Thursday, April 18, 2002

Saw the movie Changing Lanes with Ben Affleck and Samuel L. Jackson. I thought this was a pretty decent flick. The ending was tidy (in typical Hollywood fashion), but it was well filmed and well acted. The pacing was appropriate and also the actions and reasons for the actions by the main characters made sense.

I think what stood out was the acting job by Samuel L. Jackson. Oftentimes, Hollywood typecasts black actors to play black roles. However, in this case it was a role that happened to be played by a black man. This is a rarity. Black actors typically end up in urban dramas or comedies, often set in South Central LA. Or they play the wisecracking sidekick in buddy cop movies (Chris Tucker, Martin Lawrence i.e). Spike Lee skewers this ignoble trend in his movie Bamboozled.

This ghettoization of movie roles hopefully will end when Hollywood stops typecasting and starts writing better roles for black actors. Consider the strong performances by Morgan Freeman in many of his pictures, where he often plays a sage Everyman type. His character "Red" in The Shawshank Redemption stands out in this regard. Hopefully, the performance by Samuel L. Jackson in Changing Lanes will expand the choice of roles available for black actors in Hollywood.


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