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HBO’s "Native Son"

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  • Brayden Fitzsimmons
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    #1202785505

    HBO acquisition of the 2019 film adaptation of Richard Wright’s classic novel “Native Son”, from A24 at the most recent Sundance Film Festival, is Set to air on the service April 6, 2019.

    Director: Rashid Johnson
    Screenwriter: Suzi Lori-Parks
    Cast: Ashton Sanders; Margaret Qualley; Nick Robinson; KiKi Layne; Bill Camp; Sanaa Lathan
    Cinematography: Matthew Libatique
    Music: Kyle Dixon & Michael Stein

    First teaser trailer
    https://youtu.be/iUwPGxaVunQ

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    M: The Original
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    #1202785850

    So unfortunate they won’t even bother with a limited theatrical run first.

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    Atypical
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    The novel is incredible. If this film does that work ANY justice, then watch out for it at the Emmys this year.

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    Emmyfan
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    I will agree that the novel is great and I would love to see this movie do the novel justice. If so, then this will and should do well at the Emmys.

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    Brayden Fitzsimmons
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    Official Trailer just released

    https://youtu.be/ghfwH5jWTbc

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    moviefan617
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    Ashton Sanders and Margaret Qualley make a really good impression here. Qualley will have this and “Fosse/Verdon,” so maybe support will coalesce around one of those performances for an Emmy nomination? I’m currently predicting TV Movie and Actor. It looks very good and I hope Sanders has a breakout moment, he gave my favorite performance in “Moonlight.”

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    Riley
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    Metacritic: 64.  Rotten Tomatoes: “Native Son‘s struggles with its problematic source material are uneven but overall compelling, thanks largely to Ashton Sanders’ poised work in the central role.”

    Ashton Sanders is not getting in over the scores of veteran actors who are in contention and for better-reviewed projects to boot.  Native Son will be lucky even to get into Movie and I do not think that it will.

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    Atypical
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    Made for Television Film seems as weak as
    it was last year, so I think it can still make it in there. The reviews seem to highlight the flaws in the declawed adaptation, which is a bit surprising coming from a Pulitzer winner. Certainly audacious updating this to modern times. Those can go either way, like trying to “update” Shakespeare or Dickens to appease current audiences and either failing miserably at it or not rising to the greatness of the source material. So much of Wright’s power comes from the oppressive period setting. Just about all of the reviews point to how brilliant Ashton Sanders is here, who was the standout in “Moonlight” and should have been Oscar-nominated for his efforts. I’m predicting the same Emmy reception for this as “The Tale”: Sanders and Made for Television Film.

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    Riley
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    I know that you do not like back-and-forths, but I do not see that as a worthy comparison. The Tale was critically acclaimed with 90 on Metacritic and Laura Dern was an Oscar nominee with name recognition who had won an Emmy the year before. I also do not see this year’s movie field as weak as last year. HBO is normally a good bet to take as many of the non-Black Mirror/Sherlock slots as it can. It only made three submissions last year, but it has six contenders this year, so there are going to be snubs.

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    Atypical
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    Premieres on Saturday, April 6, 2019 @ 10 PM ET on HBO.

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    Atypical
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    Oh boy. Positives first. Ashton Sanders really is superb here, and I’d support an Emmy nomination for him. He’s one of the most exciting young acting talents we have right now. I knew that already when he gave the best performance in the best third of “Moonlight.” His acting choices are highly specific, and he nailed the necessary code-switching in a way I’ve never seen before. I didn’t recognize KiKi Layne here at first. Slight role, yet I found her more interesting and believable here than I did in “If Beale Street Could Talk.” The casting here is great: Bill Camp, Elizabeth Marvel, and Margaret Qualley were all spot-on as the Daltons. Sanaa Lathan had a brief yet warm role as Bigger’s mother. That’s about where it ends. The modern-day adaptation was really hit or miss. I expected far more from the screenplay of Pulitzer Prize winner Suzan-Lori Parks. The Wright purist in me was appalled at how much was changed. There’s an allegorical power that’s immediately robbed from changing the milieu from 1930s to present-day. It’s “topical” and all, yes, but not as resonant to me. The ending is also completely changed. The courtroom arc is entirely gutted. Sanders could have had some genuine Emmy-bait scenes there. There might have been supporting contenders as well if the screenplay didn’t devote so much time on exposition, lazy voiceover, and setting. I get why some of this happened with Rashid Johnson being a famed visual artist. This is where his interests lie, and some elements were indeed striking. I could also tell that this was his first full-length directing effort. I’m puzzled why HBO acquired this film with the little promotional effort given to support it. I’m iffy on predicting it in Made for Television Film, but whatever. I’ll stick with its two Emmy nominations to the end, regardless of my immense disappointment overall.

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    Brayden Fitzsimmons
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    Finally got around to Native Son and in a nutshell. Firstly let’s start with what I didn’t like. What a hot mess, after I total viewing I couldn’t help but wonder, why wasn’t this a miniseries? Each of the three story structure – Fear, Fate, Flight – could’ve easily had been a 1.5hr episode among themselves. Between the amount of exposition in the first 1.5 arcs and constant voiceovers, I felt that was all build to a fireworks display when in reality it was just a slight slizzle of a sparkler, causing entire third act (flight) to feel completely rushed, cumulating in an undeserved ending. You can tell that the director is shooting his first feature.

    Now, the bright spots. Ashton Sanders’ (whom I believe to one of the most talented and interesting younger actors working today) portrayal of Bigger was simply outstanding. One of my favourite things about his acting choices in this are there specific to the characters playing opposite. One of my biggest pet peeves is actors who don’t know how to react.

    During the first two story arcs, I loved the scenes where Big is code-switching between his friends and his work, CS in acting performances isn’t something but Sanders portrayal was just so so much more interesting to watch that most CS that I’ve never seen on-camera before. The other real stand out of his performance was I noticed during the death scenes and he could act with pupils causing them to dilate almost on-que, something I’ve ever only see Saoirse Ronan do on camera before.

    Regarding other some of the other cast, Layne’s performance was so believable that you actually feel like this is an actual person you know in your own life; the entire Dalton family was spot on casting; Qualley and Robinson had genuine and believable chemistry together and Lathan fee ever fleeting moments were just so heart-warming

    The absolute highlight though (for me) was the cinematography, oh god. I’ve said before that Matthew Libatique is one of the best working DP right now. The framing of every shot was immaculate; the colours radiated off of each other in a complimentary manner genuinely think that him and Rachel Morrison are the only working DP who actually know how to shoot black skin on film and make the performers look good.

    I’m puzzled why HBO acquired this film with the little promotional effort given to support it. I’m iffy on predicting it in Made for Television Film, but whatever. I’ll stick with its two Emmy nominations to the end, regardless of my immense disappointment overall.

    Finally, now Emmy talk, I’m slightly confused to why HBO acquired this at Sundance only to handle it with such minimal promotional effort for both the airings (I’ve seen more from promo from Layne & Robinson online fan accounts than I have them) and campaigning to support it.

    Because of that Ive fluctuating on predicting it in TV Film (keeping it because I got it at 100/1 odds). Which is a damn shame that will likely because it should be a slam dunk for three nominations (Actor, Casting & Cinematography). Depending on how Lead Actor plays out I’ll stick with its two Emmy nominations to the end, regardless of my immense disappointment overall about the others.

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