Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Paging a Director

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I just read one of those Entertainment Weekly "Can This Career Be Saved" pieces on the stars of the movie Awake. I didn't see Awake, the story of a wealthy man (Hayden Christensen) who wakes up during his surgery, but I was initially surprised to see Oscar nominee Terrence Howard listed alongside Christensen and Jessica Alba as needing some career advice.

I don't know what's going to happen to Christensen; Alba is charming enough to skate by, especially when she's opposite low-wattage guys like him or Dane Cook. Howard's nominated turn in Hustle & Flow heralded the arrival of the next great African-American leading man. What has happened? This year Howard has appeared in half a dozen movies, and in only one (Pride) did he play the lead. He has played the world's worst NYPD detective in The Brave One and barely registered in August Rush. His bizarre role as "Bah Humbug" in The Perfect Holiday, in which he and Queen Latifah literally sit around and watch a Christmas romance unfold, is almost too much to take. Who is this guy's agent? What happened to the actor who played the self-loathing ladies' man in The Best Man not to mention the racially insecure TV producer in Crash?

Howard is 38 according to IMDB, the age at which Denzel Washington starred in Malcolm X. So where is Howard's Spike Lee? Will Smith has got the blockbuster arena locked up and for the moment Jamie Foxx's Oscar has got directors fooled into thinking he has more range than I think his career reveals. Are you listening Spike? Mike Nichols, Jonathan Demme, Paul Thomas Anderson, anyone? The next great American actor is waiting for you....

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