In life, some people sit on the sidelines, and some people get in the game. The thing that separates dreamers from achievers is one simple word: action. If you believe in something, make it happen. This blog is a small representation of my dream of becoming a writer, and a small representation of the immense love and joy I get from the art of film. I encourage all dreamers to make their dream happen. And when you do, I’ll support it. With that being said, I’d like to introduce anyone reading this post to Jameel Saleem, a very promising young filmmaker with a bright future. You heard it here first.
Hailing from Baltimore, Saleem’s first solo directorial effort was Cream Soda, a comedic romp about an average twenty-something who seeks comfort in the simple things in life (like his favorite soda) when things get complicated. Exit Strategy is his third film, and the growth Saleem has shown is nothing short of remarkable. He stars as James, a young man who finds himself in a predicament when he is evicted from his apartment. Kimelia Weathers is featured as his girlfriend Kim, and there are notable appearances from Quincy “Q Deezy” Harris as James’ best friend, along with comedian/actor Kevin Hart (Think Like a Man) and radio personality Big Boy in supporting roles. When James is evicted, he is forced to rapidly accelerate the pace of his relationship by moving in with his girlfriend of three months. This was a very believable premise, because we all know that fate has a cruel sense of humor and life will bite you in the ass before you can blink. Normally James wouldn’t be living with a girlfriend he hasn’t even slept with yet, but it’s either move in with Kim or live on the streets. James goes into it with an open mind, but quickly realizes that Kim has the patent on a new and improved type of crazy. She nags and bosses him around like a parent, telling him when to go to bed and forcing him to do chores on Sunday rather than allowing him to watch football. How can another adult “allow” you to do anything anyway? He’s a grown ass man! These are the things you don’t know about a person until you live with them. She’s so delusional that while brushing her teeth during a conversation with James, Kim inexplicably spits her toothpaste in his hand rather than walk the five feet to the bathroom sink. If I were James, at that point the curb might not look too bad.
When your home life sucks, everything else seems to follow suit. Eventually the domestic discontent begins to permeate every aspect of James’ life. He finally enlists the help of his friends to end his relationship. Complicating matters is the fact that James wants to break up with Kim but remain living with her, as roommates. He doesn’t want to take their relationship to the next level; he wants to take it to the previous level. His efforts prove futile when it looks like Kim just wants to be in a relationship, no matter how terrible it is. She won’t take no for an answer, so James gets more creative in planning his “exit strategy.” If Kim won’t let him break up with her, he’ll force her to break up with him. Unfortunately, his efforts at undesirability fall short, but all is not lost. Eventually Kim has her “light bulb moment” after James resorts to the most extreme tactic to turn her against him. I won’t tell you how it ends, but let’s just say that everyone is happy.
Exit Strategy was one of the best independent movies I’ve ever seen. The writing, editing, and direction belied no inexperience and the premise was perfect for a screwball “unromantic” comedy. I salute Jameel Saleem, and the sky is the limit for this exciting young filmmaker. We must nurture and support young talent so that it may thrive as an example to others. Be on the lookout for Exit Strategy in a city near you.