There’s a scene in Dolemite Is My Name in which Rudy Ray Moore (Eddie Murphy) and a friend have a hard time watching Billy Wilder‘s The Front Page (’74). The white audience is laughing, but it’s not funny to Rudy.
Trust me — Wilder’s remake of Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur’s 1928 play wasn’t funny to anyone.
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Famed costume designer Ruth E. Carter sat for a q & a following yesterday afternoon’s screening of Dolemite Is My Name. Carter’s polyester hood duds are certainly one of Dolemite‘s visual standout elements, and the talk is that she’ll probably be Oscar-nominated for this. Again. Carter has been in the business for 31 years. She won a Best Costume Design Oscar last year for Black Panther; her costumes were also Oscar-nommed for Spike Lee‘s Malcolm X (’92) and Steven Spielberg‘s Amistad (’97).
Larry Karaszewski to HE: “Ruth is amazing. She makes the flamboyant ’70s costumes look lived in. They are outrageous but you believe they are Rudy’s clothes. They’re not a cartoon.”
HE comment: The polyester costumes look hot, dense and heavy — definitely not something you’d want to wear in July or August.
I would love to watch to a 60-minute essay doc in which Martin Scorsese examines the genesis and development of superhero films (Marvel and D.C.), breaking it all down and assessing the relatively few highs vs the abundance of lows and providing a general aesthetic toxicology report. Would he want to invest the time in such a thing? Probably not, but I’d love it if Marty or Francis Coppola (or someone of their background and stature) could deliver a grand damning indictment. The industry and the culture need something like this — something to point to and say “look at what’s happened to us.” A kind of The Sorrow and the Pity-type deal. It could be mythic.
Yesterday afternoon I finally saw Craig Brewer and Eddie Murphy‘s Dolemite Is My Name (Netflix, currently streaming). Loved it, very cool, super-likable, at times hilarious. Call it a reconsecration of the Larry Karaszewski-Scott Alexander brand, and a definite bounce-back for Brewer and especially Murphy.
Let’s clearly understand that first and foremost this is a Scott and Larry film, and is basically a blaxploitation version of Ed Wood — same spirit, same or similar arc for the main character, same pluck and never-say-die determination, same indifference to (or an inability to recognize) the basic concept of quality, same naive but dedicated crew of co-conspirators.
The difference between Ed Wood and Dolemite is that a sizable African-American audience responds with enthusiasm and joy to the crappy cinematic creations of the real-life Rudy Ray Moore (played by Murphy) while nearly everyone despised Plan 9 For Outer Space (except for purveyors of camp a decade or two later).
The slight downside is that Dolemite Is My Name doesn’t have its own Bela Lugosi character, much less someone like Martin Landau portraying him, and it doesn’t have a facsimile of that gay Bill Murray character.
Dolemite is My Name is a tribute to tenacity and one man’s relentless belief in himself, despite his utter lack of talent and/or inspiration, and especially his absolute lack of respect for the craft of cinema, let alone any artistic potential.
Shitty, low-rent filmmaker makes good because he won’t quit, and because people with no taste ** like what he’s selling!
The funniest scene, for me, is when Rudy and his Dolemite homies are reading the initjal reviews. One critic, Earl Calloway of the Chicago Defender, wrote that “Dolemite is not fit for a blind dog to see…it’s coarse, bold, crude, and rude.” For whatever reason I started laughing uncontrollably when I heard this, and I’m what you might call an LQTM type.
Another critic called it “Dull-emite.”
The Beast doesn’t get to take a bow for killing Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. On 10.22.12 he tweeted that President Obama had been overpraised and/or didn’t deserve credit for Osama bin Laden‘s death because “Navy Seals killed [him].” By the same token Trump had almost nothing to do with the ISIS leader’s death. He was merely told that al-Baghdadi had been targeted and was about to be hit, and so he said “yeah, go for it, whatever.”
Here's the moment: Trump downplays the operation to kill Osama bin Laden under President Obama because bin Laden didn't become "big" until the World Trade Center attacks and al-Baghdadi created a caliphate. pic.twitter.com/efLwLu1ROZ
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) October 27, 2019
From N.Y. Times story: “Mr. Trump said Mr. al-Baghdadi was chased to the end of a tunnel, ‘whimpering and crying and screaming all the way’ as he was pursued by American military dogs. Accompanied by three children, Mr. al-Baghdadi then detonated a suicide vest, blowing up himself and the children, Mr. Trump said.”
Imagine Trump being somehow caught in in the crosshairs, alone and without bodyguards and being chased down a tunnel by terrorists. Is there anyone on the planet earth who believes he would die like Jim Bowie or Davy Crockett at the Alamo, manfully and with fierce brave dignity? Is there any chance he wouldn’t beg for his life by suggesting that he and his would-be killers “could make a great deal”?
There’s no question that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was a radical homicidal animal. Let no one doubt that his having reportedly killed three children along with himself with a suicide vest was a selfish and cowardly act. But does anyone think that Trump would have the cojones to off himself under any circumstance, if he was looking at doom either way?
Again: “Mr. al-Baghdadi’s body was mutilated by the blast, but Mr. Trump said a test had confirmed his identity. The president made a point of repeatedly portraying Mr. al-Baghdadi as ‘sick and depraved’ and him and his followers as ‘losers’ and ‘frightened puppies,’ using inflammatory, boastful language unlike the more solemn approaches by other presidents in such moments. ‘He died like a dog,’ Mr. Trump said. ‘He died like a coward.'”
But never forget that ISIS was essentially created by the 2003 invasion of Iraq by U.S. forces and the administration of Baghdad that followed, and that the real villains in this whole mess are George Bush and more precisely Dick Cheney.