Archive for June, 2009

Breaking Free of Myself

June 30, 2009


I’ve been in a weird state of mind lately, and have been finding it difficult to express what I’m feeling. Then an idea popped in my head of an image that looked a bit like the one pictured here. This is how I’m feeling.

Read My New Article on MSN – Do the Right Thing: 20 Years Later

June 30, 2009


Check out my latest article on MSN, the 20th anniversary of Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing.

Good Bye, Farrah.

June 26, 2009

farrahI don’t want to be crass, or disrespectful, but I’m pretty sure the first boner that I popped was over Farrah Fawcett. And I know a lot of other guys can say the same thing. Her recent passing, which has been a bit overshadowed by that of Michael Jackson, is no less significant, as she also played a pivotal role in my childhood, and I wanted to share a few thoughts.

During the height of her popularity, my mother bought me and my cousin Sean each one of those Farrah t-shirts (the kind with an iron-on transfer of her in that red bathing suit). Both of us got into serious trouble for wearing the shirts to school (Sean more than me), and from that experience, I got my first real lesson in the Freedom of Expression. I don’t think I had ever even heard of the Constitution or the First Amendment until my mother went ballistic over our right to wear that silly shirt. (more…)

Michael Jackson – Rest in Peace

June 25, 2009


Volumes have already been written about the unexpected death of Michael Jackson, and in the days and weeks to come there will be even more. Originally, I wasn’t going to write anything, because I didn’t feel as if I had anything to say that hasn’t already been said. Michael Jackson was a talented performer, whose genius was overshadowed the last twenty years by a bizarre freakshow that passed for his life. But as I’ve had time to dwell on his death, I have come to realize that there are a few things I would like to share with anyone who is interested. (more…)

dvd review: 12 ROUNDS

June 24, 2009


Some movies would be so much better if they ended sooner. Take for example Minority Report. That movie was great, until you got to the point where it ended, when Tom Cruise was placed in the prison, and then it just kept going. Same thing with Lord of the Rings: Return of the King. It was great until it ended, and then had six more endings after that. And those are just examples of movies that don’t end when they should. There are also movies that just plain fall apart in the end, usually because the script takes some ridiculous third act turn that sends the whole thing into the toilet. Spike Lee’s 25th Hour was like that. Hands down one of the worst endings in any movie I’ve ever seen. Now, while I would never compare director Renny Harlin’s 12 Rounds, starring WWE superstar John Cena, to either Minority Report or Return of the King, I might go so far as to compare it to 25th Hour, because while it has some solid moments, the final reel is crap. (more…)

dvd review: DOUGH BOYS

June 24, 2009


There is part of me that would like to think that if I had never seen Menace II Society, or Juice, or Boyz ‘n the ‘Hood, or any of the other urban dysfunctional dramas that have come out over the years, that I might think Dough Boys was a halfway decent film. But the truth is that even if I had never seen these other films—and I have, so pretending I haven’t is pointless—it doesn’t change the fact that Dough Boys isn’t a very good movie. Now, I don’t want to be overly negative, but at the same time, if I were to adhere to the “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all” school of film criticism, this review would end right here. (more…)

The Disposable Nature of Film (or, Why Films Should Be Allowed to Die a Natural Death)

June 21, 2009


It’s been gnawing at me for quite some time, but I could not articulate what it was. There has been and continues to be, as near as I can tell, something fundamentally wrong with the current state of film. The easy explanation in this era of endless remakes, reimaginings and relaunches is that a lack of originality has sucked the life out of movies. But that would be an easy answer, and one that doesn’t really tackle the issue, especially when you consider the fact that originality has always been in short supply within the film industry. The business itself has always been driven by the bottom line, which of course are profits. And that bottom line dictates to a very large extent the art of filmmaking, which in most cases is not so much an art as it is a craft, and in many cases of it being a craft it is a craft that is poorly executed. There is no doubt in my mind that lack of originality and plain old greed has played a hand in choking the life out of film, but this “thing” that has been gnawing at me is something other than that. (more…)

dvd review: CONNECTED

June 13, 2009


For decades there has been a back-and-forth exchange of creative influences between Hollywood and Hong Kong. John Woo was heavily influenced by Sam Peckinpah, and in turn Woo’s The Killer and Hardboiled helped rewrite the book on how action was presented in Hollywood films. For a long time, this relationship of Hong Kong influencing Hollywood and vice versa was limited primarily to loving homages and unabashed rip-offs, but seldom did it manifest in legitimate remakes. Perhaps the best known example of a remake is Martin Scorsese’s The Departed, which had been made earlier in Hong Kong as Infernal Affairs. The Departed and Infernal Affairs served as a great example of how Hollywood could take an exceptional film from Hong Kong, and do it justice. Now, Hong Kong has taken a not-so-exceptional film, the 2004 action thrill Cellular, and turned it into the much better Connected. (more…)

film review: THE TAKING OF PELHAM 1 2 3

June 11, 2009


The word “classic” is thrown around a bit too carelessly these day when it comes to films, making it some sort of magical adjective used to describe movies that by some arbitrary set of sensibilities have been deemed worthy of being classical. Unfortunately, not every film that is called a classic really is a classic, as some films, while being great are simply just that, great. For any film to truly be a classic, it needs to reach a level of excellence that all movies strive for, but few ever achieve. And then decades later, if the film in question still holds up—if the writing is still finely crafted, the acting still solid and capable, and the direction still effectively evokes the sort of emotional response it was intended to evoke—then and only then can it be considered as possibly being a classic. Understanding this is crucial to understanding why the original 1974 version of The Taking of Pelham One Two Three is a classic. (more…)

dvd review: OPIE GETS LAID

June 10, 2009


It’s not a surefire formula for success, but independent filmmakers just starting out and low on cash would all be well advised to study the work of other filmmakers dealing with similar conditions. In particular, they should be watching those films that employ a small cast with few locations to see how those stories are told. Some of the best indie films of all time were launched using this equation of small cast and limited locations, the beauty of which being that it works for a host of genres. It worked for George Romero in Night of the Living Dead, Jim Jarmusch in Stranger Than Paradise and Down by Law, Quentin Tarantino in Reservoir Dogs, and Kevin Smith in Clerks. Of course, all of these movies had interesting stories to tell, which is the essential ingredient in all films, no matter how big the cast, how many locations, or how much money they have to spend. (more…)