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.
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.
For today’s film, I chose a film that peaked my interest as soon as I heard the word’s 90’s Hip Hop. I am talking about the summer sleeper known as Dope which was directed by Rick Famuyiwa (The Wood) and stars Shameik Moore in his first lead role as our lead character Malcolm. Malcolm isn’t your ordinary kid from the hood, you see Malcolm is a straight A student who has an obsession with 90’s hip hop culture and music and he plays in a punk rock band called Oreo. After being invited to a party, the life of Malcolm and his two friends will change for a least a little while when Malcolm realizes that he is in possession of some dope. He is then faced with a tough proposition as he has to sell off all of the dope or it’s his ass and his recommendation letter to Harvard. The film also stars A$AP Rocky as Dom, Kiersey Clemons (Eye Candy) as Diggy, Tony Revolori (The 5TH Wave) as Jig, Quincy Brown (We The Party) as Jaleel, Kimberly Elise (Diary Of A Mad Black Woman) as Lisa Hayes, , Chanel Iman as Lily, Blake Anderson (Workaholics) as Will Sherwood, Zoe Kravitz (Mad Max: Fury Road) as Nakia, and Roger Guenveur Smith (Final Destination) as Austin Jacoby.
First off, I want to start this off by just saying that I really loved this film. Besides Straight Outta Compton, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Mad Max: Fury Road, that this may be one of my favorite films of 2015. The other thing is that if you are a fan of Hip Hop music, then this is a film that you are going to love because it features some great classic hip hop in the film like Public Enemy, Onyx, Digital Underground, and so much more. One other observation I made while watching this film is that I should have researched that it was Zoe Kravitz in this film. I kept saying to myself, “wow this girl looks a lot like Lisa Bonet” not even realizing that her mom was Lisa Bonet. Yes that one was my bad, but she does a terrific job as did everyone in this film. The acting was top notch in this modern day coming of age story as Malcolm finally figures out just who he is after a teacher threw that question in his face. I will also say that I was thoroughly impressed with A$AP Rocky who is essentially only in the first half of the film and the man that sets off the chain reaction or slippery slope as he puts it in the film. I said above that if you were a fan of hip hop then you would like this film, but the truth is if you are just a fan of films, then you should enjoy this. Check it out for yourself as I give this film an A- for a final grade.