Month: October 2012

Hustle & Flow

Year: 2005
Directed By: Craig Brewer
Written By: Craig Brewer

RYAN’S REVIEW

In 2005 there was still a willful and adamant Eminem fan inside of me who got bitter when another rap song was awarded the Academy Award for best song.  I felt that it was quite a distinguishing honor for Eminem to be the first musician in his genre to receive the honor for his efforts on the 8 Mile soundtrackFor Three 6 Mafia to win the same award only years later seemed to sully the distinguishing nature of his accomplishment.  I had nothing against Three 6 Mafia, in fact I am a fan, but these guys winning the Academy Award was just bullshit, and still is in my opinion.  There is a stark difference between the work of Eminem and Three 6 Mafia regardless how talented they both may be, and I felt that Eminem was much more deserving of the award.  I took pride in the fact that he had won, he deserved it and the Academy made the right decision in awarding it to him.  I might like Three 6 Mafia, and I did like the song that they won for, but I imagine the competition was very low when they won because it just isn’t an Academy Award worthy song and doesn’t deserve to be in the same class as “Lose Yourself.”

I had never wanted to see this movie because I was bitter over it winning the award and for years avoided it altogether.  It was Amber who encouraged me to finally sit down and watch it, albeit I did so begrudgingly.  I was thoroughly shocked when I found the movie to be incredible, and it’s one I think about whenever I don’t want to listen to my wife’s recommendations. She was right about this one through and through.  I made the mistake of thinking it would be just another typical movie about a rapper but I found it to be so much more than that.  It’s about determination, about believing in something, and about a man trying to figure out who he really is. I am not necessarily a fan of Terrence Howard but he gave the performance of a lifetime in this movie.  He deserves any and all credit he gets in association with the role.

In preparation for this role Howard lived in Memphis for a time before shooting to learn the dialect and area better.  Not only that but he interviewed countless real life pimps and even lived with one for a while to get more into character. His efforts paid off in spades because he really had the role down, but he did so much more with the character.  He plays the kind of character that I would never give any thought to, a low down good for nothing pimp.  These men are vile people who do nothing but take advantage of the weak and exploit them for everything they are worth.  Howard’s DJay is dealing with the common problems that we all face; he is struggling to survive and doing the only thing he knows how to do.  He is stressed out and you can feel it when you see Howard’s performance. You want him to succeed despite what he has done to reach success. When he begins rapping I don’t think the viewer really expects him to be any good at it. His character does nothing up to that point that gives the impression he has anything more to offer the world.  It seems like he just making a desperate reach for something he has no business doing but when he starts you can clearly see he has talent.

I found the life of a pimp that Howard portrays to specifically be an eye opener. From the very beginning when the first trick rolls up and DJay tells him the rates for his girl.  “$20 in the front, $40 in the back.”  That just doesn’t seem like enough to me.  That poor girl has to do the nasty with five different men, the easy way, just to make 100 bucks. That’s just such an awful reality that I’m certain many poor and desperate women have to face every day. One thing I noticed and find myself really curious about is DJay’s car.  There is one panel on the front painted a different color.  Is this because DJay can’t afford any better, or is this a mark for the tricks? I wonder if the different colored panel is a message that he has a woman in the car. It seems like that could be the case but I don’t know.  If anybody actually knows the answer to this please let me know. His home with three different women was also quite a sight, the different sorts of lives some people lead can be hard to imagine sometimes.  You could literally fill a book with the kind of stories that would come out of that situation on a daily basis.

I think I’ve said enough about how great Terrence Howard was in this movie, now it’s time to move on to everyone else.  This movie had a great cast all around.  I am a really big fan of Anthony Anderson. I think every movie he is in is just that much better because he is in it.  He is well cast as the straight laced man who gets in business with a street criminal he knows from childhood.  I like that his wife is ultimately understanding of the situation and gets involved rather than the typical story line of just creating more drama over it.  Taryn Manning is incredible as Nola and the character was well written.  I find myself shocked to be pulling for the prostitute here too, but the girl is more than that.  She quietly suffers all the while listening and learning.  It is so awesome that she is the savior of the cause in the end, using all the cunning she has absorbed from a man who has to be cunning to be in business. DJ Qualls turns in one of his finest performances in this one.  I like Qualls but his strength lies in playing dorky guys who learn to party and get crazy. I thought he was really good in this one. Ludacris did well enough playing a part that should have come really naturally to him. Any rapper would have served though.  He is just a name and face to slap on the DVD cover.

As a big time South Park fan I must mention Isaac Hayes playing the part of the club owner who introduces DJay to Skinny Black.  Hayes of course was the long time voice of the beloved character Chef until Trey Parker and Matt Stone mocked Scientology on the show.  Hayes was a member of that organization/religion/cult until his untimely death in 2008 at the age of 65.  Nobody really talked about it but I thought it was a peculiar way to die.  He was found next to a moving treadmill and I think they eventually said he had died of a stroke but the whole thing just seemed too strange to me.  Yeah he was in the age range to have a stroke, but given that he is involved in Scientology I think the circumstances of his death are very peculiar. If you research into Scientology you will find no end to strange and unusual things that have happened but the most disturbing part is the knack members have of disappearing and dying suddenly under unusual circumstances.  Scientology is a dangerous organization that goes ignored by far too many people.  The largest infiltration of a government organization in this country’s history was perpetrated by members of Scientology who infiltrated the IRS in an effort to get their “church” tax exempt status.  This group included the Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard, who was convicted of fraud and sentenced to prison.  Despite all this the organization has flourished and continues to do so, I find it alarming.  I’m going to call it here and now, one day Tom Cruise will run for President and he will likely win in this country where the masses can so easily be manipulated. If Schwarzenegger can become governor of the largest state in the country then one of America’s favorite movie stars can get elected to its highest office.  I fear the possibility but honestly believe it is coming.  Cruise is the Scientologists greatest asset and they will eventually try to use him to get into real power.  Excuse the long tangent, but I believe for whatever reason the strange and sudden death of Isaac Hayes has something to do with the religious organization he was involved with.

Now back to the movie, I think the greatest thing about this movie is the ending.  It leaves you with so many possibilities ahead for our main character.  As an aspiring rap artist there isn’t much more he can do to get famous aside from doing time for beating down a big time rapper and shooting one of his crew.  To come out with his music on the radio, the sky is the limit for him.  He has become the new “Skinny Black” as two guards persuade him to listen to their demo on his way out of prison. DJay walks out of the prison with his head high, a look of confidence that is unmistakable on his face.  He knows things are looking up now, and he walks into freedom ready to take over the world.

This is a fantastic movie that I have really looked forward to reviewing.  I enjoyed watching it as much this time as I did the first time and there is a lot to be said about a movie like that. This movie is more than worth your time and I think you should go out of your way to see it.  Three 6 Mafia may not have deserved an Academy Award for their song, but the movie does deserve any and all credit that was bestowed upon it.

AMBER’S REVIEW

I tried to get Ryan to watch this movie a million times. I kept saying, I know what you think it’s about, and it is but it’s really, really great. I think this movie is wonderful. It tells the story of a pimp and his girls and their struggle in the world. I love how the director of this movie tells us the story of someone different than us, but he is having the same struggles that we all face. Working to have enough money to just feed everyone. We really see him trying to change and become something better for the girls and child he considers family. I love this flick. It’s a good one.

Hmmmm. I just struggle with this one so much. I like the typography and symmetrical lines that frame the title, but I honestly think the rest of it is really messy. I hate when they fade out people’s heads. There are two big heads fading into the body of Terrance Howard. The car at the top is just a half car inverted on the other side. There are more heads fading out up at the top beside the title and outside of the lines. They just had to get everyone in there. Some things are better when you see them in the movie for the first time…this one is giving everyone away.

NEXT MOVIE: In Bruges (2008)

The Hudsucker Proxy

Year: 1994
Directed By: Joel and Ethan Coen
Written By: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen, and Sam Raimi

RYAN’S REVIEW

I am a huge fan of the Coen brothers and typically like everything they do.  I actually went out of my way to specifically buy this movie for the blog a year ago.  Having finally reached it at the end of the “H” section on our DVD rack I am disappointed in my decision to make the purchase.  This is a really great movie with all the Coen brothers’ talent on hand, but I just don’t like it.  I don’t know if it’s the time period of the setting, the gloomy look of the movie, or the stars on hand but I just can’t get on board with this one.

I can clearly see how good the movie is, but nothing about it appeals to me.  The fast talking style of most of the characters really displays the talent of the actors playing the parts but I don’t care for it.  Specifically Jennifer Jason Leigh does a wonderful job, and Paul Newman is every bit as talented as he always was.  I have never been a big Tim Robbins fan though, and I loathe that stupid expression he has on his face throughout the whole film.

This movie offers many classic scenes and a story that I’m sure would appeal to many people.  Don’t take my word on this one because it’s a Coen brothers film and they are always worth your time.  On this one anyway I will tell you that my not liking it says nothing about the quality of the film itself.  Despite my opinion of the film I’m going to tell you that it is still worth your time to see it and maybe you will enjoy it more than I did.

AMBER’S REVIEW

I love this movie. I think it is hilarious and true to its makers. The Coen Brothers are known for their very unique style and shtick. You can usually tell you are watching a Coen Brothers movie when the characters are very exaggerated. Think about Marge in Fargo. “O ya, ya say!” This movie stretches it even further. The accents are out there and the actions are out there. Everything is very much Coen Brothers, but stretched out a little further to really tell this story. I love them all, and this one is a great one too. You should see all the Coen Brothers movies. They are definitely two of the greatest movie makers out there today.

And the poster. It feels the theme and time period of the movie. I don’t love it, but I don’t hate it either. I really wish they would have just let Tim Robbins take on the poster alone. I think if they would have simplified the poster a little bit, it would feel cleaner and easier to bring people in.

NEXT MOVIE: Hustle & Flow (2005)

Where is Community…..?

Like many fans of the show I was disappointed days ago when October 19th came and went without season 4 starting on schedule.  I do not know the specifics of why the show has not been on television but I found a video from the cast that explains it in perfect Community fashion.  I hope that the show comes on soon. It is without doubt one of my favorite comedies of all time and I have not been happy with the developments surrounding the show recently. Follow the link below to see the video and hopefully it fills some of the void left by the absence of the show.

tvnews.php?id=96178

How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days

Year: 2003
Directed By: Donald Petrie
Written By: 5 different people are credited with the writing.

RYAN’S REVIEW

When I was in college I had to write a paper about something I wasn’t interested in or something like that.  I can’t remember what the assignment was specifically but it was along the lines of doing something I wouldn’t normally do.  I chose the laziest route available and simply watched a movie I would normally never see.  I have never been one to sit through a chick flick because I think they are all relatively the same and have little point to them.  They aren’t made for me and I have always avoided wasting my time with them.  This movie just happened to be the chick flick that had just hit the video stores and I bought a used copy at Blockbuster.

This movie is pretty typical really and it is pointless, but I could have made worse choices when picking up the chick flick for my assignment.  This movie has a good cast and it is funny albeit stupid overall.  Kate Hudson and Matthew McConaughey have good chemistry with one another, something they have exploited in a few films together.  In supporting roles are Adam Goldberg, Thomas Lennon, and Kathryn Hahn who are all really funny.  I think Thomas Lennon is hilarious and I really like how he pops up in everything in roles like this.

This movie isn’t anything special but it is a funny battle of the sexes story.  I only bought it for the paper I had to write but I kept it because I did enjoy the movie.  To this day it is the only chick flick in the collection but it has its place on the shelf.  This movie has its moments and those moments make it worth your time.  If you find yourself in a position where you have to watch a chick flick you could do a lot worse than this one.

AMBER’S REVIEW

I am not a huge fan of chick flicks, as they call them, but this one takes the cake on the genre. I thoroughly like this one and it can still make me laugh the entire time. I really like Kate Hudson. She is cool and suave and I just think she is really funny. This movie really plays on how males and females react and interact in relationships, specifically in the beginning.

Here is the poster for this movie. Blah. It’s nothing special. I even hate the typography. It’s a really long title for a movie, compared to other movies and there was a lot of room to do something super creative with the title, but they completely bombed it. The colors are also green and red and the movie doesn’t take place nor have anything to do with Christmas. You have to be careful using those colors together, so another fail. The movie may be good but the poster fails in comparison.

NEXT MOVIE: The Hudsucker Proxy (1994)

Dead Presidents

Year: 1995
Directed By: Albert and Allen Hughes
Written By: Albert and Allen Hughes

RYAN’S REVIEW

This movie screamed out to us over the weekend from one of those convenient $5.00 movie bends Wal-Mart sticks all over the store these days.  Honestly I was just happy to find a movie I wanted. We own so many movies now that something that used to be so much fun often ends in disappointment now. I used to love looking through the media section of Wal-Mart and find DVDs at a good price I could add into the collection.  These days the only movies we buy are the new ones though and we hardly ever come across an older movie we both want.  I had seen this movie after it came out when I was much younger and always liked it.  Amber had never seen it before but had always wanted to see it so the decision was made.  Having re-watched it now with much more mature eyes I am really glad we decided to add it into the collection.

I was about 12 years old when I saw this movie for the first time and admittedly, there was plenty I wasn’t old enough to understand.  In all honesty it was a movie I probably shouldn’t have been allowed to watch but it had no nudity, which seemed to be the standard for what my parents would and wouldn’t let me to watch. This movie tells a story that has been told before, but this time through the eyes of an African American veteran.  Soldiers all around have a hard adjustment coming back to the world and that seems to be the ultimate theme to the movie.  While it is through the eyes of an African American there are not any real themes of racism throughout the film and I like that about it.  Racism was a real and serious issue at the time but it is an awful reality I don’t enjoy seeing brought up in films.  We all need to understand the dangers of such feelings but there are plenty of films out there that convey those messages, they don’t all need to and I am thankful this one chose to tell a different story.

In this movie Larenz Tate plays a young African American who grows up in The Bronx and is drafted into The Vietnam War.  He spends four years there serving multiple tours and distinguishing himself well but when he returns back to the world he has trouble adjusting as so many soldiers do. He has a girlfriend that he got pregnant before leaving but she has had to survive without him while he was overseas.  To support her child she had to turn to a less than savory man to provide for her and that is specifically hard for him to deal with.  He has difficulty getting a job and the job he manages to get isn’t good enough.  When he gets laid off from that job he turns to crime in his desperation.  Tate plays a character we can relate to and understand. What he does is wrong, but he didn’t deserve to be called a disgrace by the judge who sentences him in the end played by Martin Sheen.  Sheen’s comment that he was a veteran himself who fought in “a real war” speaks volumes to the way many saw the conflict in Vietnam.  Tate’s character is given no mercy in his sentencing and is destine to spend the rest of his life in prison serving time for the country he fought for in a thankless and unappreciated effort.  Tate does a great job in the lead role and I have always liked him.  I know him better from his role on Rescue Me when he played “Black Shawn,” a great show that fell apart in its closing seasons.

I really liked the supporting cast around Tate as well.  I have always liked Chris Tucker although I don’t know what has happened to him lately.  He plays a soldier that begins using heroin while in the service and comes home to become an all out junkie, a problem shared by many vets returning from Vietnam.  I think Keith David is awesome in everything he is in from Platoon to There’s Something About Mary. In this movie he plays a Korean vet who mentors the younger guys going into Vietnam.  Bokeem Woodbine plays a soldier who is completely insane in the jungles of Vietnam but comes home to be a preacher, although he still joins his old comrades in the illegal heist.  Freddy Rodriguez plays one of Tate’s childhood friends who serves in a different unit in the war and comes home with only one hand.  The only other movie I have seen Rodriguez in was Planet Terrorbut that one is real high up on my favorites list.  N’Bushe Wright looks awesome dual wielding pistols in this movie; the only other film I have seen her in is the first Blade. She is a very beautiful woman; I’m not sure why I haven’t seen her in more films.  There is a really young Terrence Howard in this movie playing a rival of Tate’s who has stayed in The Bronx during the Vietnam War and works for the man who took care of Tate’s family.

This movie is loosely based on the real life experiences of a soldier who came back from the Vietnam War but I don’t know anything about how accurate it was.  The real story can be found in the book Bloods: An Oral History of the Vietnam War by Black Veterans written by Wallace Terry.  If you are insterested in it I would suggest you find the book and find out for yourself how much this movie correlates with real life.  The soldier the events were partly based on was named Haywood T. Kirkland.  Whether the movie is accurate at all hardly matters here though because the story it tells is true enough.  Veterans from all wars have a hard time coming back to the real world and this movie does a great job of highlighting the many difficulties some of them face.

I am really glad we decided to buy this movie over the weekend and I really enjoyed watching it again.  It tells an interesting and important story about Vietnam as well as delivering on action and drama alike.  If nothing else the robbery scene is awesome.  The way the robbers paint their faces are distinctly memorable.  This is a good movie and I would recommend it to anyone, it is worth your time if you have an opportunity to see it.

AMBER’S REVIEW

I had never seen this movie before. I know that many friends have talked about this movie and I have even seen people dress up like these guys at Halloween. I was sucked into this movie from the very beginning. I really liked the main character in Rescue Me, so I was curious to see him in a different role.

Here is the poster for Dead Presidents. This came out in 1995. I feel like the poster resembles its time. I like the photo on the front. It intrigues you in some ways to wonder what this is about, which is ultimately the point of most posters. I am not a huge fan of the font choice, which is simply the font for American money. I felt like that was a little cliché.

This movie is well worth the time.

Walking Dead Season 3 Premier

Following the incredible season finale back in March I have found myself really looking forward to season 3 of the show.  I haven’t always been the biggest fan of this show; even going as far to refer to it regularly as “The Walking Cry Babies Who Sometimes See Zombies.” I stuck with it all through a mostly boring season last year though to find myself shocked when I was blown away at the end.  I thought so much of the finale that I wrote a post about it, you can read it here. All summer promos for the new season aired and as they came on they began to reveal more and more.  The show was looking better all the time and I was really excited to see it last night.

I can gladly say that my anticipation was not unfounded.  The show was everything I have always wanted it to be and more for the first time ever last night.  This show is finally maximizing its potential and doing things right.  We should have a really exciting season ahead of us.

I like that you can immediately see how hardened the characters have become in the world they are living in. Time has passed since last season and the group has had to endure and they have all struggled to survive.  They are dirty, they are direct, and they are hungry.  Nobody is bitching about anything anymore they are only focused on surviving in a world that has become much harder to navigate through.  Finally they are being smart about using their guns as Rick and Carl were both using silencers.  I like that the desperation of their situation is evident without them having to spell out everything with relentless dialogue. There was no shortage of zombies in this first episode and no shortage of action either.  The entire episode was practically nonstop excitement with obvious allusions for more to come.  I thought it was great.

POSSIBLE SPOILERS AHEAD

I mentioned the last time I wrote about the show that in the comic it is strongly implied that the baby Lori is carrying is actually Shane’s baby.  There is no way for anybody to know for sure but I think the distance we see between Rick and Lori is making it obvious that they both fear and expect the baby to be Shane’s.  The problems with Lori having a baby post-zombie-apocalypse go much farther than her own personal health and survival during the delivery.  The baby presents dangers for the entire group that they may or may not have realized yet.  Babies cry, and in a world where hoards of zombies are attracted to sound that can be a very dangerous thing.  Of course they seem to be safe for now in the prison where they are protected from the zombies that a screaming baby will draw.  However in the aftermath of the zombie apocalypse it isn’t the dead you really need to fear, but the living. Once you survive the dead, you must face what the living has come to.  We will finally see in this season the real dangers of the world our characters live in.  When order breaks down the strong rise to power, and sometimes the strongest are the most vile and ruthless. In a world where every day is a challenge to survive resources become scarce.  When you have the resources your fellow man is a danger that no dead man can ever present.  In this season we will see a new villain rise, The Governor, and he will want what the group has managed to secure for themselves.  In the comic there is a major assault on the prison by The Governor and his people.  During the assault both Lori and her baby are killed along with many other characters.  This information is readily available all over the place because the comics have been out for some time.  There is still no telling how true the show will stay to the comic though so in truth anything could happen.

House of 1,000 Corpses

Year: 2003
Directed By: Rob Zombie
Written By: Rob Zombie

RYAN’S REVIEW

When this movie came out I remember hearing really bad things about it and never giving it a chance. I can’t remember who I heard those things from or why I listened to them but if I knew I would find them today to tell them they are crazy.  When I saw this movie for the first time years later it instantly became one of my favorite horror movies of all time. It has an awesome cast made up of people I had never heard of, it has one of the coolest intros I have ever seen in anything, and it was made by a man who has a thing for horror movies. The story may be a typical one on the surface, as far as movies in this genre go.  It scares me though; it gives me the thrills I look for in a horror movie and at the end of the day that is all that matters.  As Halloween is approaching there isn’t a movie I would have rather reached in this collection.  I love this time of year, and this is one of my favorite movies to watch when the holiday approaches.

I had never heard of Sid Haig before seeing this movie but I have never forgotten him afterwards. As Captain Spaulding he makes an awesome and memorable character.  I think the opening scene in which he stands tall and belligerent against his would be robbers is one of the coolest I have ever seen. When it comes to clowns there is fine line between being funny and creepy.  As a clown Captain Spaulding is right up there with Pennywise when it comes to clowns from horror stories.  Spaulding himself doesn’t really bring the element of horror to this film but he brings plenty to the film in small doses.  If the horror element was brought by any one person it was from Bill Moseley.  That man has a voice that strikes fear into my soul and his appearance in the movie is enough to make anyone turn and walk the other way.  The whiteness of his skin, the unkempt nature of his hair, and the blood spattered on his clothes make him look scary enough.  It’s when he starts talking that really brings the fear full circle.  Not only does he have a menacing voice but his character in the movie is so utterly insane and in control.  When he starts talking you might have no idea what is coming next but you know that it will be bad.

I think Sheri Moon is incredibly sexy, but like the guy playing her brother she scares the shit out of me in this one.  It’s that laugh she has, it’s disturbing. She looks so seductive and sweet until something sets her off and then before you know it you see the psychotic side of her.  In the sequel to this movie we find out that her father is actually Captain Spaulding but I thought that was a bit of a stretch.  I would have preferred a more creative connection between the clown and the crazy family.  Karen Black played the part of the crazy family’s mother and I thought she was great.  Her character was obviously once a prostitute and her wide variety of children reflect that.  She was replaced for the sequel and I have never known why but I didn’t like the change. In the role of Tiny some might recognize Matthew McGrory who played the giant in Big FishMcGrory is also known for a role he played in Deliverance as a child, he was the kid playing the banjo in one of the movies most memorable scenes.  In smaller roles you can see notable TV stars of today like Walton Goggins and Rainn Wilson.

This was the first movie made by long time rocker Rob Zombie and I think he did an incredible job.  I remember seeing his house on the MTV show Cribs years and years ago when I still watched MTV and distinctly remember him having an entire closet top to bottom full of horror movies.  Clearly the man has put his work in understanding the genre.  Everything he did from set design to camera angles to the dialogue he wrote was on the spot as far as I am concerned.  I haven’t really been a fan of most of what he has done since this movie.  I did not like his remakes of the Halloween movies.  Yet I like this movie so much that I will always give anything he makes a chance.  He has a lot of potential as a filmmaker.  The story he wrote was pretty basic as far as horror films go but he did many things that make this film stand apart from others with similar themes.

This is a movie I strongly suggest as we enter into the spooky time of the year.  Movies are a great medium to get us into the spirit and movies such as this one are always popular this time of the year.  This is probably one of my favorite horror films but the original Dawn of the Dead is a very close second. For most people anything featuring zombies, vampires, or ghosts will serve their purposes during this season but if you want something that packs more of a punch check this one out. It’s not one I often recommend because it is such a rough movie but this time of the year it is just right.  This movie is more than worth your time during Halloween season and may you have a fun and frightening holiday.

AMBER’S REVIEW

This movie is beyond creepy. It’s not even in the horror genre; it’s a genre all in its own. Family is crazy as shit genre. I really like watching this movie and that worries me sometimes because this film is completely crazy and demented.

This is such an interesting poster. I like the typography; you have a gross looking head looking at you. It’s pretty cut and dry, but I like it and I think it’s a great poster.

NEXT MOVIE: How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days (2003)