Tag Archive: quentin tarantino


A few non spoilery thoughts on number 9 out of 10 from Quentin…

  • This was his love letter to the LA he grew up in, and it shows. The atmosphere is before my time, but Hollywood and some of the specific locations played well (especially with the LA crowd I saw it with). The Dome, the Valley, even a freeway on ramp I take all the time, but seeing it in the movie was a very ‘Oh wow’ moment.
  • Kind of crazy this is the first Leo/Brad collaboration. They reportedly want to work together again, and it shows on screen. Leo’s new school Methodness and Brad’s eternally laid back cool are perfect compliments. And in actor’s speak, for two of the guys of my lifetime to play actors who never came close to being ‘The Guy’; I’m sure that was fun.
  • The Manson Family: Wasn’t ruined for me so I won’t do it for you. Even within the film, the suspense of how ‘that night’ played out was not overly telegraphed. It’s the most Tarantino sequence of the whole movie, and the way it plays with history is generally accepted. Tarantino rarely wastes words or elements in his scripts, so things that are set up early (that seem meaningless) do come into play at the end, and I had to nod at the craft a little.

Enjoyable if not great by his own standard.

mclooney

So ‘Trojan War’ is done and a living product now, officially.  It’s been a great ride, a ton of memories I’ll never forget, chief among them the outpouring of support.

I love my people.  In every possible way that statement can be interpreted. Beyond the superficial links between us, that sense of ‘take care of the people who take care of you’ is a common value that binds me and Aaron.  Somewhat ironically, it’s cut both ways the past few weeks.  I’ve pumped up the film and its players every chance I got leading up to the premiere (as most of you saw).

The flip side of that is choosing to be quiet publicly as (in no particular order) Donald Trump, Ben Carson, and Quentin Tarantino have…gotten my attention. If any of their news is still relevant next week (likely), we can address it then.  For one, this week has been about having fun and reminiscing about a great time to be a Trojan.  And two; sure nobody is interviewing me or quoting me today.  But I personally saw twice (TWICE!), conversations I’ve had with people on this project, where the context was clear, then the exact same thing is repeated word for word, to a reporter, put (and edited) in print, and turned into something else.  (One of them you can probably guess with little difficulty). So again, even if, in all likelihood me talking anything political would have never been picked up…why take a chance on being an unnecessary distraction?  One thing I must admit I like about being ‘on’ all the time, is that it’s made me fast-forward to acting like ‘the best version of Malik Aziz’ now, instead of waiting on being ‘big-time’ and then trying to clean up my act. More ‘hey Malik is this thoughtful and intellectual and passionate film geek’, less ‘man Malik retweets a lot of those booty clapping videos’ (half joking).

(In terms of the one relevant news item you can connect to the film; what started as a bitter, season ticket holder sniping has turned into ‘Alright, get him out of here, but if he really is drinking his life away, get him help.  We’ll use the rest of this season to figure out who should lead the program.  We’re full strength now.’)

Moving forward, ‘Trojan War’ is the biggest, flashiest project I’ve been a part of.  I’ll always point to it as something I’m proud of.  In terms of my endgame, it’s a door, a gateway, a bridge to tell other stories I’m passionate about.

As much as anything, the personal validation of knowing there’s a way for me to get what I want without making compromises I’m completely uncomfortable with, means as much to me as the professional validation.

So what exactly am I planning next?

Well, I’m not talking about that. Yet…

 

WILSON_PICKETT50daf7017b56a

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…

(clicking Play…)

(GASP!!!)

stefon

(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…)

(exhaling…)

(End of Act One…)

(Tarantino, so help me God if you license this version before I do…)

 

 

(Due to our busy schedules, Aaron and I couldn’t do our prediction column as promised.  But since there was no way in hell either of us would miss the show live, here is our marathon conversation over IM.  Enjoy…)

MALIK: Welcome to the 1st Annual Art Fradieu Oscar Running Diary.  My pre-show thoughts: While I like to think it’s as much of a lock as anything, I still feel jittery Mo’Nique will somehow get jobbed out of the Best Supporting Actress Oscar.  Beyond that I’m hoping the Hurt Locker wins Best Picture.  Any pre-show thoughts Thomas?  Who will be wearing Vera Wang on the red carpet tonight?

ART: I don’t know much about Vera Wang, but I’m with you on Hurt Locker. Best film I saw last year. As for Mo’Nique, I think she wins Best Supporting Actress hands down. In fact, I think she wins it and does the emotional speech thing, “Uh Oh honey, if y’all start playing that music, somebody’s getting hurt…” She will steal the show and have people talking about her moment this week. “Mo’Nique is my hero. So soulful and real.” Wouldn’t surprise me at all. 

MALIK: And we’re off!  Cristoph Waltz wins Best Supporting Actor, no surprise there.  It was actually a good performance in a good film I have to admit.  But how about Penelope Cruz eh?  Is that accent real?  I’ve heard rumors…

ART: Waltz is no surprise at all. I agree, well deserved. As for Penelope Cruz, I’ve heard she’s actually from Cleveland. But, you never know.  Yeah. I agree with Up for best animated feature. First ten minutes of that movie almost had a brotha misty eyed.  Whatsup with that film Nine? Don’t think I’ve heard one good thing about it.

MALIK: Penelope Cruz brotha!  That’s all you need to know… And the Crazy Heart song wins.  So far this is a pretty predictable Oscars…

ART: Figured that was a crush of yours, but wasn’t even going there.

MALIK: (laughing)

ART: Yeah, definitely predictable so far. Does Crazy Heart sweep every musical category this year?

MALIK: Probably.  The movie wasn’t that bad actually.  The big question now is if Jeff Bridges continues to talk in the Oklahoma accent if he wins…

ART: I’m just trying to see if he’s sober.

ART: Wow. Actually thought Tarantino might pull out Best Original Screenplay.

MALIK: I did too.  Guess there aren’t as many Tarantino fanboys in the Academy as I guessed.  John Hughes gets his own In Memoriam?!?

ART: His generation is in power now in Hollywood.

MALIK: Yeah.  Jokes aside, he was either directly or indirectly responsible for A LOT of good movies…

ART: He had a great run.

MALIK: OK, watching this montage I see your point…

ART: And, here comes that song…

MALIK: WHOA!  Young Alec Baldwin!!! (laughing uncontrollably)

ART: Yup. Him and Steve Martin worked in Hughes films.  Brat pack. Plus Culkin.

MALIK: So…is this a ratings ploy or an Academy tribute?

ART: I guarantee people will be talking about this tomorrow. Just seeing people from their childhood. The answer? It’s both.

MALIK: Am I the only one who noticed the crowd seemed to refuse to throw down the standing ovation?

ART: I saw that too. Part of the perception with Hughes is that his works were more entertainment than art. What’s the verdict on Zoe Saldana?

MALIK: Looking at Zoe makes me want to eat dinner.  Great intro for the Short Film category though.

ART: Nice to hear from seasoned pros looking back. Whoa. Brotha sighting.

MALIK: A brotha wins!!!!  And he gets cut off!!!!

ART: Why is this woman bogarting?

MALIK: (laughing uncontrollably)

ART:  And, what is she talking about?  Brotha probably hot!

MALIK:  MANNNNNNNNN!  I’m still mad for the brotha who got cut off!

ART: Same here. Leave it to Stiller to do blue face. Think Cameron is ticked at this?

MALIK: Doubt it, but is there any doubt Stiller officially gets invited to present every year now?  You remember the Joaquin Phoenix move last year…

ART: So, Star Trek takes this one, you think?

MALIK: I still heard a little Crazy Heart accent in Jeff Bridges.  Yeah Star Trek deserved that last one.

ART: So far, early on, the highlights of the night? Brotha gets cut off and Tina Fey/Downey Jr.

MALIK: Best Adapted Screenplay – What say you Mr. Writer?

ART: It’ll be interesting to see who wins Best Adapted Screenplay.  Not sure. Probably Up In The Air, but there was a debate as to how well the co-writers (one was the director of the film) got along during the process.

MALIK: Really?  We’ll talk about that one off the record – no need to give these plebians all the inside Hollywood magic.

ART: Oh. Precious. Black screenwriter. Nice.

MALIK: Go ahead brotha!!!  A behind the scenes win at that!

ART: Nice to see this. He’s gotta be the first black screenwriter to win. Nice.

MALIK: Yeah, and the way Rachel McAdams can’t take her eyes off him motivates me.

ART: Yup, figures…

MALIK: Very sincere acceptance speech.

ART: That’s the word that comes to my mind.  Good moment.  Queen Latifah’s looking good.

MALIK: Yeah she cleans up well. The Governor’s Award ceremony is like a wet dream for film buffs like myself.

ART: Yeah. Each of those is a giant of the industry to say the least. They all get standing ovations from everyone.

MALIK: Damn straight!  And Penelope and Javier keeping it real!

ART: Get ready for Mo’Nique to get emotional.

MALIK: Standing O?

ART: Mo’Nique walking with regalness.  Nice speech.

MALIK: Gut reaction but I think that was the best acceptance speech by a black winner.

ART: Succinct. To the point. Sincere.  Ah. You can always depend on the costume category to give an Oscar to the old English movie of the year.  Eh. Least sincere speech of the evening.  “I already have two of these awards. This is for the little people who never win.”

MALIK: (laughing)  Seriously!  How arrogant was that!?!  So what do you think of Twilight brotha?  I know you’ve seen it.

ART: Haven’t seen it.  The Vampire thing never gets me like others.

MALIK: Wait…a horror tribute, introduced by the Twilight kids?  Definitely ratings ploy.

ART: Yup. What you know about a young Johnny Depp in Nightmare On Elm Street?

MALIK: I honestly don’t like horror films, only the all time classics like the Exorcist and Psycho.

ART: Same here. Those actually scare you instead of shock you.  They got Morgan Freeman doing the narration again?  Here’s your Dark Knight…

MALIK: Needless to say, this is the greatest moment in the history of the Academy Awards…

ART: Alright Batman, calm down.

MALIK: So you think Precious has a chance now for Best Picture?

ART: Not really. I still feel like they’ll lean toward Hurt Locker. Getting the Adapted Screenplay was an upset for Precious.

MALIK: We’ll see brotha, we’ll see…

ART: The Hurt Locker is starting to collect the awards now.

MALIK: Very true.

ART: Paul N.J. Ottoson kind of looks like an albino Vampire with that hair.

MALIK: Yeah, kind of stereotypical to have that be the ‘sound guy’ isn’t it?

ART: Like he’s been in a cave only working with sound for an entire year.

MALIK: Really! Avatar for best cinematography, that was probably the biggest lock.

ART: Yeah. The film looked great.  What you know about CCH Pounder with the general from Avatar.  Is that her guy?

MALIK: Don’t know, don’t know…  ah, here comes the In Memoriam.  I can’t joke with this part.

ART: My mom is a James Taylor fan. Always perfect for reflection.

MALIK: Surprised they opened with Swayze.  Well done. No giants like Paul Newman passed this year.

ART: Of course, there’s Mike, but it’s not quite his stage.

MALIK: Yeah as far as ‘Hollywood’ goes he was more a fan than anything else.  Not surprised they included him though.

ART: Malden, Swayze and Dom Deluise seem to be the biggest this year.

MALIK:  I haven’t seen white girls with this much soul since the Sprite Step Off.  Too soon?

ART: (laughing) You gonna be hunted down by every Essence reader in America.  Nice overall dance piece, though.  Huge fan of scores. These were all solid.  Up was a classic. Glad it won for score. I also like Sherlock’s music. Avatar sounded like recycled music from Glory (remember that?)

MALIK: (laughing)  That was my first wrong pick tonight.  My gut said Up though.  And if people don’t know this is tongue in cheek, they should have stopped reading a long time ago.

ART: Avatar won for special effects?  That’s crazy.

MALIK: (laughing)

ART: Precious should have got that.  Best Director is up next. You figure that Reitman and Tarrantino think they don’t have a chance against a woman, an African American and the king of the world, Cameron.

MALIK: Yeah.  I’ll be genuinely disappointed if the cougar doesn’t win now.

ART: She’s got it. But, since you bring it up. If Bigelow looked like an average above 40 year old woman, think she’d be nominated?

MALIK: First thing I’m not responding to in order to protect my future career opportunities.

ART: You done said enough, brotha…

MALIK: (laughing)

ART: Best Editing for Hurt Locker. I’m thinking 90% chance of Best Picture.

MALIK: If Bigelow wins, yeah…

ART: Oh, she’ll win… She’s your new cougar crush, right?

MALIK: (laughing) Settle down, brotha, settle down.  I’m gonna have enough explaining to do when this column is over. Esoteric group to present this (Best Actor).

ART: Yeah. It’ll be interesting to see how they relate to each actor.

MALIK: Love Michelle’s speech about family and career.  What we aspire to.

ART: And, it’s a challenge for many people in many walks of life.

MALIK: Yes sir.

ART: Ok. Shawshank.

MALIK: Yeah good anecdote.

ART: Nicely done, Tim Robbins.

MALIK: Yeah, and SWAT?  I’ve watched that.  I’ll leap out of my seat if Jeremy wins.

ART: He’s not winning, but it’s nice to see him there. I remember when Renner was “the guy” I saw in every other commercial. By the way, using other actors to introduce the nominees is still a great way to do it.

MALIK: Agreed. It’s crazy Bridges got his first nomination 6 years before we were born.

ART: Jeff Bridges.  No surprise there. The Bridges, a very underrated Hollywood family.

MALIK: Agreed once again. The Thomases will get there soon enough though.

ART: (laughing)  If my kids are crazy enough to try this line of work, I’ll support them and wish them well.  Been married 33 years in Hollywood? That might be the most amazing thing I’ve heard all night.

MALIK: (laughing)

ART: Forrest always sounds sincere, even if he’s ordering a burrito.

MALIK: I was thinking the same thing.  How does he get villain roles?

ART: The lazy eye. Does it every time.  These are nice speeches.  The best things about these intros is the reaction from the nominees. And, you can tell they have no idea what will be said.  What better intro to have than Oprah?

MALIK:  You were reading my mind. I think Oprah would be the number one choice to do an intro in our industry.

ART: If/when I have to intro you, I’ll start with “Malik used to dress like Batman, but… actually, he still does…”

MALIK: Is that right brotha?  well… If/when I have to intro you, I’ll start with “Aaron is a great writer, but if he asks you to help him move, know you won’t be getting a dinner out of it.”

ART: I’ll look at the camera and go “That’s right!”

MALIK: (laughing)

ART: Is Sean Penn drunk?

MALIK: OH YEAH!

ART: Sandra…Bullock…

MALIK: You can’t leave Sean Penn backstage that long without libation, brotha…

ART: Sandra Bullock’s always been pretty down to Earth.

MALIK: Yeah I met her when we were in school.  I guess I can say I’ve met an Oscar winner now.

ART: Aren’t we all hoity toity? I met Clarence Jenkins, the guy who buffs the Oscars…

MALIK: Oh no, the husband was tearing up!  Eric Benet Part II

ART: We all know what happened after that, though.

MALIK: Bigelow’s winning…

ART: Yeah, you got Barbara presenting… AND, she led off with it being a woman….

MALIK: What if she would have said, “Or, for the first time, a colored…”

ART: (laughing)  Cut to the Tyler Perry section looking angry.

MALIK: Oprah probably would have walked back onstage…

ART: Well, well, well…  Bigelow wins. And Cameron made sure to cheer loudly.  Good stuff.

MALIK: Yeah. When my daughter tells me she wants to be a director, I’ll be able to look back at this night.

ART: So, here we go. The big one. Best Picture.  Hurt Locker.

MALIK: Right to the Point!

ART: Like it.

MALIK: Alright I think we got it.

ART: I like Bigelow, but she’s a little overhwelmed up on stage.  Cool. Until next year.  That’s a wrap.

Inglorious Basterds

 

This one’s been out for a minute, but with the Oscars next weekend I made a point to check out Inglorious Basterds tonight.  I’m not a Tarantino fanboy, but as a film fanatic that man’s craftmanship cannot be denied.  The two Kill Bill movies are still two of my favorites of the past ten years.  I’ve heard a few references to Basterds being Tarantino’s best film…I don’t know about that, but it might be his definitive film.

Like I said, not a fanboy, but one thing I’ll give the man is that he’s created his own motifs over his career that you recognize no matter what story he’s telling: Samuel L. Jackson cameo, feet closeups, a cringe-worthy use of the word n!gger (spoken by Joseph Goebbels no less!), and fantastic, fantastic dialogue sequences.  As flat out silly as this film is in premise (is there such a thing as Jewspoitation?), there are some great scenes of dramatic tension and throwaway dialogue that will (sadly) inspire more copycats and second rate storytellers who will try to mimic his style moreso than create their own.

Christoph Waltz was fantastic.  He looks to be the favorite to win the Best Supporting Actor Oscar, and he wouldn’t be the most unworthy winner.  Not that I expect him to be anything like the character he played, but he certainly made playing the Nazi looked like fun!  I think Tarantino knows this isn’t his year as far as Best Director or Best Picture goes, but give the devil his due, when people complain there aren’t enough ‘entertaining’ movies being made these days, you certainly can’t blame him, can you?

2010 has gotten off to a crazy start, so I’m posting my Golden Globe predictions to start the week.  I doubt I’ll see any more of the films between now and Sunday, so away we go…

Best Screenplay – Motion Picture

Who I’d Like to Win: The Hurt Locker.  And I wouldn’t be surprised if it does win.  It all starts with the script as they say.

Who Will Probably Win: Up in the Air.  The modern day equivalent of a classic Hollywood film.  You threw in the fact that it’s more upbeat than Locker and it was directed by a (legitimately talented) Hollywood legacy kid, and all the signs of there.  That said, Tarantino is HUGE overseas and this is the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, so who knows?

Best Director – Motion Picture

Who I Want to Win: Katheryn Bigelow, The Hurt Locker

Who Will Probably Win: Katheryn Bigelow.  This is one of those categories where every nominee is legitimate, but I think the Globes will set the stage for a female director to walk away with the top prize.

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role – Motion Picture

Who I Want to Win: Matt Damon in the upset. 

Who Will Probably Win: Christoph Waltz, Inglorious Basterds.  This is the scene stealer category.  Not much more to add.

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role – Motion Picture

Who I Want to Win: Mo’Nique.

Who Will Probably Win:  As cynical as I am, I think the two ladies from Up in the Air will split the vote and Mo’Nique will actually win this category.

Best Actor – Motion Picture Comedy or Musical

Who I Want to Win: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, 500 Days of Summer.  If I could have played any role in a movie I saw in the past 12 months, this would have been it.  I admit I’m jealous.

Who Will Probably Win:  Man, I could make a strong case for every nominee here.  I really don’t know so I’ll go with Gordon-Levitt.

Best Actress – Motion Picture Comedy or Musical

Who I Want to Win: Meryl Streep – It’s Complicated.

Who Will Probably Win:  Meryl Streep – Julie & Julia Yeah I know I’m cheating a bit here, but…it’s Meryl Streep.

Best Actress – Motion Picture – Drama

Who I Want to Win: Gabourey Sidibe, Precious.  Now the cynicism kicks in – it ain’t gonna happen.  But giving the sister her due.

Who Will Probably Win:  Sandra Bullock, The Blind Side.  Accuse me of being biased since she was by far one of the most down to earth actresses I’ve met (on her level), but I think Blind Side mania gets its coup de gras with a victory here.

Best Actor – Drama

Who I Want to Win: George Clooney, Up in the Air.  You know, as I write this entry I’m starting to recognize how much personal biases really do shape who wins awards in this town.  Ah, got to love Hollywood politics…

Who Will Probably Win: Jeff Bridges, Crazy Heart.  I think this is this year’s ‘Mickey Rourke Special’ where a guy who’s been around forever gets some overdue love from his peers.

Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy

Who I Want to Win: 500 Days of Summer. If for no other reason than the Hall & Oates dance sequence.  Damn you, Joseph Gordon-Levitt…

Who Will Probably Win: The Hangover.  Time will tell if this film is as transcendent as the comedies that came before it, but it was certainly the crowd pleaser of the year.

Best Motion Picture – Drama

Who I Want to Win: Up in the Air.  One more admission of bias: Clooney’s the star, they shot in the Midwest, and guys I’ve worked with worked on this film.

Who Will Probably Win:  The Hurt Locker.  And I won’t be remotely upset of it does win.  The most ‘powerful’ film of last year in my opinion.

One last note, Ricky Gervais is the host.  I’m in the cult of people who love his sense of humor; if you’re unfamiliar with his work (creator of The Office and Extras, two shows I love), the Globes is probably the perfect opportunity to see if he’s your cup of tea or not.

Later,

M