Saturday, April 30, 2011

...Brother's Justice (Tribeca Film Festival).

Brothers Justice, a mocumentary about filmmaking, had a showing a this year's Tribeca Film Festival.

I had to pitch an idea once, but it went nothing like this:

Independent films are fantastic because they are all about the art of story telling. Since they tend to cost more than than they generate, one can trust that the final product is a labor of love.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

... Juice 2 (How far will you go to get it?).

The 1992 urban classic "Juice" is one of my favorite films.

This crime-drama explores the lives of four inner city teens: Q (Omar Epps), Bishop (Tupac Shakur), Raheem (Khalil Kain) and Steel (Jermaine Hopkins), through their pursuit for power, respect and ultimately happiness.

The group is shaken when a mutual friend is gunned down. With their confidence weakened and fearing for their own lives, they decide that the only way to survive is to gain the power over and respect (juice) of the neighboring gangsters that committed the murder.

Bishop coerces the other three into robbing a local corner store. This, he assumed, would give them the "juice." The plan was to take the money, with no harm done, but when Bishop shoots and kills the clerk, he puts them all in a situation that they hadn't planned.

They spend the next few months hiding Bishop's crime and putting themselves in further jeopardy as accomplices.

In the end, only some survive and it is Q who ends up with the "juice."

As a "Juice" fan, I am upset that there is going to be a remake (as any true fan would be) because this screenplay was solid. The real story is about friendship, sacrifice and loss - quite sentimental, actually.

My point is: it should NOT be touched. Many remakes are not successful because they fail to encompass the essence of the film. That thing that people related to, that person that made you believe in what they were fighting for or against.

As a Tupac fan, I am upset that D-list rapper Soulja Boy is going to play his character Bishop in the new film.

Tupac brought everything to this character. Real talent, considering he went to a performing arts high school and at least had several plays under his belt. Passion, he loved art in general as an actor, writer (poetry, as well as, rap) and musician. And life, since he was a product of the inner city streets himself.

Soulja Boy brings a couple of ringtones and a face tattoo.

This is a complete diss to the original film and it will probably go straight to DVD.

Disappointed? Yes I am.

Clip of the real "Juice" below:

Friday, April 22, 2011

...TV Commercials (Well, the funny ones anyway).

Who hates TV commercials? Me, me, me!

Well most of them anyway. They always seem to interrupt my perfectly good TV watching at exactly the wrong time just to tell me that my pad needs wings or that I could save at this weekend's doorbuster red dot clearance.

But, every once in a while, my frustrations are rewarded with a gut busting, thigh slapping, two minutes of hilarity. 

Here's a few that tickle my fancy.

Above: Isaiah Mustafa (also, an NFL wide receiver for 4 years) stares in an Old Spice commercial that aired during Super Bowl XLIV.

Above: Heineken beer "Walk in Closet" commercial (2010).

Above: Hilshire Farm commercial (something about these male cheerleaders just cracks me up).

Thursday, April 21, 2011

...Scream 4 (A movie within a movie, within a movie).

WHY? Fifteen years later.

I just find it extremely annoying that millions of dollars have been spent to turn this into another motion picture. How many more of these non-stories can Hollywood continue to reassemble?

I would generally try and relay intelligent, artistic reasons why I disapprove of such a creation, but I am still in speachless bewilderment.

I will, however, say that I think these movies are good ole fashion fun.

It's like going to the dirty pub that serves twice as much liquor at half the price. You know you don't need it and you'll probably regret it in the morning, but why not? Your goal is to get loose on a budget without having to worry about your hair and makeup.

So, with that said, teenagers get your masks ready!

(sigh) Here's the trailer.

 Roeper approves:

Sunday, April 17, 2011

...The Hobbit: Part 1 (Welcome Back to Middle Earth).

Peter Jackson on the set of "The Hobbit." (Marie Claire UK)

Peter Jackson is at it again! Hurray!

J.R.R Tolkien's novel The Hobbit, was released in 1937 with critical acclaim and hasn't lost momentum. 

Now, it is time for Bilbo Baggins' story and if it is as full of adventure as Frodo's, then I'm all in.

Bilbo Baggins played by Ian Holm in Lord of the Rings

Lord of the Rings is one of the best movies I have ever experience in many aspects of filmmaking. The enormity of the sets erected in Scotland and New Zealand were unheard of until Fellowship of the Ring. The costuming and makeup were extensive and had to not only meet the criteria of a particular period, but also the fantasy of Middle Earth and all of the creatures who inhabited it. 

Walking trees, giant people, dragons and full out wars that could only be done with computer enhancements; captivated audiences world wide. Yet, the emotion was still there. The details in direction and shot design did not come secondary.

The score is riveting and the cast is hands down the best group of actors one could have ever put in a film together. Bravo!

I was engrossed for three hours during every Lord of the Rings film and I expect the same luxury for The Hobbit.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

...X-Men: First Class (Xavier's School for the Gifted).

X-Men, one of my favorite films, will now chronicle the beginning of Xavier's (Patrick Stewart/James McAvoy)  mutant school and tell the story of how he and Magneto (Ian McKellen/Michael Fassbender) became enemies.


Marvel out did themselves with their X-Men comics, but whether you read the comics, watched the cartoon or not; this is a must see.

Great storyline, non-stop action and beautiful photography.

The computer graphics are amazing - from character mutations, to invisible planes and super powers. I love it all.


If you're looking for a great escape; this is the movie for you.

...The Conspirator (Shot in Savannah Y'all!).

The Conspirator is a Period Piece set in 1865 about the group of people who conspired (and succeeded) to kill President Abraham Lincoln. Although, John Wilkes Booth is the only name that most of us have heard in reference to his murder; there were more.

Cinematographically, it wasn't too impressive and the shot design was basic, but the story was well worth knowing.

What makes this story successful, is that it is centered around the tumultuous relationship between a mother and her son. In film, there is always what the story is about and then there is what the story is really about and in this case it is Mary Surratt (Robin Wright).

I Found myself distracted by many of the lighting set ups. The DP needed to give the illusion of natural light for every scene, but what should've looked like day light, ended up giving the illusion of a ghostly glow. Everyone just looked spooky.

Hot spots (extremely bright areas) were everywhere and at times, people would get lost in the shadows.

I thought that the film started off a bit slowly, but by the middle I was hooked. My stomach was tight with suspense and I wanted more.

This film could have easily been three hours long. There was so much more that could've (and should've) been explained. But, I'm sure the producer's wanted to make it appealing to as many viewers as possible and a three hour film is just not all that appealing to most.

The good news is: You get to explore an important piece of history a little bit deeper. The bad new is: Only the surface is touched.

I would love to tell you my sentiments about the ending, but that would just ruin it for you and I really want you to go and see this film.

I give it one thumb up.

P.S. Go Redford!!!!!! The King of Sundance.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

...Picture Me Blue No More (Film Adaptation).

Character Shelley MacDonald experienced her first rape at the age of three by her mother's common law husband, yet this would only be the begining. She would not only continue to be raped by HE (a name that was given to the common law boyfriend in the book), but other abusers would enter life also raping her; robing her of her childhood, stealing her innocence and burying her soul.

Co-Author Kimberly Ray, exposes her life in the explicit book and yet, You Still Chose Me. With the assistance of Sharon Chinn, they bring to light the truth behind the raped.

Why I think this will be a great film:

"I want to help people understand the world, the crack head, the whore, the drug dealer and addict... - to help you understand the unloved in a different way." Minister Kimberly Ray.

This is a very interesting  perspective that allows ALL people to be affected because, though it is inspired by one person's abuse, it addresses a world (our world) of disfunction.





Two Thumbs.

To Donate:

Friday, April 8, 2011

...Fast Five (Really?).

So, I've recently previewed the trailer for Fast and the Furious 5 and really? As if the first four weren't bad enough.

Fast cars, big boobs and dirty money - WHAT PLOT?

Now, I'll admit, Paul Walker is a dream boat and I was certainly smitten during the first film, but enough is enough.

The only thing good about this film is that at some point it ends. Gone in 60 Seconds, Vanishing Point, Bad BoysBullitt - now these are "fast car" movies! Fast and the Furious, however, is the underachieving bratty nephew of them all.

I will assume the shot design to be just as unimpressive as the others, full of medium shots cut to the mellifluous sounds of roaring engines and techno.

If ever a pyrotechnician was in demand, it would be for this movie. Too bad the storyboard artist isn't; or the screenwriter, or an editor, or casting director.

The set design, costuming and make up aren't that bad and if you want non-stop action, this movie has it...look, that's all the compliment I can give it.

This is a perfectly good waste of 35mm.

They used 35mm y'all!

Here goes:

My thumbs hurt.

...Limitless (Your brain in HD).

What would you do if you found a drug that allowed you to use one hundred percent of your brain's capabilities?

Well, the action-thriller Limitless explores this idea of real superhuman powers.

It has been THE most interesting movie that I've seen so far this year.

More and more films are relying less and less on cinematography; replacing the art of shot design with graphics, but Limitless was a delightful blend of the two.

Dutch angles, extreme tilts and my favorite the "Virtigo" (for my Hitchcock fans) were all use in lieu of graphical enhancements. Not to say that graphics weren't used, but they were only where they needed to be, as way to create what the camera could not.

I wasn't particularly fond of the lighting set up. The desaturated color and barely noticable fall off (referring to the way that the light "falls" off or onto the subject in focus)  caused me to feel drab and even sleepy at some points. I'm sure this was their [Director and Director of Photograpy] way of helping me step into the emotions of the protagonist, but it just left me unexcited instead.

There was a color pick-me-up toward the end, as well as an unexpected turn of events.

Two Thumbs up!

It wasn't my favorite film, but it is still worth the Blue Ray.