OK, at this point, I don’t know what else to say about SNL’s consistency to go right for the jugular but keep em coming!
So many things you can dissect here…
Wilson Pickett did a cover of ‘Hey Jude’? Really? How do I not have any memory of this?
Well, it sounds like a great idea on paper, let’s taken a listen…
(Creative Adrenaline Rush!!!)
(acting out and writing the sequence Kerry Washington throws my character and my trumpet out in the middle of the street, and I’m taking the long, terrible Walk of Shame in the rain until I end up on Emma Stone’s porch, where my character (and the audience) have no idea of this thing we’ve been doing is a ‘having fun on the side’ thing or if it’s a ‘real’ thing (cause if it’s NOT a real thing, my character has completely destroyed his life…)
(End of Act One…)
(Tarantino, so help me God if you license this version before I do…)
As this post is about me as a writer, let me do a solid to start. If you’re a blog writer, screenwriter, joke writer, or a like minded member of our ilk, what’s the dreaded word no one wants to hear or be accused of? Stealing. There’s no foolproof method of course, but I recommend my friends at Grammarly to help out. Use Grammarly’s plagiarism checker online because every story has been told, and if you have a feeling the story you’re telling is destined for greatness, there’s a chance someone already beat you to it.
Now, what am I writing these days?
Well, the ‘indie’ project I’ve written is the latest version of my teenage, sci fi project ‘The Legend of the Cursed Angel’. I’ve taken my Star Wars and refashioned it as a low budget webseries, with a stronger emphasis on every episode raising the stakes on ‘how does this end?’ and less emphasis on ‘planets exploding’ and other such nonsense it’s just completely impractical for me to pull off. It’s a ‘movie star’ type part for yours truly, and when I figure out which way I want to go the other major part, I’ll at least get the pilot episode shot. Science fiction, and movie star stuff, I know that doesn’t really scream ‘indie’ but as I joked about with one of my co-stars, when you’re name dropping Assata Shakur and Mumia Abu-Jamal in your script, you’re not exactly screaming Hollywood either…
On the Hollywood side, I’m in the middle of my feature rewrite for ‘Lady In My Life’. The ‘people’ like what I did in the last version fine, but my quest to be original broke way too many genre rules (damn System), so now it’s telling the story I want to tell in a form everyone can recognize while still doing it in a way that is so unique anyone who sees it will know it is ‘my voice’ and it stands out from the pack (welcome to the life of Hollywood screenwriting). I’m already more than halfway there so that doesn’t really concern me; the other part of writing for ‘the Bank’ is the first thing ‘the Bank’ is going to do is envision who they can put in your story to make money. In the last revision I did, I (of course) and Kerry were high school sweethearts who had a baby when we were teenagers, and now that kid (Michael B. Jordan) of course is about to be a man, and…Page 1. And who would play the present day love interests? Everyone who offered suggestions, I’m still digesting all of them: Jennifer Lawrence, Lupita, Alison Brie, Brie Larson, Emma Stone, Jurnee Smollett, Kerry, Beharie, Alba, Zooey. And no, I’m not deliberately looking past the wife/mother character, she is the ‘Lady’; in the current version of the script though, I’ve framed it as a father/son story and how each reacts when given similar choices. And if that framework sounds like it borrows from one of my favorite/greatest movies ever but using it in a more comic form…you may be on the right track there slugger.
So that’s what’s up with the nonstop writing so far in 2014. When we progress into acting and/or directing, I’ll keep you posted.
One of the side effects of this boom period of comic book heroes is that everyone gets a shot to shine. The Black Panther is a Marvel character brought into existence to cater specifically to the African-American audience. While the name suggests a superhero based on the Oakland socio-political group, in fact this character is the King of the fictional African country Wakanda.
Reggie Hudlin wrote and produced this animated version of the character for BET last year (and now streaming on Netflix). He put together an all star voice cast (Alfre Woodard, Kerry Washington, Jill Scott, Djimon Hounson as the Panther) for this version of the character that’s every bit as broad as its origins. The story told here stays true to the ‘on the nose’ nature of the character and his self-righteous origins (in one of the first episodes, the Black Panther defeats Captain America and tells him to go back to where he came from, he doesn’t belong in Africa. And I’m only slightly paraphrasing that line.)
From what I recall, a live action version of the Black Panther is in development. I don’t know if it will work with the tone of the animated series. As far as Hudlin’s version goes though, it works for what it’s intended to be: a safe alternative for young black kids.
With The Fighter being a possible exception, the best cast film I’ve seen from top to bottom to come out in the past 12 months has been Mother and Child. The film’s story is centered around three strong female performances: Annette Bening as a middle aged woman who gave up a child at 14 and is still haunted by the experience; Kerry Washington as a happily married middle class woman who can’t bear children of her own and goes through the ups and downs of the adoption process, and Naomi Watts as a career woman with no past, incapable of having a full emotional relationship but still more than capable of getting what she wants out of life.
While I wouldn’t necessarily call this film a ‘crowd pleaser’, I felt it was great for what it was about. You keep waiting for someone to overact but it never happens (in my opinion); with a multi-layered story you wait for some overly convenient circumstance to bring the parallel stories together (I wasn’t bothered at all by how that happens in this movie). I can’t say enough about the performance of the women in this film; between this film and The Kids Are All Right Annette Bening nailed two different characters who start as shrill and end up being very sympathetic. Kerry Washington plays maybe her most vulnerable character to date and draws you into the helplessness that comes with wanting something badly but recognizing it’s completely out of your control. And Naomi Watts just blew me away hitting all the emotions that you would expect from her character’s backstory: at times cold and distant, a touch of anger, a very strong sexuality, and a heavy level of distrust, in everybody. Ensemble movies are by design not carried by any one actor, but she comes pretty damn close.
Worth seeing if this one flew under your radar (as it did for me most of last year).
This past weekend I went to the USC Homecoming game with a couple of the guys from school, and for a minute I couldn’t help but daydream about these days. Part of getting older is remembering how idealistic you were and how real life changes your perspective on things. I tell that anecdote because Night Catches Us gave me a similar feeling of ‘the good old days.’ This film along with Spike’s filming of A Huey P. Newton Story (which I saw a couple weeks ago, also good) are both great bookend stories about the end of the Black Panther Party.
Night Catches Us took me back not just because of the subject matter, but because of a what it is: an indie black film. My generation realizes now how good we had it as an audience growing up; we used to have a few of these every summer, but now it seems like these days we get a film like this, maybe once every couple years. Like the black films of the New Jack Swing era, this film is anchored by good performances by its leads. Anthony Mackie plays the good brotha with a little bit of an edge, in this film an ex-Panther who comes back to his old Philly neighborhood to mixed feelings. Kerry Washington brings her down to earth sexiness into the female lead as the sista who stayed behind and ‘may’ have feelings for Mackie’s character. Jamie Hector plays the heavy, but trust me it’s not Marlo. I don’t know what the brotha has planned career-wise, but I could easily see him having a Keith David like career. (If you don’t know Keith David by name, trust me, you know him. He’s been ‘That Brotha’ for over 20 years.)
Back to the film itself, the story of whether or not Anthony Mackie’s character is a snitch (which I won’t ruin) provides enough drama to keep this hour and a half film going. The local Panther leader was killed by the cops, Mackie left town right after the murder. When one of the locals sneers at him, “What did you do?”, Mackie’s response “I survived.” Man, that continues to be the story of intra-race relations in my humble opinion. But we’re just here to talk movies today people!
Long story short, if you have an interest in indie films, or black cinema, or the Black Panthers, I think this is a film you should see. I found it on my On-Demand in my cable box; I believe it’s also on ITunes, and it’s playing on the big screen in select cities (LA, New York and probably Philly or Oakland) starting the first week of December.
Until next time…
I remember the weekend this movie came out; I planned to see it but something came up. I went back a couple weekends later and couldn’t find it. Not exactly a box office smash…
Now that I’ve finally had a chance to see it, let me give you my two cents: this is a very good movie.
Poor Chris Rock; one of the best comedians of our generation, but has a hell of a time translating his comedy style to film. Eerily similar to Richard Pryor in a lot of ways. In I Think I Love My Wife, he may have finally figured it out: he plays Richard Cooper, a middle class buppie working in corporate America. In other words, he’s not playing ‘outrageous.’ Don’t worry, there’s definitely some Chris Rock one liners worked into the movie, but they feel very organic to the story.
The story itself is very formulaic; a happily married man reconnects with a fun friend from his college days who challenges the ‘boundaries’ of his marriage. Gina Torres plays the loyal and dependable wife; Kerry Washington plays the vixen who re-enters the husband’s life. Both actresses are gorgeous, and each adds a lot to making this an enjoyable movie.
As the title suggests, this is a movie about and for married folks. I enjoyed it, but I’d be interested in debating some of the themes with my married friends. Can you cheat on your significant other without having sex? I say yes, the film seems to agree. Do all marriages eventually get stale? Well, Halle Berry’s gotten divorced. Twice. So clearly, you could get tired of anybody if you’re stuck around them for long enough.
So how do you avoid getting trapped in an unhappy marriage? I think I finally figured out the answer to that question, which (I think) was the moral of the story. Check the movie out for yourself, and maybe we can debate this point.
With the extra time off, I’m catching up on various movies I just hadn’t gotten around to yet. I was talking about Miracle at St. Anna to a friend, and he told me I really should take time out to see She Hate Me.
What I had heard over the years was this was one of the first movies that started what we’ll call ‘later Spike’. By later Spike I mean that after Malcolm X, some of Spike’s later films try to tackle so many topics in one story, that the film as a whole may fall under its own weight. It’s an interesting theory, and I can see where people who saw this movie would draw that conclusion.
Touching on Enron, same sex adoption, the Mafia and black sexuality in one film is…a lot. But as always with Spike, a lot of the points were valid so that didn’t bother me all that much. From a storytelling point of view, the thing about starting multiple strands/storylines for any filmmaker is how do you resolve them all and tie them all together by the time the movie ends? In She Hate Me, the story all ties together, but I don’t know how satisfied I felt at the end.
Two things I’ll give this movie PROPS for: Kerry Washington grows on me in every movie and role I see her play. There’s more than a few sisters working steady these days, but nobody holds down the ‘educated young sister’ roles like she does. And Dania Ramirez…what are YOU up to these days?
And I have to mention my man Clay Davis. OK, that’s not the actor’s real name, but my Wire fans know what I’m talking about. That fool stole his few scenes as usual. How do you trademark a line in between projects? Shiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit!