Tag Archive: laurence fishburne


idris-elba-mandela1

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.

baffleck

(sipping tea…)

My gut tells me if Bale was in this trailer, I’d be all over this.  My gut also tells me that it was the right decision by all parties to move in a new version of the Dark Knight.

I’m very biased since this week since I’ve started rebuilding my own body, but as I’ve left the gym behind, I like the little cut of Bruce pulling the monster tire truck to get his core back in shape.

(sipping…)

Zod is in there (his body at least), Luthor obviously, the Joker is implied…and I still don’t feel like they’ve revealed the main villain of this movie just yet.

Speaking of, we already knew Eisenberg can play the socially maladjusted, arrogant genius, so seeing him in clip form…he might actually be a decent Lex Luthor.  Maybe…

The 9/11 allusions are a nice touch to set up the ‘why’: A skyscraper comes down in the middle of the day, hundreds if not thousands of people die.  This is reality based.  Warners is obviously trying to set up their own Avengers, but good for them IF they stay away from literally trying to duplicate the tone/style of the Avengers.

‘Nobody wants to see Clark Kent take on the Batman!’ – YOU TELL HIM FISH!

(sipping…)

‘How many good guys are left? How many stay that way?’ – Oh, now you have my attention!

I’m not hyped for this still.  But…it may not be as bad as we first thought…

boyz-n-the-hood

Boyz N The Hood was the debut film by writer/director John Singleton.  The semi-autobiographical tale revolves around three young black men, Tre, Ricky, and Doughboy, and their daily lives growing up in South Central Los Angeles.

On to the tale of the tape…

Relevance:  While the phrase ‘black film’ can take on many different meanings (as this countdown hopefully illustrates), Boyz N The Hood is the type of film that is universally agreed to represent the ultimate prototype.  Black director, black writer, black cast, black soundtrack, black setting, black story.  Spike had already proven there was a modern audience for black film; in mimicking the rise of West Coast hip hop, John opened America’s eyes to a very real ‘street’ sensibility that was getting louder and prouder.

Legacy:     So many careers and trends can be traced to this film.  John Singleton obviously, but also Ice Cube, Morris Chestnut, Nia Long, and Cuba Gooding Jr. started their rise with this film.  The good and bad ‘hood’ films (Menace II Society, and countless others) wouldn’t have gotten made without Boyz.  While Spike was the clear pioneer, John’s success told both Hollywood and future filmmakers that there was room for more than one black storyteller at a time.  That might be the greatest legacy.

Craft:  Rewatching it years later, there are points where the film is undeniably ‘preachy’.  (And the Wayans absolutely slaughtered this point to death in their parody, Don’t Be a Menace).  That aside, the film’s structure is fairly classical.  Three brothers, one undeniably good (Tre), one undeniably bad (Doughboy), and one good who has some ties to the bad (Ricky).  The presence of the father figure (Furious) is somewhat on the nose, but no one can take away from the great performance of Laurence Fishburne.

Crossover:  Without a doubt.  Boyz N The Hood was on its own regard a crossover phenomenon.  John Singleton became the first African-American, and the youngest person of any color to be nominated for Best Director.  As referenced in the Legacy section, Ice Cube has gone from Doughboy to the star of Are We There Yet?  Anyone who saw that coming is a bold faced liar.

Apollo:  Ricky’s slow motion demise is still incredibly powerful.  If I may, I’d like to use this space for something more personal.  I was still a kid when this film came out.  Spike’s films had already planted the seed in my head, and I heard about all this new black kid out of USC doing it, so of course I wanted to see the film.  Now I might be slightly off with this number, but the number of times I personally remember my father going out to the movie theater has to be around…5?  He has movies he likes now, but they’re not his thing, they’re my thing.  So there we were one Saturday afternoon (in Oak Park Mall for you Kansas City people) watching Boyz.  My Pops taking me to something I was interested in wasn’t a big deal to me; it’s what I’ve always known.  So when Furious made his speech to Tre about listening to him (and watching what happens to Ricky and Doughboy who didn’t have that male influence), it was just part of the movie to me.

Anyway, now that I’m on the other side of the table, I have so much appreciation for what I had.  Obviously having a man in the house doesn’t mean automatically mean a boy grows up into a good brotha, not having a man doesn’t mean a boy won’t turn out well.  But it’s a conversation I’ve had over and over again with some of my closest friends: having a good man involved in the life of a boy can go a long, long way in creating a good man.  (I’m deliberately avoiding the father-daughter influence; go listen to some old John Mayer for that.)  As a wrap I’ll say for its various flaws, Boyz N The Hood is one of the better, three-dimensional black films ever made.

The countdown will continue with another landmark film.  Until next time…

whats_love_got_to_do_with_it

One of the most emotionally powerful movies of its era, What’s Love Got to Do With It? follows the true life rise of superstar Tina Turner and her notoriously explosive marriage to Ike.   A black biopic made at least ten years before the  musical biopic became one of the genre’s du jour in Hollywood.  On to the tale of the tape…

Relevance:  Tina Turner was already a global star before this movie (a large part of why it got made no doubt).  We can debate whether the nature of Ike and Tina’s relationship helped the film get made, but the bottom line is What’s is a film with two strong black lead characters.

Legacy:  Betty Shabazz, Katherine Jackson, Voletta Wallace…is it safe to say that this is the single role that Angela Bassett will be remembered for?  Hasn’t every brother playfully called his woman ‘Anna Mae’ at some point since this movie came out?  Was that too much information?

Craft:  Fishburne evidently kept turning down the role of Ike until he heard Angela Bassett won the role of Tina.  I highly doubt this will be the role Fish will be most remembered for (Morpheous and Furious Styles immediately come to mind), but was Ike his best acting performance?  Possibly…possibly.  One thing we can say for certain…

Crossover:  the Academy sure liked it, as both Fishburne and Bassett were nominated for Academy Awards for their performances in this movie.   Neither won, but Bassett did win the Golden Globe for her performance.

Apollo:  Do I even need to say it?  For those of you who haven’t seen the movie, there’s a powerful rape/abuse scene in the second act that’s still as emotionally powerful as any rape scene I’ve ever seen.  On a lighter note, I have a personal Ike Turner story (this is true).  About ten years ago, I was on a plane in Houston flying back to L.A.  I’m walking through first class and see this gorgeous, amazonian black woman sitting in the middle row.  One of those situations where no matter how smooth you are, you can’t help but look for a few seconds at least.  Who’s sitting next to her but Ike Turner.  And this cat gave me one of the hardest mean mugs I’ve ever gotten in my life!  I’m not joking when I say I slept with one eye open the whole flight home.  That’s a little bit reputation, and a little bit of the power of movies.

The hits keep coming as the next one should be up by the end of the month…