You can’t really call it a comeback, because Eddie Murphy never left, but its obvious he’s been ramping up his visibility with high-profile projects like Dolemite Is My Name and the upcoming Coming to America sequel. After missteps like his WTF role in 2016’s Mr. Church, I’m quite happy to say that Murphy has returned to form as Dolemite, based on true story of self-made comedian/actor/filmmaker Rudy Ray Moore. The movie is an enjoyable romp through the behind-the-scenes ride of Moore’s inability to be limited by his finances or circumstances. As good as Murphy is, Wesley Snipes steals the movie in his role as D’Urville Martin, a real-life actor who Moore befriended and asked to direct his first film. Do yourself a favor – see this one in its limited theater run or with some friends if you wait for it on Netflix. Release date: October 4, limited, then available on Netflix.
If you blink a few times, you might wonder how a young Micheal Jackson ended up in the Harriet film. The actor who portrays a bounty turned freedom fighter to assist Harriet Tubman is Henry Hunter Hall, the son of director Kasi Lemmons and her husband Vondie Curtis Hall. Someone please get on that MJ biopic before this young man ages out of it. Harriet will prove he already has the onscreen charisma.
As media, we better learn how to pronounce and spell actress Da’Vine Joy Randolph’s name because she’s going to be a star. She plays Lady Reed in Dolemite is My Name and should break out of it similarly to how Tiffany Haddish blew up after Girl’s Trip. Journeyman actor Rob Morgan, who played Mary J. Blige’s husband in Mudbound, should, in a perfect world, get an Oscar nom for his role as Death Row inmate Herbert Richardson as his performance is the movie’s most heartbreaking.
MOVIE WITH A GREAT PREMISE THAT FELL SHORT
Seberg starring Kristen Stewart, Anthony Mackie, Zazie Beetz and relative British newcomer Jack O’Connell, has an interesting premise – the harassment of then-Hollywood star Jean Seberg by the FBI’s notorious COINTELPRO program. Seberg, played by Stewart, is a Hollywood star, but she’s also a sympathizer of Black power groups and causes, something that puts her in the crosshairs of the FBI.
It doesn’t help that despite being married herself, she’s hooking up with activist Hakim Jamal, played by Mackie, and Panther Minister of Defense Raymond “Masai” Hewitt. Here’s the problem – in 2019, centering the story around the white actress victimized by the FBI, instead of focusing on the many Black lives destroyed by COINTELPRO, seems anachronistic.
The film also plays fast and loose with the more interesting real-life story behind it. Seberg was sleeping with Jamal and Hewitt, who is not even mentioned in the movie, and it was his child that the FBI alleged she was carrying. (It was not.) Having O’Connell play a sympathetic FBI agent seems forced and that takes away from the film, though not from his performance. Mackie is, well, he’s pretty much wasted as is Beetz, who plays his wife. This had potential, but doesn’t give much of a voice to its Black characters, the reason Seberg was harassed in the first place. Release: It’s out now.