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Curtis 50 Cent Jackson’s Things Fall Apart

by Nené DaitéSeptember 18, 2011

Curtis 50 Cent Jackson’s renewed dedication to the art of filmmaking is creeping up on everyone. Though his $1M bid for the title ‘Things Fall Apart’ fell through – the Nigerian writer, Chinua Achebe, just won’t let him – he still managed to make ‘All Things Fall Apart’. In fact, the title made no difference. If anything at all, it goes to show that Curtis Jackson will give anything to have his way. Still, how he succeeded in making All Things Fall Apart, in the span of a film, beats me!

Despite Curtis Jackson’s verve and commitment for this proverbial role – losing some 60 pounds (from 214 pounds to 154 pounds) – I can only applaud the man and not his film; I think his willingness to improve his acting, going the extra mile, befits a memorable mention.

This is a fact I wish to share not because you need to know how much weight he lost, but because I wish to forewarn you about the plot itself, the cinematography, the direction and such. If you can concentrate on the noteworthy part of the film, you will appreciate the work 50 has done here. You’ll be amazed that indeed, it is the same Deon (Curtis Jackson) in the span of your 1 hour and 48 minutes.

By the middle of the movie, he is so gaunt, his face so hollow; he looks nothing like the actor we became familiar with at the beginning of the film. And there are moments when his appearance even distracts from his performance. Certainly we believe that the character, Deon, is at the end of his rope, and I was reminded of Christian Bale’s work in The Machinist, 2004.

That’s why you wonder where the film went after Curtis’ cancer. Perhaps, this is the reason Mr. Curtis Jackson should have hired a better screenwriter. Or at least the direction should have insisted on a more cohesive exploration of living with cancer.

Notwithstanding the shortfalls in the plot, which you immediately come to grips with in 15 minutes or less, you may acknowledge that Deon’s cancer has put an abrupt end to his hope of making the NFL drafts. It comes supposedly at a time when Deon is at the top of his game, even though you never get to understand why he’s such a prolific athlete. What’s worse, All Things Fall Apart doesn’t give anyone a sense of why so much is invested in Deona family’s hope, a family’s believe, a family’s insurance – and real sacrifices made by Deon’s mother, Bee (Lynn Whitefield).

Now, wouldn’t you hope a film like this would at least play on Deon’s bulwark commitment to playing football again, vis-a-vis his family’s fear of his inevitable death. I was hoping that Deon would keep fighting for a comeback in football because of need, weary skill and perhaps, pride, until he eventually does, and kicks ass! What else did he have to lose?

Then, when in that metaphor of a final scene he scores the touchdown, and dies, we would have so much wanted the lad to live! A plot that could have borrowed from Darren Aronofsky’s, The Wrestler 2008?

But no! Instead, the script threw in a subplot which only made a cacophony of the main plot and revealed that the script just needed work! However, we glean from the story that Sean, who’s constantly cast in the shadow of his more successful student-athlete brother, Deon, is not happy. He can’t get a girl while Deon can anyone in skirt into bed.

At one point, Sean’s love interest, Sharon (played by Tracey Heggins from Medicine For Melancholy fame) easily becomes Deon’s lover instead. This affair becomes a revolving door opening in and out of the brothers’ relationship.

Furthermore, with the cancer now in Deon’s head – far from near his heart – and the hope of ever returning to football fading into oblivion, his scholarship is quickly revoked.

Why in the world would a college revoke the best footballer’s scholarship when he’s sick with cancer, in his senior year? I mean, did anyone in this cast and crew play sports in college? To add salt to injury, how are we to believe that not a single teammate, coach or school mate came to visit Deon in hospital or at home – not even once? Ha? Not even his coach who used to take time off his schedule to train Deon one-on-one in college? C’est pas possible! And this film matched on giantly, devoid of any reality.

Rather, the film chose to follow Deon’s relationship with his brother, Sean, which became more tenuous. Also, his stepfather, Eric (Mario Van Peebles), grows increasingly impatient as the prospect of Deon ever returning to the football field fades away – what a father? This is when you know for sure that neither script nor direction have any idea about how to evoke reality or emotion.

All Things Fall Apart pretty much fell apart from here on – not that you couldn’t see it coming. But if you can excuse it, you can appreciate another thing. Deon’s mother, Bee, remains resolute in the face of all the hardship; the story invoking the stereotypical strong black mother character. She gets the extra job, and another job, and another, to support her children. The only thing is that this part marched out of step with the rest of the film.

The final scenes were more so metaphors than any real attempt at story telling, cinematography and direction. Deon, having had some success as a car dealer at Sean’s company, organizes a dinner in the middle of a football field, inside a big tent. Something you realize only after the fact. Is this a dream? I had to ask myself.

Deon invites all of his family and friends. The men are dressed in these expensive white tuxedos and the ladies in some fine assorted attire. It’s a celebration but you don’t quite know why. But Deon is happy to see everyone happy. This is all he wants – to see his family happy again – and expunge any guilt he may have felt at the onset of his cancer. To have crashed the dreams of an entire family, though through no fault of his, he felt a burden and a cost to repay. Hence to especially see his beloved mum happy, he felt his duty on earth accomplished and he would now die in perfect peace.

So he starts outside this makeshift tent, when no one was looking and sprints towards the goal line. Deon’s arms outstretched into the air, and metaphorically scores the touchdown of his life!

What an ending? Anti-climatic I must say, but in no way diminishes Curtis Jackson’s effort in losing all that weight for an under par, probably close to a first draft script, sweaty direction and pupil cinematography. If anything at all, if I were Curtis, I will feel cheated! Nonetheless, what other way is there for a young black man to break into this industry other than making one bad movie after another?

It makes me feel saddened, since I remain, in my humble belief, perhaps, too tough a critic for the black filmmaker. I call it as I see it and I just can’t help it!

Director: Mario Van Peebles
Writer: 50 Cent (screenplay), Brian A Miller (screenplay)
Stars: Ray Liotta, 50 Cent and Mario Van Peebles

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Nené Daité
Nené Daité
I am a Recovering Explorer | Nevertheless, I still remain, perhaps in my Humble Belief, the Black Filmmaker's Toughest Critic.
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  • S Shepp
    December 9, 2011 at EDT

    I am by far no movie critic and this is my opinion but the person who wrote this article should just give it a rest. People always seem to over analye things. It was a good movie. The effort, the time and the movie itself. He did a good job and we should look on the progress that he is making in his craft and not be so quick to negatively judge.

    • Nana
      May 28, 2012 at EDT

      You talk like the feature filmmaking world is a game – practice? If you make a mistake you shd be patted on the back? No. This is the real thing. If you don’t know how to do it well, if you don’t make the cut, you will be trashed and burned.

      You don’t start making feature films with $7 million budgets for practice? You don’t practice filmmaking losing 60 pounds? Or do you? If you do, you are held to the same standard as an Aranofsky who made the Wrestler with $6 million.

      Am sorry Shepp, but this ain’t a trial and error world, this ain’t practice – it’s the real world – it’s where it matters. This movie was bad. That doesn’t mean 50 Cent’s carrier is over. He sure can do better. But he must improve, if he can – thoroughly!

  • Wonder
    September 30, 2011 at EDT

    I wonder if 50 just puts anybody on his track when he makes his music. So why do it for film which is even more involved? I just don’t get it. Why did he co-write? Just tell the story to an accomplished screenwriter man! Accomplished! And who is Brain Miller? Who is he?

  • PIMP
    September 30, 2011 at EDT

    Oh ma man 50!
    I mean, I don’t know what to say after reading this.

    For real though. I edge everyone to see this movie! I think part of the lure, charm and amusement of this film is exactly because it’s so bad. You just have to see it to understand how $7M could’ve been spent otherwise.

  • Wineapple
    September 30, 2011 at EDT

    The issue is simple. With $7M, Curtis coulda made a much much better movie. I think he shd stop hanging out with his friends and get real criticism like this one right here.

    If he had cared, he could have hired Spike or Aranofsky, like you said to make this thing for him. And this coulda been 50’s ticket to walking into the Oscars even if he doesn’t win it. Money unwisely spent, I agree with you that Curtis Jackson shd feel ‘cheated’!

  • Nicky
    September 23, 2011 at EDT

    “One thing I really dislike in movies is the directors inability to be realistic. You could tell that this was filmed in a practice facility because the field was about 60 yards long and the sideline players were actually on the field during the play, because there was no room on the sidelines. Hint Director go ahead and pay a Junior College to use there field and throw some extras in there for crowd. Stop being so cheap!!! I am sure 50 cent could of rounded up a few dollars for that.”
    Sums it all for me!

  • Cricket
    September 23, 2011 at EDT

    With a performance like this, I am definitely looking forward to more projects from fifty cent a.k.a Curtis James Jackson III. I agree with you that the script could have been a little sharper but 50 did a great job like you said.

    I really admired his commitment to the film with such a weight loss and more.

  • ++Jerome
    September 23, 2011 at EDT

    I just saw this movie starring 50 cent and other great stars like Lynn Whitfield, and others, it was an interesting movie.

    But let me say that considering all the senior stars I just couldn’t get into it , and it lacked depth, and compassion, however the movie is going to be a great DVD!

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