One of the greatest actors to come out of the 1990’s is Denzel Washington (Malcolm X) who is money when it comes to his films. He has a movie called Fences coming out on Christmas which is gaining a lot of critical acclaim, but to celebrate his career, I decided to check out He Got Game. Jake Shuttlesworth (Denzel)has been in jail for six years after the death of his wife which has forced his son Jesus Shuttlesworth (NBA Legend Ray Allen) to be the man of the house. You see Jesus is also an unbelievable basketball player for his high school who hasn’t made a decision as to where he wants to go or do after high school. Jake is given a chance to exit jail to try and convince his son to go to a certain school so that his sentence can be cut short. The film also stars Milla Jovovich (Zoolander 2) as Dakota Burns, Rosario Dawson (Justice League: Throne Of Atlantis) as Lala, Hill Harper (CSI: NY) as Booger, Zelda Harris (The Baby-Sitters Club) as Mary Shuttlesworth, Ned Beatty (Deliverance) as Warden Wyatt, Jim Brown (Mars Attacks) as Spivey, Joseph Lyle Taylor (The Dark Knight Rises) as Crudup, Bill Nunn (Spider-Man 3) as Uncle Bubba, John Turturro (The Color Of Money) as Coach Sunday, Roger Guenveur Smith (American Gangster) as Big Time Willie, and the film was written and directed by Spike Lee (Malcolm X).
This was one of those films that you are kind of glad they only made one just because one of the main actors was kind of awful. The film’s story is actually a very good story that kind of takes a look into what happens when someone from a poor area has some talent and has to deal with vultures trying to get theirs. But as I said before, Ray Allen is kind of an awful actor who has his moments in the film, but is also one of those guys who shouldn’t have transitioned into films.Now Denzel on the other hand puts on one heck of a performance as he always does as a man who is desperate to get his son to sign, but he is also enjoying his time out of prison. He also touches other peoples lives to wake them up to realize their potentials or what they are missing out on. His interaction with Milla Jovovich are awesome as she plays a prostitute that he feels bad for in a way. The film features some gritty moments and plenty of T&A as one college tries to persuade him to come to their school. I can imagine that those things happened in real life and I am kind of mad I never took sport serious enough in high school. The ending of the film to me is a little rushed and it sort of doesn’t make sense to me in a way while in a way it does. It just seems a little too quick that he spends years hating his father, but forgives him what seems quick. It was a decent film that any basketball fan may enjoy. I am going to give a B+ only because Allen and some other performances bothered me a little. Enjoy the cameos in the film from NBA coaches and players like Dean Smith, Lute Olson, John Chaney, Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley, Shaq, etc.
For today’s film, I had to choose something quick to watch due to time constraints and I have always admired the work of Jennifer Lopez (Selena). I never got the chance to see The Boy Next Door in theaters, but I am watching it for today’s film. Jennifer Lopez plays Claire Peterson, a woman dealing with whether she should stay with her cheating husband or move on. One day her son Kevin (Ian Nelson) befriends the mysterious boy next door Noah Sandborn (Ryan Guzman). In one vulnerable moment one night, she sleeps with Noah and it turns out to be a very big mistake. Noah has a bit of an obsession problem and after Claire tries to tell him that it can never happen again, Noah goes nuts and the game begins. The film also stars John Corbett (My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2) as Garrett Peterson, Kristin Chenoweth (The Pink Panther) as Vicky Lansing, Lexi Atkins (Zombeavers) as Alice Callahan, Hill Harper (He Got Game) as Principal Warren, Jack Wallace (Boogie Nights) as Bob Sandborn, Adam Hicks (How To Eat Fried Worms) as Jason Zimmer, François Chau (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret Of The Ooze) as Detective Chou, and the film was directed by Rob Cohen (Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story).
What can I truly say about the film other than that if you’ve seen one film about an obsessed individual than you kind of seen them all. The question in screenwriting is always what does your story bring to the table that is different than any other one. We’ve seen these types of films before like Fatal Attraction, Fear, The Gift, Devil In The Flesh, and even The Crush just to name a few. I think the thing about this film that is different than the others is that it explores that taboo teacher/student relationship because she is a teacher and he is technically a student at the school. Ryan Guzman does deserve some credit in this film because he does an amazing job playing the obsessed individual. He captures the essence of a kid who is strong and sexually desirable by women while also being vindictive and destructive when he doesn’t get what he wants. Jennifer Lopez well is Jennifer Lopez, she’s sexy as hell and why wouldn’t you be obsessed with that after you’ve had a taste. This film isn’t anything groundbreaking and it’s not the greatest film ever made, but it’s worth a watch. The cinematography is actually pretty decent and is probably what is most attractive about the film. The film is available to watch on HBO and HBOGO as we speak so check it out if you dare. I am going to give the film an B- for a final grade.
It’s Tuesday which can only mean one thing and that is that it is time for Based on a Truesday Story. Based on a Truesday Story is a segment I did on my other blog where we watch films that are based on a true story and for today we are doing American Gangster. Frank Lucas (Denzel Washington) is an African American drug lord from Harlem, New York who decides that the best way to take over the competition is to fly directly to the source in Vietnam. He quickly becomes the drug kingpin of New York, but that attracts the wrong kind of attention. Richie Roberts (Russell Crowe) is an honest cop who gets put on the case to track down Frank Lucas and shut him down completely and anyone else corrupt as well. The film also stars Chiwetelu Ejiofor (12 Years A Slave) as Huey Lucas, Josh Brolin (The Goonies) as Trupo, Lymari Nadal (The Blackout) as Eva, Ted Levine (The Silence Of The Lambs) as Lou Toback, Roger Guenveur Smith (He Got Game) as Nate, John Hawkes (Lincoln) as Freddie, RZA (The Man With The Iron Fists) as Moses Jones, Carla Gugino (Watchmen) as Laurie, Idris Elba (Thor) as Tango, Common (Selma) as Turner Lucas, TI (Ant-Man) as Stevie Lucas, Armand Assante (Judge Dredd) as Dominic Cattano, and the film was directed by Ridley Scott (Alien).
What happens when you put Denzel Washington in a leading role of a film? Well, I hope that you are preparing yourself for one hell of a performance because that is exactly what you are getting with this film. The thing I loved about this film is that you sort of get two stories in one where you have one guy who wants to make his teacher and his family proud by being at the top of his game while you have another who feels that honesty is the best policy and it will lead him over the dirty cops. I have to be honest in saying that if I found a million dollars as a cop, I may skim a few off the top of it. It’s kind of the story of the two roads with the one less traveled and you can guess who took which road in this film. There are so many actors that appeared in this film that I couldn’t fit above that deserved honorable mention like Cuba Gooding Jr., Ruby Dee, Jon Polito, John Ortiz, and many more who do a terrific job in the film. Now we all know that Hollywood takes some civil liberties with their films, but this one seems to have a lot according to an article on historyvshollywood.com. One story is that Frank says in the film that he drove for Bumpy for 15 years. Reports indictate that Bumpy was released from prison in 1963 and he died in 1968 leaving only a five year window. Check out more of the facts vs fiction in that article that I provided. The film is excellent with a very good story, amazing cinematography, and it’s the kind of gangster movies we love here in the states. So, what more could you possibly ask for? I am going to give the film an A- for a final grade.