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Entries in Denzel Washington (14)

Sunday
Sep282014

Denzel Still Rules The (Box Office) World. But Why No Artistic Risks?

Is there any movie star more consistent than Denzel? Pro: No matter what he makes, it opens big. Con: Maybe that's because he's just not a risk taker. He may be our least adventurous megastar.

TOP O' THE BOX OFFICE
1 EQUALIZER $35 million NEW
2 MAZE RUNNER $17.5 (cum. $58) Review
3 BOXTROLLS $17.2 million NEW best animation studio right now

On the stage he only appears in time-tested prestige pieces (Raisin in the Sun and August Wilson or Shakespeare plays). Onscreen he only makes two kinds of movies: disposable action thriller flicks & would-be prestige dramas. The Equalizer, adapted from a television series, is obviously one of the former. People won't remember he made it in a couple of years as a newer model surfaces to replace it. 

Washington hasn't altered this pattern in twenty years -- take a look for yourself if you don't believe me -- unless you count his curiousity about directing (both of his efforts were pitched towards awards gold but neither The Great Debaters nor Antwone Fisher won Oscar nominations). In the first decade or so of his stardom things were a teensy-bit rangier since the prestige pieces were sometimes full-fledged costume dramas (he doesn't do those anymore really) and the mainstream flicks were sometimes romantic (nix on that, too, nowadays). There were even one or two comedies (gasp)!

It'd be nice if he got the balance better. Many major stars try the '1 for them, 1 for me' approach to maintain both audience favor and critical ardor. But it's easy intead to imagine that Denzel Washington's preferred pattern of '5 for them, 1 for Oscar' might actually be a result of 'all for me'; maybe he just has extremely limited taste in movies? It wouldn't be the first time a bonafide superstar had no interest in cinema as art

Viola and Denzel in their 2010 Tony winning roles. The following year Viola won box office gold with The Help. But still no film version of FENCES.

Still as he tops the charts yet again with another violent man-fantasy, one wishes he would use his clout for good. Why isn't he using that financial and creative muscle to push important work to the screen? Couldn't he at least do the right thing in a completely self-serving way? Why not try for a third Oscar for Fences? Supposedly he's going to direct and star in it but things never seem to get moving towards actual filming and there've been rumors that he's doing it for roughly, oh, ever. Denzel and Viola Davis, his original co-star, who has more than earned another big screen big opportunity lead role after the box office / awards success of The Help, both won Tonys on stage. What's more it's positively insane that nobody ever adapts August Wilson's plays for the big screen. Viola has starred in three of them on Broadway, winning two Tonys in the process. Why isn't this a primary mission for the actor to get at least a few of them on the big screen - preferrably with Viola starring - since he has more money than God, they're important works in African American history, and he also produces now?! 

Denzel could get Fences done quickly if that's what he really cared about getting done. There is no way that the money wouldn't be there immediately if he said "sure I'll do that action movie. But Fences is what I'm doing next. And until I do it no more waving guns around for you!" There is nobody who isn't an idiot in Hollywood who would say no to helping him get it done with gazillions for more gunplay on the line the following fiscal year.

But back to the now ~ What did you see this weekend?

Tuesday
Aug192014

Tues Top Ten: Hottest Hotties of 1989

Here's abstew to continue our celebration of 1989 as the 'year of the month'. Happy 25th, 1989!

As we look back at 1989 in preparation for the Smackdown, it's important not to forget what the movies have always been about: really attractive people. The Me Decade of the 80's, perhaps the greatest/craziest time in regards to fashion and hairstyles, if they taught us anything at all, it isn't that less is more. Oh, no. More is MORE! More shoulder pads, more eye shadow, more crunchy perms with mall bangs. So let's celebrate the 80's excess with these cinematic hotties of 1989. 

Honorable Mention: Julia Roberts "Blush and Bashful Hottie", Daniel Day-Lewis "Method Actor Hottie", Meg Ryan "I'll Have What She's Having Hottie", Kenneth Branagh "New Shakespearian Hottie", Nicole Kidman "Just An Ozzie Girl On a Boat With Billy Zane Hottie"

10. Sean Connery

You Call This Archeology Hottie

Why Him: The once and eternally forever Bond star proved that even at the age of 59, he could still make the ladies swoon when he played Indiana Jones' father in the number one box office hit of 1989, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Romancing women half his age, and even managing to make a tweed travel suit and bow tie as sexy as one of Bond's tuxes, Connery like a fine aged wine, just got better with age.

Sexiest 1989 Moment: People magazine named the Scot The Sexiest Man Alive for its 1989 cover story. The headline hilariously reads, "Older, balder...and better! Here's one leading man who doesn't need to fake it." No word on exactly what other leading men were faking at the time. And apparently John Goodman was up for the title that year, so...yeah. People magazine - the nation's leading authority of unconventional sex appeal.

9. Rosie Perez
(and 8 more sexpots after the jump)

Click to read more ...

Saturday
Aug032013

Sex & The Linky

Sound on Sight has a massive post about famous ongoing director/muse collaborations: Liv & Ingmar, Lynch & Dern, Fassbinder & Schygulla, etcetera...
Empire Chris Evans is becoming a director with 1:30 Train, a romantic caper about a woman trying to catch the 1:30 train (with the help of Chris Evans, who will co-star)
Pajiba celebrates the release of 2 Guns. "Boom, you've been Denzel'd"

In Contention 15 awards players still looking for distribution including one I hadn't heard of Tracks with Mia Wasikowska crossing the desert with John Curran (The Painted Veil) directing. I've been thinking that the Best Actress chart is leaning a little 'woman of a certain age' for Oscar's taste (if not for mine) so maybe Mia and are peers are just in hiding right now? 
David Poland says that the bullshit myth is that originals don't make big money at the box office and it's only sequels that did. He backs it up with titles.
Variety Whoa. are the Weinsteins going to get Miramax back. A merger may be in the works
Cinema Blend on the list of possible Bale/Batman replacements for that Superman/Batman team up movie. Surprisingly they're not all super famous with Richard Armitage (The Hobbit) and Max Martini (Pacific Rim) both on the list. Weirdly there appears to be little thought of Joseph Gordon-Levitt despite that The Dark Knight Rises Robin set up.

You guys, I can't decide if this "What if Woody Allen directed The Wolverine" is funny or not. Help me decide.

I think I'm in the place of LOL without the OL part. So, maybe not? I like it in concept!

/Film Warner Bros is still trying to get that Akira Without Japanese People abomination made.
MNPP The Golden Girls dollhouse? Amazing!
Signs and Sirens hates on Blue Jasmine. My review will be up tomorrow.
Coming Soon Josh Trank says the rumors about Miles Teller being Reed Richards in the Fantastic Four are not true. Good -- I like Miles Teller a lot but he's about 90% wrong for that role -- but it's going to be terrible anyway. Why must Fantastic Four movies be so terrible? 

Finally, I feel I've been remiss in not linking up to Emily Nussbaum's great great rescue piece on "Sex and The City" in The New Yorker. People have been discussing it online for a few days but I hadn't mentioned it. I'm so glad that a writer as scalpel-sharp as Nussbaum is a fan and performs this reputation resuscitation operation. It's too bad that the show's rep suffered after the two theatrical features drifted towards becoming what people always accused the show of being. Which it never truly was. I especially love her (correct) assertion that Carrie Bradshaw was the first female anti-hero on television. Carrie was of course reviled for it whereas her male counterparts in terrible behavior are regularly championed by fans and critics. I know people probably think I harp on gender politics too much here at the blog but what's happened to Sex & The City is a classic example of sexism at work. Canons are one of the best places to see the power of the heteronormative patriarchy thrown into obvious relief. "The greatest this!" and "The greatest that!" lists and the people who make them like critics organizations and awards shows and such often dismiss "feminine" identified films, tv, genre or entertainments as lesser than merely be excluding them from the conversation. But if you can't include "Sex and the City" as one of the shows that was instrumental in ushering in television's golden age -- just as crucial as "The Sopranos" -- you just weren't watching closely enough.

Saturday
Aug032013

A Raisin in the (Hollywood) Sun

Dancin' Dan here with the news that made my week: Lorraine Hansberry's groundbreaking play A Raisin in the Sun is coming back to Broadway. This news alone might not necessarily be cheer-worthy since it was just revived in 2004 but other than one of the great American plays back on the boards it's the starry cast attached to it that brings the excitement. Denzel Washington will lead the ensemble in the role of Walter Lee Younger which was played by Sidney Poitier on both stage and screen. So Denzel's Training Day Oscar speech continues to be true.

I'll always be chasing you Sidney. I'll always be following in your footsteps. There's nothing I would rather do, sir."

Joining Denzel will be no less than three Oscar or Tony-nominated actresses: Sophie Okonedo (as Walter's wife Ruth, originally played by Ruby Dee), Anika Noni Rose, and Diahann Carroll (as Younger family matriarch Lena, most recently played on Broadway by Phylicia Rashad).

WOW.

Taking a page from Cicely Tyson's book and returning to the stage after 30 years, Carroll is certainly my main draw here, despite Denzel's wonderful Tony-winning turn in August Wilson's Fences which was his last Broadway performance. He said he wanted to do this because his wife was outpacing him on the theater front and he wanted to catch up. Love that healthy competition!

Despite the play's acclaim, the original production of A Raisin in the Sun won none of the four Tony Awards for which it was nominated (it was a crowded year, with The Miracle Worker, The Best Man, and Toys in the Attic all being major players), and while the 2004 revival missed the Best Revival of a Play Tony (which went to Henry IV), it did score nods for its three main actresses, including a win for Phylicia Rashad.

Fun fact: Diahann Carroll was the first African-American actress to win the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Musical (for No Strings in 1962). Can she pull the same trick as Rashad and add one for Drama to her mantle? Can Washington finally catch up to Poitier? Will the third time be the charm for this gem of American drama? We'll find out in April 2014.

Thursday
Jul182013

Highest Paid Actors Don't Challenge Themselves

From Forbes list of money-hoarding actors, they've worked it out like so for the past 12 months of income... (in millions of course)

01 Robert Downey Jr $75
◅ 02 Channing Tatum $60
03 Hugh Jackman $55
04 Mark Wahlberg $52
05 Dwayne Johnson 'The Rock' $46
06 Leonardo DiCaprio $39
07 Adam Sandler $37
08 Tom Cruise $35
09 Denzel Washington $33
10 Liam Neeson $32 

I like their write-up of DiCaprio...

DiCaprio's films might not be very cheery (the actor often dies in the end) but they are super profitable. The 2013 adaptation of The Great Gatsby, from director Baz Luhrmann, seemed like a tough sell. But with DiCaprio at the helm, the film easily topped $250 million at the box office making it Luhrmann's most successful movie ever. DiCaprio's biggest hit is still the 1997 film Titanic which is the second-highest grossing film of all time. And yes, he dies in the end.

Two things immediately pop out at me about the list. First, that Channing Tatum has had a very good couple of years and it turns out it pays to make your pet project on the cheap and share in the profits (Hi, Magic Mike). Too many dream projects become costly albatrosses for filmmakers and stars. Second, only a few of these men are using their powers for good. Most of them rarely challenge themselves or support quality filmmakers and seem to live solely to service the box office dollar. This second and more debatable point makes me reconsider my annoyance with Leonardo DiCaprio. While it's true that I think his talent has been calcifying by too many similar choices in roles and performance, he very clearly is interested in doing quality work and hanging with A list auteurs. He's thinking about legacy rather thank his bank account so good for him. There's reason to hope and I happily admit that in the trailer he seems to be attacking that Wolf of Wall Street role with more vigor than usual. Perhaps I grossly underestimated in my first Best Actor predictions a couple of months ago?

Denzel and Viola in "Fences" which won them both Tony AwardsThe things some of these men could accomplish if they had a little of Clooney, Damon & Pitt's taste for quality and experimentation and for something bigger than just their own paycheck. Hugh Jackman, a terrific star and personal favorite of mine for example, doesn't step outside of the mutant mutton chops nearly as often as his talent and range suggests he should.

And, I mean, Denzel Washington alone could make Viola Davis's career into what it's supposed to be simply by pressuring Hollywood into making Fences right now. With great power comes great responsibility, Denzel! Didn't you watch Spider-Man? As we get further and further away from the massive success of The Help, the less and less likely it is to happen without Hollywood saying "Oh, can we get Halle Berry instead?" And that'd be a crying shame because money isn't everything. Especially in the realm of drama where quality and skill of execution can help with profitability since automatic money isn't made as it is in genre films which have built in audiences regardless of quality.

Thursday
Jan312013

Oscar Can You Link Me?

Big Screen 
The Advocate Barbra Streisand to sing at the Oscars for the first time in 36 years - she'll do "The Way We Were" over the in memoriam segment. There sure are going to be a lot of musical performances on Oscar night. 
Variety Jessica Chastain to star in new screen version of Miss Julie. Chastain being cast is something isn't exactly news (she's everywhere) but LIV ULLMAN is directing this oft-filmed Strindbergh tale.
Gawker Rich Juzwiack on the mainstream appropriation of "shade" and Paris is Burning (That documentary on NYC's ball culture is still one of the largest blights on Oscar's documentary branch. It was critically raved at the time and is still must-see viewing 20+ years later but Oscar ignored it)

The New York Times  on the still heated atmosphere of all Les Miz conversations. Stanley Fish wonders if it's the film's lack of irony that so enrages people?
Empire Will our dream of seeing Viola Davis & Denzel Washington reprise their Tony roles in Fences onscreen come true? It turns out Denzel is planning to direct a film version. If he doesn't bring Viola along, I'm going to freak.
CHUD The Muppets... Again is already shooting. Here's a synopsis and cast list
The Carpetbagger on Spielberg's ACE prize from the editors in Hollywood 
Guardian Charlize Theron will co-star in the Seth McFarlane comedy A Million Ways to Die in the West which is said to be an homage to Blazing Saddles.
The Playlist first pic of Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston (god, what a pairing) in Only Lovers Left Alive  

Hey Look.... Jodie Foster in Elysium


Coming Soon ...the movie's title refers to a pristine space station. She plays a government official out to protect the wealthiest citizens from their dirty Earth-bound counterparts who wish to emigrate. (The last time Jodie did sci-fi it turned out well, I think, don't you? Love Contact.) 

Small Screen 
A Blog Next Door says goodbye to 30 Rock with an encyclopedic memory of the show. What will we do on Thursdays now? I always want to go to there.
BuzzFeed 'How Smash became TV's biggest train wreck.' If you're a Smash obsessive this is a must-read... though it's more than a shade shady. The biggest shocker for me was hearing that Steven Spielberg wanted to replace Megan Hilty!!! Good God, are his eyes and ears working? She's the single best thing on the show by an embarrassing margin.