Monday, August 12, 2013

Dust Yourself Off and Try Again (Try Again)

Some stars burn brightly; others, are stolen from us for no reason at all.  This is particularly true for my subject tonight: a presence of the screen, a chanteuse whose breakout film was inspired by no less than Shakespeare; an angel who played a near-devil in her last film; and someone so talented that she ascended to that rarest of rarefied heights in entertainment, the mononym
Without a dull beat, step to, step to, baby girl, uh.

I write, of course, of Aaliyah.

In her first film, Romeo Must Die, she plays... well, she apparently plays a sort of urban Juliet to Jet Li's Romeo.  I say "apparently" because I never saw the film, though I did once see about half of the video, which featured Jet Lit jumping around in slow motion doing karate chops.  I also know that the hit single from that song, "Try Again," was quite a hit that year (whatever year the movie came out).  You see, I was working for a landscaper who hated most minorities (Jews and Mexicans were at the top of his list), but who loved listening to the "blazin' hip-hop and R&B" on New York's HOT 97! Readers of this blog may recall a Hot 97 reference in 30 Rock thusly: ""shooting people at the Source Awards is a tradition, like shooting people outside Hot 97;" indeed, a list of controversies involving the radio station, including an average of biannual shootings, can be found here.  But I digress.  My landscaping boss listened to Hot 97 endlessly in the truck, leading me to conclude that Aaliyah was such a powerful singer that she only needed to sing one line and they'd loop it together into 3 minutes of a song.  That's talent.

It is with Aaliyah's final film (her second one, too) that real potential for a forked road occurs.  Staring as the title character in Queen of the Damned, the author of the novel of the same name suggested that the filmmakers had mutilated her work and Roger Ebert said the film was "goofy." I wish I could disagree--or agree for that matter, but I haven't seen this film either.

The point, though, is that it was directed by Michael Rymer.  Now, dear readers, aren't you glad to have stuck with me?  With the death of Aaliyah and the film eking out $10 million dollars beyond the $35 million budget (doubtlessly a bomb after marketing), Rymer found himself in need of work... just in time for Ron Moore to snatch him up to direct the Battlestar Galactica miniseries.  Rymer would go on to direct numerous other episodes, including most season openers and finales, as well as the series finale.

Imagine then, if you will, Aaliyah having not died in August 2001 in a plane crash caused by too many posse members on too small a plane.  Imagine Michael Rymer still looking for work, despite the modest box office of Queen of the Damned.  Could we have seen BSG's female roles effected by Aaliyah?  A young, black, female president of the colonies?  A dark skinned, cigar chompin' Starbuck?

Or perhaps the effervescent beauty of this ill-fated wonder would have one her the role of Six.  Would Balter have sold out humanity because of the tall, proud, brown-haired Cylon played by Aaliyah?

Alas, we'll never know; we can only hope... and weep.

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