Tag Archive: idris elba


‘Thor: Ragnarok’

 

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So we all agree this was fun right?  Good.  So this will be an ‘actor’s review’…

If one thing bothered me consistently, it was Idris Elba.  Not as an actor or a character, but ‘how is Idris Elba the movie star the sixth wheel in this?’  Having said that, I’m sure one ‘third sequel on a Marvel franchise’ paycheck is equal to ten ‘leading man in movies only film geeks see’ paycheck (and that’s being extremely generous.  So it is what it is.

For we Adler disciples, seeing Mark Ruffalo inhabit all the best parts of Brando (just becoming the character, even in a popcorn movie) is a joy.  And in a time of deconstructing our Hollywood idols, by all accounts he’s a nice guy who is genuine in his social activism.  So double cool points.

Speaking of people ‘above’ being in movies like this, Cate Blanchett has always been in that tier right behind Meryl Streep in ‘she can play anyone convincingly’, so watching her ham it up for two hours was joyful too.  Really, this whole movie was well written and casted.

And as far as Tessa goes…beyond being a bad ass…using the ‘proper’ English accent, well…

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So yeah, all the recommends for this one.

 

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‘The Screen Guild Awards’

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I don’t know who/if there’s a A-list movie or TV star in this cast, but I’ll be damned if between the writing and the cast this hasn’t been an above average SNL season.

Consistently good at ‘raising the stakes’ on the skits; and it seems like they’ve been more willing than they have in recent years to go for hot button issues.

Enjoy!

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The first thing that struck me as I watched this film is how this man’s life, this man’s real life, would be completely unbelievable if presented as a fictional character.  This adaptation of his autobiography is epic when presenting the African continent, and claustrophobic when showing his Mandela’s decades in prison.  It’s as solid as a film can probably be to try to capture this man’s life.

Idris is solid in the title role; in capturing his entire life, Elba is probably the best suited actor right now to play Mandela as a younger, more sexualized Mandela (no disrespect to Mr. Freeman or Fish). Just my personal opinion, but the real star of the film is Naomie Harris as Winnie.  If you only know her as Moneypenny, this part is a revelation.  The camera loves her, and her character arc is more interesting than the well known mythology of Nelson.  For what it’s worth, combine this with ‘Beasts of No Nation’, and this is the second time lately where Idris is the headliner but his co-star takes the movie. As an actor and a filmmaker, this kind of ‘generosity’ makes me like him even more.

Streaming on Netflix now.  Didn’t do what it was expected to do last awards season, but still worth watching.

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Fukunaga is the auteur and Idris is the name you recognize on the poster, but ‘Beasts of No Nation’ belongs to Abraham Attah.

‘The Wire’ and ‘City of God’ both excel in showing you how children with no hope can become stone cold killers. ‘Beasts’ asks an even more somber question: ‘What if it’s complete within reason things didn’t have to go this way?’

No matter how good the story is, or how great the auteur may be, it’s a HUGE leap of faith to pin your story’s fate on a child actor.  So I keep coming back to it; Attah’s performance is not overly ‘showy’ in my opinion, but he hits his character’s arc fully. Playful childhood innocence to programmed child soldier to the ‘what now’ on the other side (if there is an other side).

Streaming on Netflix.  Watch it.

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My personal favorite ‘movie season’ is on the horizon.  This is definitely one of the films I’m looking forward to.

And I won’t have to leave the house to see it.

The times, they are a changing…

Get Caught Up on ‘Luther’

 

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As promised, a couple of political comments to start the week:

First, I heard a couple of people mention this last week, but after seeing some clips, Secretary of State Kerry’s face…does appear to be…a lot…smoother?  OK.

Also, one of my first bosses in this town, Alec Baldwin, is apparently going to be joining the MSNBC crew with his own show.  If you anything about that man at all, you know that is a perfect match.  If it’s just a televised version of his podcast (Here’s the Thing), then I don’t know how the TV show will NOT succeed.

Moving on…

I’m in one of those ‘Working 8 Days a Week’ stages (probably until I’m safely on the next rung of the ladder), but thanks to On Demand I was able to watch the 4 episodes that made up this year’s series (British term) of ‘Luther’, starring Idris Elba.  If you like cerebral dramas (and you probably do if you we have similar tastes) then you need to check out this show.  The only reason I can think of you that you may not know about it or hear as much about it is because it’s not an American show; it’s a product of the BBC.  You don’t have to have watched the earlier seasons to enjoy where the story is at now (so it’s not ‘Breaking Bad’ for example), but of course there are details and story turns that you’ll get more from if you’ve watched the whole series.

Apparently Idris as Mandela is really good too.  I…will be the cynical one here as far as all the brothers doing good work getting recognition come Oscar time (Forrest in ‘the Butler’, Mike Jordan in ‘Fruitvale, Chewy in ’12 Years a Slave’).  We’ll have plenty of time to talk about all that before the year is out.  But if the system is catching on that stories with three dimensional black leads can be critically respected AND profitable, then that’s a huge step forward we can all celebrate.

See, I was trying to stay off the soapbox.  Ah well.  Start your week off right.

 

I’ve spent quite a bit of time the past few weeks profusely thanking the people around me.  Calling friends, hanging out, sending cards: doing right by those who have done right by me.  Nothing extraordinarily good or bad has happened to me (yet), but the desire to be grateful has hit me.  Depending on the exact timing, the responses have fallen into one of three categories: 1) humble appreciation of the bond we share, 2) mutual amazement at the extraordinary number of things that had to happen for our paths to even cross in the first place, or 3) the macho ‘I’ll be vulnerable for 1.5 seconds before I have to start acting hard again’ response.  The learning curve of who we can trust is different for each of us; my case seems typical for where I came from:  Start out trusting no one, you live your life and some bonds are formed and broken naturally, and in the end you have a handful of people that you trust and can talk to about everything.

So one of those handful recently asked me what my ‘social agenda’ was these days.  With the understanding that no one will be mentioned by name (of course), I don’t mind telling you what I told him.

Much as in my professional ambitions, I’ve had a very specific image in mind of what the Aziz Family will be.  In spite of every myth or stereotype you’ve heard, I’ve actually known my father my entire life, and believe it or not, he’s a really good dude.  So that cycle will continue: my children will not only have half of my genetic makeup, they will be raised with my presence and with my value system.

While my foundation is solid, I’m not going to act like my reputation as a bachelor isn’t infamous.  I will always bristle when someone refers to me as any kind of ‘pretty boy’ (blame college), and I seriously doubt I’m taking any options away from Idris Elba.  But (and there’s really no way for me to say this next sentence without sounding like a Humblebragging douchebag so I’ll just say it) I’ve been blessed with the right mix of look/style/intellect/personality/ambition to have relationships with women outside of my religious group, my racial group, social status, you name it.  I can cross over and I have, repeatedly. But being able to do that cuts both ways…

Not long ago I was talking to what I like to refer to as a Dirty Diana.  Realistically, I saw no future with this woman.  But she had two of my known fatal flaws: brunette hair that flowed down to her shoulders, and a slight (non-American) accent. She could have been a Kardashian cousin (not that uncommon really when you get into the Muslim dating world and the cultures that make it up).  But how did I know there wasn’t a future? She couldn’t keep me interested intellectually.  So I just smanged a couple times, then went with the old ‘Yeah so I’m married, is that a problem?’ line to get out of it.

(KIDDING, KIDDING.  I believe in karma people, come on!  We friend zoned each other up.)

In all seriousness though, most of my time and energy as of late has been with the Liberian Girl types.  Fellow intellects, women with a sense of culture, women whose sensuality is both internal and external.  Truth be told, it’s been quite…liberating.  I know I’ve probably doomed myself to another horror story before it’s all said and done, but there is definitely a comfort level that comes from knowing you view the world through the same prism, and would like the same type of home life.  Stressing (or not stressing) over chemistry is much nicer than stressing over “Man am I setting myself up for compromises I have no intentions of making five years down the line?”

So to answer my friend’s original question (since I know he’s a regular reader), like a lot of things in my life, this seems to be naturally working itself out.

Have a safe weekend everybody!

Thor

As you can probably guess, I know much more about the characters in the DC Universe than I do about the characters in the Marvel Universe.  When Iron Man came out a couple years back, I was as ‘blind’ to the character’s backstory as possible.  Thanks to my buddy Vahagn, I know a ‘little’ more about the Marvel guys now.  So I was ‘aware’ of Thor in his place in the Marvel universe but couldn’t tell you alot about him.

Speaking as ‘MovieGoer X who likes a good comic book movie without knowing everything about the character’, I enjoyed Thor alot.  The tone of the Marvel comics is similar, but I’ll start here: whoever is making the decision about the ‘tone’ of the Marvel films deserves major credit.  Like Iron Man, Thor isn’t trying to be The Dark Knight.  The first act jumps right into the absurdity of a ‘God of Thunder’ landing in present day America.  And it’s such a great play because when the movie gets heavy into the action in the second half, the audience is invested.  A part of me wants to get upset again on all the comic book movies who couldn’t get this right, but we’re still in a golden age for fanboys, so I’ll just sit back and enjoy it.

I’ll be honest; since the ‘mythology’ of this particular character doesn’t interest me much beyond understanding the ‘rules’ of his world.  I could have done without as much of that (outside of the humor of seeing Stringer Bell in a golden costume.  I’ve picked up that fanboys weren’t too crazy about that, but I guess Marvel felt like they could get away casting that role color blind).  The tie ins to the future ‘Avengers’ movie was MUCH more organic in this film than in the Marvel films before it; I’m actually looking forward to what they do with that now.

This came up in discussion after the film, but Natalie Portman owns the sci fi geek market so hard it’s absurd.  Her role here was ‘the girlfriend’, so I don’t think this will earn back to back Oscars for her. Whenever she comes back from motherhood, I’ll be very interested to see if she sticks with these kind of roles or goes in a different direction. The cat who played Thor absolutely killed it though; he even nailed the accent you would expect ‘Thor’ to talk in.  I’ll say it again: The Avengers movie is starting to shape up very very nicely…