John Ridley

Jimi All Is By My Side

Another day, another biopic about a famous, troubled singer whose life was cut far too short, far too soon. This time around, the film is focusing on Jimi Hendrix, the psychedelic god of rock whose legendary guitar skills ignited the electric guitar scene and scared thousands of grumpy white dads with crew cuts and khaki pants whose daughters wanted to listen to that devil music. The gifted songwriter, unparalleled guitar player and smooth crooner at the helm of The Jimi Hendrix experience’s brief life was an extraordinary one, and never dull, but John Ridley‘s JIMI: All Is By My Side is choosing to take a different approach to telling the legend’s story. As the first trailer for the film shows, Ridley (who also crafted the screenplay for 12 Years a Slave) worked around a story of pre-fame Hendrix (André Benjamin, aka André 3000 from OutKast). This means a few things; while it’s still a film about a man with unfathomable talent and prowess with an axe and maybe the flyest wardrobe in the history of histories, we won’t get to see the meat of his full story. There won’t be that rise to the highest peaks of fame and success, when the songs that made him Hendrix crashed out of the Electric Lady and into a sea of mud and thrashing hippies at Woodstock. And there won’t be that tragic fall to the bottom either, when he asphyxiated on his own vomit after overdosing on sleeping pills in 1970 — joining that […]

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imogen poots in need for speed

Imogen Poots‘s face is everywhere this year. She was recently seen in That Awkward Moment, has Need for Speed opening this weekend, Filth hits the states this summer, and maybe we’ll be lucky enough to see her in Terrence Malick’s Knight of Cups before 2015. Another movie Poots co-stars in this year is writer-director John Ridley‘s Jimi: All Is by My Side. She plays the incredibly suave Linda Keith, a supporter and close friend of Jimi Hendrix (André Benjamin) in the film. Speaking with Poots at SXSW this week, I learned she clearly admires Ridley’s strict focus on their relationship as well. She spoke fondly of Jimi: All Is by My Side and, of course, a terrific French bakery in Los Angeles. Our conversation touched on plenty of other relevant subjects, too. If you’re curious about how beautiful Charlestown, West Virginia, really is, for example, read what she has to say about it below.

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All Is By My Side

With the stunning schedule that TIFF just released comes a nice surprise in the form of Andre 3000 (aka Andre Benjamin) grooving as Jimi Hendrix in John Ridley’s All Is By My Side. The resemblance is sort of insane, but there’s still a looming question of whether Benjamin has the acting chops to dive as deep into the character as is necessary to pull out a meaningful biopic. Adding to that, Ridley is a strange beast who is relatively untested as a feature director. He also wrote All Is By My Side, as well as earning a screenplay credit on 12 Years a Slave (which is also playing at TIFF), but this marks only the second movie he’s directed beyond a middling drama from the late 90s. The film follows Hendrix before he earned his fame and icon status. It co-stars Ruth Negga, Imogen Poots, Hayley Atwell, and a guy who looks exactly like young Keith Richards playing Keith Richards. There’s no telling what stories the movie will tell, but the lack of anyone playing The Beatles in the cast list makes me worried that my favorite Hendrix story — that Paul McCartney and John Lennon saw Hendrix cover Sgt. Pepper’s at a small club a day after they released the album — will be left out. Even if it didn’t make the cut, here’s hoping for an excellent film about a towering musical figure.  

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Jimi Hendrix

There are a lot of things that writer/director John Ridley’s upcoming biopic of rock great Jimi Hendrix, All Is By My Side, has going for it. The most obvious asset being its star, André Benjamin, who has shown potential as an actor, has a ton of experience being a musician, and looks pretty much exactly like Jimi Hendrix once he’s all dressed up in costume and letting his afro roam free. There’s one huge stumbling block that has a lot of people questioning what the point of making this movie is at all though: the Hendrix estate didn’t sign off on letting them use any of the musician’s music in the film. How do you make a movie about Hendrix’s music career without showing him playing any of his music? Rolling Stone has the scoop. Apparently the biggest strategy Ridley and company are employing when it comes to getting around the issue of not being able to use any of Hendrix’s copyrights is that they’re going to focus on an isolated part of the musician’s career, the period where he was just emerging onto the scene in ’66 and ’67. Or, as producer Sean McKittrick puts it, “This is the story of Jimi being discovered as a backup musician and how he went to London and became Jimi Hendrix.” In McKittrick’s opinion, focusing on just the early part of Hendrix’s career is smarter than making a movie that covers his whole life, because, “That would be like making a movie […]

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It looks like Brad Pitt will not just talk the talk, but also walk the walk in Steve McQueen’s next project Twelve Years a Slave. Pitt is producing the film through his production company, Plan B, and has reportedly worked on developing the project for a number of years, but now word is out that it won’t be just Pitt the producer showing up for filming, but also Pitt the actor. A small item in Screen Daily announcing the addition of River Road Entertainment as producers and financiers, along with the news that Summit International will handle sales of the film at the upcoming American Film Market, also included a cast listing for the project. That list included McQueen’s contestant star, Michael Fassbender, along with the already-announced Chiwetel Ejiofor, and Pitt himself. The Playlist went ahead and confirmed the casting with Plan B, who would only confirm that bit of news, but would give no further details. McQueen and John Ridley have adapted their script from the 1853 autobiography written by Solomon Northup, an African-American man who was born free and later abducted into slavery. Northup had an entire life in his native New York (complete with an education, a musical background, a wife, and three children) when he went to Washington in 1841 under the pretense of a job offer to play fiddle in a traveling circus. Once there, he was kidnapped and drugged. He was then sold into slavery and, for the next twelve years, was shuttled between owners and subjected to brutal […]

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George Lucas talks Red Tails and Star Wars: The Clone Wars!

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