RIP The Mack

Max Julien died on New Years’ Day. He was a theater actor for most of his life, but most of us know him for his sublime portrayal of “Goldie” in The Mack. As with Ron O’Neal’s “Priest” in Superfly, Julien made a real person out of someone who in the hands of a lesser actor would have been a pastiche or parody. It’s also worth noting that Julien’s input was critical to a rewritten script that moved The Mack from raw “blaxploitation” to an authentically moral film.

In Goldie’s honor, I’m republishing my December 10, 2011 TTAC story in which he plays a central part. A note to the reader: it’s been over a decade since the events recounted here occurred, and I hope we have all grown as human beings since then. I’ve removed a broken link and cleaned up a sentence or two for clarity. I’ve also added a paragraph at the end to catch the reader up on what’s happened to everyone in the story since then.

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The Uncanny Valley of “Counterpart”

Something’s wrong with this world. A pandemic has killed millions; society’s reaction has been to enforce the wearing of masks, discourage people from gathering in public, and make vaccination mandatory. The pandemic was obviously man-made, and we think it was developed by our enemies, but we’re also not sure if it was perhaps released accidentally. A shadowy department of the United Nations exercises authority and deadly force seemingly at will and without repercussions. The bosses are “scientists” who hide behind technology and speak only through blank-faced, menacing interpreters.

This is the plot of a television series that was, ahem, filmed in 2017.

(Some mild spoilers after the jump, although the series final resolution won’t be discussed.)

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Bark at the Theatre: Sleep No More review

Have you ever gone to see a play, perhaps a movie, or even visited an art museum, and walked out thinking, “What the hell was that?”

I had that feeling last Tuesday on the west side of New York City after experiencing the “immersive theatre experience” called Sleep No More, which has been selling out every night, non-stop, for eight years. It’s loosely based on Shakespeare’s Macbeth, with elements of some Hitchcock films like Rebecca and Vertigo. The whole performance is set in 1929, and it’s not a play in the strictest sense—there’s no dialogue, no seating, not even a stage.

Sleep No More takes place on six floors of a giant warehouse, and the actors are more accurately described as dancers. There’s very, very little information given to the patrons, who are simply handed a mask and told that “fortune favors the bold” before they’re dumped out into the warehouse, which is immaculately prepared. Within the structure, you’ll find a jazz club, a hotel, two apartments, a sanitarium, a forest, a graveyard, a city street with multiple shops, a ballroom, and much, much more, all of which are presented in a perfect, Hitchcock-style milieu.

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Wonder Woman Is Being Graded On A Curve, But I Don’t Mind So Much

As an occasional, reluctant reviewer of new cars, I can appreciate how perspective can be in somewhat short supply when it comes to the latest and greatest of, well, just about anything. The modern media news cycle demands, nay, requires all of us to be prisoners of the moment. Whatever we’ve just experienced is the best ever or the worst ever. I mean, in the year 2017, there are no shortage of people who want to compare LeBron James to Michael Jordan, which is a comparison so foolish it requires its own article to discuss. (But, just for giggles, you want to compare a guy who’s about to be 3-5 in the NBA finals against the GOAT? Mmmkay.)

This social condition alone would mean it’s not even slightly surprising that the recently released film, Wonder Woman, starring the indomitable Gal Gadot (most recently of the cinematic masterpiece, Fast and Furious 6) has received nothing short of a virtual standing ovation from every film critic with a laptop and an audience. But there’s something else at work here, a topic so completely toxic and verboten that one can’t even mention it without being shunned, and it’s this: it has become social and professional suicide to apply any element of criticism to a product/idea created by a woman or minority. Thus, Wonder Woman, a movie that not only stars a female character who is, to the frothing delight of critics everywhere, not a MOTHER or a WIFE or even a DAUGHTER but, in fact, a weapon created by a god (it was a male god, but we’ll allow this slight against femininity for now) but is directed by a woman, as well, is completely impervious to any sort of perceived criticism.

Well, I took the fam to see it yesterday, and I’m afraid that I have bad news for y’all: it’s just okay. Let the arrow slinging commence.

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At The Movies: “Whiplash”


“There are no two words in the English language more harmful than ‘good job’.”

Welcome to a brand-new feature here at Riverside Green — At The Movies — and to the movie that prompted me to add said feature. “Whiplash” doesn’t need my recommendation; it has received awards from all quarters. When the African-American Film Critics Association gives a white guy a Best Supporting Actor award, you can pretty much guess that there isn’t much, strictly speaking, to “criticize” about the film in question.

My purpose, therefore, isn’t to discuss “Whiplash” as much as it is to discuss the movie’s core principles and how they relate to my personal opinions regarding creativity and talent. For that reason, what follows shouldn’t be much more of a spoiler than the commonly-available preview.

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