Tag Archive: very smart brothas


 

5. Changing Gears

While I certainly doubt I’ve hung up my director’s hat forever, my time as an ‘indie film director’ has come to an end (on a high note at that – #7).  My feel for the craft is on point, but now that putting money away for my future is my number one priority, I can’t take on the same risks I could take earlier (#6).  Writing it out makes it seem obvious, but I’m putting all my energy into the talents that don’t cost me money to show off.  And truth be told, I miss being the ‘Prince of Gotham.’  Along those lines, my high class move in 2009 was…

4. Cavalleria Rusticana at the Met

As someone who has watched Raging Bull and the Godfather Part III at least a hundred times each, I’ve grown very fond of the Intermezzo from Cavalleria Rusticana.  So first I heard the Met in NYC was going to put on the show around Easter…and one of my college roommates just happens to be a lawyer in NYC…and my musically inclined ace just happened to be right down the road in Boston…and at the time the economy hadn’t caught up to me just yet…

That four day weekend in NYC was my first ‘adult’ vacation, but man, that didn’t stop us from having a great time.  A little opera, a little jazz, a little Junior’s: perfect getaway.  Ten years ago, I would have made a little indie movie about that weekend, but then again, ten years ago I would have been too ‘cool’ to go to the opera, so it is what it is.

3. Twitter

and really, the overall growth/importance of social media/networking.  The global village is here folks, today, right now.  This is a definite ‘did the chicken come before the egg’ argument, but with me simultaneously promoting/pushing ‘Lady’ (#7), and building the blog with content like ‘Limitless’ and the Most Important TV/Film Lists, I’ve managed to build a nice little audience.  Either through direct contact or looking out the stats the system generated, I know I have regular readers in Europe, Asia, Africa, and of course my home continent.  Even five years ago, how hard would it be to promote yourself without at least one studio film or TV show under your belt?  It’s been a great tool professionally, and it’s been just as much fun interacting with friends old and new.

2. Very Smart Brothas

For being the most consistently funny brothas blogging at the moment.  I spent many nights winding down, just to get caught up in a ‘wake the neighbors up chuckle’ from whatever silliness Champ and Panama brought to the table.  Sometimes it was a long column about relationships, sometimes it was proving that, sometimes, the picture really is worth a thousand words…

And honorable mention in the ‘Things That Routinely Made Me Laugh’ category for 2009 goes to: The Most Interesting Man in the World campaign (Dos Equis), the Kobe/LeBron puppets (Nike), and as usual, the Jack in the Box commercials.

Champ and Panama of course did a column about what I (and a lot of you) will probably remember the most about this year…

Number One

Looking out, across the nighttime

The city winks a sleepless eye…

Hear her voice, shake my window

Sweet seducing sighs…

Get me out, into the nightime

Four walls won’t hold me tonight…

If this town, is just an apple

Then let me take a bite

If they say, why? why?  Tell ’em that it’s human nature

Why? Why? Does he do me that way?

If they say, why? why? Tell ’em that it’s human nature

Why? Why? Does he me do that way?

Reaching out, to touch a stranger

Electric eyes are everywhere

See that girl?  She knows I’m watching…

She likes the way I stare

[Chorus]

Looking out, across the morning

Where the city’s heart begins to beat…

Reaching out, I touch her shoulder

I’m dreaming of the Street…

[Chorus]

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coming_to_america

Debatably the most popular black film of all time, Coming to America is the story of Prince Akeem, who, in lieu of his arranged marriage as the Prince of Zumunda, elects to go to Queens in search of true love.  On to the tale of the tape…

Relevance:  While we live in a ‘post-racial’ America (cough, cough), it’s hard to imagine the biggest black movie star today (Will?) getting this movie greenlit and made the way it was made.  LOOK AT THIS CAST LIST:  Eddie Murphy, Arsenio Hall, James Earl Jones, John Amos, Madge Sinclair, Samuel L. Jackson, Eriq LaSalle, Cuba Gooding Jr., Garcelle Beauvis, Vondie Curtis-Hall, Ruben Santiago-Hudson (you may not automatically remember who they were in the film, but trust me, they were all in there).  That cast list is symbolic of the one word I would use to describe this film: loaded.

Legacy:  Again, impossible to pick one thing.  People give The Nutty Professor credit for this, but every fan of this film knows Eddie originated his ‘playing multiple characters in one scene’ routine with the barbershop here.  I believe the Very Smart Brothas made this point before I did, but this is easily the most quotable black film of all time, if not the most popular.  “My name is Peaches, and I’m the best…”  You know the rest.  Does that even break the top 10 of the best lines from this film?

Craft:  Film geek time.  For the million and one jokes we could spend all day quoting back and forth, the reason this film endures (in my humble opinion) is because it is a genuinely good romantic comedy.  That’s the heart of it.  Without that, you’ve still got a really funny film but not an all time classic.  I know Shari Headley was one of my earliest crushes and started me on the path of favoring the cute girl with a head on her shoulders over the sexpot with wind blowing between the ears (and I know through conversation I wasn’t the only brotha who felt like that).  Even the throwaway ‘Trading Places’ joke was a very nice homage for Eddie Murphy fans (would they even let the joke slide in these days?  Everything is so corporate).  I’m getting off track but John Landis (also the director of Thriller) was/is a hell of a director.

Crossover:  I don’t know how to fully explain this to a generation who only knows Eddie Murphy through marginal family films, but he was THE MAN in the 80s.  The Man!  And a big part of that was because of Saturday Night Live; he was a massive crossover success before this film (and in fact certainly helped it get made).

Apollo:  Soul Glo and the jheri-curled stained couch?  A little.  “She’s your Queen to Be?”  Somewhat.  Me and those close to me live by a Code.  Among the rules of that Code is this: “Don’t make your homies look bad.”  But there are exceptions to the rule of course.  In our first year in L.A. me and my roommate at the time agreed that if we were on some studio lot, and Eriq LaSalle threw a milkshake on one of us and sped off in his luxury car, there would be no fault if the other cat fell out laughing.  That (in my humble opinion) is one of the best ‘Apollo’ moments in any movie (and some of you may not think that’s the best Apollo moment in this movie).

The top 5 films kicks off with a film that was as prestigious as it was popular.  Until then, this is Malik ‘Sexual Chocolate’ Aziz signing out.

“Sexual Chocolate.”

SEXUAL CHOCOLATE!!!! 

(dropping keyboard as I stare at the screen…)

(pointing at the screen and exiting stage left…)

Pay It Forward Friday

Just as there are some of you who stop by on a regular basis to check out whatever is on my mind, I thought today I would pass on three stops on the Net that are always part of my daily routine.  Let’s start with the obvious:

1. YouTube

My goodness, what was life like before YouTube?  As I’m writing this, I realize I probably spend more time watching and researching clips I like than I do watching actual television shows these days.  But why not?  This is the age we live in, where more than ever we can pick and choose what content we want to support and watch.  You can find old clips from reruns all day, personally I love the clips I would have never seen otherwise due to geography or age.

Prime Example:  OK, so my first five choices all had, um, language issues.  This was the first thing I thought of that is clean.  The lesson as always; old black guys laughing = comedy gold. 

Favorite Quote: Anchor 1: We would to apologize…    Anchor 2: ‘HOLD ON!  HOLD ON!!!’ (More laughter…)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_0eINGyJHz8&feature=related

2. Very Smart Brothas

I’m sure they’ll pop up again in a couple months of my favorite things of 2009, but there has been many a night when I haven’t been feeling it, I check out their latest rant and 30 seconds later, I’m falling over laughing.  The two main writers are The Champ and Panama Jackson: young, college educated brothas with an amazingly silly sense of humor.  So…I can kind of relate.

Prime Example:  “Three Signs He’s a Good Dude”:  http://www.verysmartbrothas.com/signs-that-hes-a-good-dude/

Favorite Quote:  “there’s no surer sign, no more concrete indication that a man is a good dude than if his close friends are good dudes too. with no exceptions, every guy i know who i’d consider to be a “good dude” has nothing but other good dudes in their immediate circle. basically, if a guy is repeatedly telling you stories about his best friend, and this “best friend” sounds more triflin than eating food with utensils on the bus, run.”  (Malik note: that last metaphor alone damn near got me and one of my black co-workers fired for laughing at our desks.) 

3. Bill Simmons, ‘The Sports Guy’

Few writers in my lifetime have been as consistently good at blending sports, pop culture, and humor into their writing as much as Bill Simmons.  I don’t even remember who in my circle found him first, but we’ve all been reading him regularly for years now. One of the benchmarks of this blog, the Most Important Black Film and TV Show Countdown, was inspired in part by Simmons trying to countdown the best Sports Movies of All Time.  (He didn’t finish his, mine should be done by the end of the year).   I’m sure if you’re a teenager now, some of his references are already starting to feel dated, but for my generation he’s been pitch perfect. 

Prime Example:  The Vengeance Scale – http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=simmons/040720

Favorite Quote:  

9.1 — Tupac Shakur recording “Hit ‘Em Up.”

(Note: In my book, the most devastating rap song of all-time. And you wonder why Pac was murdered. This made “Who Shot Ya?” look like it was written by James Ingram and Michael McDonald. Every line is crossed: This one has death threats, admissions of sleeping with other people’s wives, jokes about sickle cell, mama jokes and at least 100 F-bombs. I’m not kidding. And while we’re on the subject, “We ain’t singin’, we bringin’ drama – f— you and your motherf—– mama!” remains the greatest single moment in 2Pac history. And yes, I know I’m white.)

One last personal note: if you’re wondering why I didn’t include any of my friends and their blogs on this list, it’s because I treat them like I treat my children: I think they were accidents and try to act like they don’t exist.

(joking, joking, it’s Friday, sheesh!)

Anyway if you check out my Blogroll, you’ll find blogs written by people I care about, covering everything from politics to religion to personal advice to living in L.A. 

Hope everyone enjoys their weekend!

M