Sunday, September 14, 2014

Hot Black Man Tops Chris Pratt

For about five weeks, Guardians of the Galaxy starring Chris Pratt has been in the number one spot in the weekend box office reports.

That changed this weekend.  The sci-fi action adventure that has delighted kids and adults alike moved down the the number three spot.  Topping Chris Pratt at the box office this weekend was popular British actor Idris Elba in a Hollywood thriller.
He plays a clever psychotic killer who charms his way into a suburban house down South when the husband is away and the wife is home with their two little kids one night.  One night when the city being hit with a major thunderstorm.

To repeat what I said on the cable television show Arise On Screen, Arise TV's weekend film review/interview show, if you liked 1980s/90s thrillers like Fatal Attraction and The Hand That Rocks The Cradle, get a bucket o' popcorn and get a good cineplex movie seat so you can enjoy this illogical but entertaining thriller.

Let's face it.  Hollywood is still not color blind when it comes to movie opportunities for black and Latina actresses.  From 1939 to now, think about it:  Hattie McDaniel, Ethel Waters, Dorothy Dandridge, Cicely Tyson, Ruby Dee, Diana Ross, Halle Berry, Rita Moreno, Rosie Perez, Jennifer Hudson, Mo'Nique and Octavia Spencer.  Six of them won Oscars.  All of them have only one Oscar nomination to their credit.  After their Oscar nominations, their mailboxes were not chock full of good mainstream script offers with other star quality roles to match the one that got them an Oscar nomination.  Whoopi Goldberg and Viola Davis each has two Oscar nominations to her credit.  No black actress has ever received more than two.  Hollywood is not color blind in casting projects.  More diversity needs to be embraced.  Nonetheless, Hollywood does notice the color green.  Box office dollars.  Black actors need mainstream Hollywood box office hits to keep them in the game and make them marketable.  The role of the victimized wife and mother is usually played by Anglo actresses.  No Good Deed stars a black actress as the woman in danger and a white actress has the supporting role as her loyal best friend.
Taraji  P. Henson (Baby Boy, Hustle & Flow, Talk to Me, Think Like a Man and Think Like a Man Too) is a versatile, lovely actress.  She was a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nominee for playing the devoted mother figure to Brad Pitt's old-looking character in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008).   So far, that is her only Oscar nomination.                                      
Skilled at drama and comedy, she should've been getting juicy script offers like 3-time Oscar nominee Jennifer Lawrence and 5-time Oscar nominee Amy Adams after her Benjamin Button Oscar nomination.  TV kept Hanson employed with a fine, smart crimefighter role on CBS' Person of Interest prime time series.

I paid to see No Good Deed on a Friday night on a 34th Street cineplex in New York City.  The 7:30 show was packed.  With mostly black folks.  And you know how we like to talk back to the screen. This was the perfect way to see No Good Deed.  It was total fun,.  And the film proves that the talented Mr. Elba has leading man movie star appeal.  Yes, he is crazy in No Good Deed.  He's a killer.  He's a monster in a big house on a dark and stormy night.  BUT...he got wild applause and high-pitched female cheers when he took off his shirt and his pants while he was terrorizing that house.
The movie got a big, enthusiastic round of applause at the end from everybody.

Taraji plays a graduate of NYU who is now a wife and mother down South.  She's got a good life and a handsome, successful husband who left for a golf trip out of town.

Idris Elba plays one of the most dangerous criminals in the state.  He's basically a big wall of Mandingo muscle.  And he's smart.  However, for as massive, bad and tricky as he is, the two guards assigned to take him back to prison look like they trained at the Barney Fife Academy.  You just know that something will go horribly wrong as they transport him.  Also, there's not one single news report of this demented killer having escaped.  No local newscast shows his face in a photo.  That just makes no kind o' sense.
The storm hits.  He's escaped.  Tall, dark and psycho winds up at the once-happy home of the wife and mother who is husband-less for the weekend.  There are grade schoolers in Chicago who  would have seen him at the door and yelled "Stranger danger!  Stranger danger!"  But, the first hour of this movie is very Lifetime TV.  The wife wants to be a kind to this wet stranger who claims his vehicle broke down in the storm.  He asks if he can use a cell phone.  Instead of her old NYU street smarts kicking in, the sweet middle class wife and mother becomes like this doorman guy in The  Wizard of Oz...
...and says "Come on in!" to Tall, Dark and Psycho.
She seemed as street smart as Chrissy on the old sitcom Three's Company.  The killer is in her house near her purse, near her cellphone, near her kids, near the cutlery in her kitchen and drinking good wine like it was a can of Mountain Dew.
However...there are two things a strange man should never do to a black woman:  1) Touch her hair and 2) Mess with her child.  He did both.  His crazy ass is gonna get a beat down.

She becomes Warrior Mom.  The last half of No Good Deed really moves.  It snaps into action and you've got a real popcorn thriller.  Taraji P. Henson is way more believable as a Warrior Mom than as the clueless suburban good Samaritan.  We love it when her Big City "Oh, HELL, no!" side resurfaces and cracks through her Martha Stewart lifestyle.  Elba is very good.  The psychological detachment and the maniacal ego of the character register in his eyes.  The script in the last half is better than it was in the first half.  For weekend movie entertainment to see with a friend, this is worth the ticket and the popcorn.

I hope it's a big hit that makes Hollywood give attention to Taraji P. Henson and Idris Elba.
Idris Elba.  I watched him on BBC America television programs.  I watched him on HBO's The Wire.  I've seen him in movies.  He can do comedy.  He can do drama.  He played Nelson Mandela.  Now he's a sexy beast.

If I had his looks, I'd be dating.  If I had his talent, I'd be making movies.



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