When Tulia was going to be a One False Move reunion of sorts for Billy Bob Thornton and director Carl Franklin, I had high hopes for the torn-from-the-headlines drama about racially motivated drug busts in a small Texas town. Folks I’ve encountered who’ve read the Nate Blakeslee book on which the film is/was to be based say it’s a blood-boiling read, a reminder of how easy it is for rogue law enforcement officials to set up racist fiefdoms in small (mostly southern) communities. In other words, this material was a too-perfect complement to Franklin’s and Thornton’s prior collaboration.
As with most too-perfect things in Hollywood, Franklin either left the project on his own accord or, more likely, was shoved aside in favor of a director with a better box office record. This is the reality of trying to get a film made in Hollywood, but tradition doesn’t make it any less of an insult when the replacement director in question is a guy like John Singleton, who’s regressed from being an earnest, marginally talented filmmaker to one of the very worst alive. Assuming that there’s no way Karen Croner’s adaptation of Blakeslee’s book could be worse than what Gregory Poirer did in the service of Singleton’s Rosewood (which ineptly depicted an infuriating chapter in this nation’s history, one that’s worthy of a better film), there’s still the fact that Singleton seems intellectually capable of handling any subject that exceeds his very limited frame of reference. And why the hell are producers hiring this nitwit to helm anything more complex than a simple revenge tale like Four Brothers (which got a curious critical pass despite being as awful and morally repugnant as his remake of Shaft) anyway? If this isn’t a Tollin/Robbins call (you know and hate them as the producers of so much hurt), I’ll… go to their offices and personally kick both of them in the nuts, because I still don’t like them.
But this is all a lot of invective for nothing, ‘cuz Halle Berry done got preggers a month before shooting was scheduled to begin. Actually, she’s three months pregnant, so the earliest Tulia could commence principal photography would be… May? Sorry, but that’s butting up way too close against the strike deadline, which means this project is officially toast! For the time being, at least! Guess this means Singleton is back to developing Luke Cage or that Convoy remake. Though Peckinpah could (and already did) make a better film than Singleton blind drunk, it’s not like there’s a lot of goodwill to trample with regards to that property. C.W. McCall fans might want to have a word, but you’ll need a gibberish-to-English translator to make sense of their fury.