Hip hop don’t i stop
In Black And White, writer-director
§ JAMES TOBACK has assembled a cast of
cultural icons: Mike Tyson, Claudia Schiffer and Power of the Wu-Tang
. Clan. Words: Tom Dawson
The trick according to James Toback: ‘Get people
ever occurred to Mike
terrain. He is capable of
a by anything that happens
who relish surprises as opposed to actors who dread surprises. Particularly as they get more and more rich and famous, actors have a vested interest in being perceived in a certain way, and they have less and less to gain by doing something new. I don’t think it has
[Tyson] to protect any
saying or doing anything. I would never be surprised
to him. It’s the same with Robert Downey Jr — he’s always at his best when there’s a gravity-less leap to takef
In Black And White a semi-improvised examination of the fascination American youth has with hip-hop. occurs at a party when Downey’s character Terry starts coming on to Tyson. only to be rebuffed by a slap and a choke. ‘Tyson had no idea that Downey was going to hit on him,’ insists Toback. ‘I just told him that Downey was going to approach him. Naturally Downey asked me. “What if he kills me?" I said that there’s not more than a ten per cent chance that will happen. And anyway, can you think of a better way to go? By this point Downey was in hysterics. I said that it would make Black And White the movie that everybody will want to see for the rest of recorded history if you are killed on camera by Tyson.’
28 THE “31' 16—30 Nov 2000
. .a ‘Tyson had no idea that Downey was going to hit on him. Naturally Downey asked
Toback has assembled a cast of icons for Black And White
The scene doesn’t end with this rebuttal though. for a dreadlocked Brooke Shields. playing Terry‘s documentarist husband. starts to talk to the pugilist in a seductive manner. “Brooke surprised me with her eagerness to do something that was a complete violation of the way she had always worked.‘ says the director. ‘She was shooting with her minicam and I thought she was going to help Downey. But she took advantage of this moment and started hitting on Mike. What was fascinating was how intimidated Mike was by her — she’s taller than him. and because she sort ofjumps at him in this devouring way. he starts to back off.’
Black And White isn’t the first time that Toback. a self-confessed compulsive gambler. has immersed himself in African-American culture. Back in the 19705. while writing a book on the US football star Jim Brown. he lived with the athlete in a Hollywood Hills mansion notorious for its orgiastic parties. For the new film it was the connections he forged with Power of the Wu-Tang Clan which enabled him to penetrate the hip hop milieu. ‘I knew he was the guy to play the lead and I
u a . u Instant me, What if he kills me? rapport.’ explains J T b k Toback. ‘The
ames 0 ac friendship I
developed with the other guys. particularly Raekwon. grew out of my friendship with him. If I hadn‘t met Power I wouldn’t have had an overall sense of that world.’
Toback has already completed another film. Harvard Man. based on his own wild undergraduate experiences. There’s still the matter of the four-hour cut of Black And White. which he jokingly describes as ‘Wagnerian‘. ‘I had to cut a lot of interesting things out to make the movie move.’ he says. ‘I enjoyed the four-hour version. although there’s a point at which you have to accept you're the only person who will see this.‘
Nah, we’ll get the DVD director’s cut.
Black And White is on general release from Fri 17 Nov. See review.
Lights, camera, action . . .
THE REGUS LONDON FILM FESTIVAL finished today, so if you haven’t been getting soaked down south for the past fortnight you’ve missed some great cinema. However, from 25—30 November the Glasgow Film Theatre brings you highlights of the RLFF kicking off with Bo/Iywood Calling (appropriate considering Glasgow plays host to Bollywood filmmaking), starring the great Om Puri (East Is East) this is writer-director Nagesh Kukunoor's light-hearted look at East and West filmmaking via the experiences of a New Jersey actor who attempts to rekindle his ailing career in India. Bhaji On The Beach director Gurinder Chadha also clashes cultures in What's Cooking?, a comedy of manners in which four families - African American, WASP, Asian and Jewish - share Thanksgiving in Los Angeles. Elsewhere in LA, a West Hollywood gay crowd provides a snapshot of the times in debuting director Greg Berlanti's The Broken Hearts Club, a film that’s been compared to The Big Chill and Diner. Alice Neillis's charming Eeny Meeny also provides a view of day-to-day life, here in a Czech Republic small town on election day. Saving the best for last, Christopher Guest (Spinal Tap's Nigel Tufnel - ‘This one goes up to eleven') directs and stars in Best In Show, a hilarious mockumentary about an oddball group of dog lovers. Undoubtedly the highlight of the RLFF, though, is Ang Lee's (Sense And Sensibility, The Ice Storm) reinvention of the kung fu movie, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, which mixes Jane Austen with Bruce Lee to beautiful and breathtaking effect. London is calling.
THE DUNDEE MOUNTAIN FILM FESTIVAL scales heights London c0u|d never reach With a programme of mountain adventure films (many of which come we the Banff, Canada Festival), presentations by Ieading mountaineers, workshops and exhibitions of mountain photography and literature. The event runs 24—25 November at Bonar Hall, Dundee University. For further information phone 01382 345466.
TINKLING THE IVORIES at the Falkirk Town Hall Cinema on 22 November will be distinguished pianist Forrester Pyke, providing fine accompaniment to two Buster Keaton classics, Sherlock Jr. and The Navigator. The way Keaton was meant to be experienced.
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon