MLK Weekend Roundup: a coming-of-age comedy, 1934 classic romance & a 1975 political thriller

MLKWashingtonHappy Monday all! It’s Martin Luther King Jr weekend here in the States and it’s a company holiday where I work, yay 😀 Another year and yet another snag in the long-overdue MLK biopic. I made this post last year about the status of the project that Paul Greengrass was once attached to. Well it turns out that Oliver Stone has now exited the project, taking to Twitter that his rewrite of the script, which dealt with “issues of adultery, conflicts within the movement, and King’s spiritual transformation” was not well received by producers. (per EW.com)

It’s really too bad as I’d love to see Dr. King’s biopic. Of course I realize he’s not a ‘saint’ as Stone said via Twitter nor do I expect him to be, but it doesn’t change the fact that he’s a great man who’s an inspiration to us all.

Now, though I didn’t go to the cinema this weekend, it’s been a wonderful movie catch-up for me. I saw The Way, Way Back on Friday which was pretty good despite the slow start.

TheWayWayBackPoster

I LOVE Sam Rockwell who stole the film with his effortless charm, and newcomer Liam James is endearingly dorky in this coming-of-age comedy. It probably won’t have made my Top 10 list but certainly would factor in the Honorable Mention if I had seen it last year.

As for the two great classics I finally caught up with, one of them is on my Blindspot list and the other is a spy thriller that my friends have recommended me from time to time.

ItHappenedOneNight

I will have my full review of It Happened One Night (1934) on the last Tuesday of this month (1/28) for my Blindspot assignment but let me just say this film lives up to the hype! I’ve only seen Clark Gable as Rhett Butler in Gone With the Wind, so it’s nice to see a different side to him in this role. Practically everyone I’ve talked to adore this film and I could see why.

ThreeDaysOftheCondor

On Saturday night, my hubby and I were in the mood for a spy thriller, having just seen Jack Ryan: The Shadow Recruit on Wednesday (review coming tomorrow). My hubby isn’t a huge fan of older films, but I managed to convince him to rent 3 Days of the Condor (1975) as I’ve heard great things about it. I quite like 70s thrillers like Dirty Harry, The Conversation and The French Connection, no wonder my friend Michael calls it his favorite decade for movies! I quite like this one, it’s more of a slow burn but has plenty of suspense in a whodunnit kind of story filled with political intrigue as well as sexual tension between Robert Redford and Faye Dunaway. It’s a smart thriller by Sydney Pollack, with a taut script and an intriguing ending where things aren’t tied up neatly with a bow. It’s loosely based on a novel by James Grady titled Six Days of the Condor.


So that’s my weekend roundup, folks. What did YOU see this weekend?

Whatever happened to the planned Martin Luther King Jr biopics?

Exactly a year ago today, I was excited that the long-overdue Martin Luther King Jr’s biopic was supposedly getting made. But now, on the eve of the MLK holiday a year later, there is still NO definite plan on that particular project, or any other movie based on this inspiring American hero. We’ve got ALL kinds of biopic movies of various leaders since: J Edgar (the famed FBI director), The Iron Lady (British PM Margaret Thatcher), The Lady (Burmese political & human rights icon Aung San Suu Kyi), but still no MLK biopic on the big screen or even TV mini-series comes to life.

In that post, I reported that British director Paul Greengrass (Bourne Supremacy & Ultimatum, Bloody Sunday, United 93) was going to direct Memphis, a biopic which will focus on the period of King’s life just prior to his murder on April 4th, 1968 in the Tennessee city. Here’s a more detailed plot of what Greengrass had in mind:

it looks at King’s life while trying to organize the city’s sanitation workers in the spring of 1968, just before his murder on April 4 of that year. If so, that’d make for a much more human portrayal of King than some might expect. By the spring of 1968, King’s personal and professional lives were in disarray: His marriage was faltering; he was chain-smoking, boozing, and packing on the pounds. King’s outspokenness on the Vietnam War cost him his relationship with President Johnson, and his new-found interest in labor organization and the urban poor put him on the fringes of the rising Black Power movement.

Well, only a few months later Deadline reported that Universal pulled the plug on the project, citing ‘scheduling’ issues, but the article writer Mike Flemming suggested that the real cause is likely this “…the MLK estate was highly critical of the project, and exerted pressure on the studio to call it off…The family, I’ve heard, made it known that it might go public with its displeasure over Greengrass’s script, which could have hurt the film’s theatrical prospects.”

Apparently that’s not the only MLK biopic the King Estate has objections with. Precious‘ director Lee Daniels was apparently planning a biopic on Dr. King titled Selma, referring to the 1965 Selma-to-Montgomery civil rights march. This Deadline article cited that friend and confidante of the late Dr. King and his family, Andrew Young, raised objections to purported facts in the script Selma, which mentioned about King’s alleged extra-marial affairs. “They didn’t even identify the woman who started that march, Amelia Boynton, who was beaten on the bridge and left for dead on Bloody Sunday… They call it poetic license, but I told them it doesn’t make sense to take poetic license when the real story is more powerful.” Young was quoted as saying.

Now, as of last Thursday, English actor David Oyelowo (Rise of the Planet of the Apes, The Help, Red Tails) who was going to play Dr. King in Selma said the project isn’t dead yet. He’s quoted in Indiewire as saying, “… we’re going to make [‘Selma’] one day, let’s get this collaborative energy going, let’s start creating a collaborative relationship. I know it will happen in its good time. That’s not a role you want to rush.”

I’m sure some people would also have objections to his casting as he’s not American. But to me, I’m more concerned with getting the right talent for the job, someone who not only look the part but could portray the role believably, so I think Oyelowo has both.

As for the objections about the negative portrayal of Dr. King, I certainly understand his estate would want to protect his image and his powerful legacy. But I agree with the Indiewire writer in that “… it does the leader a great disservice to paint only a hagiographic portrait of him…” Whether the infidelity factor was accurate or not, I don’t think it would take away or even lessen his legacy to mankind. After all, Dr. King was a hero, not a saint, he was subjected to human weaknesses like the rest of us. Well, it seems as though, much like Dr. King’s dream itself, the fruition of his own biopic also faces an uphill battle.


What do you think folks? I’m curious to hear your thoughts on these MLK projects.

The long overdue MLK biopic is finally going to see the light of day

As Colin Firth won Golden Globes for Best Actor playing a British king with a stutter, this King certainly never had trouble delivering a speech. His ‘I Have A Dream‘ speech delivered in Washington DC is surely one of the most memorable speech ever in the history of mankind.

Early last week I was planning on highlighting Martin Luther King Jr day with a clip from a movie about this great American hero. But it didn’t take long for me to realize that there hasn’t been a biopic of him, yet. Say what? He’s got a holiday named after him but not a single feature film has been made about him? I mean, this is a man whose legacy in the civil rights movement — even becoming the youngest person to receive the Nobel Peace Prize at age 35 — is worth commemorating year after year. I share the sentiment of this EW article headline: Martin Luther King Jr. movie: The latest from the What the Heck Took So Friggin’ Long department

I don’t really have a theory of why a movie on him hasn’t been made (apparently Steven Spielberg’s attempt to produce King Jr’s biopic a few years back has been stalled). Some say that now that we finally have a black president, maybe people are ready for this biopic. Whatever the cast may be, I’m glad they’re finally doing this. Better late than never I suppose.

English director Paul Greengrass (Bourne Supremacy & Ultimatum, Unite 93, Green Zone) reportedly is working on a MLK biopic titled Memphis, which will focus on the period of King’s life just prior to his murder on April 4th, 1968 in the titular Tennessee city (per Screenrant). More info from Vulture blog about the possible project:

Insiders tell us that Greengrass wrote the movie — titled simply Memphis — based on his own original research, and that it looks at King’s life while trying to organize the city’s sanitation workers in the spring of 1968, just before his murder on April 4 of that year. If so, that’d make for a much more human portrayal of King than some might expect. By the spring of 1968, King’s personal and professional lives were in disarray: His marriage was faltering; he was chain-smoking, boozing, and packing on the pounds. King’s outspokenness on the Vietnam War cost him his relationship with President Johnson, and his newfound interest in labor organization and the urban poor put him on the fringes of the rising Black Power movement.

Casting who would play the famous historical figure will probably surface in the coming weeks. But when I was doing the research for this post, my husband thought this guy from Sarah Connor Chronicles, Richard T. Jones. He’s probably much taller but his face certainly has an uncanny resemblance to MLK Jr., don’t you think? Of course they’re more likely going to go with someone more well-known in the film community though, probably Terrence Howard or Idris Elba??

Well, what do you think about this project, folks? Perhaps you have your own casting idea you’d like to share today?