For his directorial debut, RashidJohnson has shot an update of Richard Wright’s controversial 1940 novel about Bigger Thomas’ seemingly irrevocable slide into the void. The screenplay by Suzan Lori-Parks changes some of the novel’s key plot points—”It’s not the book,” Elvis Mitchell told a recent FilmIndependent audience at the Arclight screening in Hollywood—but the expendability of black lives in this new NATIVE SON is, tragically, still contemporary.
“One of the criticisms of the book—and one I share—is the character’s lack of agency. Wright wrote them as archetypes.” — Rashid Johnson, at the FilmIndependent screening of NATIVE SON
As Bigger, Ashton Sanders (Moonlight) gives a performance of cool hesitation that recalls the voice and armature of James Dean and a young Keanu Reeves. For a scene at the home of Bigger’s rich, art-collecting employer, Johnson—in an audacious move—places his own 2015 painting Untitled (Anxious Man) directly behind Sanders as an angel/devil-over-my-shoulder figure.
NATIVE SON—which premieres tonight on HBO—co-stars KiKi Layne (If Beale Street Could Talk), Bill Camp, Sanaa Lathan, Margaret Qualley, Nick Robinson, Elizabeth Marvel, and David Alan Grier.
Film stills, from top: Ashton Sanders in Native Son (2019); Sanders and KiKi Layne; Sanders; Sanders and Nick Robinson (right); Sanders. Photographs by Matthew Libatique, images courtesy Sundance Institute and HBO.
Film Independent photos, from top: KiKi Layne and Rashid Johnson; Elvis Mitchell, Johnson, and Layne. Film Independent Presents HBO Screening Series—Native Son, March 20, 2019, Arclight Hollywood, photographs by Araya Diaz/Getty Images.
The early film and television work of Mike Leigh extended so-called “kitchen sink realism” into the Thatcher era, and no one examined the decimation of Britain’s working class in the 1980s with the rigor and humor of Leigh in Meantime, High Hopes, and Life is Sweet.
Leigh reached an artistic apotheosis of sorts in 1993 with Naked, and an breakthrough in the United States with his follow-up Secrets & Lies (1996).
From top: Tim Roth in Meantime (1983); Marianne Jean-Baptiste and Timothy Spall in Secrets & Lies (1996); David Thewlis in Naked (1993); Ruth Sheen and Phil Davis in HighHopes (1988); Jane Horrocks in Life is Sweet(1990).
Join director Radim Špaček for the U.S. premiere of GOLDENSTING, which follows the young members of a Czechoslovakian basketball team navigating Hitler’s rise, postwar liberation, and the Czech coup d’état of 1948, when the Communist Party took control of the country.
The film stars Filip Březina and ZdeněkPiškula, and opens the UCLA Film and TelevisionArchive series Czech That Film.
In anticipation of the upcoming limited series FOSSE/VERDON—the story of the personal and professional collaboration between director-choreographer Bob Fosse (1927–1987) and dancer-actor Gwen Verdon (1925–2000)—LACMA presents a screening of Fosse’s extraordinary “semi-autobiographical” film ALLTHATJAZZ (1979), featuring a tour de force performance by the late Roy Scheider.
Three nights later, the museum hosts a big-screen presentation of “Life is a Cabaret,” chapter one of FOSSE/VERDON, which stars Sam Rockwell as Fosse and MichelleWilliams as Verdon. The series will air on FX from April 9.
Fosse was one of the most influential figures in twentieth-century dance, and the footprints—and indelible attitude—of his choreography in Cabaret, Chicago, DamnYankees, ThePajamaGame, and SweetCharity are still apparent in works being created today.
From top: Michelle Williams as Gwen Verdon and Sam Rockwell as Bob Fosse in Fosse/Verdon(2019); Roy Scheider in All That Jazz; Fosse backstage at New York’s CityCenter during the 1963 production of PalJoey; Tab Hunter and Verdon in DamnYankees (1958), courtesy New York Libraryfor thePerformingArts; LizaMinnelli and Fosse on set, Cabaret (1972); Rockwell and Williams in Fosse/Verdon.