Tag Archives: don cheadle

Miles Ahead – magnificent mooch through the wilderness years

Written by Peter Bradshaw
courtesy of www.theguardian.com
21.04.16

 

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There comes a time in the life of any creative artist, or maybe any ambitious careerist, when a wave of middle-aged tiredness brings an awful dilemma. Do you stop and give yourself a much-needed rest after which you will return stronger and fresher and more creative than ever? Or is surrendering to the tiredness a fatal mistake: an irreversible slide into ennui from which you will never return? Maybe submitting to inaction is a painful but necessary price to pay for the creative process – even if the creativity is at an end. Don Cheadle’s excellent movie about jazz musician Miles Davis places itself in the centre of just such a situation.

We find ourselves alongside Davis in his wilderness years, the burnout period of the mid to late 70s, when he was living as a virtual recluse in his New York apartment, not performing, living on advance payment cheques from Columbia Records that theoretically gave the company ownership of the private experimental recordings that Davis was supposedly working on. Davis spends his alone time nursing a serious case of mojo loss: brooding, painting, scowling, calling radio stations to complain about them playing the wrong Miles Davis records and hitting a boxer’s punchbag, shouting the rhythmic phrase: “Get itback!

This is a labour of requited love for Cheadle, a subject he clearly feels passionate about that responds to his touch. As well as directing, co-writing and even composing some music, Cheadle plays husky voiced, cantankerous Miles Davis himself. He is whip-thin, with dark glasses and hair grown out into a frizzily dysfunctional halo: drinking and doing coke, in constant pain from a hip disease and cultivating a poisonous paranoia about being exploited. Ewan McGregor plays Dave Brill, a (fictional) British journalist claiming to work for Rolling Stone, who doorsteps Davis and wheedles his way into his life, keen to churn out some gonzo reportage about Davis’s new Howard Hughes existence.

McGregor is arguably yet another example of the white partner that Hollywood requires of its African-American stars, but his character is a legitimate incarnation of white hangers-on; he is dramatically subservient in the right way and also an excellent comic foil. Dave’s Brit way of speaking confuses Davis (“I was off my tits last night!” “Your tits? What?”), but he grumpily lets Dave be his assistant and bag-carrier for an ongoing project: a war of words and much else with Columbia Records and with a certain creepy producer-manager – marvellously played by Michael Stuhlbarg – who misappropriates a precious reel of tape with Davis’s new stuff.

It’s a movie that refreshingly avoids the cliches of linear music biopics; what Cheadle does is keep us in the present day, which itself unfolds eventfully enough, as Dave seeks to get in Miles’s good books by furnishing him with some top-quality drugs, and so showing that he is a parasitic enabler who really isn’t going to help anyone but himself.

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But coolly, Cheadle takes us away from this present tense into flashbacks showing his former bebop existence; the sudden shortness of hair and conventional clothes denote the time shift very efficiently. He holds these flashbacks an audacious length of time, so they feel like an ongoing present, and so returning to the previous situation is a dizzying and disorientating flashforward. We see his unhappy relationship with his beautiful former wife, dancer Frances Taylor, intelligently played by Emayatzy Corinealdi. Davis demanded that she abandon her career to be an old-fashioned wife to him, and rewarded this sacrifice by treating her negligently, hitting her (though the movie perhaps fudges the details here) and fooling around with other women. So now he is on his own: a lonely man, swamped in regret.

Maybe there is one cliche, or near-cliche. Cranked up with rage, Davis makes a personal appearance in the sleek offices of Columbia Records and fires a gun at a terrified A&R guy who had presumed to remind Davis of his contractual obligations. Present in the room is a wannabe musician, played by Keith Stanfield, who was Snoop Dogg in the recent Straight Outta Compton, in which musicians also smashed up the recording company’s offices. Shooting up the smug suits’ fancy pad is a scene that will probably continue to feature in music biopics.

Loyally, gallantly, Cheadle insists on an important and positive outcome for this fallow time, marked though it is by bizarre and black-comic escapades. It is a mark of his generosity and his excellent performance that we’re rooting for Miles Davis’s comeback, too. This could be Don Cheadle’s finest hour.

MilesAhead_Ewan_Cheadle

Film Review: Avengers Age Of Ultron

Written by Graeme Wood
03.05.15

 

Avengers-Age-of-Ultron-one-

Joss Whedon set the bar of expectation high with the first Avengers film in 2012 and the sequel employs a similar palette with a satisfying if mixed results. Presented with a number of seemingly impossible boxes to tick, from pleasing fans, children and adults, introducing new characters, joss-whedonprogressing the threads of Marvel’s TV franchise, pointing the way ahead for character’s individual movies and ensuring some decent action figures along the way you’d be surprised if Whedon didn’t drop the ball somewhere along the line. However, Whedon is a writer who is always able to find a lighter moment to punctuate what could otherwise be a po-faced affair and in the midst of skull crushing and building destruction he’ll add a knowing gag or character beat that reminds us these are (mostly) human heroes not without their flaws. If some of the plot doesn’t necessarily pass rigorous inspection, the sheer momentum of the movie ensures it sails through its lengthy running time like a breeze. It’s never boring, always restless with ideas and frequently thrilling. In contrast to almost every other superhero movie it is perfectly paced too.

We open with the Avengers in full effect and for those who have followed the Marvel characters on AgentsOfShield_Marvelboth small and big screen events tie in neatly with the current story from TVs Agents of Shield, though for those who haven’t been watching both this doesn’t take away from a standalone story in this film.

Here we see what is likely to become the film’s renowned signature shot an especially impressive slow-mo tableau of our heroes united and all leaping in to battle the hordes of Hydra soldiers. The team are attempting to recover Loki’s staff from the first film, having been stolen by Hydra following the collapse of SHIELD in the second Captain America film -The Winter Soldier. With the staff back in their possession its revealed properties open up an intriguing possibility for inventor Tony Stark who driven by a sense of failure wants to protect his friends and more importantly the world.

Stark has always seemed less of a team player and though he comes through in the end there is a sense that he is dismissive of others and always far too pleased with himself. As played by Robert Downey Jr, always a captivating screen presence, this has been a hard act to match though this film sees a more even spread. Stark’s pursuit of a laudable-but impossible-goal drives him to set in motion the creation of a new nemesis in the form of Ultron. It may have a moniker suggesting a 70s floor cleaner but this super adaptable artificial intelligence becomes the most dangerous foe the team has faced because, as one character put it, he is everywhere. Not just a series ofUltron_avengers interconnected and constantly evolving robots but living inside the Internet too. Voiced with casual menace and sardonic pleasure by James Spader Ultron’s intent is to realise Stark’s idealistic vision of a totally peaceful world by wiping out everyone and forcing mankind to evolve over. Not exactly what you might expect a super intelligence to come up with but the parallel here is with Stark who has also evolved himself by creating the Iron Man armour. Cleverly, Whedon uses the mind controlling powers of new arrival the Scarlet Witch to shorthand the fears, doubts and inner feelings of our team so we never have to second guess their motivations.

Conceptually Ulton’s plan may be a stretch and his powers do ebb and flow dependent on the demands of the narrative yet Spader’s fruity vocals and an effectively expressive CGI are sufficient to render it convincingly powerful.

Whedon is also aware enough to second guess some of our doubts and address them in the narrative, there is no doubt that Ultron is a suitably big bad foe able to create divisions within the team an aspect that Whedon returns too never allowing the film to get lost amidst the increasingly big set pieces in the second half.
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Chris Evans’ Captain America proves to be the biggest beneficiary of this approach, his no frills moral stance putting him on a collision course with Stark’s ‘the end justifies the means’ ideals. The difference in their characters means their scenes together provide a cornerstone to the film and a signpost to what will unfold in Marvel’s Phase 3 movies.

Also pleasing is that Hawkeye and Black Widow, characters without their own showcase and who tended to become side-kicks in the first film are given much more satisfying and developed arcs this time around. Scarlett Johansson’s scenes with Mark Ruffalo’s Bruce Banner are touching and subtly played even if the Hulk itself is sometimes a sledgehammer too many. While Jeremy Renner’s Clint Barton provides an unsuspecting humanity and heart at the centre of the film which grounds our characters and determines their mission.

Among the new arrivals we’re introduced to the Maximoff twins Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch, however due to the X-Men and Mutants belonging to Fox studios the twins are introduced here as AgeUltron_Quicksilverenhanced experiments rather than Magneto’s offspring. While their place in the plot is earned as individuals they fail to make much of an impact as interesting characters, particularly as the cast keeps growing. Making worthwhile cameos and even managing to expand their characters in the brief time on-screen are Don Cheadle (War Machine), Samuel L Jackson (Nick Fury), Anthony Mackie (Falcon), Cobie Smulders (Maria Hill), Idris Elba (Heimdal) and Hayley Atwell (Peggy Carter) Marvel’s watchword – ‘It’s all connected’ – never ringing truer.

The final character to be introduced is a Paul Bettany as The Vision tipping the balance perhaps a little too much as his powers seem to conveniently mop up any gaps in the skills of the others and providing the key to defeating Ultron. Nonetheless the team rally into battle in the final act and the action is impressive. Whedon’s use of Italy, Bangladesh, Johanesburg and Seoul and locations provide a suitably refreshing and global feel to the proceedings which lifts the action sequences far above the norm.

Though the outcome of the battle is rarely in doubt Whedon ensures that it doesn’t come easily and it’s not without a cost, while the cinematography and direction ensures these scenes continue to hold our attention. By the film’s close we see some intriguing story threads laid for the next sequence of Marvel’s cinematic universe and a new team of Avengers ready to continue the good fight under the leadership of Captain America. However, one must wonder if subsequent Avengers movies helmed by Anthony and Joe Russo can possibly ever match the verve of the first because Whedon has ensured these are the cream of an increasingly overcrowded market.

Chris Rock’s Top Five

By Zeba Blay
05.12.14

TOP-FIVE-FILMFrom Saturday Night Live to hilarious comedy specials to blockbusters including Lethal Weapon 4 and the Madagascar franchise, Chris Rock has proved to be one of Hollywood’s funniest men.

Yet with his third directorial effort, Top Five (the title references a running joke in the movie about the top five rappers of all time), Rock reminds us he’s a comic with far more depth than he receives credit for. He plays Andre Allen, a comedian and recovering alcoholic gearing up for the release of his first-ever dramatic movie. With cameos from a bevy of celebs, Rock, 49, tells a story that’s as brutally honest and intelligent as it is funny, exploring the highs and lows of fame. The star recently talked with ESSENCE about his own pre-release jitters, working with leading lady Rosario Dawson and his future as a filmmaker.

ESSENCE: There was a bidding war for Top Five at the Toronto International Film Festival last fall. That buzz has triggered talk about awards, including the Oscars. That has to feel incredibly satisfying—and maybe a little scary?

CHRIS ROCK: I’m just happy people like the movie. When we showed it at Toronto, I had just finished the final mix four days earlier. I had no idea what the reaction would be. Getting an Oscar would be nice, but I can’t even begin to process that. I’ll be happy with a Soul Train Award!

ESSENCE: Your character Andre feels very familiar. Watching him felt like seeing Eddie Murphy, Martin Lawrence and Kevin Hart all rolled into one. Was that intentional?

C.R.: He is a gumbo of me and all those comedic greats. We’ve all gone through this whole “Black comedian” experience. But no one’s told that story. Ever. Shows like Louie, Curb Your Enthusiasm or even Seinfeld don’t fully tell our story. So I wanted to capture that.

ESSENCE: Top Five really goes beyond capturing our story and into elevating it. You showed a nuanced style of directing, which is different from what one might expect from a comic in general and from Chris Rock specifically. What inspired you to dig deeper?

C.R.: I did a movie with Julie Delpy called 2 Days in New York. Watching her direct and write had an impact on me. Although that film wasn’t a [commercial success], we got great feedback. That made me realize, Oh. okay, this is the lane i should be in.

ESSENCE: Another surprising element in the film is Rosario Dawson. She’s an amazing actress but she’s never been known for comedy.

C.R.: Offstage Rosario is really funny! I don’t wanna say she plays herself, “cause she does great acting, but this character’s probably closer to her than anything she’s played.

ESSENCE: This project seems to have a dramatic tone. Are you heading in a more serious direction, especially as an actor?

C.R.: I’m Pookie from New Jack City. I’ve done drama, just not in a long time. Hey, I love 12 Years a Slave, but I would have loved it more if I was the slave. I’m inspired by what actors like Chiwetel Ejiofor and Don Cheadle do. Would I love those kinds of opportunities? Sure. But people don’t think of me that way.

ESSENCE: Naturally, a conversation about a movie called Top Five is not complete without asking you your top five rappers. Who are they?

C.R.: [Laughs] Jay Z, Nas, Rakim, Ice Cube and Kanye West!

Top Five hits the UK on the 8th May 2015 and of course Kush Promotions & PR will be handling all urban marketing and PR for the release.

Stay tuned to www.kushfilms.com for further news & competitions.

Must say I was disappointed that Chris has Jay-Z as his No1 rap artiste – is he sure about that?

The original article features in the January 2015 issue of ESSENCE magazine, on newstands now.

©  Essence Magazine December 2014

Winners & Losers at Golden Globes & BAFTA Exemptions

Written by: Graeme Wood
12/01/15

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The announcement of the nominees for this year’s BAFTA Film Awards saw some obvious commercial and critical nods but, and more surprisingly, saw several startling omissions. While box office headliners The Imitation Game, The Theory of Everything, Boyhood and Birdman were shoe-ins for Best Film and leading actors Benedict Cumberbatch and Eddie Redmayne were obvious contenders for Best Actor, it was more surprising to see Wes Anderson’s “The Grand Budapest Hotel” lead the nominations with 11 nods including Best Film, Original Screenplay and Best Actor for Ralph Fiennes.

Acclaimed Belfast thriller ’71 was only nominated in the Outstanding British Film category, along with Pride, Paddington and Under The Skin. Yann Demange director of ’71 has been nominated for Outstanding Debut by A British Director along with writer Gregory Burke.

The controversial omissions came with no nominations at all for the critically acclaimed civil rights drama ‘Selma’, although the film won’t be released in the UK until February it has already scored big in the US and apparently the panel have seen screeners of the film and it is eligible for this year’s awards. The snub appears all the more bizarre given the host of British talent on display in the movie – David Olywelo has already been nominated for several awards and his performance acclaimed by critics. There is also a further notable presence of Brit actors in the cast with Tim Roth, Tom Wilkinson and Carmen Ejogo.

Of concern now to the producers of Selma is that a reported 50 BAFTA Awards voters are also Academy Awards voters which may in turn lead to a lack of Oscar nominations for the film and its crew.

Mike Leigh’s biographical drama ‘Mr Turner’ had four BAFTA nominations though it was a surprise to see this miss out on inclusion in major categories such as Best Film and Best Actor for Timothy Spall’s acclaimed titular performance.

High profile American films “American Sniper” and “Unbroken” also missed out on nominations along with their directors Clint Eastwood and Angelina Jolie.

Elsewhere ‘Selma’ has featured heavily in this year’s other award lists with nominations for Best Actor, Best Film and the historic Best Director Golden Globe nomination for Ava DuVernay. The Globe Ceremony, was held on January 11th and despite high expectations for ‘Selma’ the film only managed to pick up the Award for Best Original Song – Glory written and performed by John Legend and Common.

The runaway success of the Globe’s was Richard Linklater’s ‘Boyhood’, picking up the Gobes for Best Picture, Director and Best Supporting Actress going to Patricia Arquette for her performance in the film. “The Grand Budapest Hotel” managed to nab the award for Best Picture-Musical or Comedy only, while Britain’s Eddie Redmayne picked up the Best Actor Globe for his performance as Stephen Hawking in ‘The Theory of Everthing’. Michael Keaton picked up the award for Best Actor in a Musical or Comedy for his career defining performance in “Birdman”, while Julianna Moore picked up the Best Actress Drama award for “Still Alice” and Amy Adams came away with the Best Actress-Musical or Comedy Globe for her role in the Tim Burton directed ‘Big Eyes’.

A disappointing result then for supporters of “Selma” who felt the film deserved greater recognition particularly for its director and lead actor David Oyelowo. The film meanwhile has 8 nominations in the NAACP Image Awards, to be held on February 6th, including Outstanding Motion Picture, Best Actor, Director, Supporting Actor and Actress. The film will be up against Amma Asante’s “Belle” for Best Picture and Ava Duvernay will be up against Amma Asante who is also nominated for “Belle”. Gugu Mbatha Raw is nominated for Best Actress also for ‘Belle’ and faces competition from Quvenzhane Wallis, ‘Annie’, Taraji P.Henson, ‘No Good Deed’, Tessa Thompson, ‘Dear White People’, and Viola Davis ‘The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby”, strong competition indeed. ‘Selma’ has also picked up five nominations in the Independent Spirit Awards though surprisingly didn’t pick up any nominations from the Screen Actors Guild or the Producers Guild Awards. All eyes will now be on the much anticipated Oscar Nominations to be held on January 15th.

The BAFTA Film Awards will be held at London’s Royal Opera House on Sunday 8th February 2015.
Read The Guardian article on the BAFTA nominations here:
http://www.theguardian.com/film/filmblog/2015/jan/09/bafta-nominations-2015-a-tough-turner-events-and-a-hard-selma

See a full list of the BAFTA 2015 nominations here:
http://awards.bafta.org/award/2015/film

 


 

All The Winners At The 2015 Golden Globes

Courtesy of www.buzzfeed.com
Written by: Emily Orley
12/01/15

Best Motion Picture Drama

Best Motion Picture Drama

IFC Films

Winner: Boyhood

Foxcatcher
The Imitation Game
Selma
The Theory of Everything

Best Actor in a Motion Picture Drama

Best Actor in a Motion Picture Drama

Liam Daniel / Focus Features

Winner: Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything

Steve Carell, Foxcatcher
Benedict Cumberbatch, The Imitation Game
Jake Gyllenhaal, Nightcrawler
David Oyelowo, Selma

Best Actress in a Motion Picture Drama

Best Actress in a Motion Picture Drama

Sony Classics

Winner: Julianne Moore, Still Alice

Jennifer Aniston, Cake
Felicity Jones, The Theory of Everything
Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl
Reese Witherspoon, Wild

Best Motion Picture Comedy or Musical

Best Motion Picture Comedy or Musical

20th Century Fox

Winner: The Grand Budapest Hotel

Birdman
Into the Woods
Pride
St. Vincent

Best Actor in a Motion Picture Comedy or Musical

Best Actor in a Motion Picture Comedy or Musical

Fox Searchlight Pictures

Winner: Michael Keaton, Birdman

Ralph Fiennes, The Grand Budapest Hotel
Bill Murray, St. Vincent
Joaquin Phoenix, Inherent Vice
Christoph Waltz, Big Eyes

Best Actress in a TV Drama

Best Actress in a TV Drama

Mark Schafer / Showtime

Winner: Ruth Wilson, The Affair

Claire Danes, Homeland
Viola Davis, How to Get Away With Murder
Julianna Margulies, The Good Wife
Robin Wright, House Of Cards

Best Director

Best Director

IFC Films

Winner: Richard Linklater, Boyhood

Wes Anderson, The Grand Budapest Hotel
Ava Duvernay, Selma
David Fincher, Gone Girl
Alejandro González Iñárritu, Birdman

Best Actor in a TV Drama

Best Actor in a TV Drama

Nathaniel Bell / Netflix

Winner: Kevin Spacey, House of Cards

Clive Owen, The Knick
Liev Schrieber, Ray Donovan
James Spader, The Blacklist
Dominic West, The Affair

Best TV Drama

Best TV Drama

Showtime

Winner: The Affair, Showtime

Downton Abbey, PBS
Game of Thrones, HBO
The Good Wife, CBS
House of Cards, Netflix

Best Actress in a Mini-Series or TV Movie

Best Actress in a Mini-Series or TV Movie

Sundance TV

Winner: Maggie Gyllenhaal, The Honorable Woman

Jessica Lange, American Horror Story: Freak Show
Frances McDormand, Olive Kitteridge
Frances O’Connor, The Missing
Allison Tolman, Fargo

Best Foreign Language Film

Best Foreign Language Film

Sony Pictures Classics

Winner: Leviathan, Russia

Force Majeure Turist, Sweden
Gett: The Trial of Viviane, Israel
Ida, Poland/Denmark
Tangerines Mandariinid, Estonia

Best Actor in a TV Comedy

Best Actor in a TV Comedy

Amazon Studios

Winner: Jeffrey Tambor, Transparent

Louis C.K., Louie
Don Cheadle, House of Lies
Ricky Gervais, Derek
William H. Macy, Shameless

Best Screenplay

Best Screenplay

Fox Searchlight Pictures

Winner: Alejandro González Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris, and Armando Bo, Birdman

Wes Anderson, The Grand Budapest Hotel
Gillian Flynn, Gone Girl
Richard Linklater, Boyhood
Graham Moore, The Imitation Game

Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture

Best Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture

IFC

Winner: Patricia Arquette, Boyhood

Jessica Chastain, A Most Violent Year
Keira Knightley, The Imitation Game
Emma Stone, Birdman
Meryl Streep, Into the Woods

Best Animated Feature Film

Best Animated Feature Film

DreamWorks Animation

Winner: How to Train Your Dragon 2

Big Hero Six
The Book of Life
Boxtrolls
The Lego Movie

Best Actress in a Motion Picture Comedy or Musical

Best Actress in a Motion Picture Comedy or Musical

The Weinstein Company

Winner: Amy Adams, Big Eyes

Emily Blunt, Into the Woods
Helen Mirren, The Hundred-Foot Journey
Julianne Moore, Map to the Stars
Quvenzhané Wallis, Annie

Best Supporting Actor in a Series, Mini-Series, or TV Movie

Best Supporting Actor in a Series, Mini-Series, or TV Movie

Jojo Whilden / HBO

Winner: Matt Bomer, The Normal Heart

Alan Cumming, The Good Wife
Colin Hanks, Fargo
Bill Murray, Olive Kitteridge
Jon Voight, Ray Donovan

Best Original Song

Winner: “Glory,” John Legend and Common (Selma)

“Big Eyes,” Lana del Rey (Big Eyes)
“Mercy Is,” Patty Smith and Lenny Kaye (Noah)
“Opportunity,” Greg Kurstin, Sia Furler, and Will Gluck (Annie)
“Yellow Flicker Beat,” Lorde (The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 1)

Best Original Score

Best Original Score

Focus Features

Winner: Jóhann Jóhannsson, The Theory of Everything

Alexandre Desplat, The Imitation Game
Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, Gone Girl
Antonio Sanchez, Birdman
Hans Zimmer, Interstellar

Best TV Comedy

Best TV Comedy

Amazon

Winner: Transparent, Amazon

Girls, HBO
Jane The Virgin, The CW
Orange Is the New Black, Netflix
Silicon Valley, HBO

Best Actress in a TV Comedy

Best Actress in a TV Comedy

Tyler Golden/The CW

Winner: Gina Rodriguez, Jane the Virgin

Lena Dunham, Girls
Edie Falco, Nurse Jackie
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep
Taylor Schilling, Orange Is the New Black

Best Actor in a Mini-Series or TV Movie

Best Actor in a Mini-Series or TV Movie

Chris Large/FX

Winner: Billy Bob Thornton, Fargo

Martin Freeman, Fargo
Woody Harrelson, True Detective
Matthew McConaughey, True Detective
Mark Ruffalo, The Normal Heart

Best Mini-Series or TV Movie

Best Mini-Series or TV Movie

Chris Large / FX

Winner: Fargo, FX

The Missing, Starz
The Normal Heart, HBO
Olive Kitteridge, HBO
True Detective, HBO

Best Supporting Actress in a Series, Mini-Series, or TV Movie

Best Supporting Actress in a Series, Mini-Series, or TV Movie

Nick Briggs/Carnival Film and Television Limited 2013 for MASTERPIECE

Winner: Joanne Froggatt, Downton Abbey

Uzo Aduba, Orange Is the New Black
Kathy Bates, American Horror Story: Freak Show
Allison Janney, Mom
Michelle Monaghan, True Detective

Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture

Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture

Daniel McFadden

Winner: J.K. Simmons, Whiplash

Robert Duvall, The Judge
Ethan Hawke, Boyhood
Edward Norton, Birdman
Mark Ruffalo, Foxcatcher

Turmoil as Michael B Jordan Given Role of Johnny Blaze in Fantastic Four Reboot

Written by Lamar Fergus-Palmer
03.03.14


Michael B Jordan is Johnny Blaze in Fantastic Four Reboot.

MICHAEL-B-JORDAN_HUMAN-TORCH_JOHNNY-STORM_FANTASTIC-FOUR_It’s a story that has continued to rumble on since it was announced, and one that has caused uproar among die-hard comic book, superhero movie fanatics.

The news that has caused controversy is that Michael B Jordan, previously known for his roles as Wallace on The Wire, Alex in Parenthood and Steve Montgomery in the 2012 supernatural movie Chronicles has been handed the role of Johnny Blaze (aka the Human Torch) in the Fantastic Four reboot, which is due to be released in 2015.Fantastic-Four-marvel-comics-5205641-1280-960-650x400

But what has caused the uproar? Is it that because up until this point Michael B Jordan hasn’t had many film roles? Is it that he’s only 27? No, what’s causing an issue among die hard comic book fans is that Michael B Jordon is African-American, and Johnny Blaze (The Human Torch) has always been played by white actors he is also white in the comic books.

So with the above in mind, is an African-American actor cast into a role that was previously seen as a Caucasian role, good news or bad news for the fans of the comic books?

Should the race of the Human Torch matter at all? White, Black, Asian, Hispanic; well I don’t think it should matter at all, after all isn’t this all fiction – in the world of fiction anything can happen cant it?

What’s the real issue for fans?

Die-hard fans of the F4 series are arguing the following:

·         The Human Torch has always been a white character, so why change now?

·         Audiences might be confused by the change.

·         But the ‘main’ point that is being argued; is that with a black Johnny Blaze, you cannot have a fantastic-FF-18R_fwhite Sue Storm (who has already been cast as Kate Mara in the new reboot, a white actress) as the two are historically brother and sister.

Of course, the counter-argument to all the above points is:

·         Many films have made the same change without any issues. For instance, Heimdall, the fictional character, based on the Norse god Heimdallr has been portrayed stoically excellently by Idris Elba in the Thor movies.

·         Furthermore, the family argument makes it sound like there isn’t a mixed-race family in existence? There has never been white & black twins born to the same mother, it’s just impossible by any means. Even more so when you take into account that the film is about four people who go into space and gain superhuman abilities, isn’t everything possible!

Therefore, when logic is applied to the arguments, the change should cause no issues at all. However, that would be far too simple for some.

On the other side of the coin…black super hero fans have finally seen….

The rise of black characters as superheroes and the transformation of original black comic book heroes onto the big screen in recent years.

There have been a number of previously white roles cast to black superheroes over the past few years.

Samuel L Jackson portrays Nick Fury brilliantly.
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Don Cheadle has a lead role in Ironman. In fact, for a short time in Ironman 2, he wore the suit and engaged in the action. Anthony Mackie is soon to be seen as Falcon, the sidekick to Captain America in the new Winter Soldier movie due for release on 28th March 2014. Perry White is played brilliantly by Laurence Fishburne in the Superman reboot.

Last but not least, Jamie Foxx spider-man-2-electrowill be Max Dillon/Electro in the new Spiderman 2 reboot, which is due to be released in April 2014.

Even with the above characters and several others, many comic book and superhero film fans are arguing that there are still; not enough black characters in superhero/comic book adaptations on the big screen.

Ultimately, with any movie role, not just in this genre, colour shouldn’t be a controlling factor. Still we understand that black superhero fans may not be too happy to see the Black Panther cast as a Caucasian superhero, but with all the recent changes could black comic-book fans still complain – probably!

As with any film role it should always be that the man or woman cast into a role; should be the person best suited to play that role as chosen by casting, regardless of their race.

BlackPanther

This is why there is no doubt in our minds (at Kush Films) that Michael B Jordan will make a fantastic Human Torch, and hopefully he will spur on a new generation of black superhero movie characters for the future.

We here they are looking at making a movie version of the Black Panther, which has been discussed for a number of years and hopefully it will happen sooner rather than later.

 

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Anthony Mackie as Falcon