Urban haps of a grrrl on a mission to be a better writer, a new music master-blaster and a wonderfully brilliant razor-packing, MAC LipGlass wearing feminista...

Monday, April 17, 2006

Lucy Liu in Slevin

Every time I hear the name Lucy Liu, which isn't too often, I think of Charlie's Angels and the empty, way too forgettable role she had as Alex. When folks say three is a crowd it couldn't have been more true than it was for Liu who was a last minute Angel pick. After offering the role to Lauryn Hill, Thandie New ton and to Jada Pinkett Smith the producers realized they weren't going to get their Black angel and finally decided to settle on the next best thing-- an Asian hottie. I liked her a lot though on Ally McBeal and thought her tough, bitchy, smart girl portrayal added a nice contrast to Ally's quirkiness. Her 5-minute stint in Kill Bill was cute for a minute and a long yawn for the remaining 4. So needless to say I was oddly curious about her role in Lucky Number Slevin mainly because I knew Lucy was putting away her swords and giving us drama this time around. On Saturday night, after having the best roasted asparagus in my life at this new Japanese spot called Chanto (it's where the old Moomba used to be), my friend and I decided to check out Slevin. He asked what it was about, but all I could think to say was it's like Pulp Fiction with Morgan Freeman instead of Samuel Jackson and Lucy Liu in place of Uma. And I must say,where the film kinda fizzled, lil Lucy's chemistry with Josh Hartnett kept it popping. She was so likable and I thought she gave a top-notch performance. As a matter of fact so did Michael Atkinson at The Voice:
There isn't much reason why the entire film couldn't have occupied itself with Hartnett and Liu dishing, tossing bon mots, making bedroom eyes in a cheap apartment kitchen, and just being as bubbly together as a truckload of canned champagne (the noir-banter screenplay by Jason Smilovic seems like it could sustain their pas de deux indefinitely). Even a distended discussion of Bond movies can be forgiven amid the barely repressed giggles.
She played a coroner who happened to fall in love with Slevin and who just happened to be Asian. Clearly this role could have gone to someone who looked more like Slevin or Uma, and so in many respects this was a coop for Liu. I found this quote from her that gives some context to how she handles being a Chinese actress:
I'm so proud of my heritage, but yes, I think there's always a danger when people put you on a pedestal. Especially when you're just trying to live your life and pursue your dreams. The intention is not to represent Asian Americans, but to be an Asian American who is working as an actress. People often confuse the two. When you are "representing", you have the burden of some people projecting their hopes onto you. This can eventually lead to a certain amount of disappointment. I strive to not deny myself experiences that open up to me. I hope to live without looking back in regret. If people want to join me on the ride, then I'm happy to have them along.
I guess this is good food for thought considering how tough it is in La La Land for grrrls of color. We see our Black starlets being marginalized if not simply vanishing from the cinematic bowels of mankind known to us common folk as Hollywood. And just as it is for African-American and Latina women, there can only be one Asian IT girl. First it was Michelle Yeah who rocked the scene in Tomorrow Never Dies. Then theHotness was Zhang Ziyi who jumped over trees and kicked mad booty in Crouching Tiger leaving everyone Stateside shook. And even though Sandra Oh captured the crown and our hearts a couple years back after her really slamming performance in Sideways and now in Grey’s Anatomy, Zhang is still that Grrrl with roles in Rush Hour 2, House of Daggers and most recently Memoirs of a Geisha. No matter which grrrl you or I like best, one thing is for certain, this has got to be the best week, hell, it’s the best time ever for yellow grrrls who are making moves—from these to smart, back talking not too mention brother loving ladies with 'tude.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

hear you on the black actress marginalization tip but i wouldn't exactly call jada and lauryn's decision to turn down a part in blockbuster a great career move either.


4/22/2006 1:15 PM

Blogger Hot Grrrl said...

Joan-- true dat, true dat!

4/24/2006 1:41 PM

Blogger Cocoa Girl said...

Not much to add other than the fact that I love Lucy and would like to see her in more challenging roles.

4/24/2006 4:01 PM


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