Tag Archive: lupita nyong’o


You know the rules by now; no spoilers but maybe some constructive criticism…

Horror is probably my least favorite genre but ‘Jordan Peele’ is a genre I love (like a lot of people, check those opening weekend receipts). I liked ‘Get Out’ more for a variety of reasons, but I didn’t hate this.

The legacy is deep, but at least for black actors, the Yale Drama School is definitely having a moment. Lupita, Winston Duke, Yahya Abdul-Mateen II has a minor but important role to play. There have been a thousand and one paths people have taken to become ‘movie stars’; it feels like it wasn’t that long ago the complaint was out there black British actors were taking all of ‘our parts’ because they were ‘better trained’. Hopefully we can put that foolish myth behind us.

Personally, I was all in for the first half hour, and as the story twisted and expanded, I didn’t lose interest, but my ‘suspension of disbelief’ started to get pushed. I can’t expand too much there without spoiling it, but I started asking questions (and somewhat ironically getting answers) before the credits rolled. Sometimes the best suspense is letting the audience not know why things happen.

Trying to think of more to expand upon without spoiling but I really can’t, so let’s cut it there. Great cast, enjoyable film, absolutely ridiculous this is the first time Lupita has been the clear number one on the call sheet.

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‘Queen of Katwe’

 

katwe

You know how sometimes, something can feel too good to be true, so you underplay your hopes for it?  When I first heard David Oyelowo and Lupita Nyong’o were doing a movie directed by Mira Nair about the true story of the young girl from Uganda who became a chess champion, I muted my expectations. Not because I didn’t want it to be good, but you know, you don’t want to be disappointed either.

‘Queen of Katwe’ does not disappoint.

In this film adaptation, Oyelowo takes on the role of the teacher who discovers then nurtures the talents of the children from Katwe as they learn and eventually represent Uganda in tournaments around the continent (and eventually the world).  Lupita plays the mother of the main character.

If you’re a fan of Mira Nair (as I am, I loved ‘the Namesake’), this film carries her mark.  The characters feel like three dimensional people with flaws, none of the people we cheer for as an audience are perfect;  no one standing in the way of the journey is a one note ‘evil’ person.  And as a viewer, you become immersed in the culture of the story.

Which brings me back to my original hopes and fears.  David expressed it best in the Q&A after the screening I attended, but it’s worth noting.  To have the biggest studio in the world put out a movie by a female director with no major white characters, starring two Africans, with an unknown African girl playing the main character…it just doesn’t happen, ever.  The fact that the film is a good, entertaining family film is a nice cherry on top, of course.  But in just about every way possible, this is why representation matters.

‘Queen of Katwe’ opens nationwide on the 30th, definite recommend here.

 

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.

 

Jennifer Lawrence

Here are the nominees for Best Supporting Actor:
Barkhad Abdi
Bradley Cooper
Michael Fassbender
Jonah Hill
Jared Leto
Who Should Win
MALIK: Another category that could go a few different ways and not really be ‘wrong’.  I love what Fassie did in 12 Years, but I was really affected by what Leto did in ‘Dallas’. He’s the frontrunner for a reason.
ART: Jonah Hill. Really? Yes. Really….? No. I really liked what Barkhad Abdi did in Captain Phillips. He was great. But, a win ain’t happening. He gets the “it’s great to be here” award. Fassbender was sadistic and electric. But, Leto took his performance to the next level. His may be the only guaranteed win I can see.
Who Will Win
MALIK: Abdi has been making a little more noise, but I still think this is Leto’s to lose.
ART: Leto. No doubt. He hit on all cylinders.
Who We Want to Win
MALIK: Got to go with Leto.  The extended layoff in between movie roles is just icing on the cake of ‘if you’re one of the guys comfortable enough to take chances, you should be working more.’
ART: Leto. Just a great example of inhabiting a character.
Here’s the nominees for Best Supporting Actress
Sally Hawkins
Jennifer Lawrence
Lupita Nyong’o
Julia Roberts
Jane Squibb
Who Should Win
MALIK: Lupita was the Best Supporting Actress this year. The End.
ART: No doubt. I like Jennifer Lawrence. I respect Jennifer Lawrence. I think she’s great and I get why Hollywood is in love with her at the moment. But, this race isn’t close. Lupita blew everyone away with her performance in 12 Years and also is doubling right now as the person most likely to get away with murder if the jury is made up of African American women.
Who Will Win
MALIK: Look, I love Jennifer Lawrence.  She’s beautiful, she’s talented, she still has that ‘realness’ and a spark to her that we all respond to. But THIS year, for the 20 or so minutes of screen time she had in American Hustle, that’s not the Best Supporting Actress role this year. It just isn’t.  But we shall see…
ART: We’re saying the same thing. I agree. Except, I’ll add this… Nothing against J.Law personally, but her role in American Hustle – I’m not even sure it served an essential purpose in the story. It feels and smells like Oscar bait. She was excellent in Winter’s Bone. Here, she was just a crazy lady in 70s clothes. Nope.
Who We Want to Win
MALIK: Lupita, of course.  She’s undeniable; I know I’m far from the only person writing parts with her in mind now,  just because we want to see her keep showing up on our movie screens.
ART: Lupita. My only question? Is Hollywood ready to actually use her talents in prominent roles after this awards season? I don’t want to sound cynical, but I am really curious to see.
Tomorrow, we look at Lead Actor and Actress…