Sunday, June 26, 2011

Auteur Watch - Allen and Albert Hughes

Oh, dude! You can't be caught dead with Brett Ratner! Street cred gone! Totally gone!!
But what did it take to get to this point? Well, there's the matter of film school. There's a lot to learn before taking the director's chair at 21! Some are just more ready than others, what can you say. And twin brothers Allen and Albert jumped right into the L.A. riot aftermath with arguably the first rap star movie Menace II Society. Is there a more surefire way to make Americ money than by scaring white people? Their sophomore slump effort was far more upscale, though, and it was called Dead Presidents. Can they take credit for laying the groundwork for All About The Benjamins? Probably not. Anyway, after Dead Presidents flopped with critics and the public, Larenz Tate decided to hitch his wagons elsewhere, and the Hughes dropped out for a while... a long while in filmmaking years. If you don't make a film every 2 years, you become Jim Jarmusch. But they didn't want to be Terrence Malick either, so to capitalize on the whole 1999-2000 craze they did all they could and came out with a documentary called American Pimp. Nothing wrong with being at play in the fields of African American iconography. And they've got enough to cobble together a trilogy! I guess...
Clearly the 90s were the decade of choice for the Hughes. International stardom gained, international stardom subsequently lost, temper tantrums on the set, big budgets, big egos... but the 2000s might prove to be just as good!
Nah... And like most Americans, it was time to look elsewhere for spiritual comfort. George W. Bush looked to Iraq, since he wasn't getting domestic warm fuzzies, and the Hughes brothers finally learned that there's only one thing better than being the token black guy, and that's being the token British guy. From Hell was bourne. Clearly intended as an early swipe at George W. Bush, this is the first project that graphic novelist extraordinaire Alan Moore would have to remove his name from. Will anyone EVER in the history of mankind get it right? Watchmen would come close, but still no Alan Moore cigar. And after that experience went south for the Hugheses, it was time for valuable lesson #2: directing a film is a chump's game. Producing is where it's at. Touching Evil was bourne. Discovering Vera Farmiga: priceless. She's this century's Patricia Clarkson. Can a season in Fosse's Chicago be far behind for Vera? It's a rite of passage for Hollywood women passing into MILF-hood, apparently.
Still, will the 2010s prove to be the bestest decade of them all? Maybe, but I guess Obama in the White House is turning into a mixed blessing for African American directors. Is Spike Lee not jumping for joy? I guess he's not. Besides, the Hugheses stole Denzel away from him for The Book of Eli. Valuable lesson #3: NEVER work with Joel Silver. So much to learn, so little room for error in Hollywood...

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