Tag Archives: hollywood

Spike Lee Takes the Helm for OldBoy

Oooh, plot twist!

Deadline.com reports that Spike Lee is now attached to direct the American adaptation of Korean director Chan-wook Park’s awesome, creepy, and demented cult classic. (No word on if Will Smith is still attached to play Dae-su.)

See now, I’m both thrilled and apprehensive (instead of just plain old apprehensive). Spike Lee has one of the best shots of adapting Dae-Su’s character in a really interesting way, and still going with a black lead. And he can create that knot-in-your-stomach, smart crime drama tension I love to feel in the theater. And if Dae-su becomes black in the remake, I’d rather have Spike Lee at the helm than the typical Hollywood director. If he doesn’t, it would be awesome to see Daniel Dae Kim in the role, but with our luck, they’re gonna go with Keanu Reeves. Or Zach Effron. Or Chris Pine. Or maybe Robert Pattinson.

But casting aside, the hurdles are high on this one: the gruesome plot twists would probably freak out US censors, adapting such a complex story is a challenge without altering it, heavy expectations from the fanbase. This may well be a fool’s errand.

Then again, The Departed, which was an aight (though racist) reboot of Infernal Affairs won a bunch of awards. So maybe a fucked up reboot won’t matter unless you know what you’re missing.

State of Georgia, Race, and Weight

Gaps between white experiences and non-white experiences pop up in the strangest places.

Raven-Symoné has a new comedy on ABC Family called State of Georgia. This is her first comedy series where she will be playing an adult role and it’s been interesting watching that transition. I had planned to tune into the premiere, but it moved up in priority when I read the producer, Jennifer Weiner, talking about Raven’s weight loss in USA Today:

Q: Tell us about the show’s star, Raven-Symoné, who plays Georgia.

A: What we were looking for was a larger-than-life, bubbly, exuberant, confident young woman who was convinced of her own worth even when the world couldn’t see it. I really think that’s what we have with Raven. She’s this incredibly natural comedienne.

Q: Is Georgia a classic Jennifer Weiner character?

A: The original intention was for Georgia to be a big, curvy girl, and that would be one of the obstacles she dealt with while pursuing her acting career. She wanted to play the ingénue and the bombshell, and people would want to cast her as the funny best friend. Raven has lost a lot of weight, and that’s been a challenge we’ve been dealing with. But in terms of her sense of humor and outlook on life, Georgia’s going to feel familiar to anyone who loved Canny in Good in Bed or Becky in Little Earthquakes and Addy in Best Friends Forever.

Okay. I’m very familiar with Weiner’s work, having read most of it, and I get it – Weiner writes curvy heroines. She is most comfortable writing about larger women trying to make their way in the world. And there have been a great many discussions (like this one from Women and Hollywood) on the debates around Raven-Symoné’s weight loss and how it impacted what they were doing for the show.

But I’m puzzled. Did no one ever point out that black, thin and thick actresses face that same problem in terms of always being cast as the funny best friend? Come on, now, it’s even got a TV Tropes entry. The same jokes wouldn’t fly, but I am sure there are plenty of women who could help the writing team come up with amazing bits about how screwed up the acting world is to women of color. They could call Angela Nissel and Aisha Tyler in for writing assistance, and ask for people like Gabrielle Union and all of the women on this list to provide real life anecdotes for the show.

Or is that just too scary of a topic?

The Warrior’s Way Finally Gives the Asian Guy the Girl

by Latoya Peterson

Randomly watching TV, I was shocked to see this ad for The Warrior’s Way:

Wait a minute – that was an Asian male lead. Who has a love interest. That he kisses. And she’s white!

There are a couple different reasons why this is remarkable.

One, in many American made films, the Asian guy is supposed to be the sidekick – even if they happen to be in the lead role. Therefore, no need for a love interest, much less one that reciprocates his feelings.

Two, we have an interracial couple kissing on screen in the promotional marketing material . This should not be a rare sight in 2010. Yet, here we are.

Not sure how I feel about the East meets West plot construction – this could be a really awesome, somewhat subversive way to acknowledge that there were more people in the American West than just outlaw settlers. Or it could play right into the stranger from a far away land cliche. The flying ninjas invasion scene makes me lean toward the latter, unfortunately.

Table For Two: The Racialicious Review of Machete

By Arturo R. García and Thea Lim

Arturo: I’ll be the first to admit it: it’s easier to talk about Machete than it is to review it. On one level, this is a “critic-proof” movie, because it was ostensibly made by Robert Rodríguez as a no-brainer successor to Planet Terror, with Danny Trejo taking his archetypal (and stereotypical?) Tough Guy character into leading-man status. And, as a guy who whooped it up along with everybody else when the original faux trailer screened after Planet Terror in theatres, I really wanted to like this flick.

But I didn’t, and was having a hard time talking about it. Enter my illustrious colleague Thea.

Thea: I was all ready to waltz around the digital Racialicious office singing the praises of Machete, when it was brought to my attention that Arturo gave the film two really big thumbs down. So I suggested we have a pop culture critics’ FACEOFF!!! Or rather, ahem, a friendly chat.

SPOILERS AHEAD

Thea: So, I thought Machete was a lot of fun.

Arturo: I thought it was a dull rehash of Planet Terror and Once Upon A Time In Mexico.

Thea: I have seen a bunch of Robert Rodriguez’s movies, but I don’t think I’m as learned in his oeuvre as you.

Arturo: R. Rodriguez seemingly couldn’t decide whether he wanted to go full-on over-the-top or craft an “epic.”

Thea: How do you think that your disappointment with the overall quality of the film connects to the race/gender stuff in the film? I was interested in the question that you posed — let me just directly quote you: “If you put a progressive message in an “intentionally bad” film, do you reduce it to a punchline?” Continue reading

REEL INJUN: Film about portrayals of American Indians in movies

by Guest Contributor Debbie Reese, originally published at American Indians in Children’s Literature

There’s been a lot of buzz amongst friends and colleagues about the film Reel Injun. The title itself says a lot. “Reel” —a reel of film—and “Injun”—a derogatory word for Indian—but the title also points to what is missing from film and from children’s and young adult literature: real Indians.

Saying the phrase, “real Indians”, makes me cringe. First, it is the year 2010, and we—people who are American Indian—encounter people who think we were all wiped out by enemy tribes, disease, or war.  Or, people who think that in order to be “real Indians” we have to live our lives the same ways our ancestors did. Course, they don’t expect their own identities and lives to look like those of their own ancestors… In principle, we are a lot like anyone else. We have ways of thinking about the world and ways of being in that world (spiritually and materially) that were–and are—handed down from one generation to the next. Though we wear jeans and athletic shoes (or business suits and dress shoes), we also maintain clothing we sometimes wear for spiritual and religious purposes. Just like any cultural group, anywhere. Continue reading

Of Hollywood and ‘the American People’: How Status Quo is Maintained

by Guest Contributor CVT, originally published at Choptensils


My brother is a screenwriter in LA.  Has a couple movies to his credit, and he just got what could be his “big break” as he sits down to write – what should be – a “major summer blockbuster” type movie.  This is the kind of movie that will likely get a whole lot of hype, splash his name all over the place, and – hopefully – turn into a bunch of work (and cash).  And – being on the “inside” as I am – I just got a copy of his first draft.

So I’m reading his script, trying to just let myself jump in, imagine it as a film; looking for highlights and lowlights to give him some feedback for his next re-write prior to turning it in to the producers and all that kind of thing . . . and, well . . . something struck me – right off the bat – that felt a little odd . . .

As far as details go – I’m not really going to give you more than that – because this is my brother, it’s his original work, and I’m not trying to throw him under the bus or get him in trouble with his producers or future employers – so no other identifying information will go out there.  But let’s just say the “odd” ness involved race.  Specifically, Asian people.  Which just so happens to be our race.

It was nothing major – certainly not offensive, really – but it was a form of following the same Hollywood-esque patterns of who gets to “count” – and who doesn’t.  You can probably guess whether or not the Asian people “counted” or not. Continue reading

What Tami Said can save you $8: My review of “Sex and the City 2″

by Guest Contributor Tami, originally published at What Tami Said

Sex and the City 2

[Maybe there are spoilers in this review. I don’t think so. Frankly, I think there is nothing I could possibly do to make the shitfest that is Sex and the City 2 worse.]

Allow me to save you $8. Here is the plot of Sex and the City 2: Four privileged white women take a break from relentlessly moaning about their privileged lives to go on an Orientalist fantasy excursion to Abu Dhabi, where they are each assigned a brown servant to wait on them as they maraud through the country, dressed like assholes, exoticizing people, mocking culture, flouting religious custom, rubbing yams on their bodies and, on occasion, because they are our heroines, “saving” the natives with their American liberation and largess.

SATC was always only about a certain type of woman, despite media attempts to make Carrie, Samantha, Miranda and Charlotte into everywomen. The series presented a fictionalized view of white, wealthy, female Manhattanites. But the friendships between the protagonists felt universal. And as cartoonish as the individual characters could be, I saw pieces of them in the women around me, if not in myself. When the show first debuted, I was single in the city myself:

When “Sex” debuted in 1998, I was single and 20-something in a big city and it was fun to watch single, carefree women, who lived in a bigger city with bigger apartments, cooler jobs, more money, better shoes and more sex with hotter guys. It was fun fantasy. Read more…

I got older. And so have the characters in SATC, but it occurs to me that the franchise’s male creators aren’t quite sure what to do with women over 40. And so they have taken four flawed but generally likable women and made them repugnant. Continue reading