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Entries in Gugu Mbatha-Raw (23)

Tuesday
Sep132016

Miss Sloane If You're Nasty

by Jason Adams

True story: the other day I was in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, down near the water and I looked around myself at the muddy yards of the warehouses and I suddenly had this vision of Jessica Chastain coming at me in that gorgeous white overcoat and Pfeiffer-wig that she wore in A Most Violent Year, waving her big gun, and instead of being scared I was elated -- that is, as I'm sure most of you are aware, how we actresssexuals roll. "Kill me if you must, but just be fabulous about it!"

Anyway I flashed back to that moment while watching the just-dropped trailer for Miss Sloane, Chastain's upcoming film about a gun lobbyists from director John Madden...

I am a simple man with simple pleasures and that cuts to the core of it. So Miss Sloane has a killer cast besides Miss Chastain - there's Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Alison Pill, Michael Stuhlbarg, Mark Strong, Sam Waterston, Dylan Baker, Jake Lacy, and John Lithgow - and it's out on December 9th; will it be this year's Michael Clayton (nominations all over the place) or this year's Thank You For Smoking (notsomuch)?

Thursday
May122016

Misty Copeland Gets the Biopic Treatment

Kieran, here. It was announced today that a biopic of ballerina Misty Copeland is currently in the works at New Line Cinema. Based on Copeland's own memoir "Life in Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina," the film will chart Copeland's rise to fame as the first black principal dancer at the American Ballet Theatre, despite a delayed beginning--she didn't start taking ballet until age 13, which is extremely late compared to other dancers. The project will be penned by Gregory Allen Howard, who scripted Remember the Titans and the upcoming theatrical Harriet Tubman biopic (not the Viola Davis project, though Nathaniel was correct in wishing that those projects would merge). No director is attached to the project as of yet.

News of this project means an opportunity for a black actress to take center stage (no pun intended) in a major motion picture, which shouldn't be a rare occasion but feels like it in the current cinematic landscape. [More...]

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Sunday
Feb142016

Valentine's - Beyond the Lights

The Film Experience is celebrating Valentine's Day! Here's Daniel...

Rarely does a film show the restorative power of love like Gina Prince-Bythewood’s alive and swoony Beyond the Lights. While the film has much more on its mind than hooking up – from reconciling depression to machinating local politics – its undeniable electricity sparks from the mindmeld that allows each of its two leads to be seen for the first time and fly in whichever direction they choose.

Prefabricated pop star Noni (Gugu Mbatha-Raw, flawless) literally lives in chains, bound between the blinding glare of paparazzi flashbulbs and a suffocating armada of handlers that exploit her image in the name of the game. Kaz (Sundance darling Nate Parker) is a cop on her detail living under the blue-and-red burden of prefixed expectations. He grabs her hand after she jumps off a hotel balcony. There’s no meet cute here; it’s a spiritual lifting.

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Wednesday
Nov112015

AFI: Will Smith & Gugu Mbatha-Raw in "Concussion"

There was a weird and wonderful symmetry last night watching Will Smith talk about his starring role as Dr Bennet Omalu in Concussion in front of the real man and thinking of the character we'd just seen onscreen. It was not the easy symmetry of mimicry, but of spirit. Both men are legends of their respective fields, if you will, and that's the last time we'll compare forensic pathology and movie stardom! More curiously neither man seemed willing to admit that the night's festivities were about him. Will Smith was especially humble about his performance and starstruck by the real man, admitting after Dr Omalu burst out laughing during the Q&A that followed the premiere, that he loved that laugh but couldn't manage to perfect it for the movie. Dr Omalu, in the movie and on stage kept saying that the story wasn't about him but about the science. The writer/director Peter Landisman called the movie version of Omalu a "triangulation" of the two men which is the best description possible of what we were watching on stage, the movie still fresh in the mind.

Concussion centers on Omalu's discovery of CTE, a brain disease brought on by repeated concussive head trauma, and the attempts of the NFL to cover up the physical damage on their players. A string of high profile suicides finally broke down the NFL's attempts at denial and debunking of Omalu's claims. [More...]

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Monday
Aug312015

Yes No Maybe So: Concussion

Manuel here to talk about Will Smith's newest film, Concussion, which released its first trailer. The film follows Dr. Bennet Omalu (Smith) who discovered CTE (Chronic traumatic encephalopathy) in two football players who later committed suicides. Based on the GQ article "Game Brain" by Jeanne Marie Laskas, the film is about Dr. Omalu's attempts at getting the NFL to take his findings seriously; that is, that the concussions suffered by football players may lead to chronic degenerative brain diseases.

You can imagine how that went in real life and how that'll play out in the film itself. The film was written and directed by Peter Landesman (who wrote and directed Parkland). Following our patented trailer evaluation system, let's take a look at Concussion:

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Aug192015

Actresses of Color Who Deserve Better Careers

Gugu Mbatha-Raw had a GREAT 2014. Will the roles be there for her? (Photo by Paola Kudaki for Elle) Here's a topic always worth discussing. Actresses of Color who deserve better careers. I made a top ten on this topic many moons ago -- 2007 to be exact over at the old blog which went like so: Anika Noni Rose, Regina King, Naomie Harris, Hazelle Goodman, April Grace, Tonya Pinkins, Audra McDonald, Gabrielle Union, and the list was topped by Viola Davis and Kerry Washington. The past eight years were very very kind to about three of them -- this was before Viola's Oscar nominations and before Scandal for Kerry and before Audra's record breaking 5th and 6th Tony Awards), but others were ignored or their careers stayed roughly the same. Do people even know who Hazelle Goodman is anymore? It will always mystify that April Grace proved she could hold her own, charisma wise, with Tom F'ing Cruise at his most intense in a stand-off in Magnolia and not come out of it with a giant career. Hollyweird.

But the subject is always worth revisiting since Hollywood changes slowly. And, to be honest, it's even a topic that applies to white and blond actresses because Hollywood is not exactly a meritocracy. Make the wrong move here, miss an opportunity there, or don't have the right agent and all the talent in the world might not make for a big career. But back to the subject of actresses of color. Remember when Lupita was in discussions for Southpaw and eventually moved on (the part went to Naomie Harris)? Having seen the picture I think we can all now agree that there's zero reason on earth, plot-wise / character-wise / talent-wise why the juicier wife part couldn't have gone to Lupita (or Naomie) instead of to Rachel McAdams. Even when Hollywood discovers someone as exciting as Lupita they don't come up with opportunities for them, opportunities that are all around if you think about it; Maybe you've noticed that the industry makes multiple HUNDREDS of movies a year.

The topic is on my mind again because Dell on Movies made a list and A Fistful of Films countered with another. Naturally, I don't agree on all of the choices. I think Queen Latifah, for example, often phones it in. Maybe subconsciously she knows that her substantial charisma will smooth over the blank spaces? But there are some obvious YES situations here too: Q'orianka Kilcher (The New World), Adepero Oduye (Pariah), and Emayatzy Corinealdi (Middle of Nowhere). I actually wonder if their names aren't part of the problem. Hear me out: I don't mean this in a "too ethnic!" racist kind of way. I've noticed it a lot with white actors, too - especially with stage performers oddly enough. Names are getting SO long and complicated. It seems that "stage names" are a thing of the past but there's something to be said for refashioning your given name towards something that's catchy and easy for the public to remember / obsess over. If it's already catchy like "Lupita Nyong'o" just keep it but if it's hard to remember and difficult to spell why not make it easier for potential fans? Just ask Frances Gumm (who became Judy Garland), Archibald Leach (who became Cary Grant) or Natalie Zacharenko (who became Natalie Wood) and so on. Every once in a while someone new changes their name to something catchier -- did you know that Brie Larson is actually Brianne Sidonie Desaulniers? -- but mostly today's actors are keeping their original names. 

For what it's worth Emayatzy has a series regular role in Amazon's Hand of God starring Ron Perlman (as a businessman who starts speaking in tongues and seeing visions) and Dana Delany as his sharp wife that drops all of its first season episodes in early September. Emayatzy plays Perlman's mistress/prostitute. Pilot reviewed here.

I'm not in the headspace today for a full top ten on this topic but I know it would include Melonie Diaz (such a welcome presence - she always pops), Carmen Ejogo (so gorgeous and talented), Kimberly Elise (just brilliant and so infrequently works in movies), Danielle Brooks (so dependably engaging on Orange is the New Black and I want to see what else she can do), Adriane Lenox (who originated Viola's role on stage in Doubt to a Tony Award), Clauda Kim (Age of Ultron / Marco Polo)... maybe you can help out in the comments with your own?