Thursday, November 3, 2011

FOREST WHITAKER'S INTERVENTION (enough is enough. its time)

Sorry, but this has been bothering me for years. Will somebody please tell Forest Whitaker that once you win an academy award you have the right to be somewhat selective in the roles you take. It seems like ever since he lost all that weight he lost his ability to tell the difference between a good script and a bad one. I know an academy award isn't the most important thing in the world, but it does put you in a kind of "top tier" among actors. And the last time I checked, "top tier" actors don't share the screen with people like Carlos Mencia in 'Our Family Wedding'...
really tho??
Would Sean Penn or Daniel-Day Lewis make a wacky comedy with the likes of Dat Phan or Kat Williams? I don't think so. So why would Forest Whitaker lower himself and taint his name by putting it next to Carlos Mencia's?? Doesn't he know that no one likes him? Is he THAT outta touch? And it wasn't like the movie was billed as: "Starring Forest Whitaker, co-starring Carlos Mencia". No. They're statuses in that movie were the same!
He's one of my favorite actors so I feel the need to say these things (even if no one outside of the 20+ followers of this blog read what I have to say). What makes him such a unique actor is the fact that he can seamlessly go from being a big menacing bully to being a teddy bear. He's got great odd/unique mannerisms that one else has. And he represents more than just himself. He represents all large, menacing yet quietly odd, mis-used actors like Vincent D'noffrio, Tom Noonan or Michael Madsen.
Seriously, look at what he's done since 'The Last King Of Scotland' (which, brace yourselves, isn't even in his top 5 greatest performances. But hey, we'll take an academy award wherever "we" can get it.). Name me one memorable film or performance of his since 2006 (and we aren't talking about his TV work). I'll wait...


In fact, the last great performance he gave was in 'Mary' (Abel Ferrara's barely seen religious drama from 2005 that didn't get released theatrically until 2010), which I saw at anthology film archives as part of the "Abel Ferrara In The 21st Century" retrospective. He was so great in that. And after watching 'Repomen' a few months back, I was in desperate need of a good performance from him. As both a fan of Forest Whitaker and an organ transplant recipient (a kidney transplant for those of you who still don't know) I was DOUBLY offended by last years 'Repomen': The body "horror"/drama/action/comedy starring Jude Law & Forrest Whitaker as ruthless organ transplant repossessors. The movie pissed me off for 2 reasons:

1. How do you screw up a plot like that?! Say what you want, but the idea of people having their transplanted organs repossessed for not paying their medical bills is both interesting and hilarious to me (its OK, I had a kidney transplant so I'm allowed to laugh at that). Its like Philip K. Dick meets 1980's David Cronenberg (the guy who shoulda directed 'Repomen' if you ask me)

2. It pretty much STOLE the ending from Terry Gilliam's 'Brazil'. Don't me wrong. I'm all about paying homage and directors giving nods to other directors (more than half the content of this blog is about that). But thievery is thievery, and 'Repomen' completely stole from 'Brazil'.

'Repomen' was the last "memorable" movie he appeared in on the big screen. Other than that, it seems like he's been doing nothing but painfully average indie movies that go straight to DVD after playing at sundance. A few months ago I made a facebook status update calling Forest Whitaker "this generations Louis Gossest Jr". And that wasn't a compliment. For those of you who don't know, in the 70's and 80's there was that myth among black people that when a black actor receives an academy award (or even just a nomination) that it became the "kiss of death". Louis Gosset Jr. was a prime example of that. After winning an academy award for 'Officer And A Gentlemen', he went on to co-star in such great films as the Iron Eagle saga, TWO films alongside Dolph Lundgren ('The Punisher' & 'Cover Up') and countless made for TV movies that no one remembers. But its doesn't stop with just Gosset. You had Adolp Ceaser ('A Soldier's Story'), Dianne Carrol ('Claudine'), Angela Basset ('Whats Love Got To Do With It'), and so on. Over the years actors like Denzel Washington, Jaime Foxx and Will Smith kinda turned that myth around (no matter how you may feel about them). But in a way, Forest Whitaker is moving backwards. Does he know he's A-list?? Or is he still? He might not be anymore, I dunno. Even AFTER winning an academy award for best male lead he continues to take 2nd billing to people like Matthew Fox (I understand 'Lost' is a popular TV show, but still...)
So I think what needs to happen is we rent a van and just hi-jack him, take him somewhere and have one of those intense interventions where his family, friends and devoted fans be honest with him and tell him the truth about he's ruining his name.

And before I go, lets end this on a positive note and take a look at some of his more memorable scenes/performances.


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