I don’t know about you, but my favorite actor is Denzel Washington. I know, you thought my favorite actor was Chuck Norris. He’s my second favorite. (No offense, Carlos.)
That doesn’t mean Denzel only makes great movies, but his track record is good, and he makes every movie better through his performance.
He’s also very popular and shows up on most people’s Top 5 list if they are older than, say, 18.
Well, he’s got a new movie coming out next month, and the trailer for it looks darn interesting. If you haven’t heard about “Roman J. Israel, Esq.,” I invite you to watch it here.
And if Sony Pictures, the producers or publicists of the film are reading this column, I beg you to send me a screener – tout suite.
Unfortunately for me, I will be out of the country when it opens Nov. 3 – and I can’t wait.
For starters, I love Denzel because he seems to have a solid Christian worldview and good character. He’s extremely gifted as an actor even with a mediocre script.
I’m also intrigued by what filmmaker Dan Gilroy had to say about his character, Roman J. Israel, Esq., and why he sought Washington to star in the movie: “Roman is defined by his belief in something greater than himself. He’s a man of faith. He has this common, universal humanity to him that he believes. Denzel, if you research Denzel, he’s literally a man of faith. So it was never going to be hard for the audience to buy into the idea that the actor playing the part believes in the things Roman is doing. I think one of the reasons why Denzel dissolves into the character is because they’re so close to each other in so many ways. Denzel embodies the idea of a man living his life on terms that are based on a cause – going toward something. That’s why I really wrote it for him.”
Lastly, I’m intrigued by the trailer. It seems the main character is a lifelong so-called “progressive” activist living in a time in which he has become something of an anachronism by the ever-evolving standards of the political left.
Here’s a guy who seemingly fought racial bigotry and injustice all his life, but now he’s accused of being “gendered,” “sexist” and “patronizing,” while he’s just being polite. I love that.
We don’t have that much dialogue in this trailer, but I love this line from an attorney who has been fighting for civil rights all this life: “I’m tired of doing the impossible for the ungrateful.”
And, while even the critics can’t help but love Denzel Washington, they’re universally panning this picture already. Just take a look at Rotten Tomatoes, which, by the way, has next-to-no influence on box-office performance.
- “It’s just too bad that Gilroy gives the actor so little to do. The movie drifts along through episodic developments in Roman’s life, suggesting it may have found a better home as a television series; the narrative simply can’t keep pace with its star.”
- “The setup is akin to any time travel movie, where a relic confronts modern times. Here, the Civil Rights movement meets Black Lives Matter in an SJW movie that wears its wokeness on Washington’s ill-fitting sleeve.”
And then there’s my favorite, from Richard Lawson at Vanity Fair.
“Progressive activism is hard,” he writes. “It requires going up against vast, imposing systems with only glimmers of possible victory in sight – and it also seems to require a certain purity of principle. One should, ideally, always live according to the moral and ethical code one is fighting to instill. But humans are flawed. We have contradictory wants and needs. Compromise seeps in – and what was once an obvious larger answer becomes blurrier the more the vagaries and nuances of life come into focus. This is tricky subject matter to address in a scripted film – let alone one released by a big studio, which presumably wants to appeal to a larger audience beyond die-hards committed to a cause.”
Bottom line, he doesn’t get the film. But what’s this about “progressive activism” being “hard”? It’s the easiest, laziest, most intellectually dishonest and gutless choice anyone can make. So, bottom line, movie critics, who are universally leftist, either hate it or don’t understand it.
I could be wrong about this film. After all, I haven’t seen it. But I know I am not wrong about Denzel. Exhibit A: “The Book of Eli.”
I can’t wait. Can someone send me the screener, please – in a hurry?