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Sunday, October 26, 2008

In Defense Of Cuba Gooding....

Yep, you read it right. I will be the first one to lay into Cuba when he's cooning it up with drivel such as Snow Dogs, Boat Trip, and Daddy Day Camp. Horrible! But when he's doing drama? Not so much.

I started this blog because of the film "Shadowboxer" (I reviewed it HERE-my very first post, and with zero comments!), and despite what most folks say, I saw what he was trying to do in it. His performance was understated, thought provoking, and powerful--which is extremely hard to do when you barely say 2 words for most of the movie. We all know he was great in Boyz N' The Hood, a dramatic role that was his break-out.

Now I came upon a film called "Linewatch", which I posted about a year ago, and thought would be a feature film, but seems to have ended up in the DVD bin. It co-stars Sharon Leal and Evan "La Michael" Ross. It is about a border patrolman (Gooding), who leads a quiet, non-consequential existence in a non-descript small bordertown. His life is turned upside down when his former shady "associates" show up to ask for a favor.

To say more than that would reveal spoilers, and I want you guys to rent it. It may start off a bit slow for some, but it gets progressively better as the movie goes on and more is revealed. Cuba doesn't say much in this film either, but all of his emotions--anger, pain, frustration, compassion, all show on his face plainly, and in a way most actors would be lucky to do. It is hard to imagine him after viewing this in his cooning roles, just as it's hard to imagine him in a film like "Linewatch" when he's cooning. How does he do that? Hopefully I wasn't just sucked in, cause my favorite genre is action/suspense thrillers, and it really was a Saturday afternoon movie, which is when I watched it. I say rent it, and watch it on a lazy Saturday or Sunday afternoon.

Which brings me to my next point; do some movies seem better when we watch them at home?

I am not a big fan of going to the theater. At all. Unless it is for a film festival or an advanced movie preview, as the audiences there are pretty intent on being there just to watch and be quiet, and are pretty well behaved. At a general theater however, there are folks talking over the movie (sometimes yelling), kicking the back of your chair, showing up all kinds of late and blocking the screen, and sometimes sounding like a small zoo with all of the crunching, slurping, and everything else that goes along with eating a bunch of overpriced garbage from the snack bar. It is also sometimes as cold a a frozen tundra, with the AC on full blast--not to mention spending $10 for a matinee, and $13/14 dollars for a night show (at least in my neck of the woods--no dollar theaters here!)

At home you can fully focus on the movie, and depending on who you like to spend your time with, will probably have none of the distractions of the theater going experience. Does that absence of annoyance and grouchiness make us more generous to the film we are watching?

Case in point Linewatch, and two other non-Black films I saw over the past few days; "Burn After Reading" and "Ghost Rider" (yeah I know I'm late). Despite what the critics say (I am barely listening to them at all anymore) I thoroughly enjoyed all of them, and recommend that you see them too, if you haven't already. Burn After Reading is a study that so-called "smart" people can be just as dumb as "dumb" people, and that most folks are living their lives purely based on how the world affects them, and only them. It also shows that a little paranoia can go a looooong way (is that a Cohen Brothers political analogy?). Ghost Rider was just pure dumb, exhilarating comic book fun, if you are willing to leave all of your expectations at the door. And I have always loved Nicholas Cage.

Would I feel the same way if I saw any of these movies at the theater? When I think about it, to be honest, probably not--but see them anyway!

Here is the trailer for "Linewatch":


Undercover Black Man said...

Okay, IW, you got me interested in "Linewatch"... which I'd not heard of before.

Funny how quality movies end up direct-to-DVD. I recently bought the Jennifer Lopez film "Bordertown" (directed by Gregory Nava), though I haven't watched yet.

(Maybe it's the border that's the turnoff?)

Tha Connoisseur said...

I love the Cohen Brothers and need to get around to seeing Burn After Reading. Glad you liked it. And you are so right about Ghost Rider - it was dumbed down fun and that was it.

Linewatch huh? Alright, I will take your word for it. I don't know what it is about the Oscar curse, but it sure perturbs me. What is the deal with winning an Oscar and then doing a flop of a movie right after? There may be a few not effected by this curse, but there sure are a whole lot that are. I Linewatch it is.

Invisible Woman said...

@ubm and the c: holl up, ya'll--Linewatch is by no means a great film, but it's an enjoyable watch if you want to amuse yourself for a couple hours.

Burn After Reading is a bit more recommended, and a lot more clever.

The Obenson Report said...

Burn After Reading is available on DVD already... Or did I.W. pick herself up a bootleg :o)

Haven't heard about Linewatch but I'll keep my eyes open for it...

uglyblackjohn said...

-I never liked Cuba in any movie. Yea, he's made a living but he may be a reason that I don't see a movie.
-I prefer the theater experience. I like the crowd reaction at action films and the feeling of others "getting it" at more thoughtful films.
-Some movies on television draw me in. I may even own the movie but when I see it on T.V. , I tend to stop and watch. Maybe it's the commercial/snack refil/breaks.
-The Cohen Bros. are pretty reliable much in the same way that any film released by Miramax used to always be good.

Tafari said...

Cuba gets on my nerves & I have not cared for anything he has been in sine Boyz In Da Hood.


Yeah said...

I luved Shadowboxer!!! I knew where he was coming from and going. I have no idea why Cuba's movies are being shelved. He is an exceptional actor!

Hey Shae! said...

I'd have to rent it rather than purchase it. Cuba's movies have been a hot mess lately. I can't purchase anything blindly from him.

madame z said...

Thanks for the recommendations. I've eyed these films, particularly Linewatch at the rental store. Will have to check them out.

SolShine7 said...

Cuba Gooding Jr. is so much better in drama. I noticed Linewatch at the movie store but walked past it. Now that I know that Sharon Leal and Evan Ross are in it, I definitely want to give it a try.

Good observations on Cuba's career selections.

Invisible Woman said...

@obenson: you are funny... sometimes I get screeners from folks...I don't know if Linewatch will be your cup of tea, but if you thought the ryan leslie thing was ok, you probably won't mind this one.

@ubj: i hear what you're saying about the theater--my luck isn't so good tho. Some things should be seen on the big screen, like Ironman, The Hulk, and things like that. It's not the same at home.

I always like the Cohen Bros. too

@tafari: damn, t! can't we all just get along? lol!

@yeah: thank goodness, another Shadowboxer fan! I think he would get more respect staying away from movies that seem like they were written by a 3 year old...

Invisible Woman said...

@shae: agreed--his movies are no joke sometimes. i never buy any movies, i think one should rent unless collecting is a hobby. give this one a try--i think you might like it.

@madame Z: it is no masterpiece, but it is a good fill if nothing's on TV

@solshine: sharon leal does a decent job...i've seen her do ok in a few things--I wonder why she was so wooden in why did i get married?

evan ross seems to play the innocent that gets caught up pretty well-he's done it a couple of times before.

sdg1844 said...

Loved Shadowboxer. I think Cuba does a better job in more serious films. I enjoy movies more by myself. Besides goin' to the movies sure ain't cheap. I don't like givin' up my $$$ for the crap shoot that is H'Wood film now a days.

Invisible Woman said...

@sdg: High 5 for Shadowboxer lovers **slap**

it was definitely better than almost all of the new Black Cinema I've seen this year.

Wonder Man said...

Cuba will have a comeback