60 posts categorized "Film"

April 19, 2016

Director Malcolm D. Lee Talks Barbershop: The Next Cut

Special to ColeSmithey.com By Wilson Morales

April 13, 2016

BarperShopNextCutComing out this week is Barbershop: The Next Cut, the third installment of the Barbershop franchise.

Directed by Malcolm D. Lee from a script by Kenya Barris and Tracy Oliver, the film features the return of cast members Ice Cube, Cedric the Entertainer, Eve, Anthony Anderson, Jazsmin Lewis, Troy Garity and Sean Patrick Thomas

New cast members include Oscar winner Common, Regina Hall, Nicki Minaj, Chyna Layne, Michael Rainey Jr., Deon Cole, Utkarsh Ambudkar, Lamorne Morris, J.B. Smoove, Tyga, Margot BinghamDiallo Thompson and Isaiah John.

For Lee, who’s done plenty of ensemble films in the past with The Best Man, Roll Bounce, Welcome Home, Roscoe Jenkins, Soul Men, The Best Man Holiday, this is somewhat new territory. He’s being brought on to another franchise, after Scary Movie 5, where’s he only the director. What helps is that he’s worked with some of the cast and has a good team of producers and screenwriters to make a good film.

In speaking with Blackfilm.com, Lee talks about coming onboard to an established franchise, working with the cast and whether there will be another Best Man film in the future.

Barbershop-Malcolm D. LeeWhat was it that you did not want to do with this movie that people are probably looking for?

Malcolm D. Lee: I don’t know what people are looking for. I wanted to make it culturally relevant. I wanted to make it funny. I didn’t want anything silly happening like, you know there’s a whole thing in the first one with the whole ATM stealing scene that was a little bit much. What I wanted was just to make it feel authentic and up to date, again, funny, it all comes down to tone for me.

Fortunately the content was already there with the environment that was set, with Chicago and gang violence. I always wanted to have this kind of foreboding danger that could invade upon the safe space of the barbershop. The neighborhood could invade that space, the safe house so to speak, and I think we achieved that largely, but still managed to keep the movie very funny.

With a big cast from original cast members and newcomers and different story lines, how do you weave it all in there and bring it all together? Was it the direction or editing?

Malcolm D. Lee: I think a lot of movies are made in the editing room. I feel like, even with Best Man Holiday, there were lots of great scenes that we had to take out of the movie just for the length of time and best for story. That was certainly the case here, but I felt like even more so, because we had so much footage and so many jokes that had to be told. Even as funny as stuff is on set, it doesn’t always translate to the cut. Then it’s like, you’ve got to figure out what’s going to be funniest overall for the movie.

So it’s a lot of things. Yes, in that sense, we did, I did feel, it was one of the first movies that I’ve done where I felt like, okay, this is going to get made in the editing room. Not that I didn’t know what I was doing on set, but I said, we’re going to gather a whole bunch of stuff and then I’ll figure it out.

Barbershop-3How much do you let the actors ad lib and if that makes the cut?

Malcolm D. Lee: A lot. I think that’s why you cast funny people. That’s why you cast people like J.B. Smoove and Deon Cole and Lamorne Morris, who are going to come up. Comedians, they have a different way of approaching material. They’ll take what’s there and they’ll make that funny, but they’ll also riff on that. I knew that was going to happen and I encourage it, because having done a number of comedies with different comedians you definitely want to give them the leeway to do it. When they’re performing, they’re in the room. They got the feel of the room and that’s what informs what they’re doing a lot of times. That’s best, because it’s fresh and it’s in the moment and it’s authentic and it’s real.

Eve made her film debut in the first Barbershop. With this movie, you have Nicki Minaj. People are going to seeing this and wonder if this is stunt casting? How much did you work with her? Even though she’s done music videos, now she’s on a different platform here. Is this going to be a one-off for her or is can we see her do something else down the road that doesn’t have anything to do with her persona?

Malcolm D. Lee: She was in The Other Woman with Cameron Diaz, and when I saw her do that, I thought she was good. You know, it’s funny, when she first came out, I was like, I think I would like to work with her. I think she can act and it’s not anything other than me seeing what she does and how creative she is, to make me think that. Was it a little bit of stunt casting? I suppose, but when I read the part of Draya, I was like, “Oh my God, Nicki Minaj would be great for this.” Honestly, once she was interested, nobody else even registered in my mind. I was like, “it’s got to be her.”

NickiMinajBarbershopWho’s idea was her wardrobe?

Malcolm D. Lee: Primarily hers. A couple times I had to tell her, “Nicki, can you put on a jacket or something.” She’s like, “Why you want me in a jacket?” I’m like, “All right.” I wasn’t going to fight her on that. I mean, there are certain things that I wanted her to be a little bit more covered in, but that’s Nicki and that’s how she felt she was going to be and her character would. Listen, there are girls out there who are like that.

In a barbershop?

Malcolm D. Lee: Sexually provocative, whatever, that’s just how they get down. That’s just how they want to present themselves to the world. So it’s like okay, I’m not totally opposed to it.

With this film you have actors you’ve worked with before. Is it old hat when you direct people who know you, and they know your style of directing like Regina Hall?

Malcolm D. Lee: Regina, she’s great regardless. She has no ego about things. I think that it’s a different character. I think that overall the whole cast was extremely respectful. I think they’ve seen my work in the past and they respect that. So everyone very much trusted me whether I worked with them before or I was working with them for the first time. So Cedric and Regina certainly we’ve done it, but I’d never done the Barbershop movie before. So there had to be a lot of trust placed in me, in order for me to do my job. So I was very grateful that they all trusted me to do my best work. It’s never old hat because every movie is a different challenge.

What works best for you? On a film like this, where it’s not a new film and, like you said, there are layers that have already been established. You’re coming in here and you’re asked to bring your stuff. It’s the same thing like, Scary Movie 5. You’re coming on board into something that’s already in place. What does that do for your psyche? Even though you’re being thrust upon, we’re now handing the reins to you, bring it home.

Malcolm D. Lee: For me personally, I prefer to write and direct, because that’s the way I know I can bring it to its greatest fruition. When I haven’t written something, I just need to work with the writers and get into the mindset of the writers and why he made this choice. This is how I interpreted it, is this how you saw it? Read it in a way that makes the script a place that fits my vision of the movie. When it comes to Barbershop, I thought the two previous movies were good, but I always wanted to put my own spin on it. I wanted to make it, the best of the three. It’ll be up to the fans to decide if it is.

I feel like we’ve had an opportunity to be the funniest of the three. We have a lot more funny people to work with, than they did. Cedric was pretty much the only go to funny person that they had. We’ve got an abundance of them, from Utkarsh to Lamorne, to J.B. Smoove, Deon Cole, Regina Hall. We’ve got lots of funny people that we can count on and of course, we still have Cedric, who is still the king. He still gives you stuff that you don’t think about. So I felt very comfortable in the environment. It’s funny too, because Cedric in the beginning, at the start we did a whole cast dinner. Everybody’s making toasts and Cedric was like, now look here, all you newcomers, we got a good franchise here, we welcome aboard. Don’t fuck it up.

He wasn’t talking to me directly but I heard him, and I’m like yeah, we have to give the fans what they expect, but potentially elevate it. With the script that was there, dealing with gang violence in Chicago, and be very socially relevant as well as something that was going to be really funny. I felt I could do something and bring something to the table with it.


We seem to be coming across this common theme where everything old is new again. This is a movie that’s going back 10 plus years. Best Man Holiday came 10 plus years later. Why is it that Hollywood is now all of a sudden green lighting sequels that the fans wanted to see years ago?

Malcolm D. Lee: I think because of timing. I think that everyone’s always doing remakes. If they’re not doing remakes, they’re doing sequels, and if they’re not doing sequels, they’re doing reinventions or rebooting. There are things that have worked in the past. New franchises don’t always occur, so when something works they want to keep making money. So I get it. Yes, it was 10 plus years later for Best Man but I always had it in the back of my head to do. Yeah, because that was successful they could revisit Barbershop 10 years later, 12 years later, because of where Ice Cube is in his career. People want to see him again. He’s been very successful for a very long time. Okay, with Stright Out of Compton and Ride Along, it was like, “okay, this is a good timing to do another Barbershop movie.” Let’s get the right team together to do that. Fortunately Kenya (Barris) and Tracy (Oliver), they came up with a great script. They were asking me to be aboard, and like I said, “I can bring something to the table.”

What are you doing next and will it be a Best Man 3?

Malcolm D. Lee: I’m eyeing a number of projects including Girls Trip with Will Packer.

What’s "Girls Trip"?

Malcolm D. Lee: "Girls Trip" is a ensemble comedy about 40-plus women who are go on a trip and behave badly. R-rated, Bridesmaids, Hangover type of thing. So there’s that possibility. There’s also the possibility of a couple other things that I’m juggling. I’m starting to think about TV a little bit. As far as Best Man’s concerned, I hope sometime soon, but it’s a scheduling thing right now. There’s a desire on the studio’s part to do it, the actors’ part, my part. It’s really more about, because my actors are all on television shows, it’s hard to schedule a "Best Man" movie, so we’ll see what happens.

March 02, 2016

Angela Bassett Talks "London Has Fallen" & Her DGA Nomination

Exclusive: Angela Bassett Talks London Has Fallen and Her Recent DGA Nom
by Wilson Morales

March 1, 2016

London Has FallenHitting theaters this week is the action thriller “London Has Fallen,”the sequel to the 2013 worldwide smash hit Olympus Has Fallen,”starring Gerard Butler.

The visceral intensity springs from a timely premise: after the British Prime Minister passes away, his funeral becomes a target of a terrorist organization to destroy some of the world’s most powerful leaders, devastate the British capital, and unleash a terrifying vision of the future. The only hope of stopping it rests on the shoulders of the President of the United States Benjamin Asher (Aaron Eckhart) and his formidable Secret Service head Mike Banning (Gerard Butler), and an English MI-6 agent (Charlotte Riley) who rightly trusts no one.

Also returning are Morgan Freeman as Vice President Trumbull, Angela Bassett as Secret Service Director Lynne Jacobs, Melissa Leo as Defense Secretary Ruth McMillan, Radha Mitchell as Leah Banning, Robert Forster as General Edward Clegg, and Sean O’Bryan as NSA Deputy Director Ray Monroe.

For Bassett, after appearing in so many films, this is actually the first time she’s reprising a character. Although she’s play Betty Shabazz twice in films, it was different projects not connecting with each other. She’s also appeared in different roles in each season she’s done for the TV series, American Horror Story.

Earlier this year, Ms. Bassett was rewarded with her first DGA nomination for her directorial debut, Lifetime’s Whitney, which is based on the life of famed and deceased singer Whitney Houston.

In speaking exclusively with Blackfilm.com, Bassett talks about her character in London Has Fallen, and her recent accomplishment.

Is this the first sequel for you?

Angela Bassett: It is. It’s special. You already have a relationship with the other actors, so you feel that sense of camaraderie and familiarity. It makes it easier that you don’t have to get to know each other. You have an idea and look forward to coming back. Especially when the first film was so successful.

Did you have any idea that the first film would do well enough to warrant a sequel?

AB: Not at all. We thought it would be one and done. We didn’t know that a sequel would be a possibility. Pretty soon after it opened, that became a possibility. Where can the sequel take us? What world would we live in? They started thinking about that and it took them a while to get that straight. They had to figure it out, writing, re-writing, and it’s a wonderful that the film is coming out with all these different hands in the pot. You get this really exciting cohesive action thriller and we’re all ecstatic about it.

London Angela

Where is Lynne Jacobs at this point? What brings her back in the sequel?

AB: I think she’s been pretty successful as the head of Secret Service. She’s scratched and kicked and she’s highly intelligent. She knows how to get along with people. I think she loves to continue in that position. There’s no reason for any changes there. She understands her men from their strengths and weaknesses and she knows how to navigate through those fields.

London Has Fallen 17

As the head of Secret Service, do you think she went through the same process as an agent?

AB: She’s probably started at the White House, on detail there. She probably didn’t get into these dangerous situations but she neutralized them before they happened. I think she was a young agent and came up through the ranks. She probably had a psychology degree because she knows how to deal with people. In that world you have to know how to deal with people and she’s good at it.

In the first film, Lynne was at another location with Morgan Freeman’s character trying to get the president to safety and with this film, she’s in the middle of this chaos. How much fun was it being in the action sequences?

London Has Fallen 19

AB: Sitting next to Morgan Freeman was stressful because it’s all about what’s in your head. What you imagine? What’s going on out there? You have Mike Banning in the line and you’re trying to save the day without being right there in the thick of it. With the sequel, I’m exactly in the thick of it with bullets flying by and the airplane wobbling and shrapnel everywhere. It was definitely more fun on the ground.

Angela DGACongratulations on your DGA nomination. With a honor like that, what does do for your career?

AB: That nomination just blew my mind. I was so excited. It was like the first day of school, first love, Christmas and New Year’s. All of that rolled into one. It was very exciting. It’s the end to uncharted waters, but it was so thrilling and satisfying working with actors and actress, crew and creative people. It was exciting but it was also humbling. I didn’t step in thinking, “I don’t know it all, but I will act like I do.” I thought, “I don’t know it all, and I will ask questions.” I want someone to break it down for me. People were so willing to help me and guide me. When my DP came in, the first things I said was, “I trust you.” I don’t know camera lens and of course, you have to depend on one another to take this journey of telling this story about people. I want to do it again. Actually, I will be directing an episode of the series that I do, American Horror Story. That’s one of the great things that came out from the nomination.

How exciting is it to come back on the series each season in a different role?

AB: It’s a great compliment that they ask you back. You’re working with Kathy Bates, Sarah Paulson and Dennis O’Hare; as well as all the guest stars that come through. It’s fantastic to know that you have a job. In a business where it’s so iffy and one never knows what’s coming next. It could be unsettling for a lot of people. I just try to enjoy it when I’m working and when I’m not working. You’re still growing and looking for work.

From directing, acting and producing, how do you relax when there’s no camera on you?

AB: That’s about 4am or 5am. (Laughs). There seems to be some down time. There’s a perception that you’re go, go, go, especially when people have seen you in the movies, on TV in an old film, in a magazine or at an event, but there is some down time.

If one didn’t see “Olympus Has Fallen,” what’s a good reason to see “London Has Fallen”?

AB: It’s the first one to the tenth power. The stakes are raised. The stakes are higher. The landscapes are bigger. We’re out of the White House. We’re taking on the whole city of London. It’s thrilling, exciting and an adrenaline ride that grabs you by the throat, by your shoulders and you just hang on to your seats and don’t let go until the very end. You invest in the characters. You can relate to them. It’s not just things blowing up for the sake of blowing up. There’s humor, there’s pathos and there’s hope. There’s redemption and there’s heroes. No matter what we go through, that thing about human nature where you’re still standing with your last breathe, you stand tall and you’re going to make it for another day. It’s more exciting than the first than anything you have ever seen. You won’t be disappointed.

May 29, 2014

Quentin TARANTINO: Cannes 2014 Press Conference


May 20, 2014

Omar Sy Talks X-Men: Days of Future Past

X-Men-Days-of-Future-PastBy Wilson Morales

The film is based on the comic book storyline “Days of Future Past,” which ran in Uncanny X-Men #141 and 142 back in 1981 during Chris Claremont and John Byrne’s run and introduced the idea of an alternate future for Marvel’s mutants that grew out of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants killing an important senator, leading to a future where all mutants are hunted by Sentinels.

For Sy, who plays Bishop, the film is his biggest profile he won critical acclaim and became the 1st Black Actor To Win César Award For Best Actor (French Equivalent Of Oscars) for his 2012 film, "The Intouchables." Besides this X-Men film, Sy has "Good People" opposite James Francocoming out and has a featured role in another big franchise film "Jurassic World."

How much did you know about the character prior to taking on the role?

Omar Sy: Before the film, nothing. I heard about Bishop when I was in the producer’s office and he told me the film, ‘Days of Future Past,’ and introduced me to Bishop. I then started to do research and found out that Bishop is a big character.

How would you describe your character Bishop?

OS: Bishop is a mutant who is capable of traveling through time. His power is to absorb energy and give it back through a gun. He’s also a soldier, fighting to free the mutants. He comes from an apocalyptic future and he has to fight for freedom because he was raised in a mutant camp. That’s why he has a “M” in his eyes and he escaped and comes back to free others.

Had you seen the previous X-Men films?

OS: Of course. I’m a big fan. Before this film, I would say that the first film is my favorite and then "First Class."

Omar-Sy-as-BishopWhat was the attraction to doing this film?

OS: Just to be a superhero. To be an X-Men is a childhood dream. It’s cool to be in it.

With so many actors in the film, what was it like working with those in your scenes?

OS: It was cool. It was amazing for me and unbelievable. I was nervous coming to the set on the first day. The night before I couldn’t sleep, but once I got there, the cast was very warm and welcoming. Sometimes we had dinner together, but at times, after long days of shooting, the best we all needed was sleep.

How long did it take to put on the costume and makeup?

OS: It took two hours for the brand (M) as well as the hair.

Have you ever grown your hair long?

OS: Never. I used to have dreadlocks.

Do you believe Bishop can have his own story?

OS: You have to write that because I want to, and maybe it will give the producers an idea.

Will Bishop be part of the Apocalypse phase, which is also going to be a film?

OS: Yeah. He is. He is one of the X-Men in the future. As far as being in the film, I don’t know.

How has life been after "The Intouchables"?

OS: From the first time we met, when I did interviews for that film, I think I speak better English. There’s been a lot of change, but I living my dream.

Omar-SyYou have another film, "Good People" coming out? What’s your role there?

OS: I’m the bad guy for the first time in my life. It was really interesting and funny to play that role. That’s one of the changes I’ve had, to be able to play that sort of role.

Then there, "Jurassic World." Are you allowed to talk about your role in the film?

OS: All I can say is that I was on the set recently and it’s cool. It’s really good to work with the director Colin Trevorrow. He’s a good guy, a very talented guy. I met Chris Pratt and we did some scenes together. He’s a good actor and funny guy. I also had time to say hello to Bryce Dallas Howard. She’s nice too. It’s a new team and a new adventure. I’m happy.

With these two big franchise films, is there anything else you are looking to do?

OS: The universe will tell us.

When you are not filming, what keeps you grounded?

OS: I stay with my family. I try to be a good husband and good dad. That’s my real life.

What’s next for you?

OS: I have "Sambe" coming out in October in France. That was directed by Olivier Nakache and Eric Toledano, the guys who did "The Intouchables." I will also be shooting "Chocolat," the story of Rafael Padilla the first black celebrity in France who was known as Chocolate the black clown. I have other projects coming up as well.

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