Archives for posts with tag: Denzel Washington

Denzel Washington offers a powerful performance as a proud, intelligent black man convicted of a crime he didn’t commit in “The Hurricane” (1999). Of course, it’s not surprising, since Washington has been nailing variations of the proud, intelligent black man since “A Soldier’s Story.” It would be fair to say Washington has become something like Gary Cooper, James Stewart or John Wayne in that the characters and the man have merged to form a single icon. Sometimes it can imprison an actor. Washington’s challenge, and ours, is to keep finding fresh nuance, as he did with his boxing champ here.

When I remember “Remember the Titans” (2000), I remember it as being a lot better than it actually is. I gloss over the “based on a true story” bending of actual events into outright falsehoods, the Disneyfied melodrama, the insertion of musical scenes to help the Original Motion Picture Soundtrack sell better, and the general sports movie, big-game, big-speech schmaltziness. Yet the story of a Virginia high school overcoming an integration controversy to win a state football championship with a black head coach is still interesting enough to overcome the Hollywood treatment. Plus, it’s just fun watching Denzel be Denzel.

Even after all these years, “He Got Game” (1998) might still do the best job of any movie when it comes to depicting the pressures and temptations of being a great athlete in the ghetto. It also has all the Spike Lee hallmarks: intelligent music choices, inventive editing and cinematography, and a strange mix of professional and amateur actors. The latter hurts the movie’s flow, because, frankly, some of the performances are awful. Ray Allen does OK as a high school basketball phenom. Among the pros, Denzel Washington is his usual amazing self and Jim Brown makes a welcome comeback.