Tag Archive: ryan coogler


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Malcolm X, Do the Right Thing, Coming to America…Black Panther is in the pantheon of great black films, immediately.

So what can I say that hasn’t been hot taked to death already?  I picked a few things…

  • Stakes – Yes, I’m going to use ‘the Dark Knight’ as one of the best examples, but it’s true: even in Marvel movies, if it feels like the villain gets NO real wins or causes no real consequence…kind of takes you out of it a bit.  Taking over the world?  Ehhh…everything else better be perfect.  Beating the hero in a battle and genuinely creating a long term change in the protagonist and their world?  That’s how its done.
  •   Mike – I never doubted Michael B’s ability to play a villain.  But I loved, LOVED how this particular villain takes advantage of that vulnerability and sensitivity that Mike has done in everything from ‘the Wire’ to ‘Fruitvale Station’.  A lot of the love for Killmonger comes from him being a hurt, vindictive person pushing it to its extreme (as opposed to an asshole whose evil just for the sake of being evil).
  • Coogler – The ‘weakness’ of the film to me is the action sequences.  And they’re not remotely bad; it’s just we’ve all been conditioned at this point to turn our brains off a bit when it’s ‘super CGI time’ in superhero movies.

Then my boy Ben sent this to me.  I don’t want to anoint Ryan as ‘our Spielberg/Scorsese’, even after a weekend like this…but…LISTEN TO HOW MUCH THOUGHT AND DETAIL WENT INTO THIS…

So yeah, enter your superlative here.  Looking forward to seeing it again.

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CHRIS: And here to present the next two awards, here is Academy Award nominee Emma Stone, and the Associate Producer of ‘Trojan War,’ Malik Aziz!

(audience applause as they take the stage)

EMMA: An outlaw trying to survive in a room of seven Hateful men. A woman supporting and coming to grips with her husband’s changing sexual identity.  A partner trying to reel in one of the greatest creative minds of the last century. A few of the great performances from this year.

MALIK: That’s right! And you know what else they all have in common?

EMMA: (awkwardly fidgeting) Um…what?

MALIK: They’re all nominated tonight for Best Supporting Actress!

EMMA: (relieved) Yes. Yes!

MALIK: Wait, what did you think I was going to say?

EMMA: Nothing. Nothing.

Here are the nominees for Best Actress in a Supporting Role:

Jennifer Jason Leigh – The Hateful Eight

Rooney Mara – Carol

Rachel McAdams – Spotlight

Alicia Viklander – the Danish Girl

Kate Winslet – Steve Jobs

Who Should Win: Probably Jennifer Jason Leigh.

Who Will Win: One of this year’s ‘It Girls: Viklander

Who I’m Cheering For: A small chance based on the movie that McAdams wins, and she’s pretty solid in everything (including last year’s True Detective).

Here are the nominees for Best Actor in a Supporting Role:

Christian Bale – The Big Short

Tom Hardy – The Revenant

Mark Ruffalo – Spotlight

Mark Rylance – Bridge of Spies

Sylvester Stallone – Creed

Who Should Win: Hmmm.  I could make a case for Ruffalo. I could make a case for Rocky.

Who Will Win: Everything’s lined up for Sly, and if Mike and Ryan are happy for him then I am too (I guess).

Who I’m Cheering For: 

Coming Soon – ‘Creed’

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MAN…

MAN…

‘Creed’

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Ryan and Mike teaming up again? I’m in.

And ‘Rocky Balboa’ was one of the better movies in the Rocky series in my opinion.  If they keep that general tone…

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Returned to the director’s chair. Made a quality short that will find a new audience every holiday season (like the film its based on, ironically). Wrote my first original pilot. Wrote my first spec based on a TV show I love. Producer on another ‘legacy’ project that’s one of those ‘once in a lifetime’ things I’m thrilled to be a part of. The period of time from the last Ramadan to this one has found me in another peak period. Stability and consistency have arrived.

I’m mastering how to be as efficient as I can, I’ve reverse engineered the remaining details.  It’s happening.  The endgame (which we’ve half jokingly, half seriously called, ‘Muslim Clooney’.) Not as one giant home run swing, but by stringing together all the daily and weekly victories.  Far from over, but constant forward motion.  With a lot of help and support from many of you, I’ve worked myself into a position where I can think but not ‘overthink’, I’ve created a sense of ‘home’ (stability) which makes me more confident in myself and my natural voice.  We still have more fun than we should at times, but I’m reverting back to being more selective about when and where and in front of whom I act like the ‘devil may care goofball who doesn’t take anything too seriously’ and re-establishing my go-to move as being the ‘socially conscious, politically aware artist who prides himself on being a world citizen.’ The consistency.

Part of it I guess was aging into it, but I’m completely comfortable in ‘my spot.’  When I was younger, I’m sure some people thought I’d be some version of DeRay McKessen.  I love and support what that brother is, but I don’t know want his life.  When you hear me hype up Ava DuVernay or Issa Rae, I’m not angling for a gig; their voices and what they represent are important as well.  Even the young brothers who at some point maybe I was ‘suppose to be’, like Justin Simien or Ryan Coogler, I feel no envy.  They’re not telling my specific story or doing what I specifically do. I now live in the moment more than I ever have, but my eyes on the Big Picture; something bigger than I will ever be and something that will be here long after I’m gone.  This may be an easier statement for someone as defiantly individual as I am to say, but I believe it’s true: you will be challenged at every turn, you will have to fight for what you believe in at every step, but, what’s meant for you? No one can take that from you.

So back to this moment. The past couple of weeks I’ve started to strip away the unnecessary things, and this is part of it.  As much as is practically possible in 2015, I’m taking a social media and blogging hiatus for Ramadan (which starts later this week.) As I’ve told the people close to me, for the first time in I don’t know how long, I don’t have to ‘fix’ anything in my life.  I can routinely place my hand on the brass ring, but haven’t quite put my fingers around it. So my goal is making sure I maintain and continue to build upon my (say it with me now) stability and consistency.

I’m off for deep meditation and to protect the Future here in the dry lands.  If it’s meant to be and the time is right (say mid July?), we’ll get back to it.

Take care.

Fruitvale Station

 

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Finally got to see Fruitvale Station tonight.  Taking one last deep breath before I start this one.

The film is based on the real life story of Oscar Grant, who a few years back was killed at the BART station in San Francisco this film is named after.  As directed by Ryan Coogler, we follow Oscar (as played by Michael B. Jordan) on his last day.  The beauty of how the story is told, is that, starting with the real life cell phone footage of Oscar’s murder, we as the audience know this is Oscar’s last day.  So (like all of us) you see the different roles and contradictions within him as he interacts with his girlfriend, his daughter, his mother, random people he meets.  When the cops show up at the train station for what should be a fairly routine ‘everybody settle down’ call, the chills go down your spine.  Again I credit Coogler here, but even the murder itself doesn’t come across as overtly malicious.  But the bottom line is he’s dead.  As Biggie famously said, ‘Death, there ain’t no coming back from that.’  Octavia Spencer plays Oscar’s mother in the film, and she may be a bigger lock for an Oscar nomination than anyone else in the film.  The tears were flowing in the screening I was in, and I know it was far from the first time.

Michael B. Jordan came out for a quick Q&A after the screening and talked about the making of the film and his own (still very young) career progress.  He’ll always be Wallace to me so it was nice to hear him talk a little about taking acting as a serious craft while on the Wire, and he talked about his own ‘7-11 diet’ (whcih I might have to steal) before you hit that turning point where ‘overnight’ you’re pegged as the next Guy.  He came across as very genuine and grateful for the whole process, which did nothing to diminish my hope the kid gets to build whatever type of long term career he wants to have.

One way or another, I’m sure we’ll be talking about this film again early next year, so I’ll go in deeper again at that point.