridge to tell other stories I’m passionate about.

As much as anything, the personal validation of knowing there’s a way for me to get what I want without making compromises I’m completely uncomfortable with, means as much to me as the professional validation.

So what exactly am I planning next?

Well, I’m not talking about that. Yet…

Obi-wan_kenobi_on_tatooine

Returned to the director’s chair. Made a quality short that will find a new audience every holiday season (like the film its based on, ironically). Wrote my first original pilot. Wrote my first spec based on a TV show I love. Producer on another ‘legacy’ project that’s one of those ‘once in a lifetime’ things I’m thrilled to be a part of. The period of time from the last Ramadan to this one has found me in another peak period. Stability and consistency have arrived.

I’m mastering how to be as efficient as I can, I’ve reverse engineered the remaining details.  It’s happening.  The endgame (which we’ve half jokingly, half seriously called, ‘Muslim Clooney’.) Not as one giant home run swing, but by stringing together all the daily and weekly victories.  Far from over, but constant forward motion.  With a lot of help and support from many of you, I’ve worked myself into a position where I can think but not ‘overthink’, I’ve created a sense of ‘home’ (stability) which makes me more confident in myself and my natural voice.  We still have more fun than we should at times, but I’m reverting back to being more selective about when and where and in front of whom I act like the ‘devil may care goofball who doesn’t take anything too seriously’ and re-establishing my go-to move as being the ‘socially conscious, politically aware artist who prides himself on being a world citizen.’ The consistency.

Part of it I guess was aging into it, but I’m completely comfortable in ‘my spot.’  When I was younger, I’m sure some people thought I’d be some version of DeRay McKessen.  I love and support what that brother is, but I don’t know want his life.  When you hear me hype up Ava DuVernay or Issa Rae, I’m not angling for a gig; their voices and what they represent are important as well.  Even the young brothers who at some point maybe I was ‘suppose to be’, like Justin Simien or Ryan Coogler, I feel no envy.  They’re not telling my specific story or doing what I specifically do. I now live in the moment more than I ever have, but my eyes on the Big Picture; something bigger than I will ever be and something that will be here long after I’m gone.  This may be an easier statement for someone as defiantly individual as I am to say, but I believe it’s true: you will be challenged at every turn, you will have to fight for what you believe in at every step, but, what’s meant for you? No one can take that from you.

So back to this moment. The past couple of weeks I’ve started to strip away the unnecessary things, and this is part of it.  As much as is practically possible in 2015, I’m taking a social media and blogging hiatus for Ramadan (which starts later this week.) As I’ve told the people close to me, for the first time in I don’t know how long, I don’t have to ‘fix’ anything in my life.  I can routinely place my hand on the brass ring, but haven’t quite put my fingers around it. So my goal is making sure I maintain and continue to build upon my (say it with me now) stability and consistency.

I’m off for deep meditation and to protect the Future here in the dry lands.  If it’s meant to be and the time is right (say mid July?), we’ll get back to it.

Take care.

 

diannereeves

I’m looking at the next month and realizing ‘Holy sh–, I’ve completely over-committed myself.’  Only way to get ahead though.

So as I fight off impending stress with this concentrated apple juice on the rocks, enjoy the other song I guarantee I’m covering one way or another in a film someday, even though at this exact moment I’m quite fond of this soundtrack version.

Damn you Clooney…

Anyway, get the week started right…

 

‘Gravity’

 

sandra-bullock-gravity-film

This is starting to feel like a year from the 70s.  A lot of really good films, but they cover a lot of different territory.

American Hustle is the ‘fun’ film, and 12 Years a Slave is the ‘important’ film…but if you wanted to make the case that Gravity is the ‘most cinematic film’ (and the Producers Guild seems to feel this way), that argument can certainly be made.

Sandra Bullock headlines here as an astronaut who, when disaster strikes and she’s left all alone (in space!), must find a way back to Earth.  By ‘Oscar film standards’, the film moves really fast at under 2 hours, and the story is paced out really well.  Every time the audience is led to feel, “OK she’s suffered enough, now get home,” something else (literally) comes flying at Dr. Stone.  There’s a nice supporting turn by ‘the Movie Star Who I Shamelessly Copy His Style and Merge with My Own Individual Identity’, but this film belongs to Sandra Bullock.  I had access to watch this at home, but everyone who saw it when it came out told me to see it on the bigscreen so I waited until I could do that.  Yeah, definitely feel it was worth it.

Blanchett has been winning the awards so far, but I wouldn’t be completely shocked if the Best Actress race isn’t over just yet.

 

cadillacats

Everyone (especially in this line of work) sees the finished product, but depending on the ‘method’ used, there are a lot of different decisions made on the way to getting on the stage, getting in front of the camera, or getting behind the microphone.  Today I’ll pull back the curtain ever so slightly to give a little insight that goes into the craft of creating something…

Some of you are aware that I’ve spent more time lately in the recording booth.  In terms of acting, it’s not an insult to say that ratio wise it can be the least amount of man hours for the most amount of profit…if you find your niche.  So let’s start with the Will Smith Legend: he wanted to be a ‘movie star’ so one day x number of years ago he looked up what the top grossing movies were and chose scripts that mimicked that.  Whatever you think of him now, that plan definitely worked out for him.  But let’s get back specifically to doing voice work.

So what kind of products do the guys I emulate promote?  Let’s take a listen:

Well…alright.  George brought the thunder with that one, didn’t he?  And it’s ‘Jeep’ and they’re selling themselves as ‘the Best’, so in that case, you probably want to have more of a tone like ‘I’M A MAN DAMMIT!!!!’ in the way you deliver it.  That chip on your shoulder style is not really ‘my’ style though.  I was thinking what comes natural to me is more relaxed.

So what’s Don Draper sell in real life?  Well…

There it is!!!  ‘Hey, you’ve worked hard.  You’ve earned this.’  Nothing to prove, just enjoying life.  Well done, Mr. Hamm.  So that’s the baseline.

So when it came time for me to pick a spot, I wanted to blend my natural, laid back intellect and confidence with a product that you would really believe ‘Malik Aziz’ would use (so something nice, but not necessarily ‘blue blood’ nice).

Here’s what I came up with:

That’s just a demo obviously, so don’t y’all be hitting me up for free Caddies and what not.  And while we’re here, thank you to my brother Amir for the sound editing and the SAG Foundation for letting me use their booth.

So there’s a general outline of one process for one specific project.  Hope you got something from it.

Class dismissed.

 

_MG_8965

The stats machine is telling me today’s post is post number 500. So much going on in ‘real life’, we’re right on time for some introspection…

By the personal and professional standard I hold myself to, I’ve had back to back ‘house money’ years.  I’ve been in the Game long enough to know this pace won’t last forever, but this extended upswing has given me new perspective, or rather it’s added to the perspective I have.  I don’t feel as if I’m changing in a dramatic way, but I feel I’ve opened a door in understanding how others think.  Let me explain…

To start where I started, and to be shaped by the philosophies and politics that shaped me, I was aware of how ‘power corrupts’, but I just didn’t get it.  I have enough ego to know that once in a while it’s in your best interests to let the world know ‘Yeah, I got this.’, but to live a lifetime where everything is driven by someone doing you wrong at some point; not me.  While also not my style, there was a point in the process where I understood the Hater Code (if I can’t have it, then you can’t either).  But to be fair, the only thing I’ve consistently hated on the past couple of years is the Miami Heat, so how much of a hater am I really?

The new perspective I feel I have a better understanding of now is ‘being born on third base.’  I was (proudly) not born on third base, so it represented ‘the Other’ for most of my life.  But from where I sit now, I can at least get how people who have never known a certain type of struggle have no need or understanding for religion.  And on the flip side, I see better how much all of our religious beliefs are shaped by the cultures that raised us.  In a larger sense, I’m really saying I have a new understanding of conservatism.  If you’re too far removed from the cycles that feed and encourage a certain type of self destruction, then it would be hard to separate ‘the person who can and will pull themselves out if we give them a little help’, from ‘the person with no intent of changing their situation’ (and feeding the worst stereotypes people associate with any type of socialism.)

Here’s how this relates to me individually: as my life, and the things I want out of this life have all started to fall into their proper place, I feel now that the best way to serve the people I love and the communities I love…is to be myself.  Not (as I intended at earlier points) to be some outsized, WWE version of ‘Malik Aziz turned up to 11’ that you I get to play sometimes on stage or in front of the camera, but as the me that those who know me the best have gotten used to seeing and talking to everyday.

‘Boston’ was a prime example of this.  A year ago, I would have felt compelled to say…’something’.  As last week played out though, all the points or opinions I felt were made by others: I just shared or retweeted them as I chose.  It doesn’t mean if shit really hits the fan, I won’t be right back on the frontlines.  It just means, in a way, I’m returning to a ‘classic’ version of myself: when I speak up, you know I’ve thought about the viewpoint, and I believe in it.  The much, much less serious version of this is my relation to black cinema right now. When I and my generation started, Spike had kind of established himself as ‘the Voice’, so most of us felt compelled to be our generation’s ‘Voice’.  Now, they may not be household names just yet, but there are so many good, young black filmmakers out there telling original, good stories, I don’t really feel like I ‘have’ to do it anymore.  I do it when I want to do it.  (Having said that though, consider this: Clooney and Eastwood directed their first feature films at 40, Denzel was in his 50s when he did it.  So by my new standard, I’m somewhere between ‘right on time’ or ‘ridiculously ahead of schedule, still.’  Chew on that.)

I’ll end this milestone post, on this last but definitely not least statement.  If this is your first time passing through or your 500th, thank you for coming by.  Some of the regulars I know very well, some of my internet stalkers I probably wouldn’t be able to guess in a million years.  But especially those of you who I do know in ‘real life’, you have left your mark on me as much as I have on you.  In terms of this space, I’ve been figuring it out as we go along, but over time I fee like this has become a pretty accurate reflection of me and my personality.  Days like today you see the intellectual and spiritual core, but most of the time: silly, romantic, soulful, eccentric.  Sounds about right.

So here’s to the next 500!

Argo

 

Argo

Frontrunner for the Best Picture Oscar now?  Well, definitely not for Best Director (argument for another day).  Anyway, Ben Affleck’s latest (and best) effort has all the ingredients: ‘based on a true story’, top notch supporting cast, a little bit of Hollywood making fun of itself…all the pieces are there.

The story itself is one of those ‘too good to be true/sounds made up’ deals: a CIA operative sneaks a group of Americans out of Iran under the guise of being in preproduction for a big budget ‘Star Wars’ rip off.  In a lot of ways, Argo is the grandchild of a lot of 70s classics: All the President’s Men, Serpico, Three Days of the Condor.  Even before I did the research, my gut told me Clooney had to have his hands on this somehow.  Wasn’t remotely surprised to learn he was one of the producers.

Connections aside though, Argo is a good film.  My personal ‘test’ for any movie based on something that really happened comes down to one question: do I still feel the dramatic tension even if I know how the story ends?  In my opinion, this is where Affleck the director made the film.  The third act (the escape) is paced really well; the threat of the protagonists getting caught is there for as long as humanly possible.

So at this point it looks like this film or Lincoln gets the big piece of chicken this year.  I’ll have my prediction when we get a little closer to the actual ceremony…

2012 Oscar Wrap Up

So we had technical difficulties, so if you weren’t keeping up with me on Twitter, you didn’t get my thoughts (sorry).  A few post game feelings though…

  • You all know how much I’m a fan of Clooney, so I was genuinely surprised/amused at the disgust and hate when he didn’t get the Best Actor award.  That one didn’t surprise me at all, but like with Best Picture, some of you clearly are against ‘the Artist’ being acknowledged as the ‘best’ of the year.  Well hey, to each its own I guess.
  • Billy Crystal wasn’t the worst, but man there were some deaaaaaaaad spots at certain points of the show.  I think overall though, things went smoothly.
  • The ‘In Memoriam’ section was the single best part of the show to me personally. There wasn’t any doubt in my mind that Elizabeth Taylor was getting the last mention, but even her part was only 10 seconds at the most.  Well done.
  • A few years back I started saying anyone who wanted to make the argument that Meryl Streep is the best film actor ever (over Brando, Deniro and Pacino even) would get no argument from me.  But I still feel for Viola, that had to be rough sitting there.
  • Overall, decent show.  Now we can look forward to next year…