Eddie Murphy comes back to the big screen with Netflix’ Dolemite Is My Name. This is a biopic, comedy about real life comedian Rudy Ray Moore. Moore was an aging and somewhat out of shape LA based comic. In the beginning he is an emcee for a nightclub. He feels as though he has missed opportunities which could make him a “star” including singing. He has plenty of ideas, and wants to make an impact. He comes upon a rather racy street person who talked with plenty of profanity who called himself Dolemite. He sees a new opportunity to create another alter-ego, in the form of Dolemite. He records the jokes and stories of the street person and then makes them his own. He doesn’t lack in confidence. He tries some material at the club, and it’s popular with the patrons. Moore seems to understand what his patrons want to hear, and what they think is funny. After some success with a self-financed comedy album, he decides he needs to be in movies, and in all the urban theatres in cities throughout the country. The story continues from there as he looks for financing, location, director and all the technical people on how to make and create a film. Other aspects like distribution also provide a challenge. The real surprise for me in the film is the work by Wesley Snipes, who last I heard was doing time for tax evasion. He is good as a more known main stream actor who gets offered the opportunity to direct. In truth, the resulting movie is more Plan 9 From Outer Space (or any Ed Wood feature), but you can see what the results are. I knew nothing of the character or that movie and this was an education. Murphy was very good and had some real fire playing this outrageous man. Worth checking out and a couple good performances.
For those who are interested, I have once again set up the Oscar pool, only for fun. No money involved, just bragging rights. Feel free to give it a go and add some fun for the viewing next Sunday night.
This week I also re-watched the classic Martin Scorsese film Taxi Driver. This 1976 film shows in many ways how far Scorses and his group of actors has come. This is his 12th feature film. It was before Raging Bull and King of Comedy, but after Mean Streets and Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore. It stars a young Robert DeNiro, Jodie Foster, Cybill Shepard, Albert Brooks and Harvey Kietel. It was nominated for four Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Actor in DeNiro, Best Supporting ACtress for Foster and Best Score. It didn’t win any. But the test of time shows the impact that this movie has even now – just say “You talkin’ to me?” to virtually anyone, they will know the source of it. The story is of a loner taxi driver in 1970s New York City. You see Times Square here, and note how different it was then to now. It was far more seedy. And DeNiro plays Travis Bickle an ex-Marine who can’t sleep and decides to make money doing long shifts in NYC. He comes across various people, but he is awkward and not well versed in human interaction. He becomes frustrated and angry and wants to channel it. He looks to help some people and find a way to vent. I hadn’t remembered the ultimate resolution, it wasn’t what I had expected. I thought it was interesting that Scorsese himself plays more than just a bit part. First he is sitting on a stoop in front of a building, then later is a taxi patron tracking down a cheating spouse. This is a classic film and shows NYC as it was. Raw, filled with characters on the fringes, lost people and people on the underside of the city.
There it is. Enjoy!