Tag Archive: heath ledger


 

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.

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Alright, it’s late Sunday night/Monday morning when this goes out, so most of you who were interested has seen The Dark Knight Rises at least once right?  Good!  If you haven’t seen it, leave now.  Friday morning I gave my midnight screening, top level, not ruining anything for any of my friends review, if you’re still reading I’m assuming you’ve seen it so this time around I’ll go into detail about exactly what I liked and didn’t care for (in no particular order…)

  • MICHAEL CAINE!!!!  You only had five or six scenes, but you put on the Daddy pants didn’t you?  A lot of it was how Alfred was written this time around, but you put on the acting boots and you had me (most of us actually) feeling it when you’re crying at Bruce Wayne’s grave.  Salute, sir!
  • Marion Cotillard: Professionally it’s certainly an asset, but between this and Inception, you might want to tell Nolan no next time he says he has a part for you.  Unless you’re not acting in these films, and you really are ‘the beautiful woman who looks like she will cut up every suit in your closet if you forget her birthday.’  If that’s who you really are, let me just go on record and say you’re my favorite part of both movies! (Please don’t hunt me down and stab me in my sleep.)
  • Knightfall is my all time favorite Batman story by far (and the Batman film I always wanted to make growing up).  So even though he again ended up being the ‘muscle’ for a femme fatale villain, I was overwhelmingly happy with the redemption of Bane as a Batman film villain.  In the end though…the sound mix still didn’t come out perfect did it?  There were still a few times where I wanted someone to say, ‘Hey Bane, you mind saying that one more time?’
  • While I’m in the fanboy bitching mood, I was cool with using the Tim Drake, excuse me, ‘John Blake’ version of Robin that White Malik played (that’s my crews nickname for Joseph Gordon-Levitt.  Another time I’ll go into that nickname.)  But his explanation for figuring out Batman didn’t jibe for me, (paraphrasing…)

Robin: ‘I’m an orphan too so I know how you put on a ‘mask’ to hide your pain. You’re Batman.
What Bruce Should Have Said: Um, yeah I hide my pain because my parents were murdered in front of me.  Get out.

On the other hand, if Robin would have said…

Robin: “I became a cop because of the Batman.  I know how you and the Commissioner took down the mob by following their money.  So I used the same logic.  All the fake Batmans had their guns, but how does the real Batman have access to a military grade car like the Tumbler?  How does he have the means to go to Hong Kong off anyone’s radar and bring back a key witness?  Maybe if the Batman was really a billionaire heir to the biggest industrial company in the city?

Bruce: Get out.

I rest my case.

  • In terms of my earlier comment about too much exposition in the first act (I won’t say I originated this comment but it’s true), it REALLY makes you love Heath Ledger’s Joker again right?  Where did he come from? ‘No name, no matches on prints…nothing in his pockets but knives and lint.‘  Why is he so destructive?  “I’m like a dog chasing cars…I just DO things”   Obviously you can’t beat the chaos/anarchy theme into the ground too hard, but that Joker was iconic.
  • Fanboy nitpicking aside, the ending gets better the more I think about it.  Again, I’m not the first to say this but I agree 100%: in comic book/cartoon form, the story never ‘ends’, the Batman never ages, and his mission goes on for eternity.  In a ‘realistic’ story though, the Prince of Gotham could only be the Batman for a limited time physically (like a professional athlete’s career at best), and if he somehow survived being the Batman…hopefully he would eventually try to have the normal life that his parents, Alfred, even Rachel all wanted for him.  So sure it was a ‘Hollywood’ ending, but I think it was the right way to end the trilogy.

My generation’s Batman is complete.  Thank you Mr. Nolan.

Quick Shots

A lot of movie talk among friends this week – I thought I’d post my thoughts on three different castings…

Willow Smith in a remake of Annie – I mean, did this even have to get ‘sold’?  Little Jada has a hit song under her belt, her brother had a nice hit (and respectable remake) with the Karate Kid; and little orphan Annie is one of those movies that it seems like every generation gets their own version of.  I don’t know if it’s confirmed, but I heard Jay Z will be helping out in some way.  I may be wrong but it seems like “Hard Knock Life” was his first real, real big crossover hit.  Seems like a smart, safe play all the way around.

Beyonce in a remake of “A Star is Born” – this was the equivalent (to me anyway) of seeing someone whose name you know but you just can’t remember, then they say their name and say “YEAH THAT’S IT!”  I can’t say I’m a hardcore Beyonce fan, but I’m a fan.  Personally I’ve wanted to see her do a role where she just acts and doesn’t sing, but “Beyonce in “A Star is Born” sells itself.  Directed by Clint Eastwood sounds to me like they’re gearing up for an Oscar push.  We shall see.  Early prediction: there won’t be a Jennifer Hudson this time around to steal the movie from under her.

Anne Hathaway in “The Dark Knight Rises” – Cautious optimism.  I don’t care how much juice Chris Nolan has with Warner Brothers, there was just no way there was going to be any kind of “Batman 3” without SOME type of female lead. (Not saying that was his intention.)  I like Anne Hathaway, I think she’s very credible as an actress, but (like everyone else) wasn’t even on my radar to be Catwoman.  Of course we all know the reason the rational fanboys haven’t gone ballistic over this: Heath Ledger as the Joker.  So we’ll see what Nolan has in mind…

Have a good weekend.

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In recent memory, there have been few films that have stirred up the flames and sparked discussions about the lack of roles for black actresses in general, and the portrayal of black sexuality overall, the way that Monster’s Ball has.  The plot revolves around a romance between a former death row security guard and the widow of a man he executed.  On to the tale of the tape…

Relevance:  The story’s location (Louisiana) lets you know going in that race was going to be addressed head on in this story.  The presence of two of the biggest names of modern day black America (Halle Berry and Diddy) are all it really needed.

Legacy:  Yeah I know.  We’re getting there, we’re getting there…

Craft:  I remember when I saw this movie my first thought was ‘Great, I thought this was supposed to be a serious movie, and they’ve got one of these young pretty boys in there.’  As the movie went on, I realized, “Man, this cat can really act!”  And I respected Heath Ledger from this movie until the end.

Crossover:  Well, you tell me.  As we all know, Halle Berry won the Best Actress Oscar for her performance in this movie.  At this point even she’s parodied her tearful acceptance speech, but it was one of those moments that will stay in the Oscar highlights from now on.

Apollo:  Hmm…was there anything shocking in this movie?  Hmm…Peter Boyle was pretty racist…Diddy and Heath both proved they can act…hmm…what else?  Oh yes…MAKE ME FEEL GOOD!!!!   I’ve rarely felt more heated (pun intended) in a crowded movie theater.  I’ve had several friends outside the film game ask me if they really did it.  Actually, the phrasing was more along the lines, “There’s only one way you get the cheeks popping like that!!!”  I obviously wasn’t there and don’t have the answer to that question, but if Halle ever decides she wants to go there again for a film role, I’m available…

Alright, back next time with another ‘landmark’ film.  Until then…

The Soloist

 

soloist

He’s a clown, he’s one of the funniest fools in Hollywood, but movies like The Soloist remind you that Jamie Foxx can really, really act.  This film was originally supposed to come out during awards season; we got a long way to go to get to award season 09 but Jamie’s performance here could easily be one of the better ones I’ll see all year.  It’s always a tricky thing in film to portray someone who is ‘mentally ill’; the medium gives you a lot of leeway in how you portray it, but at the same time if it comes off too cute it can feel patronizing.  I won’t spoil the device used here; I will say I thought they handled it well.

Part of the ‘point’ of the movie seems to be to highlight the plight of the homeless (especially here in Los Angeles).  My second apartment in LA was downtown, so I have my fair share of stories, some funny, some not.  Growing up in the Midwest, homelessness wasn’t something I really had any experience with.  At least not on a mass scale.   I’ve always been sensitive to how delicate life is though; you just don’t know what God has planned for you.

I have a feeling this movie got pushed back because the studio didn’t feel Downey or Foxx had a snowball’s chance in hell of mixing it up with Heath Ledger and Sean Penn last year during the awards push.  And they were probably right.  That doesn’t mean this isn’t an interesting movie about a very real, modern day issue though.

 

oscar1

Hey, did, did someone correctly predict four out of five in the major categories?  (And I said I could see Penelope winning, scroll down.)  Maybe I should think about a career in the movie industry?  No, this year was fairly predictable if you’ve been following awards season.  Anyway, quick thoughts on the show in no particular order…

Thought the change in format was excellent.  Don’t know if you can do this every year, but it was great to be different.

Hugh Jackman’s opening was a nice way to set the mood, but I was hoping they wouldn’t overdo the ‘musical’ thing.  Uh oh…

I think I’ve mentioned this before, but Man on Wire is a really enjoyable documentary if you haven’t seen it.  Don’t let the quirky French cat who balanced the Oscar on his face turn you off to it if you haven’t seen it.

Five past winners welcoming the ‘new kid’ into the club?  Brilliant.  That can stay.

How the hell did they convince Jerry Lewis to keep it short?

The first musical number was the first thing to pull me out of the show.  But Beyonce showing off that thickness in the red piece?  As a great man once said, “Great googly moogly.”

Let’s get these out of the way with one train of thought:  Right as I was daydreaming about how smooth and natural Alicia Keys-Aziz sounds, my ‘Best Man’ had to text me to tell me she was wearing too much makeup.  I don’t know why but they cracked me up.

But in case there was any doubt about who is still the Sexiest and Most Beautiful Black Woman on the Planet, Halle Berry had to show up and remind the young’uns she ain’t giving up her crown anytime soon.

Alright, now back to the show…

I’m a fan of Queen Latifah, but I was a little irritated they had to sing through the In Memoriam part of the show.  Sydney Pollack was a guest in one of my classes once; incredibly down to earth for a guy of his stature.  And Paul Newman, man.  As Dragline said in Cool Hand Luke, “You, my friend, are an original.” 

You probably know I’m a sports fan, which means you probably know I’m a little superstitious.  I was genuinely worried I was bringing bad karma onto Heath for pouting about The Dark Knight not being nominated more in my predictions column.  I was going to watch the film before the show, but held off.  I was more than ready to toss over every piece of furniture in the house if I heard any other name announced.  So to say I was relieved was an understatment.  A year ago, if you would have told me that any non special effects aspect of a Batman film was a lock for an Academy Award, I would have gladly taken it.  Perspective people.  One last time, thank you Heath.

Happy to see Kate Winslet join the club finally.

I got love for Mickey Rourke, but I was delighted to see Sean Penn ‘officially’ hit Icon status with another Academy Award.  Loved the fact DeNiro was up there too; those are the kind of things I geek out over no matter how old I get.

What else needs to be said about Slumdog Millionaire?  However you want to define the term, it really was ‘The Movie of the Year.’

 

Best Supporting Actor

 

downey

The nominees for Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role are:

  • Josh Brolin in “Milk”
  • Robert Downey Jr. in “Tropic Thunder”
  • Philip Seymour Hoffman in “Doubt”
  • Heath Ledger in “The Dark Knight”
  • Michael Shannon in “Revolutionary Road”

What might happen: (chuckling to myself…)

Who will probably win: Hee hee hee…

Who I’m cheering for: HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA