Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is quickly becoming a prolific reviewer of all sorts of things.
Earlier this month he critiqued HBO's "Girls" series for including black character to the story line that felt like some "jungle fever lover." Abdul-Jabbar said the show could've skipped that story line and just gotten a black dildo because it would "have sufficed and cost less."
Last Tuesday he published a review of the film "Django Unchained" in Esquire Magazine. Then Wednesday night he visited Conan O'Brien's show to review a few other works, including "Silver Linings Playbook," Leonardo da Vinci's "Mona Lisa," whole grain fig newtons and last but not least Rihanna's latest album.
First, we'll start with the review of "Django Unchained."
"Basically, Django Unchained is a B movie. A damn fine B movie, but still a B movie. That's not an insult. I've been in B movies, many of my favorite films are B movies, and B movies tend to make a lot more money than A movies," wrote Abdul-Jabbar in his review.
First, let's get this straight: I liked Django Unchained and have been recommending it to everyone. It's gritty and lively and filled with entertaining scenes. It zigs when you think it will zag, and, as with all Quentin Tarantino movies, it has flashes of brilliance. The character of Stephen (Samuel L. Jackson), the malevolent house slave who is the real brains behind the plantation, is an inspired creation. His smug compulsion to destroy the innocence and humanity that he has lost but sees in others echoes the best of villains from Harry Lime in The Third Man to John Claggart in Billy Budd. (And Samuel L. Jackson as Stephen? He's no Fifth-Floor Guardian, but he deserves an Oscar. As do Jamie Fox, Christoph Waltz, and Kerry Washington.)
But should Django have been nominated by the Academy for Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay Oscars? No. Not unless the Academy starts new categories such as Most Entertaining Movie or Best Kick-Ass Movie or Movie I Most Wish I Was In. Until then, the Academy members have a responsibility to promote films that demonstrate the highest quality on both a technical and literary level.
According to AMPAS's website, their 6,000 members "reward the previous year's greatest cinema achievements." But most people see the awards as an effort at blatant self-promotion in order to shake a few more bucks out of the public's wary pockets (especially since the suspicious 2009 decision to increase from five to ten possible nominations for Best Motion Picture). Nothing wrong with commerce being part of the motive. It just shouldn't be the main motive.