Sunday, January 29, 2017

Musical biopics: going right, wrong and a top 5 of some of the best

This past week, faith has been restored in BET. Those that known me for a while and follow my posts and writings know how I feel about BET. However they did the New Edition story and it was surprisingly a slam dunk. The story was well-written, cast, produced and portrayed. They left out many things, but told a good story and gave older audiences plenty of nostalgia and introduced NE to a newer audience. All of this was accomplished without cooning or making it ghetto. Fine job to the entire network and producers.

Now BET, and other biopic producers, need to realize what can happen when you dedicate the proper time and have the right people around you. You get a quality product that folks will want to view over and over.

Some ingredients in making a good musical biopic are adding little known facts and tidbits about the artist/group that even diehard fans didn't know about. Also, you have to cast quality performers, dancers and actors. Jamie Foxx was perfect for Ray, and Leon seems to be able to play in any musical role (Eddie Kane, David Ruffin, Little Richard). Also, make the movie the right length. Finally give unknown actors a chance and splice in some legends to help out. It also helps to have the proper network if it's on TV and determine if it should be in theaters or not.

That being said, I'm not quite ready to anoint The New Edition Story into my top 5 musical biopics yet. It definitely doesn't top the Five Heartbeats and that was fictional. Here are my top 5 musical biopics.

5. Straight Outta Compton

Despite flaws with the storyline and casting, the overall music, performance and storylines were crisp. Ice Cube's son, O'Shea Jackson Jr., was perfect to play his father. The actor that played Dr. Dre was good as well. It also revealed how intelligent Cube and Dre really are, writing and producing many songs for their group and others (Dre's rep as a producer is undeniable).

4. Walk The Line

Some that don't follow country may see this as a white Ray. However, it was also well cast, showed Johnny Cash's troubles from childhood on. It also showed how it can it be as a musician to marry into a musical family and still strive. Reese Witherspoon definitely earned her role for playing June Carter Cash.

3. Ray

This movie may have honestly been higher outside of the length. It's honestly a classic, containing many of the ingredients listed above. Also, Jamie Foxx put in so much work with Ray Charles before he passed to nail that role. There are things left out and fabricated but it was still a winner and an inspiration.

2. The Jacksons: An American Dream.

My mom and I have watched this so much we have every line memorized. Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs and the gorgeous Angela Bassett played Joe and Kate almost to perfection. Jason Weaver as young Michael was a reach but he pulled it off. A young Terence Howard playing Jackie and Billy Dee Williams as Berry Gordy were definitely winners also. This was part of the blueprint for the New Edition story in my opinion. However you can't forget #1.

1. The Temptations

This has long been a debate at cookouts, family reunions and barbershops which is better: The Five Heartbeats or The Temptations. I give the edge to this movie for the authenticity. It's real and it really dug into the lives of all of the Temptations, especially Otis and David Ruffin. They possessed every successful element necessary for a biopic. There was even enough drama and tragedy for a great story. The movie is long, about 4 hours, but few I know care. It's that type of a show. It also did what the Jackson movie didn't do, went inside the intense quality control process that Motown had. Berry Gordy adopted this from his days with Ford Motors and, well, it appeared to work. He wanted them not only to be the best black group, but the best group period. They crossed over well despite drama and changing group members. Definitely the gold standard for biopics.

So now you the reader may still be consumed with New Edition mania as if Bobby Brown and Ralph just performed in your living room. But keep things in perspective and remember the movies that paved the way.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Now You See Here,...

OK I have seen some heinous and even irrational behavior this weekend. I knew tensions would be high with Trump's inauguration. It seems now people will protest simply to protest. And it's some of the same folks that voted him in.

But I believe the problem extends beyond our newly inaugurated POTUS. It goes to the overall wussification of America, how we are raising our youth.

The younger generations (the millenials and becomers) have been too entitled for too long. Many are dubbing them "snowflakes". Whatever you want to call them, it isn't promising. It starts when you give everyone a trophy or certificate in school for doing nothing, to no longer keeping score in certain sports. Sorry but everyone isn't a winner here.

Then they get to adulthood and have little to no work ethic and then want to complain, whine and protest when they don't get their way. This isn't all of them of course but many are turning out this way.

Many in the religious circle blame prayer for being taken out. I don't because you can pray anywhere in silence. I blame the system and the parents for allowing it to happen. There needs to be a flashback to some harder times. Many of these young people have no appreciation for history and their ancestors, lack the proper guidance and discipline, and are simply jaded.

So let's nip this in the bud and get down to the bottom of the issue. Stop telling these younger people that the world is all peaches and cream. It isn't, plain and simple. It's hard and often mean and unfair. The sooner they learn this, the better they will be as citizens.

I have said this before and here it is again. We don't want the world turning into the movie Idiocracy. It seems like we get closer and closer.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

There Is A Reason

My poetry is back after taking a long sabbatical! I may even do some slams again, and even some tales from a series I have called "Table Tales" . My writing and #imjustdrew stuff has plenty of range.

And here we go,...

There's a Reason

Many wonder why I write and have thoughts, unique and random
My words always form quite a tandem
I take all challenges by storm
Everything ends up taking proper form
There's a reason for all things good and bad
Someone will always be happy or sad
You can't please everyone so don't be mad
I love small towns and their character and class
Big cities have all of the fun but the locals have more sass
Act like they're not made of glass
There is a reason why I love to write
I know fewer ways to put my thoughts and feelings out right
Hope you guys missed my verses
If not, cool, remember I'm the one that has no curses
There is a time and place for everything, and bad words don't fit my style
I put these into a different file
So keep reading and watching on #imjustdrew
I love to impress and shock all of you
It's a rush and release for me
I have good reasons, better intentions and I love being free
Free in my words and speech
Not worrying about a bureaucratic leach
Time to depart for now
So maybe you all will look back and say "WOW"!

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Timing Is Everything

Everything happens timely, on a certain set moment. Therefore, it doesn't pay to rush or to try and speed up a process.

It's called a process or growing for a reason. I don't know too many things worth having that manifested overnight.

It's like farming or gardening, this will take a while to do, and harvests at a set time. More people need to understand this.

This instant gratification that many possess goes on over to television and movies. I remember a time where you have to see everything live or you missed it period. No VCR, DVR, or YouTube to catch a replay. Now we have all of these resources and yet folks still want to see programs live. Certain shows, such as sports or important news are understandable. Most things can wait, like movies and shows on Netflix. Yet many feel they have to be the first to watch every episode, every minute.

This weekend forced many folks to put some things aside as the winter weather was horrendous in the South. But of course people were ready to leave ASAP.

Trust me, you're not missing much by floating activities, shows and even events. It's all about what's really important,  not what's trendy or popular. Perhaps we can one day return to this mentality.

Then we could definitely have more time and even money to spare.