Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Chadwick Boseman VS The Black Panther

It was reported this past week that Chadwick Boseman with the premiere of Disney + and many characters from the MCU adding their voice or acting talents to original programming there that he did not want any part of that.  See article below

No thanks Disney Plus for Chadwick

And you can see why that would be the case.  Chadwick is 42 years old and with the global and cultural impact that Black Panther made, its not a far stretch to say he could easily be type cast as T'Challa for the rest of his career.  That is something he clearly doesn't want and you could tell, as time went on, that he really did not want to do or say Wakanda Forever again for a very long time.

Wakanda Whatever

And who could blame him really.  Chadwick is a classically trained actor from Howard University and trained classically at Oxford.  He worked himself up from soap operas, to tv actor,  to leading man in an industry that is not overtly friendly to Black leading men.   He has done that work and even has a movie coming out here shortly where he is the lead.  Plus he does not have to look far to see what can happen when you become iconic for being a star in the MCU and its impact on your ability to get other work.

Robert Downey Jr's renaissance came with Tony Stark back in 2008 and he bounced that into some successful movies like Due Date, Tropic Thunder, and Sherlock Holmes.  But since 2011, RDJ has not done much of anything that is not Tony Stark. He as occupied and become Tony Stark and, as talented as he is, the public may only see and accept him as Tony Stark.  We will get to see if the public still sees him as an actor when Doolittle comes out next year.

Opposite of RDJ, is Chris Evans, who really didn't have much of a movie career as a leading man before he became Steve Rodgers in 2011.  He had supporting roles in many movies, including an scene stealing role in Scott Pilgrim and of course as Johnny Storm in two bad Fantastic Four movies.  Since becoming Cap, he has starred in a couple of independent movies and the leads in a couple others but nothing that would make you suggest that he is going to be a Hollywood leading man-outside of being Steve Rogers. Let's see out Knives Out does at the box office.

And that is the dilemma for Chadwick.  Yes, these Marvel movies help pay the bills so you can take on other roles in smaller movies or up your profile for bigger movies, but will the public accept you as someone that is not T'Challa, or Tony Stark, or Steve Rogers?  The history of nerd culture movies and tv shows that its very hard to break out of that typecast.  Harrison Ford comes to mind as the most successful as he was able to get past being both Han Solo and Indiana Jones to have a very successful movie career.  But the star of those Star Wars movies, Mark Hamill had a hard time living down Luke Skywalker. Many cultural phenomenon characters never live past being THAT character and its amplified even more if the character is Black.  Jimmy Walker and Gary Coleman never lived down JJ Walker or Arnold Drummond and years later the same thing happened to Jaleel White never being able to get past Urkel.

This is not to say that those actors are as talented as Chadwick Boseman, but becoming a character who is a cultural icon comes at a price to your continued career outside of that character.  I think that is what Chadwick is trying to avoid no matter how grateful he is to the opportunities Black Panther has created.

I truly hope 21 Bridges is successful for Chadwick.  He truly is an amazing actor and could be the Denzel for this generation of Black actors.  Hopefully people will support him in his non T'Challa roles or we are gonna be stuck with Sad Chadwick for a very long time.

The Producer

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Mrs. Fletcher Review

Before we get too far into this review, I have to profess my love for Katherine Hahn.  I am not 100% why I like her or why I am attracted to her, but my love for her as an actress may influence my review of this new series on HBO.

Mrs. Fletcher is the tv adaption of the book of the same name by author, Tom Perotta.  I have not read the book and cannot discuss the similarities or differences between the two genres but Mrs. Fletcher the tv show follows Eve Fletcher, divorced mom of one son who is about to leave for college and her varying feelings about his departure.  The feelings of empty nest are present, but also, a life that had been placed on hold to raise her child post divorce.  Eve has not been on dates and certainly has not had any sex in several years so there is wonder and anxiousness about this new chapter in her life.

Her son Brenden, played by Jackson White, has all the makings of the high school kid that you want to hate.  He's good looking but cocky, arrogant, and entitled through his white, male privilege.  His relationship with Eve on the eve of his departure for college is one of  ambivalence to the point of annoyance.

The show hits its stride when it focuses on Hahn and her interactions with those around her.  From her best friend, Jane, played by Casey Wilson. and her work at the senior center.  These interactions allow Hahn to be vulnerable and empathetic and you feel for the internal struggle she has as her life has entered a new phase that she may not be totally prepared for.  As a parent, you prepare your child to become an adult and move on and move out.  But what happens when your life stopped being about you and about raising your child?  What are you left with when they are gone?  And who are you now that your child has moved out of the house?

All that said, much of the preview for the show has been based on porn.  It is suggested to Eve by Jane , after one of her clients is caught watching porn at the senior center, that she check out the porn sites; specifically the MILF sites.  Much like an apprehensive teen, Eve first cannot believe what she is seeing as she logs into the world of Internet porn. But after a while, she finds what she likes and becomes an avid watcher which leads to her making herself feel good from time to time( and often in weird places).

This show has been a lot of fun to watch and has sparked interesting questions about who we are outside of our children.  Finding that line between being a parent and not losing your individuality is a struggle that all parents deal with; especially ones who are raising a child as a single parent.  Good show all around.  Hahn deserves all the props and recognition she is receiving for this show and I am sure a Golden Globe nomination is in her future.

The Producer

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Dolemites My Name: Movie Review

A confession at the start.... I have never seen a Dolemite movie before; at least not all of one.  I am on the tale end of the age bracket for those movies.  I know my uncle who is like 10 years older than me saw those movies and talked about them; I never saw one on television or on video.  And its not because I was raised prude or anything like that. I am sure my grandmother had those albums and probably went to see those movies in the theater.  She, and my mom, were not about me seeing that stuff when I was young. Once I got older, I shifted more towards Black Cesar and Shaft movies so Dolemite was only something I heard people talk about and rappers reference.

The Netflix movie, Dolemite is My Name, starring Eddie Murphy is a good jumping on point for young people with no knowledge of Dolemite and has enough Easter eggs for long time fans of his albums and movies.

Murphy plays, Ruddy Ray Moore, a struggling comedian living in Los Angeles in the late 60's looking for his big break into entertainment.  Failing as a musician and as a stand up comedian, Ruddy Ray takes a chance by borrowing and expanding the jokes and rhymes from a homeless person who frequented the music store he worked in and adopted the over the top moniker of Dolemite.

As Dolemite, Moore's comedy reaches new levels as he gains success with comedy albums and tours across the country.  Looking to expand the Dolemite brand, he hatches an idea to make a Dolemite movie.  Emlisting a writer, played by Keegan Michael Key, and hiring film students from UCLA, the second half of the movie delves into how the movie gets made and the absurdity of the production.  Wesley Snipes plays actor Du'rville Martin who serves as the director of the movie and is incredulous as to how ridiculous the Dolemite movie and concept is.  Snipes is wonderful in his role and in part steals every scene he is in; including the scenes with Murphy.

And Eddie Murphy is brilliant in this movie.  Its been a while since we have seen this Eddie Murphy and not just the vulgar language( and there is a lot).  We have not seen Eddie Murphy has this kind of energy and passion in a movie probably since Dreamgirls.  In Dreamgirls he played against type and it earned hin an Oscar nomination.  In Dolemite, he is closer to playing Eddie Murphy, but with swagger and emotional center that makes you cheer and care for Rudy Ray Moore.  Its probably Murphy's most complete role ever where you can see not only his incredible comedy talent, but his underrated ability to convey drama where needed.

A great original movie from Netflix and director Craig Brewer; who is directing Eddie Murphy in the Coming to America sequel.  If this is the kick off for an Eddie Murphy renaissance, its a great start and I look forward to the next chapter.

The Producer

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Married Life of Archie 10 Years Later

When people think of Archie now, they probably think of KJ Appa and the atrocity that is that Riverdale television show.  And where I watched that show for 2 years and listened to my favorite podcast about it for last season, Riverdale is actually an example( although a bad one) of how flexible the Archie Universe is.  Yes there is Riverdale and soon to by Katy Keene, but in the comics, Archie and company has branched out their characters to such diverse properties that people can read about Archie fighting the Predator, Jughead as a Zombie, and Veronica as a vampire.  Plus there is time travel and fighting world wars.  No comic property is as flexible with their characters as Archie.

10 years ago, they stretched that flexibility to answer the never ending question: Who would Archie marry in the Life of Archie books.  Archie chose Veronica, yet a trip down Memory Lane in Riverdale allowed Archie to see what his life would have been if he had chose to marry Betty.  Again, the folks at Archie have a great handle of the core of the characters in Riverdale( which makes the tv show Riverdale so frustrating, but that's a post for another time) and crafted two separate universes to see what Archie and the Riverdale gang would be like after Archie marries his two sweethearts.

Well ten years later, Archie and company are back with the Married Life as we pick up with Archie and his two timeline marriages ten years later.  First up is Veronica and their married life is hectic to say the least.  With twin kids( one boy, one girl), Archie is trying to be the best father and provided he can as he heads up a division for Hiram Lodge.  His boss/father in law thinks the way to show love to your family is by providing them with everything they need so long hours away from homes makes money and that is what is important.  Veronica, who grew up with that type of father, is not bothered as much by this and in fact is looking to go back to work herself; which creates drama with Archie of course.  In their version of Riverdale, Jughead and Midge now run and own Pop Tates( which is not doing well), Betty is a therapist/counselor, and Moose is moving from Mayor or Riverdale to hopefully Congress Moose Mason.  We get a surprise appearance by an OLD School Archie character who is back in town and is as creepy as ever.  Plus Cheryl Blossom is around to cause trouble as usual.

In the Married Life with Betty, Archie and Betty are still living in New York City, as Archie had moved to pursue his dream to do and teach music.  Betty makes the money to support the family and as they are looking to celebrate their 10 year anniversary, Archie and Betty head home to Riverdale and find that his dad, Fred, is looking to be dealing with early onset dementia and is having a hard time caring for himself since his wife passed away.  A party at Pop Tate's, brings the gang all together and we find out that Veronica and Reggie are divorced, Moose is still the Mayor, and Jughead and Midge are looking for investors to buy Pop Tate's.

Just a fun book all around and the art by Dan Parent captures the joy of Archie and the Riverdale Gang and the angst and emotion they feel as adults.  This was a great start to this series and I will continue reading throughout.

The Producer

Living with Yourself Review

Woke up to thunderstorms in sunny, South Florida Saturday morning as the remnants of Tropical Storm Nestor was making its way across the peninsula.  Not that I had plans outside the house, but the rain and strong winds forced me to stay inside and catch up on some tv shows I had been meaning to watch.  I mean I coulda did stuff off my Honey Do List, but... well you know.

I had heard about this Netflix show starring Paul Rudd called, Living with Yourself and it popped right up in the "You might like" section of Netflix and for once, Netflix was 100% correct.  Living with Yourself is an eight episode mini series; with each episode being about 30 minutes long.  Rudd stars as Miles, a 40- something, married ad executive who is just feed up with the minutia of life.  He and his wife, played by Ainsling Bea moved to the suburbs from New York City 10 years ago with the hopes of starting a family.  But life is messy and gets in the way and the next thing you know, you hate your job, hate your life, and your relationship is trash and those ten years and your hopes and dreams pass by in an instant.

To get out of that rut, Miles is suggested by a co-worker to visit a spa to get rejuvenated.... its not some spa for him to get a handjob.  The spa is super exclusive and the entry fee is fifty thousand dollars; money which Miles and his wife had been saving to start IVF treatments.  Paul takes out the money and heads to the spa but he does not get a hand job or rejuvenated- he gets cloned and in a bit of medical shenanigans, old Miles get buried in a field while new Miles looks to take over his life.

Living with Yourself would not be nearly as entertaining without Rudd.  Playing against himself as old Miles and new Miles, he is witty and charming as new Miles, and desperate and pathetic as old Miles.  And it would be easy to just follow the surface jokes the show provides and skip over the deeper meaning of life and connectedness that people need in relationships.  Old Miles, even though he loves his wife, allowed work and life to make her feel less important and that crushed their chances to connect; especially after a tragedy they experience early in their marriage.  By seeing New Miles free of all the stress, hang ups, and his internalized bullshit, Old Miles is able to reflect on what is important to him.  This story is told in flashback and flash forward moments that always keeps the viewers present and unfolds the story in a non-complicated matter.  Plus, its the correct length of episodes; unlike many Netflix shows that are often 2-4 episodes too long.

Overall, a very entertaining show and highly recommended; especially for couples who may not feel connected to one another at this stage in their life.  Should spark some interesting conversations about who you were and who you are and who you want to be.And if you read a review that said the show is a dark comedy... its not that dark at all.  Very well done, Netflix!

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Black Widow isnt problematic but Scarlett Johansson is

This week news broke that possibly Robert Downey, Jr will be making an appearance in the Black Widow movie that is scheduled for early 2020.  This movie, which is a flashback movie long before the events of the Avengers, would seem to force Tony Stark into Black Widows movies and it has me wondering why is that?

Black Widow in the MCU movies has more than held her own.  From her appearance in Iron Man 2 through Winter Soldier and Civil War, she has always held her own against heroes and villains; even without any "super powers".  Thing how awesome she was in the Avengers movies playing such a key role in each movie; even up until her death.

Her solo movies, which probably shoulda been made years ago, seems like a slam dunk.  There is a rich back history of her past as an assassin, the teased Red Room, and of course, Budapest which is name checked in 2 different Avengers movies.  None of those things are associated with Tony Stark, so why would they be calling RDJ to feature in her debut? I have a theory!!!

As much as people love Black Widow, Scarlett Johannsson has become problematic AF. In doesn't take much Google searching over the past couple of years where she sticks her foot in her mouth and has to moonwalk it back after her PR folks, and probably Disney get to her.  In the past two years, she took a role in Ghost in a Shell when knowing damn well that role should be played by an Asian/Japanese actress.  She took the role and then tried to play it off like it was not a big deal and its a huge deal.  Then, she was set to play a trans actor in a movie role and doubled down again with some any actor can play any role bullshit and again, she was forced to drop that project after public uproar or stealing a role from a marginalized group of people.  AND then, she did an interview defending both taking the trans role and the Asian role which further alienated her from certain fans who liked her in the MCU movies.  And then this month, she noted that she loved Woody Allen and would act in his pedophile ass movies again.  And that is the thing about ScarJo, her whole Hollywood persona is basically white feminism; the ability to do whatever she wants yet not include other marginalized groups in the battle against patriarchy.  She takes what she wants and when she wants it to the damnation of those who are struggling.

I can only imagine Disney/Marvel reading this stuff and thinking, " would you please shut the fuck up?" There is much goodwill with Black Widow from the movies, but she keeps talking and pushing away people who would generally support this movie.  The idea that we can separate the artist from their bullshit is just that.... bullshit.  If I do not care for the actor playing in the movies, I am not seeing that movie; no matter how good it is.  Case in point,  Hustlers looks like a good movie, but I don't mess with JLo so its a full no for me.  And the same is going to be with Black Widow and that really does suck because there is a huge lack of women in superhero starring roles.  The genre is totally white male dominated and having a woman star in her own movie... even tho its another white woman, is still something that needs support so we can get more movies and hopefully movies with women of color.  But seeing this movie will just embolden her to keep being problematic and I don't think I can do it.

I think Disney is thinking about fans like me.  They know she is problematic so what do they do- they call to the bullpen and bring out their number 1 closer, RDJ.  People love RDJ and seeing him or even potentially seeing him in another MCU movie will move fans on the fence into the movie theater and make them put their hate of ScarJo to the side for 2 hours.  I get it and its fantastic marketing but I am not sure if its gonna work on me.

So what do ya'll think:  Just a coincidence RDJ is rumored in this movie or Disney heading off problematic ScarJo?

The Producer

Denzel Washington in the MCU

Word on the social media streets is that the people at Marvel/Disney were looking to cast Hollywood legend, Denzel Washington as Magneto in the upcoming X-Men reboot whenever that happens for Disney.  Of course, the Internet being what it is, had thousands of hot takes from people loving the idea and people loathing the idea.  Like most things, reality often lies in the middle and no matter which side you fall on, the only certain thing is that Denzel would instantly be the best actor the MCU has seen in whatever role he takes.

Those who oppose Denzel as Magneto cite Magneto's history as a Holocaust survivor and his Judaism.  And yes, those are important aspects to the character of Magneto and helped shaped his view on the conflict between humans and mutants.  However, you could manipulate that history and make him a survivor of a multitude of atrocities and still have him have that negative view towards humanity.  Its often funny that comic book fans only want to stick strictly to the comics when the character is white and is looking to be gender or race bent to fit into a movie.  I mean honestly, who could Disney/Marvel find that would be a better actor than Denzel Washington?  He would bring instant credibility to a role and character that demands the actor playing have a certain gravitas.

Those who are for the casting cite the correlation between the Civil Rights movement and the differences between Martin Luther King and Malcom X and how their differences often parallel the differences between Erik and Charles.  There have been conflicting reports on how Stan Lee based those Magneto and Charles on MLK and Malcom X but regardless of that, having a Black actor play off against a white actor where race is central to the story, would be fascinating.... and this is probably why it wont happen.

Look, Disney knows that fans are chomping at the bit to get a solid X-Men movie.  No matter how you feel about the Fox movies, even the good ones are a bit lacking in certain areas.  Its probably why Marvel/Disney has taken their time with rolling out any information about the mutants and X-Men because they know if they do this correctly, they are looking at making Avengers money.  And that is the reason they wont take this huge leap and cast Denzel as Magneto.  Its not because hes not a great actor or they couldn't craft a story around him playing Magneto, its that they do not want to court the controversy of doing it.  Call  them scared or call them bold, Disney is not going to mess with this money train as they look to recoup all the money they paid for these Fox properties.

So, no Denzel Washington as Magneto in my humble opinion.  I hope I am wrong because it would set social media on fire when they announced and I love watching the world burn.

If not Magneto, who would you like to see Denzel play in the MCU... and don't say Blue Marvel!!!

The Producer