I ditched the widget shop yesterday and took the wife to see American Gangster. As I expected, it was everything I thought it would be.
However, one comment I have heard from amateur movie critics is that there was too much Russell Crowe and not enough Denzel Washington.
Yeah, I can see that. But that is an effort to broaden the scope of the movie.
If the movie focuses on the Rise of Frank Lucas, it becomes Hoodlum.
The balance was very similar to that of The Departed, which was a movie that strived to strike a balance between adding depth to the villain without glorifying his existence.
To truly tell the story of Frank Lucas, there has to be some plea copping and rationalizing, because those things must exist in order to explain how it is that a man who wreaked so much destruction can also be beloved.
When the story of a Frank Lucas falls into the hands of a Steven Zaillian, Ridley Scott, and Brian Grazer with an eye towards a 100+ Million Dollar box office, then you have to understand that the perspective is everything.
This, is why WHO is telling the story is often more important than WHAT story is being told.
One of the really difficult things about being Black is how conflicted we can be when it comes to our “heroes” and our role models.
It is plain that Frank Lucas is portrayed as a hero on some levels. As difficult as that is to digest, it is a fact and cannot be ignored.
What will probably ensue will be the inevitable backlash from those who will insist that Frank Lucas represents the “wrong” kind of hero for Black people. And they will be right.
There will be those who herald Lucas for being a gentleman gangster. And they will be right as well.
I don’t have a problem with stories like that. The problem is the lack of more virtuous stories. THAT is what I am looking forward to. Not fewer Frank Lucases, but more Dorie Millers and Benjamin Carsons.
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