russell crowe jeffrey wright mark wahlberg (broken city)

Russell Crowe, Jeffrey Wright & Mark Wahlberg ( in ‘Broken City’)

*As the best film to open this year, “Broken City” sets the bar very high for the multitude of movies to follow in 2013.

The movie co-stars the amazingly talented Jeffrey Wright, is directed by the acclaimed Allen Hughes and is written by the gifted black writer Brian Tucker.

This New York “Broken City” is plagued by graft, cronyism, corruption, and gentrification for the purpose of huge real estate deals. With so many prevalent points, The Film Strip asked its stars Wright and Mark Wahlberg (also a producer) and Hughes if they were concerned that some might consider the film to be a statement or message movie. “Personally, I never have a message,” Hughes says.

“For me, sometimes a statement going in is not the statement I come out with. I was really interested in the different definitions of justice,” Hughes continued. “There’s the legal definition and then there’s the street definition and that was interesting to me. So we’re dealing in a gray zone now. It’s not black and white and that’s what’s so rich about these gentlemen’s characters and a lot of the other characters. It’s never black and white. So I don’t know if it’s so much a statement as far as the world is not black and white and we have to be real clear about how gray it is.”

“It’s not so much a message but it’s a good statement movie and it encourages people to engage in conversations and debates about what’s going on,” Wahlberg weighed in. “I mean there’s a lot of craziness going on out there in the world today.” Wright was a bit more introspective. “I don’t see it necessarily as a statement movie but what I like about it is that it’s kind of a throwback to not only the Bogard films and but the films of the 70s, like ‘Serpico’ and ‘Network,’ that genre of filmmaking that was gritty, urban and relevant and political. Even though you were leaving the outside world and entering the theater, it didn’t mean you were totally cutting yourself off from the world around you. We as storytellers were telling a story that has relevance, that’s connected to reality. But it goes back to Shakespeare; look at Julius Caesar, which is a story about power, corruption and betrayal set in a political landscape. This is just rich fertile ground for storytelling. So probably, these types of stories will always have relevance and always seem like that they are message movies because I think they connect to something that’s central to human nature—power, survival, corruption, frailty, fault, and hopefully some virtue as well.”

Allen Hughes

Allen Hughes

Can you talk a little about the writer?

 Allen Hughes:  He is now 29. I read his script when he was 24, I believe. My agent sent it to me. I read it and I was like, ‘wow, this is really good. This is a great story with very complex characters, a lot of twists and turns.’ I couldn’t wait to meet him and the movie that we have, he wrote that movie. When I first read the script, I thought it was a 58-year-old white man who wrote it and it was actually a 24-year-old young black kid out of Julliard.

 Jeffrey Wright: I actually spoke to Bryant not too long ago about what his intentions were behind the film. He’s really very insightful when talking about these ideas of corruption inside a time of economic uncertainty and the ways in which power and politics take advantage of that. One of the things that excites me about this project is that it’s very rare that I’m involved in a story in a film that’s directed by someone of color, written by someone of color and I think in many ways my character which is somewhat subversive in some ways doesn’t exist in that way relative to what a audience’s expectations might be of him.  It’s really, really exciting for me to have been a part of this.

 Mark, you and Puffy were hanging out at the Golden Globe Awards. Is there a music release coming down the hatch?

Wahlberg: No music in my future. We do have a bunch of other things that we are working on because Puffy is actively pursuing an acting career, in both film and television. We also have some other business interests together. We’ve been friends for a long time. We started out around the same time. Gosh, I met him when he was at Uptown Records. So we’ve known each other forever. But no, you won’t see me doing a record anytime soon.

‘LUV’ takes on timely tragedies also

     One can’t help but love the cast of LUV that stars Common, Michael Rainey Jr., Dennis Haysbert, Danny Glover, Charles S. Dutton, and Meagan Good. But the subject matter of black on black crime, a young boy introduced to drug dealing and murder certainly doesn’t set hearts on fire. Quentin Tarrantino said recently that there are hundreds of stories to be told and he proved it when he used slavery as a backdrop to showcase Jamie Foxx’s entree into cinema as a black hero. Suffice to say, The Film Strip asked Common, Haysbert and Dutton why they were attracted to LUV.

“Well, I think that’s a dynamic that a lot of people unfortunately are used to seeing black people in,” Common commented. “We were just having a conversation about being institutionalized and we’re more used to these sorts of things. When you take the people out of the things they’re used to, they sometimes don’t draw to it. They step away from it. We are used to seeing African Americans, black people in street environments and that’s why those feelings connect with people and at the same time the black audiences relate to these people.

Adding to the subject of similar scenarios on screen, Common continued:

“So it’s like seeing certain aspects of you on screen. My thing is if you tell a story that is taking place in an inner city, then you need to offer a new story with new solutions and new dialogue being brought up because this is a story about the psychosis going on between black people. But it’s a human story because this is what takes place when you have the character Fish pass on his life story to the character Vincent who passes it to Woody and Woody might pass it to the next person. It’s just part of a cycle that goes on and were so used to the cycle. My thing is, it has to be told in different ways like the way ‘Luv’ has told it.

“What attracted me to the film,” Dutton says, “is that number one it’s a good film. It’s not fluff; it’s not standup comedy stuff. It’s a really good, moving film with great filmmaking. To me, the film was also about a kid trying to reconnect his family. But that aside, any kid that can get in a car and drive that far looking for his mom or walk or run to try to reconnect with his lineage ancestrally, that’s just humanity spilling all over the place and that’s what the film is about.”

Haysbert thinks many people in the black community can relate to “Luv” because they are familiar with those people. Also, the script came to him at a pivotal time in his life.

“I was at a crossroad in my career and this came up and it was the last thing this particular agent brought to me before I fired her and subsequently fired my manager, pubicist, and attorney,” he admitted. “I fire everybody and don’t want to go into why but you can imagine. They were trying to shut down my career and I said I’m not having this. So actually this role kind of saved me and I got to funnel that anger, and that bent up heat because I saw everyone I fired in that role. Also, I wanted to do something different.”

Guillermo Del Toro and Nicolaj Coster-Waldau ‘Mama’ effects

     Nicolaj Coster-Waldau, who plays twin brothers in ‘Mama’, says Mama is a guy. “The director used as little CGI as possible. So actually Mama is this guy, Javier Botet, who for four or five hours everyday is getting made up. Of course you have to imagine because everything else is screen around you and with ‘Game of Thrones,’ we have a lot of green screen but most of it is just your add-on to the world.

Fright master Guillermo Del Toro says “horror works just like humor” and he has successfully been putting out his own successful brand for years. “It’s a matter of taste, so its hard to say what I would or would not do because the horror film should have no limits,” he explains. “I do not look down on movies that have graphic violence or gore. I don’t do them, I don’t make movies like that but that doesn’t mean they should not exist. In humor and horror, you can’t go too far.”

‘A Haunted House’ is for fans says Marlon Wayans

Obviously, Marlon Wayans was of the same mindset as Del Toro when he did “A Haunted House.” His film was the topic du jour at the ‘Mama’ junket in New g a few weeks ago. One journalist said he ‘sh*t on his living room rug’ and I said I couldn’t believe anyone would purposely defecate on his floor. Well, a screening was held the day before “A Haunted House” opened to avoid reviews and the journalist was right. Following the movie there was a Q&A and Wayans took questions from the audience. Before answering any questions, Wayans said he did not make movies for critics and the enthusiastic crowd cheered him on.

“I didn’t’ do this film for critics,” he announced. “I never do. They always don’t know what’s funny. I did this sh*t for you all. There hasn’t been a really funny R-rated movie in a long time. I see this ‘Scary Movie’ bullsh*t they’re about to put out. They don’t understand you can make chicken but we got the flavor so I’m not trippin’. I look at ‘Scary Movie 5’ with Charlie Sheen and Lindsay Lohan and that looks like an episode of f*ckin Celerity Rehab.”

A man in the audience asked why he made that type of movie?

“Cause Hollywood isn’t making a lot of movies right now, and when they stop making movies the people that really feel it are black actors unless you’re a superhero and they ain’t gonna have no black superheroes because our d*ck is way too big to be in those pants and they wouldn’t even be able to fly,” he told him. “`Look, he can’t fly, his dick is dragging on the ground.’ So I decided out of necessity, like anything else, I’ve ever done. My brother told me if I’m going to be in this industry, you can’t just be a black actor, you gotta be a force of nature. So as kids we learned how to write. Me and Sean wrote ‘Don’t Be a Menace’ at 19 and 20 years old, and created our television show at 21. So you gotta write, direct, produce and do all that sh*t.”

Syndicated columnist Marie Moore reports on film and TV from her New York City base. Contact her at [email protected]