I was supposed to see my friend on Thursday. Then Friday. Then Saturday. When Sunday finally rolled around, and he said we'd see each other "for sure" that day, I got up, I got dressed, I called him again, and I left a message. "I'm going to see Idlewild at 1:25 pm at Magic Johnson theater, so if I don't hear from you before then, that's where I'm at, and when I'm done I'm going inside the mall to pop at dudes." (That last part was a joke.) I ended up at The Grove instead, but of course I was by myself at 1:25.
As soon as the movie started - after a really crazy preview for a movie called Black Snake Moan (go to the movies now just to see this preview) with Samuel L. Jackson, (fine ass) David Banner, and Christina Ricci - I was instantly transported into another world. The first shot of a vinyl record spinning on an old phonograph, focused on the grooves, tighter and tighter until the grooves become snapping, moving, dusty, old-school black & white film strip. The movie is inside a record, get it?
Idlewild is the best movie I've seen in years. It is the best "musical" film I've ever seen, bar none. Bryan Barber, the director, is without question the best "music video director" to ever cross over to the big screen. The costumes in this film are blow-your-mind (Delfonics) amazing. The casting brilliant - cameos from Macy Gray to Cicely Tyson to Miz Patti LaBelle - are perfect characterization. And, like most MCs who are really, really dope MCs, Big Boy is an excellent actor, his big personality seems made for the silver screen. Andre 3000 (or as we call him, Andre 9000) is obviously the musical catalyst for Idlewild, seeming to control the score, the soundtrack, the piano, the grooves, and the soundwaves themselves.
Yes, there are obvious similarities between Purple Rain and this film, or at least between Prince and 9000. A couple of don't-I-remember-that from Harlem Nights moments. But that's part of what makes this film great. You can tell someone from my generation made this movie, and don't kids today deserve to grow up on their own stars? The answer is that the mere existence of this film will steer young people down paths of greatness - screenwriters, music supervisors, costume designers, directors, dancers, musicians - which means that this next generation will have a few less rappers and a few more superstars.
Idlewild is so good, I saw it twice in one day. My friend finally materialized on the phone during the final act of the movie, he picked me up at the Grove, and after delicious Italian food (I had some Melanzane Rolatini stuffed with roasted red pepper, carmelized red onion, and goat cheese - but that's another story) we headed to the Avco in Westwood and I fell right back into the grooves of that record.
The moment I remember most was a musical scene, where Big Boi is rhyming about relationship issues slash babymama drama. He's suited and booted, the shake dance girls are decked out in feathers, sequins, and glam; and he delivers a line in his rhyme that reminds me I never want to do the dating-the-artist thing again in my life. "I'm married to the music, dedicated to the wax".