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!