Friday, March 30, 2007

A Dirty Shame: John Waters Still Doesn't Get Any Respect

...As you might've already guessed, I' ve been circling back on some of the reviews for some of my favorite flicks I've covered in the past few years...I'll also link to some of the Q&A footage that I'd transcribed but never used for whatever reason (sometimes the juiciest interviews don't get picked up because everyone wants to focus on the wider known talents participating, case in point, when I covered John Waters' A Dirty Shame, my outlets wanted pieces on Johnny Knoxville who was also dropping that Jackass movie (see side bar) but weren't at all interested in other cast's the review...

A Dirty Shame follows the sex-scapades of Sylvia Stickles (Ullman), a repressed convenience store clerk who gets boinked on the head and unleashed her inner sexual deviant. After meeting Ray Ray (Knoxville), a tow-truck driver/ sexual healer, the concussed Stickles embarks on a rampage to sate her newly “viagravated” libido. Sylvia’s daughter, Caprice AKA Ursula Udders (Blair) –- an exhibitionist with hyper-augmented breasts – joins her newly liberated mother’s quest for truth ‘n trysts but first there has to be a showdown with the rabidly decent “neuters” that includes Big Marge (Shepherd) and her birdy-haired sidekick Marge (Stole). If you’re unfamiliar with John Waters’ milieu, your eyebrows will stay raised like Ernie’s on Sesame Steet. If you're a Waters fan, then A Dirty Shame will do you no wrong JW couldn’t hold back if his life depended on it. All of his tried-and-true bases are covered. Irreverence, check. In your face, check, crazy-ass 60s stock film splices, check. Freaky Baltimoreans gone wild, double check. Waters still has his inimitable touch. If you’re squeamish about viewing full frontal pubic patch shots and giggling, hairy bear-men rolling around in corn flakes, you might want to pass. But if not,see it; find out what “Funch” is and discover John Waters’ 12 steps of "Neuter-onomy” this one’s so bad that it goes back around to being good...which is sometimes a good thing...

...As I said above, I got a grip of great copy from other people in the film like Selma Blair (who had just gotten married to Ahmet Zappa who she's since divorced) and John Waters who was a real hoot to talk to and referenced some great books to check (I now know where he gets that crazy sense of humor-- sharp as they come, that guy)...

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BURN HOLLYWOOD...Okay, Stop Burning Now...

...I was sitting in a meeting in a building downtown...I look behind me toward the Hollyweird sign and saw smoke billowing from behind the hills...

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Garden State: Worth a Rewind

In Garden State Andrew "Large" Largeman (Braff), a struggling L.A. actor/ waiter returns to his hometown in NJ at the behest of his father (Holm) to attend his mother's funeral. Once he's back, Large meets Sam (Portman) a kooky compulsive liar who charms dude out of his lithium addled existence. Mark(Sarsgaard) is a honey bear-toking gravedigger who filches the jewels off of cemetery stiffs -- what's not to love? Braff also wrote and directed GS (his debut in the big chair). Everyone breathes life into their respective roles while Braff uses the dead pan stare into the camera to hilarious effect. Although the plot meanders at points, there are definite patches of funny to be foun -- the soundtrack is hot too, so if you haven't seen it yet (or bought the soundtrack) give it a whirl.

Sell crazy someplace else because they're all stocked up on Garden State which features TV's Scrubs star Zach Braff (in his directorial debut on a feature film) and Golden Globe nominee Peter Sarsgaard (Boys Don't Cry, Jarhead) bring a fresh take on 20-something nuttiness -- Jersey style. I covered press for that flick and the only thing I used was the copy for a piece on Natalie Portman [here's what went down during the roundtable with Braff and Sarsgaard while they were in town supporting the film back when it came out-- it's kind of funny to see where their minds were way back then before the film dropped]

Q: So what can you tell about your experience with acting and directing at the same time?

Zach: It's tricky. It's like juggling and riding a bicycle and going food shopping at the same time but I loved it.

Q: What brought you to your character Mark, the grave digger?

Peter: I'd never read anything that didn't adhere to the formal rules of moviemaking so much as this one did. I just liked, that Braff had so much guts to break so many rules at once.

Q: For example?

Peter: There's no three act structure. There are all these detours along the way that, in retrospect, make some sense in the grand scheme of things but also are just [there] because he felt like it.

Q: How much of this film's content is from real your life?

Zach: There's a lot of it that's me and there's a lot that I think that I have more in common with the character more so than the story. It was just things I sort of collected and used as a jumping off point to write this script but the character had a lot to do with who I am as a 20-something nowadays.

Q: So you're saying that you actually waited tables in a Vietnamese restaurant?

Zach: I DID wait tables in a Vietnamese restaurant. [laughs] That scene in the Vietnamese restaurant was an actual word-for-word experience that I had with someone [while working] at a French-Vietnamese restaurant in Beverly Hills.

Q: Did you guys do any ad libbing with your scenes in the film because you had a couple of sweet lines in your performance

Peter: No, no -- it was all scripted, that's all Zach. Every once in a while he'd say "why don't you say this instead of that?"

Zach: That's a testament to those actors. Natalie and Peter are actors that you watch have the thought and then say it. It's a fundamental thing but -- go home tonight and watch television and you'll see that most people are just reciting lines as opposed to watching someone have the idea.

Q: Photography is one of your hobbies, how influential was it on your film making?

Zach: It inspired the way we shot the movie a lot because I hate "shaky cam" -- that's my biggest pet peeve in the world and it's "so everywhere." People are like, "You're cinematography's so different" and it's like "Yeah, I put the thing on a fucking tripod." [laughs]

Q: So he was good director to work with or what?

Peter: It was probably one of the easiest movies I've ever did -- very little difference between the camera being on and the camera being off. I think it helps the movie.

Q: With that in mind, when you're filming roles do you know when you're working on it that it's going to come together?

Peter: No. It's difficult to know. A lot of it is just kismet. There's so many things that can screw up a movie along the way that you never know, I mean on Boys Don't Cry I thought a lot of people were giving great performances. So I thought, "at least it'll have that." I didn't think that it would be commercially successful on that one.

Q: Going back a little ways, a lot of your characters in the past have had these darker themes around the edges -- do you see yourself doing more comedy?

Peter: I like to do both. If it's a comedy, it's a comedy. If it's drama it's drama but I enjoyed doing this. It's nice showing up to work and not having to act in a scene where the baby's dead, you know what I mean? Those scenes take a lot out of you.

Q: How long were you out here before you hit. Before your career really started rolling?

Zach: I went to New York first - I graduated from school in '97 and I didn't get Scrubs until 2001.

Q: When did you come out here to Los Angeles, Peter?

Peter: I live in New York. Probably the first time, I think, was to audition for Man in the Iron Mask with John Malkovich at the director's house -- very weird. Actually my first scene in a movie was getting dragged through a swamp by Sean Penn.

Q: What do you have coming out in the fall?

Peter: Kinsey's coming out with Liam Neeson and Chris O'Donnell. The Dying Gull will be coming out I think in January - I don't when [exactly] -- that's with Patty Clarkson, Campbell Scott and myself. I'm doing this movie with Jodie Foster called Flight Plan and right now I'm finishing up this movie with Kate Hudson, Gena Rowlands and John Hurt called Skeleton Key.

Q: Any more directing projects?

Zach: Lots of ideas but I'm not sure what my next one will be. I'm going to do Scrubs now for seven months and then five months off again. I can't imagine that I'd be able to direct a movie that quickly. I think it would be something that I act in.

Q: Any advice for people who want come out here like Largeman with high expectations?

Zach: My advice would be the advice that my mom gave me, she said "It always gets better." What I always tell myself when I'm at a low point is to just wait it out -- time will show everything. Everything comes in cycles and the good times will come again, so will the bad times. That's what the movie's all about -- that's life. If you numb yourself to that [fact] then you numb yourself to what life is.

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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

20 Years of Bass for Your Face: Public Enemy Reunites to Rock the Bells!

Listen up all you Hip Hop heads, the people who brought the world the Rock the Bells Festival have announced their full talent lineup that includes Cypress Hill, The Roots, Mos Def, EPMD, MF Doom with headliners RATM and the Wu-Tang Clan with a special guests: a newly re-united Public Enemy...I was going to let this one pass but who could give up the chance to see PE rockin' wild one last time?...Finally, all the younger heads have the opportunity to go witness Chuck D and co. throw down the gauntlet in a live context-- it ain't like listening to a record, son...

As the notification I got sent maintains, "the festival has expanded it's itinerary and added 15 additional dates...further down it mentions that Nassir "Hip Hop is Dead" Jones (or Nas) will also headline some of the's the rest of it...

"Guerilla Union--the presenters of the 2007 ROCK THE BELLS critically acclaimed hip-hop experiences July 28 at Randall’s Island, New York; August 11 at the NOS Events Center in San Bernardino, CA; and August 18 at McCovey Cove Parking Lot (near AT&T Park) in San Francisco with headliners The Wu-Tang Clan and Rage Against The Machine--have announced further details about their 2007 North American festival series.

Artists confirmed for exclusive live performances on these three ROCK THE BELLS summer shows include: Rage Against The Machine, The Wu-Tang Clan, Nas*, Cypress Hill, The Roots, Mos Def, EPMD, MF Doom*, Pharoahe Monch, FELT *, Sage Francis, Hieroglyphics*, Immortal Technique, Living Legends*, Blackalicious*, The Coup*, Murs*, Jedi Mind Tricks, Brother Ali*, Cage*, Mr. Lif*, Grouch & Eligh*, Hangar 18*, Blueprint* and Lucky I AM*, plus very special guests Public Enemy who celebrate their monumental 20-year anniversary. DJs on all dates are Mike Realm, C-Minus, Icy Ice and Rocky Rock. The ROCK THE BELLS festivals will be hosted by Supernatural, Rahzel and Hi-Tek. (*Performing select cities.)

In addition to the New York and California dates, ROCK THE BELLS will expand with 15 additional dates where the Wu-Tang Clan will be joined by Nas as the co-headliner. (Rage Against The Machine will appear at the three aforementioned dates only.) The historic tour will begin July 28 in New York City and wrap-up on the west coast in late August. The Paid Dues Independent Hip Hop Festival--which sold-out the Orange Pavilion in San Bernardino, CA this past weekend--will also hit the road this summer on a 10-city run across the continent joining up with two ROCK THE BELLS dates in New York City and San Bernardino, CA. The cities and venues, final line-up for each date and ticket information will be announced in the coming weeks.

“ROCK THE BELLS represents, respects and recognizes the very best and brightest talent who create social, political and conscious hip-hop music. We are attempting to make a statement as well as history. I have been blessed to be a part of a lot of big shows, but this year’s festivals aren’t just the biggest or best shows in hip-hop, they are some of the most important musical experiences overall,” states Chang Weisberg from Guerilla Union. “It has never been more critical to the success of quality music. The live hip-hop experience is so special because there are just so few happening. I can’t remember the last time this many quality emcees and musicians have ever been gathered to showcase their talents. Mass media has a blurred perception of what’s popular. ROCK THE BELLS exists to be the ultimate artist support platform for the genre. We will prove that over 150,000 fans can spark a movement and a shift in the music and culture of America. The summer of 2007 will be remembered as the year that quality hip-hop came back.”

...Party for your right to fight when tickets go on-sale this Saturday, March 31... Fans can sign up for pre-sale ticket information at the official Rock the Bells website

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Rodrigo y Gabriela to Re-launch U.S. Tour in LA

...some of you got the gas face a couple of months ago when Rodrigo y Gabriela had to nix their tour schedule...well, here's a little good news from the folks at KCRW...

"...renowned Mexican guitarist Rodrigo Sanchez, half of the ATO Recording artists Rodrigo y Gabriela, successfully procured his Entertainment Working Visa from the American Embassy in Mexico City. The band had to unexpectedly cancel dozens of shows as a result of the Visa issue, however, they will now launch their U.S. tour on stage in Los Angeles as part of KCRW’s A Sounds Eclectic Evening. The acoustic-metal guitar duo will join The Shins, Lily Allen, Cold War Kids, Breakestra, Bitter: Sweet and special surprise guests for the annual benefit concert."

...I've heard nothing but great things about this act and will try to check them at the KCRW benefit...if you haven't heard 'em, check their site out


Sunday, March 25, 2007

Rewind: Cold Mountain...Still Cooler than Ever

“All we can do is make peace from the past and learn from it.” Consider that line closely before you view Cold Mountain, which follows the years-long trek of Inman (Jude Law), an AWOL Confederate soldier on his way back into the arms of the woman he loves but kissed only once. That woman is the Charleston-bred belle Ada Monroe (Nicole Kidman). Unprepared to cultivate father’s back forty, Ada is forced to face life alone in the harsh foothills when he dies. She eventually begins to butch-up with the help of Ruby Thewes (Renee Zellwegger), a hill-betty who’s got “daddy issues” herself. Meanwhile, Inman crosses paths with a colorful succession of characters like Veasey, the “prurient preacher” who adds off-color hijinks like only (pre-Oscar) Philip Seymour Hoffman could.

There’s also Junior, a five-toothed schmoe with the I.Q. of a wagon wheel – a role Giovanni Ribisi was born to play. Sally Swanger (Kathy Baker) morphs from the friendly neighbor up the dirt road into a shriveled portrait of hard luck personified. Zellwegger goes over the top and beyond it with a hayseed accent and mannerisms that are straight out of the blue ridge bluffs- albeit a tad too Hee-Haw at points. The cinematography is crisp: there’s the ever-present foggy mountain humpbacks implying Appalachians, (though shot in Romania). Comparisons to Homer’s Odyssey are superfluous, so let’s not. There’s more to this film than Confederate scrip and corn pone. The film stays remarkably true to Charles Frazier’s book. Whether you read Cold Mountain first or not, once that haunting music starts playing and the emotions start to wash over you, you’ll be crying like a little bitch- just like everyone else who’d said they were above it, including yours truly...

Here's a clip featuring Kidman and Renee Zellwegger getting country widdit:

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Saturday, March 24, 2007

OK Computer People: Read This...

...a little bird from up in Sacramento shot me a message yesterday telling me that at the stroke of midnight it would be National Shutdown Daywhich is, for all intents and purposes, an agreement to go off the grid, get up, get into it and get involved IRL-- a day with no computer-tainted experiences...

...I thought long and hard about what the necessity for a day like this suggests and found it to be alarming-- that it's gotten so bad that it's actually considered on the serious tip. Too, as if following some digital cue issued by said little birdie mentioned above, my DSL modem (that I bought with a 1 year warranty from my ISP when I switched to it last year) unceremoniously bought the farm in the wee hours yesterday and I've since learned that I have to buy a new one (my warranty expired in January-- I'll raise a toast to planned obsolesence)...I thanked my stars that I can go wireless on my MacBook or would I?

The fact that I made this post suggest that I ultimately did get online during the shut down...and am unapologetic...I won't totally write off the root of the whole affair, though. I see a point in reminding people to get a life beyond their keyboard's reach, especially if you've got a little crumb-snatcher or two and they want to hang out with their parental figure (better hook that shite up now while you can...or get acquainted with the lyrics to Harry Chapin's (not Cat Stevens') "Cat's in the Cradle" ...

...I've gotten yelled at in the past for spending way too many hours in the QWERTY position (as recently as two nights ago) but that's just me, I write and I don't fancy long-hand (my penmanship stinks so bad that even I can't read my notes if the thoughts are rolling)...all of that said, I will make an effort to get out there and do more (I'm writing this post outside drinkin' a pint and enjoying the California sun in my own way-- baby steps, son)...too, I will try to remember to step away from the laptop and have a little more active fun when I'm not working because this ain't no dress rehearsal (and I don't want to find out just before I check out)...hey, Mike the Knife (a journo buddy of mine who, ironically, I met on my music blog) just zapped me on the blower, he's in town...I think I'll link up and shoot the shite face to face or something...if you can't tear yourself away from your computer for a whole day, try it in smaller increments and see what happens...if you're ever in Los Angeles, shoot me a message...and we'll get together then...

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Sunday, March 18, 2007

Bernie Mac: Transforms with a Dramatic Turn in Pride (Q&A)

You'd be hard-pressed to find a comedian as funny as Bernie Mac. Although he'd been honing his stand-up skills for decades, first on the platforms of Chicago's L- Trains and then to comedy clubs all over the country, he didn't become a national comedic force until he made appearances on HBO's Def Comedy Jam during the late 90s which lead to gigs on films like Spike Lee's Get on the Bus, Life (opposite Eddie Murphy and Martin Lawrence) and the wildly successful concert film The Original Kings of Comedy where he officially blew up on the entertainment scene and the actor/ comedian hasn't looked back.

Next Friday, the 23rd, Bernie's going to flip the comic script with a co-starring role in the film Pride opposite Terrence Howard, Kimberly Elise and Tom Arnold. The film, directed by South Africa's Sunu Gonera, is inspired by the real life of Jim Ellis, once an aspiring swimmer, who moved to 70's-era Philadelphia in the hopes of getting a job teaching only to find himself fighting against staggering odds to establish an all black swim team in one of the toughest neighborhoods in Philly. A few weeks ago, the Golden Globe nominated Mac (The Bernie Mac Show) was in Los Angeles doing press for the new film. Read on and see what Bernie has to say about saying "no" to George Clooney, getting dramatic with Al Pacino, comparisons to Richard Pryor and his role in the forthcoming Transformers flick...

Q: So how was it for you to take a stab at a dramatic role for a change?

Bernie Mac: The dramatic was easy. A lot of people don't know that I started with the dramatic-- comedy is something that you all know that I can do. I've introduced myself [as a comedian], once you introduce yourself as something, that's where people keep you, that's where people like to hold you. But Mrs. Hunter, in fourth grade, started me in drama -- that's when I first started doing plays -- I took a page out of my Big Mama's [grandmother's] notebook: "Don't let your left hand know what your right hand is doing." So that works in my favor-- when you all see me in that light, or as an individual in that light, I love to hear you all say "wow, I didn't know he could do that." And for actors and ball players, when they want to do other things and the media or critics don't let them, they get frustrated. You shouldn't get frustrated [because] that goes with the territory. For example, it's an honor when people see you and without you saying a word [they] just start laughing and smiling.

There's only one person I know who had that, that was Richard Pryor. And Richard Pryor, in Lady Sings the Blues, did an excellent job and every time he came on the screen [the audience began to laugh] but, you know, he was typed. Afterwards, he was like, "man, I did good. I wasn't trying to be funny!" and I learned from that. I remembered that when he said it and I said "don't get mad, Richard. They love you." You know what I'm saying? That's a compliment. But I realized the frustration when [actors] want to do something outside of what everybody else sees them as. See, all you do as a performer is keep doing it. If you keep doing it -- and then it depends on why you're doing it-- if you're doing something for superficial or [monetary] reasons, if you're doing it for female attention or for money and stuff, well...the only way you could get upset is when you're expecting something [in return]-- if you don't get this award or you don't get that award, that's because you're expecting something. If you get mad at John or Jill, you're expecting something-- you understand my point? Drama is something that I can do, man, I got chops. But you just have to always, always, every time you get an opportunity [be prepared]-- life ain't no dress rehearsal...Every time that light comes on or every time that camera comes on; the microphone comes on, the Mac- Man seeks and destroys.

Q: Is your characterization of Ellston in the film based on a real person?

BM: Well, kinda-sorta. I came up in the [recreation] center, I used to be physical director of South Central Community Center in Chicago on 83rd-- it used to be Channel Y back when I was a kid. I played at Channel Y, Ogden Park, South Tower Y; I grew up in the gym, I was a gym rat and I had Mr. Hill, Mr. Butler, Mr. Stevens...those were the guys who were in my head, besides my mother and my grandmother. Those were the individuals that were in my head pushing-- they were my counselors, my guidance, teachers, my lawyers. They knocked on my doors many days and talked to my parents and told what I was doing, how I was improving, [like] Mr. Hill when I was boxing and stuff-- those were Ellstons. So, having the experience as physical director, dealing with the kids, dealing with the single-parent homes (mostly female parents), trying to get sponsors to help sponsor the [kids' activities]...the black kids didn't like swimming, golf, tennis, track or gymnastics, those sports are put on the back burner plus in my day they were "sissy" sports.

...minority kids feel that there's no instant financial gain in those sports but [they require the most] hard work and dedication-- you look at the build on a swimmer, look at the build on a gymnast. That's the best build in the world, it takes every muscle in your doggone body to swim. And water, you're dealing with an element that's so under-rated, water, like Bruce Lee said, "holds the strongest of mammals, water is underestimated." Water puts out fire. Water sterilizes. Water drowns. Water tears brick. And swimming is something that a lot of people just don't know about. I got introduced into swimming by watching Lloyd Bridges in [the 50s TV show] Sea Hunt (laughs) and I always wanted to scuba dive-- I used to pretend to scuba dive under the covers as a kid. (makes bubbling sounds) My imagination was just large, they wanted to put me in a mental hospital years ago! My grandma said "something's wrong with him" (laughs) because I used to do voices and stuff like that. And now I scuba, I've swam all my life, you know, and boxed and sports-- I never ran track, I never played tennis but volley ball, baseball, basketball, football; I kept chalk in my pocket. We used to play strikeout. People used to yell at me: "Bernie Mac don't write on my wall!" You know, I used to draw that little square on the wall...the playgrounds used to be filled [with children] when I was coming up-- playgrounds are so empty now. But my point is [sports like swimming] were put on the back burner. I think those sports should be [compulsory] in the schools. We had to swim naked in high school because it was unsanitary to swim with trunks, class after class, you couldn't wear swim trunks so we had to swim naked-- that's where that line came from [in the film] "we had to swim naked."

Q: You mentioned Daddy Rich earlier, you think you'd ever do like a Jo Jo Dancer, autobiographical film on yourself?

BM: I'm not Richard, I don't want to do a Jo Jo Dancer. I want to show, and no disrespect to anybody, I run my own race. I don't worry about what lane somebody's in or what somebody else is doing or who's in front. I want people to say, at the end of my day, you know like they used to say about Sidney Poitier, James Cagney, Joan Crawford, Red Skelton and those guys-- they did [films with] quality, substance. You'll always remember them. I turn down so much stuff because I want [when people see] "Bernie Mac is performing in such-and-such" them to say "I'm going" because they know I'm not going to cheat the people...I just want it the same as when Stevie Wonder comes out with a new album, I was like: "I'm going to get it." Because I knew he was going to bring it. Jo Jo Dancer was something that Richard Pryor wanted to do, he wanted to tell the story of his life, I don't want to tell that story. I think I've told my story, number one, many times [doing stand up], if someone else wants to tell the story, that's their job to tell the story about you or him. I think, to me-- for me, that's a sign of bragging, you know? I'm not that actor, I don't want to do that.

Q: How's Ocean's 13 going?

BM: Man, let me tell you something. I hate to compare [films], especially while I'm promoting Pride, I feel that that's another [kind of] disrespect but Ocean's 13 is the best movie I've ever done in my life-- no question. With the boys, I mean, because it's personal. You got all the boys, all my buddies on that. You got George and Don Cheadle and Carl Reiner, Elliott Gould; you got Matt got Brad and all the boys, so you can't say no...You cant say no to [Steven] Soderbergh. (laughs)

Q: So what about it makes it better? George is on the record saying that he was a little bit disappointed with the way the second movie went

BM: Well, we all were disappointed.

Q; So, how do you guys come back to do it a third time and make it the best one?

BM: By making a bad film the second time and then you say "okay, you know what?" (laughs) No kidding, it was like "what were we doing?" See, that is a perfect example of pimpin'. That's the perfect example of not being true and honest to yourself-- I don't want to do that. But, you know, with my connection with the boys, I couldn't say no. How can you say "no Bernie" when Soderbergh wants you in it? And I was doing Guess Who at the time too and I was flying all over-- that's how I got pneumonia. Flying all over the world, I'd just gotten through with the television show, 20 hours, and then I said "no, I'm not doing it next time, okay?" And then we were making the film and I said "man, this script is booty"-- I didn't know if it was mission impossible or what, you know? But you can't say nothing. Because, I don't want to do that to my fans, personally...I don't want to do that. i don't want to be doing it, milking it just so I can make some money and the people come out [and feel gypped]-- this one is good.

You got my man Al Pacino in there. Let me tell you something, I'm not quickly intimidated, being an athlete and being from [South Side Chicago], Al Pacino is one of my [acting] mentors. When I was on set I was like "man, I got a scene with Al Pacino today wheeew", you know what I'm saying? I was a little bit [afraid] ..I was like "goddamn!" (laughs) It's like a fight-- I could see how [fighting against] Larry Holmes was and then when Al came in I was like (in a meek voice) "hey, Al Pacino" and he said (in a booming voice) "Bernie Mac!" and I said "wow, man." I called my wife and said "it's me and Al Pacino today, dude." She said, "man, Mac, you know you're going to do alright" but you know, when I saw him I was like "Damn!" I kept watching him, man. It was like with Don Rickles...when I hooked up with Don Rickles I was like "Don Rickles!" You know, I don't have a 'favorite' nothing, I just like good stuff: Red Skelton, Milton Berle, Bill Cosby, Flip Wilson, Richard Pryor, Johnny Carson, Carol Burnett, you know, I could go on, Jackie Gleason-- man, I grew up [watching them]...the younger people don't have those pioneers. I had some pioneers, even in sports: Roberto Clemente-- I loved him, I used to try to run like him. (laughs)

Q: So, what's up with being cast in Transformers? Talk a little bit about that.

BM: In Transformers I'm playing a used car salesman and you know all used car salesmen are full of shit, excuse my French, but they're con-men. And they came to my set lot and I sold them-- the Transformers. I didn't know that they were Transformers, I thought they were a piece of junk and the first thing you do as a car salesmen-- I didn't even know this but I found after investigating for myself-- they always sell you the BS cars first. It's almost like a restaurant, get rid of the food, rotate it. And when [the Transformers] come, I just throw them on the line, I'm a fast talking quick-wit guy-- I got a chance to have some fun. And Michael Mann -- I've been fortunate because every director [in the past] allows Bernie Mac do his thing. I have not been handcuffed [creatively in a role] since my career started, from Ted Demme [onward] every time we'll do it straight and then they'll tell me "now, Bernie Mac it" that's a luxury.

Q: Did you do a lot of ad-libbing in Pride?

BM: I only ad-libbed when Sunu [Gonera, the film's director] told me to Bernie Mac it. I'm very disciplined and I'm a fan of respect. Sunu was a first-time director and I didn't want to go off the page and everything. But Sunu instructed me, he'd say "Bernie, I need something right here, give me Bernie Mac" that's when I did it. We took a take of the way Sunu wanted it, if Sunu had a note for me, I did it the way he described it in the notes and then I'd put the Bernie Mac on it.

...Pride opens nationally on Friday, March 23rd...see trailer below...

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Freaks and Geeks: Music and Memories on the TV

...I never got into Paul Fieg and Jason Apatow's Freaks and Geeks when it first aired in '99 as I was busy making the change from playing tunes on the road to staying put in Atlanta and working a full time day gig as a cook-- I spent the majority of my spare time checking bands at the Point, while swilling pints at the Yacht Club or disco-ing over at the Star Bar on Tuesday nights-- so watching the tube wasn't high on the priorities list...

...I didn't get turned on to Freaks until years later when I'd started writing; late one night, while staying at my mom's house for a visit, I was punching up something on deadline the next day and one of those TVLand-ish marathons was on in the background-- I got sucked into Fieg and Apatow's world and have been a fan ever since...

...after doing a little research, I found that what I'd saw that night was the whole shebang; there were no more episodes to be had as the show, as good as it was, was unceremoniously given the hook by the fine folks at NBC for whatever reason which made me wonder how dreck like Friends was given the VIP treatment but that's another post altogether...

...over the years I've met a grip of people who were into the show, some more zealous than others, but all loved the show for most of the reasons I did: it had heart......I was in high school in the mid-80s (Class of '89), it was a small, AP/college prep high school (with an average graduating class size of about 40 students per year) and I still found things on F and G that I could relate to-- John Hughes came close but not this close with his films. Be that as it may, the lengths that Feig and Apatow went to keep the show's edge and spirit, a no-no in the world of sitcom TV, might've bitten them in the ass because, as mentioned earlier, it was yanked without much fanfare-- adhering to originality is the garland of garlic, in the world of sitcoms, it seems. Check this quote:

"One of the distinguishing characteristics that separated Freaks and Geeks from similar television series at the time was its authentic soundtrack. The creators made it a priority to feature genuine, period-specific music that would help to create the tone of the show. Clearing such names as The Who, the Grateful Dead, and Billy Joel would prove to require much of the show's budget. Eventually, this would become an obstacle in releasing the show on DVD considering that no publisher wanted to go through the trouble of clearing all of the music for the series...the creators of Freaks and Geeks, however, chose to wait to release the DVD until they could find a publisher up to the challenge of gaining clearance for the music of the series, as not to upset the fans of the show. (The pop culture lovers over at) Shout! Factory eventually became the publisher to bring Freaks and Geeks to DVD with all of its music intact." -- you can find links to the article that held the above and find out a little more on the show/ cast/ creators here on wikipedia (the offical site is "closed for repairs" as I type this)...

...Pajiba's Seth Freilich wrote a most excellent essay here that demarcates the difference between freaks, geeks and nerds..which made me wonder which of these categories did I fit into when I was in school, the verdict: all three at various points...that's my story and I'm sticking to it...check this clip:

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Saturday, March 17, 2007

Arthur Magazine: Read It While You Still Can

...John Srebalus, a collegue/ editor/ scribe over at Rhino Records is one of the dryest rock writers I know out there—he’s funny as shite to read and he always has something to say that involves giving the status quo the middle finger…he’s one of the guys I work with over on Rhino Insider (Rhino Records’ blog) and whom I’ve worked on a few PodCast productions with…he punched up an article on his own blog ( You Are Not Your Neighborhood) that I thought people here, and other disenfranchised readers of mags like Rolling Stone might want to take note of re: the demise of the magazine Arthur which starts like this…

“This past Sunday, February 25, Arthur magazine announced it’s on “indefinite hiatus.”

According to the Arthur Web site:

…We at Lime Publishing, the current publisher, had been working toward transitioning operations to a new publisher since the start of the year. A breakdown this past week in negotiations for the future of the magazine led to an unfortunate and perplexing announcement that “Arthur is Dead.”… This poorly-timed message was sent out, against explicit wishes of Lime Publishing, to the public before the staff, advertisers or contributors were notified… The current hiatus may still lead to future opportunities for Arthur, but for the time being we are paring down operations.

If the state of journalism wasn’t sad enough, this is devastating news. While the trend in recent years has been toward visual flash, snippet word counts, and P.R.-muscled content, Arthur maintained that yes, people still read (or should try it now and again), and…” continued here

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Color Me Kubrick—Like Being John Malkovich, Being Somebody Else

Color Me Kubrick is the "true-ish" tale based on the life of Alan Conway (played by John Malkovich) who managed to scam a boatload of strangers who crossed his path into believing that he was the seldom-seen, super reclusive director Stanley Kubrick. Despite his lack of knowledge about the director's body of work, Conway, the character seems to possess the uncanny ability to zero in on the plaintive cries of the British sucker and coerce them into doing his bidding-- so when he's not busily constructing a web of untruths to divest wannabe fashion designers and working-class heavy metal meat heads from their wallets, he's hoodwinking has-been thespians out of their loot and remaining credibility but, as the old adage goes, one can't fool all people all the time, so you just know a comeuppance is offing.

Directed by Brian Cook, Color Me Kubrick is one of those stories that, if left in the hands of the unprepared, could easily unravel into a big ball of nothing. John Malkovich’s turn as the main character is one part Being John Malkovich and one part In the Line of Fire, the viewer knows where he’s going with whatever situation that Conway is canoodling himself into and how he’s going to do but the burning enigma is, how, exactly, is he going to pull it off without getting pinched-- whether it’s the use of over-the-top Americanisms/ speech patterns or how he wears a scarf around the neck just so, Malkovich’s character becomes plausible and pulls the audience along as he takes advantage of “the unwashed, unloved, unwanted and unknown” while simultaneously waiting for the other shoe that’s inevitably going to fall at some point.

The plot of CMK becomes clear about five minutes in so none of the above is a spoiler and the only special effects to be found are in the myriad of ways that Malkovich slowly peels back the layers on his character , eventually revealing the seamier side of seeking one’s fifteen minutes of fame while pointing fun of his real-life persona as an actor and how the dream of being connected to the Hollywood scene might play across the pond with a sprinkle of the British TV show Upstairs, Downstairs thrown in to taste. If you're in the mood for a caper movie, then Color Me Kubrick isn't it but still it's quite the ride...see the trailer below...

Love: Forever Can Change You at The Whisky A Go Go

...yeah, thats a snap of the storied Whisky where bands like Love, Led Zeppelin, the Doors and Janice Joplin niced it up back in the 60s...I've been there once in the ten years that I've lived here as the bands that are regularly on stage never really did anything for me...oddly, when I lived back in NYC I went to CBGBs on the regs but whatever's clever, yo

...although people all over the world know tons about the LZ's and Joplin's contributions to the 60s-era rock canon, not a lot of hipsters have swung with Love who were a huge draw at the Whisky when they were breaking on through to the other side on it's stage just before Jim, Ray, Robbie and John picked up the baton and ran with it, peep the album cover...

's Love performing "Alone Again Or" last September... The Forever Changes LP on which the tune can be found is a really sweet album if you're into checking out where a lot of bands that blew up later on the LA scene were influenced by...this particular Whisky band were wayyy ahead of their time...I wish I could've caught 'em back in the day...check the video:

Monday, March 12, 2007

Amoeba Music, Micki and...Keith Morris?

...we put that little accident shite behind us and continued to enjoy ourselves (after making all of the requisite phonecalls)...Micki's preparing to go back across the pond with a short stopover with a friend in France for a few hours...last night I took her to LA's music mecca, better known as Amoeba which is not that far from where we're staying over on was kind of funny to see the expression on Mick's face when we egressed on the stairs from the parking structure in the building...after a short wait at the exchange counter, we went inside the store (Michaela looked around in the vinyl and I caught a few snaps)...

...while taking the downward shots on the stairwell, Keith Morris from the Circle Jerks walked right by with hand basket full of shite we exchanged glances and he knew I knew who he was, I gave him a little dap and moved on...I looked around for Mick to catch pic but she was digging around in the Brazilian section by then-- ironically I'd just exchanged the CJs' Golden Shower of Hits compilation a few minutes before bumping into him...oh well, doing so would've been a trifle un-punk to hassle the guy while he's trying to cop a few cuts...I soon found out that taking pictures inside the place was forbidden but I got off a couple of great shots before getting pinched on the stairs...seeing all that tunage at your fingertips is one of life's great pleasures...a high you've got to come off of quickly, evidenced by the last photo which was taken across the street...

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Add It Up: Crash's Car Crash...

...I was driving down Sunset yesterday on my way back from Malibu, in bumper-to-bumper traffic along the Strip, heading East when just as the traffic on my side of the street started to surge forward this beater from the oncoming lane on the other side of the double line shot over onto my side, I slammed on the brakes just in time and only the bumper of my car got nicked...turns out, this truck behind that car had pushed that lady's car from behind and the sheer force made her lose control of her vehicle and she careened wildly to the opposite side of the street, jumped the curb and crashed into a meter...

...Micki, who was busily snapping photos of shite on the passenger side at the time, was shaken but kept it together and got a grip of crazy pics to take back with her-- even as one of LA's finest gave her a little hassle about her führerschein (German license) because it's written in about ten different languages...

...if I were five feet further along, she would've plowed into the side of my car and I would not be here typing this post...I just heard this Violent Femmes cut on the radio and it reminded me of some of the little details of what happened yesterday...and while some of the lyrics don't, the title speaks to what I was feeling as I saw that car flash across the road-- "this could be it"...I said all of that to say: make sure you got your shite together because when it's time to cash in your chips, there's no time to "Add It Up"...

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Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Check It: Forever Changing: The Golden Age of Elektra 1963 - 1973

In January Rhino Records released the box set Forever Changing: The Golden Age of Elektra 1963 - 1973 which follows Jac Holzman's tenure at the helm of the initially folk-based label that would eventually bring the world Rock 'n Roll icons like the Doors and later Queen.

I'd written a long-hand, real-time recount of what I experienced when I opened one of the only two copies of the compilation when it arrived in the US a few months ago that starts like this...After peeling through the wrapping, one uncovers a huge, hard-bound 11 x 14", 95-page book filled with a printed and photographic history of all things Elektra where even those who think they know the label's whole story (even those in the record industry) will find quotes, facts and trivia...underneath the book, I'll find a folder that's choc-a-bloc with vintage Elektra Records goodies that had me salivating like the Pavlovian tune-hound that I am. in it I found a CD-ROM which holds an illustrated album discography called "Follow the Music" (created exclusively for the box set); four menu-like pamphlets with the tracklistings/ credits for each of the four respective CD buried deeper in the box, black and white promo glossies of Queen's Freddie Mercury, Tom Rush, Love, and the Doors. On the other flap of the folder I unsheathed 9 post cards with archived photos of Carly Simon, Tom Paxton, the Butterfield Blues Band, Tim Buckley, Fred Neil, Nico, the Stooges and David Ackles-- each one bearing the caption " on Elektra Records" under the name of the respective act...all of this is topped off with an official card of authenticity with product number (the one I'm looking through is 0009) -- pretty sweet from a collectors' perspective...underneath the folder is a thick, vinyl LP-sized envelope which holds album covers for Judy Collins' #3, the Doors' Strange Days, Love's Forever Changes and Bread's eponymous debut LP...and then I get to the real gold...the music! Nestled at the bottom of all of these goodies is a velvet-covered tableaux which holds five discs, the first four are filled to the brim with the tunes printed on the aforementioned track lists with a fifth bonus disc to boot. It's here that I slap on the first CD, pick up the book and start reading about Elektra's humble birth...I think a little context is in order...

The story of Elektra Records itself begins with the advent of the LP on the world of music in the late 40s-- this is where the hard-bound book, which includes a forward written by Jac Holzman, himself, begins....Knowing full well that launching an indie label was akin to ice skating uphill when the 78 RPM record was the coin-of-the-realm, as four major record companies (Columbia, Decca, RCA and Capitol) held all of the keys to the kingdom. The Big Four, as they were called, had all record pressing/ distribution technologies in an iron-fisted grip in the decades prior but the crisper sounding, more durable LP would alter that paradigm and Forever Changing chronicles some of the watershed recording sessions and artists that encouraged Holzman to marshal the wherewithal to sally forth and form the Elektra label despite all the odds...The book, filled with rare photographs and time lines, is an excellent listening companion to read while absorbing the tunes on the discs. In his foreword Holzman writes "In the aggregate, the independent labels didn't yet add up to much of a 'movement' but you could already sense the energy generated by a collection of strong-willed, unstoppable music fiends committed to a broad exploration of the global 'songbook'...which was already written but ignored...which could take seed in the encouragement and freedom of the independent record companies...This music included plenty of everything ignored by the 'Big Four'." Plainly put, there were tons of artists who were simply getting overlooked by the mainstream majors and galvanized by this omission, Holzman (and a handful of others) saw an in for rootsy, homegrown American music and slipped through the door one would imagine, there a grip of music on these discs performed by artists who would go on and conquer the world for music geeks like yours truly, however, I'm all about the people you don't hear a lot about for whatever reason. There's a treasure trove of the latter and it's making my eyes roll-over-white in delight some of my faves are Judy Henske's "High Flying Bird" and Dick Rosmini performing the traditional bluegrass cut "Shady Grove" and later "Little Brown Dog." The American musicology lesson continues with Koerner, Ray & Glover's haunting, a capella "Linin' Train"...Later, it comes to me that I'm realizing Vince Martin & Fred Neil's performance of "Wild Child in a World of Trouble" had my toes tapping from the jump...The tempo picks up on the second disc and cuts that pulled my coat were Love's "My Little Red Book" and later "She Comes in Colors"; David Blue's "So Easy She Goes By", Judy Collins' "Hard Lovin' Loser", Clear Lights' "Black Roses" and Eclection's "Nevertheless" is a bonafide nugget as well, these truly are some rare rock grooves that will put the jam in your jelly and there's a couple more must-hear cuts. Be sure to check for Bamboo's groovy-as-hell "Girl of the Seasons" and "I Want You" by The Waphphle as they're quite good and, clearly, tunes which captured the feel of the under-the-mainstream-radar sound that Holzman was shooting for...what a find!

...The bonus disc, entitled Another Time, Another Place, is replete with rare singles from acts like Wind Chimes, The Beefeaters -- who later become The Byrds ("Don't Be Long"), Joseph Spence ("We Shall Be Happy"), The Charles River Valley Boys ("She's a Woman"), Simon Stokes & the Nighthawks ("Voodoo Woman"), The Rainbow Band ("Lotus") and Aztec Two-Step ("The Persecution & Restoration of Dean Moriarty")...Too, there's a double-scoop of rare finds in Eric Clapton and Powerhouse's version of "Crossroads" and David Peel & the Lower East Side's "Alphabet Song".

...Commissioned by Nick Stewart at Rhino UK, Forever Changing scours every nook and cranny of 23-years worth of Elektra recordings and reveal gem after gem of sonic beauty that would make a fine addition to any audiophile's stash...if you weren't born yet or old enough to recall the times, the book, music and media take you there from the narrow streets behind folk-era Washington Square in NYC's Greenwich Village to the world-stage that Rock would become-- even if you were, there's probably still something to learn here that you didn't know-- Jac Holzman himself admits that some of these cuts he'd forgotten were recorded which is telling...If even the man behind the curtain got a re-education of what went down at Elektra...In the course of a few sittings I got turned onto Judy Henske, Dick Rosmini, Bamboo, Waphphle and David Blue to name a few-- just imagine what you might find find!

...oh yeah, if you'd like to check the PodCast I did back in January with Stuart Batsford and Mick Haughton (the compilation's producers) click here

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Sunday, March 04, 2007

Terrence Howard Reveals His Pride in His Latest Film (Q&A)

You might've gotten introduced to Terrence Howard opposite Richard Dreyfuss in Mr. Holland's Opus or maybe it was the Hughes Brothers' hard-boiled Vietnam flick Dead Presidents or perhaps it was four years later in The Best Man wherein Terrence proved his flexibility as an actor which lead to roles that would challenge his abilities and expand his fan base with stellar performances in Hustle & Flow and then, more recently in Paul Haggis' Crash which garnered 2005's Best Picture Oscar....

Terrence returns to the big screen this March with the starring role in the film Pride opposite co-stars Bernie Mac, Kimberly Elise and Tom Arnold. Directed by South Africa's Sunu Gonera, the film is inspired by the life of Jim Ellis, once an aspiring swimmer, who moved to 70's-era Philadelphia in the hopes of getting a job teaching only to find himself fighting against staggering odds to establish an all black swim team in one of the toughest neighborhoods in Philly. Terrence and the rest of the cast were in town last Friday supporting the film and below is what took place with Howard who not only talks about this film, he sheds a couple of insights on both the forthcoming Iron Man and the recently-wrapped The Brave One...

Q: Did you know about Jim Ellis before you took this movie?

Terrence Howard: I knew about Jim Brown, I knew about James Brown and I knew about [Ellis'] nature but I didn't know his work, his personal work, until I sat down with him in this place called Spring Mill Cafe-- off of Baron Hill Road in a little town in Philadelphia called Lafayette Hill. And I sat down with him and he asked me-- you know, I'd just come off that whole Oscar nomination [process] and I was exhausted, tired of smiling and tired of doing all of that stuff (laughs) and Jim looked at me and in one moment, he calmed my nature. He leaned forward, he smiled and he said 'why do you want to play me?' and I didn't have an answer. And the only thing I could say was 'because of the question you just asked.' I felt my entire mood shift, he has the ability of subtle suggestion and everyone who listens to him becomes [engulfed] in that. And I was wondering, I wanted to know where does his power come from and then, after going and watching him coach, I still don't know. But perhaps it's just the fact that he cares-- he genuinely cares.

You know, even though we took liberties in this script-- Jim was a math teacher in Philadelphia schools at the time, he had a wife and he had a mentally handicapped son-- he had 33-34 students [whose] homework he had to grade and write a curriculum for. But he took his mentally handicapped, two year-old son to that swimming pool every morning at 5AM, to that pool again at 3:35 every evening. And along with taking care of his responsibilities with his kid, with his son, he took on the responsibilities of children that had been abandoned by their own parents and the social system. He was generous with his time, that was it. The more I learned about him, the more guilty I felt because I have my three kids and I've always said 'well, if I take care of mine, I'm alright.' But our responsibility lies with everyone that is of our kind-- to be of our kind doesn't mean you have to be of our color. Anyone that's made in the image of God has to be taken care of, life-- the image of God, you know, you're supposed to love them. And [Ellis] has done that, for thirty-three years without any acclaim, without the help of the school board, without the help of the recreational department, he said he's sat down with [the Governor of Pennsylvania] a number of times, talked to [the Mayor of Philadelphia] a number of times and every one he came across, not one person has helped-- he still has a swimming pool that does not have heat and he has to run a hose every morning, to heat up that water so his kids can swim in the pool. He's still fighting to build a suitable recreational facility that they can instruct students in. You know, [the US ] has had only four black people compete in the the swimming events in the Olympics-- in all the years of the Olympics, why? Because we don't have the facilities to expose [inner city kids] to it. The death rate for African Americans, with regards to swimming, one out of three African Americans can't swim-- the sad thing about that is, if one of their children falls in the swimming pool, their children will drown. Imagine being a parent that can't save your child, can't jump in there and save your child. So, I have a great deal of respect for this man.

Q: What kind of training did you do for this role, if there was any at all?

TH: The question is: what kind of training didn't I do? (laughs) It felt like I was training to be an astronaut because it was anywhere from 3,500 to 5,000 yards of swimming per day. And to put that into perspective, it's 25 yards across a pool, so you're talking about 150-200 laps a day-- your shoulders are dead tired. Your spirit is tired, you hate water, you're all wrinkled up like you're 95 years-old, it was hard, and then on top of that, I had to work with this guy named Daryl Foster who's Will Smith's trainer. Daryl trained Sugar Ray Leonard, so, he demanded an hour of lifting and at least 45 minutes of running everyday-- no matter what time. We started running at 5AM and we ran another three miles every evening, if we got off at 12 o'clock at night, there was no going to bed. I don't care if you've got a 5AM wake up call, we had to put the time in and if you missed the time today, then you'd have to put the time in tomorrow-- who wants to have to run ten miles tomorrow? (laughs) He would make you do it but if you'd do it, he'd run with you and lift with you.

Q: Did you keep it up?

TH: Yeah, I'm still's a team effort. Anyone inside of Will [Smith's] camp, runs with him, this morning I was exhausted, I had the benefit of being at an art gallery last night and I was talking to Hugh Hefner and some of his Playboy girls, having a good time but then I got home at 12 o'clock, got up at 5 o'clock this morning and had my run. I had my run, you know-- I felt like I'm doing my job. I still got to go do my hour of lifting.

Q: Talk a little bit about working with Bernie Mac in this, while he's doing his first real dramatic role, were you able to help him in any way?

TH: No, you don't need to help Bernie-- see, that's the thing, to have the comical wit, it means you must be smarter than everyone else around you and he understands the dramatic pauses, that's the beautiful thing about him. You don't know if he's playing or he's being serious about what he's doing. And he can make light of a heavy situation, so, for me, him and Tom Arnold...wait until you see the DVD outtakes-- they would just go on and on and on and [play] off of each other. Bernie did just what was necessary, he brought the film home for us. Me, you know, I'm a drama king, I talk in this mellow, melancholy way and that's just my nature-- Bernie kept it honest and I love that about him.

Q: So what about Iron Man which is a total fantasy world, in comparison, you could say.

TH: Well not when you're working with Robert Downey, Jr.-- you're talking about: get ready for some action because, you know...what I love about him and Jon Favreau is you cannot predict who they are [going to act like] or what they're thinking and then you add Jeff Bridges to the mix. I still think he's still in that movie he did with Kevin Spacey, on another planet. He's present but then he's ahead of you at the same time when you're trying to conversate with him and then we've got Gwyneth Paltrow, so, there's nothing fantastical. It's like: so you say you want to be an actor? Every single one of these people have been nominated for an Academy Award so now it like: let's see what you're made of.

Q: Who's your character in Iron - Man?

TH: I play a guy named James Rhodes who becomes War-Machine, I'm a Lieutenant Colonel in the Air Force and I'm a liason between Stark Enterprises and the military in the department of acquisitions.

Q: There was talk about John Singleton's frustration with how slow it's going to get Luke Cage made--

TH: -- Luke Cage? I'm not in that.

Q: Have you seen any of the costuming for the Iron Man characters?

TH: I didn't see them do any of Tony Stark's costumes but the outfits that these people had on were amazing. They looked beautiful in them-- I took this role because I wanted to work with Robert Downey, Jr...he has a spontaneity and Fearlessness that I get close to [while acting] but I'm still very conservative and reserved in the choices I make. He doesn't care, he just doesn't, he believes in jumping out of the airplane at 25,000 feet and just go 'wooo' all the way down-- I want to learn that. I want to learn that.

Q: Jim Ellis' character in this film was a pretty complicated person, he'd seen some stuff, how is it for you to play a character with so many layers?

TH: You know, that's what makes him a hero. He's able to lift up, lift off of the things that would normally hold us all back and, for the greater good, extend himself and not [worry] about the personal loss because he's thought of the mutual gain for everyone. And to this day he still smiles, he still wants to get one of his swimmers on the Olympic team, he's had a number of [go to] the Olympic tryouts. He's always looking towards the future and that's what helps up overcome our faults. We all make mistakes. Man, I make mistakes everyday, he makes mistakes all the time, he's a divorced man-- like a lot us might be divorced people-- but he hasn't allowed any of those faults to stop him. He's got a quick temper and he could've gotten a lot further had he been nicer to the people inside of City Hall and all of that, but he has a determination to do things his way which is the right way.

Q: What about working with Sunu, him being a first-time director?

TH: Sunu gave me complete autonomy, we started off with 73 pages at a table reading: it sucked. I went up to my room and I called my agent and my manager and I said 'get me out of this.' And they said 'we're executive producers, we can't get out of this.' And so I went down to Sunu and I asked him, I said 'the only way I'm going to be able to do this is, you have to keep a camera on me and keep a camera on the boys and I'm just going to talk to them.' And the script was an outline, they finished writing another forty-something pages but most of the stuff we did in there was really just honest communication and me being Jim Ellis talking to them-- I thought it worked. It was a wonderful trip in improvisation.

Q: How hard was that to come in everyday knowing that you were in something that you could not get out of, that could possibly go wrong?

TH: I guess it's what I like. Then you know your meaning...when it's on your shoulders-- if I had been third or fourth lead, I would've still been upstairs with my coffee like 'just say what they have on the script' but knowing that it's on my shoulders, knowing that it's my legac-- you're not going to make me look bad because it may not have been prepared properly. And it was just what we needed, I gave the kids the same autonomy that Sunu gave me and they responded naturally, to [the point] where there was very little acting. It was great.

Q: Have you finished the Brave One?

TH: Oh my God, the Brave One is incredible! It's really great, I got a call from Alan Horn and Joel Silver over at Warner Brothers and they were beside themselves. And I'm happy because Jodie Foster personally recommended me and I didn't want to fail her.

Pride opens on March 23rd (click header for official site, see preview blow)...

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So Many Dynamos-- Typical Girls: Women in Punk Documentary

...I don't think there's no finer sight than a chick holding a guitar, a bass or a microphone, standing on a stage, in front of a band and belting out the tunes like she owns the place...another great thrill is switching on the tube and falling ass-backwards into the top of a sweet music documentary, you know the feeling, there's that voice-over-dub of someone who's recalling whatever scene they're focusing on was really like as the music intro fades in as album covers and concert footage rolls across the screen-- whenever this happens, I get a case of tharn like a rabbit in Richard Adams' Watership Down...I freeze in my tracks and am glued, yo...this happened to me at a friend's house when I got snagged by the documentary "Punk Years: Typical Girls"-- I even liked the title which comes from a tune by the Slits ...I tells you, I was cutting through my homebiscuit's bedroom to "go shake hands with the man" (not to be confused with "polishing the rocket") and I never made it to the can...below are the three installments of what I watched that night while I forgot all about the party I was at...




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Saturday, March 03, 2007

Hip Hop: Rests in Pieces...?

...So is Hip Hop really dead?... go ahead, ask yourself, if you listen to the music at all...I mean really think about it, don't just blurt an answer...I'll wait...well, is it? In some ways it is to me...I lost touch with it totally right around the time Biggie Smalls and Tupac got smoked...I was disgusted with where the whole genre had been taken to by forces that said genre was created to in order to work-around in the first place...people love drama, I guess..

I know it's been spoken about before but an article I read last night made me revisit the enigma that's permeating the mainstream media brain was written by DavyD who sheds a little insight on why Nas said HHID and then put out an album with that declarative as it's title...too, in the article, ?uestlove is quoted.

"During a separate conversation, Questlove of the Roots supported Porter's allegation with his own story about the process behind the group's Grammy-winning hit with Erykah Badu, "You Got Me.'' He said the Roots had to pony up close to "a million dollars'' to a middle man who "worked his magic'' at radio stations."

I don't know if all of the culprits listed are equally to blame but I do know that the only thing I listen to Hip Hop-related was cut back in the early days, a decade-and-change before a lot of the "Hip Hop Nation" got here but I'm not going to totally give up on it, I believe in the cyclical nature of things and in music, especially the more popular genres, when a format reaches critical mass; it's saturation point, along comes a bunch of trail blazers to bring the masses back to the basics

...I've written about examples of the latter many times before like when Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie niced-it-up when dancified, watered down big bands started over-simplifying jazz to keep the club crowd happy, they created be-bop...or James Brown, when the record companies told him to cut love ballads, he redirected the proceeds from his first hit single to cutting more funktified (albeit scratchily recorded) stuff on his own dime to show them what he was thinking of..they soon wised up and you know the rest...Artist innovations like that last one gives me hope for Hip Hop and though it seems to wear thin when I see those ass-on-the-glass, Cristal-fests getting beamed by cathode rays out of the nearest TV, I know there are a few artists out there working it on the low, biding their time-- just be prepared for the new when the bum rush jumps off and fresh, new ciphers start coming at you in a bigger and deffer'll be soon, yo...remember how boring Rock had gotten just before Nirvana marched forward? Here's DavyD's article

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