“I’m Paul Barlow, and this is my daughter Jo.”

“Malone.”

“You got a first name?”

“Yeah.”

Dangerous Minds

tn_dangerousminds

RELEASE DATE: August 11th
RELEASE DATE: August 11th

The extreme teaching movie DANGEROUS MINDS is exactly as corny as I remembered it, but not entirely without merit. It’s directed by John M. Smith (THE BOYS OF ST. VINCENT) and written by Ronald Bass (RAIN MAN, THE JOY LUCK CLUB, HOW STELLA GOT HER GROOVE BACK), but it seems like maybe a more significant detail is that it’s produced by Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer (their next-to-last credit together). As with most of their movies it looks real pretty, starting with an opening montage in grainy, high contrast black and white like a French New wave film. Look at these stills, they’re beautiful in my opinion:

still_dangerousminds1

still_dangerousminds2

Too bad they didn’t shoot the whole movie that way, that would’ve made it pretty different from STAND AND DELIVER and LEAN ON ME and shit. I bet it would’ve made about 1/28th as much money and been way better reviewed.

In its color version it was a hit, opening at #1 (over the Keanu Reeves movie A WALK IN THE CLOUDS). These days from what I can tell the movie itself is not really remembered as much as the theme song, “Gangsta’s Paradise” by Coolio featuring LV. The song plays three times in the movie: at the beginning, about 2/3 of the way through, and in abbreviated form on the end credits. So you will get pretty familiar with it if you watch the movie. But did you know the score itself is by Wendy & Lisa, guitar and keyboards from Prince’s band The Revolution? It’s true. There are pretty decent musical interludes that tend to start out a little cheesy and end up a little “Purple Rain.”

mp_dangerousminds
Overalls are not as prominently featured in the movie itself as in the poster.

The story of course is about LouAnne Johnson (Michelle Pfeiffer, SCARFACE), an ex-marine who starts teaching the at-risk kids at an L.A. high school and rises to the challenge. It’s a tough gig that she ends up with kind of by accident, not knowing what she’s getting herself into. The last however-many teachers of that class quit and had nervous breakdowns and shit. She’s like Mary Poppins coming in after all those other nannies were scared away.

On her first day she walks in and can’t even get the kids’ attention other than to call her “whitebread” and make fun of her. It’s not being treated so much as a class room as a noisy room full of mostly Latino and black kids talking or rapping. One of them, Emilio (29-year-old Wade Dominguez) sexually harasses her and she embarrasses herself by writing his name on the board. That turns out not to be an effective way to scare these hardcases, you see.

The next day she comes back in a leather jacket, kicks her feet up on her desk, tells them “You guys don’t know shit,” demonstrates a karate move, tries to get conversations going. Slowly she eases them into class discussions of the meaning of Bob Dylan lyrics, which she only refers to as poems. She begins to build strong relationships with some of them, partly by visiting them at home. She promises field trips and contests that reward them for their work. Also she throws them candy bars. Not the fun sized shit either, that’s a bullshit size. Because of her unorthodox envelope pushing outside of the box to the beat of her own drummer on a her own path sticking it to the Man and telling the System to make like Michael Jackson and beat it she faces the usual antagonists of this type of movie such as the uptight principal (Courtney B. Vance, PANTHER), the other adminstrator (Robin Bartlett, HEAVEN’S GATE) who’s a stick-in-the-mud about her methods and the parent (Beatrice Winde, MANDINGO) who resents the white lady’s intrusion and refuses to let her help her kids even though they could use it. But fortunately all of these are fairly toned down. It doesn’t turn into a big Students vs. Adults Who Just Don’t Get It thing at the end. The climax actually happens where most of the movie happens: in the class room.

By the way, it’s weird that she seems to only have one class. I wonder what she does the rest of the day?

What makes it kinda work is 1. this is a pretty effective formula and 2. Pfeiffer, who is great in it. She goes from timid and out-of-her-element to digging in and fighting, being able to smile and laugh when being ridiculed, and keep going. The students are not so believable, more stereotypes than characters, but I totally buy her methodical chipping away at their defenses. You can see how they come to be amused by her and then kinda like her and then truly respect her and are inspired to try harder than they have before.

Also I bought her Southern accent.

Admirably they break a major movie rule: LouAnne’s old friend Hal (George Dzundza), who hooks her up with the job and teaches the easier class next door, keeps coughing, and is constantly smoking (even in the classroom while grading papers)… but he doesn’t die! You assume either that or hospitalization as soon as he coughs the first time. LouAnne would get offered the job of teaching the good kids and she turns it down defiantly. “LouAnne, are you crazy?” “No! I’m really starting to get through to these kids. I can’t give up on them now!” But no, nothing like that. He’s just a guy that coughs and smokes. It happens.

Also, she teaches a karate move. That should be used later in a fight, right? That’s how it works. Not enough karate in this movie.

I noticed a few names on the credits that surprised me. Danny Strong, who plays “Student” (I can’t find him in the movie myself) went on to co-create the television program Empire with Lee Daniels. And there’s a Carlos Gallardo listed as one of the grips, but it’s not on IMDb to verify if he’s the same one who starred in EL MARIACHI. I think it’s possible, because that Carlos Gallardo started out as a production assistant and did other crew work. On the other hand he has a small part in DESPERADO and is credited as co-producer, and that would’ve been filming around the same time as this, so maybe he wouldn’t have bothered taking a grip job at that time.

The surprising face that appears in the movie is John Neville, in a nothing part as a waiter at a fancy French restaurant. This brings up two questions:

1. What the hell is Baron Munchausen himself doing playing “Waiter” in this movie, at this time in his career?

2. Is it really fair though that he gets billed above all the students?

still_dangerousminds4

I don’t know if the waiter is based on a real guy or not, but there was a real LouAnne Johnson who taught at Carlmont High School in Belmont, California (previously most famous as the school that Dana Carvey went to) and wrote the memoir My Posse Don’t Do Homework that this was loosely based on. Her websight has something she wrote in 2007 about her feelings about the movie. She says that it “has its good points” including “the brilliant song, ‘Gangsta’s Paradise.'” Among the fictionalized elements she mentions: she would never bribe her students with candy bars, her administrators didn’t oppose what she did, they were very supportive, she did not get fed up and try to quit, she didn’t use Bob Dylan lyrics but instead rap lyrics. Actually that’s weird that they didn’t keep that for the movie, you’d think they’d love that. I guess that’s a sign that it was written by an old guy whose instinct is to convince kids that the music he grew up on is cool instead of bringing them in by giving respect to the music that’s meaningful to them.

I’ve read elsewhere that she didn’t have a student who got shot. But it’s a pretty effective scene when she has to tell the class about the death, and it leads to her attempt to quit teaching, so it makes sense to add it for dramatical type purposes, I guess.

Johnson herself was not fond of how some of the students were portrayed in the movie. “I don’t think the Hollywood film makers are intentionally perpetuating stereotypes and simplistic plot lines,” she writes. “I think in some cases they genuinely believe their stories, in some cases they are trying to create a feel-good story to attract an audience, and in some cases they just don’t have a clue because they never attended public schools and their worlds are so insulated that they believe whatever expert they have hired. I was told, for example, when I protested the racial stereotypes in DANGEROUS MINDS (all black kids are raised by crackhead single moms, all Hispanic teens are gangsters because their parents don’t care, black parents resent effective white teachers), I was told in a very haughty voice that the ‘gangologist’ on their staff assured them that their movie was an accurate depiction.”

Johnson even brings up that aspect that immediately makes everybody uncomfortable about a movie like this, maybe especially white liberals like myself: the White Savior thing. The sense that “the movie industry seems to think that white middle-class people can walk into a ghetto and ‘save the children.'”

But as we know from that cool black and white opening, these are kids being bused into a mostly white school, with mostly white teachers, and then segregated into Ms. Johnson’s class. In fact, Johnson is acting in good faith to try to fix a broken system originally intended to even the playing field between poor and rich neighborhoods. They’re being bused in allegedly to get better schooling, and she’s the one that wants to make sure they get what they were promised. In fact if this is how the schools are gonna work then there should be more white middle class people doing what she’s doing, holding up their side of the bargain.

And the real Johnson doesn’t buy into the movie’s emphasis on racial tension, saying her students never would’ve called her “whitebread.” She writes, “If you truly respect and accept other people as they are, and your motivation is to encourage them to develop their talents and skills to pursue whatever goals THEY have set (or encourage them to set goals if they have none), then they will be interested in what you have to say. People focus far too much on race, gender and money when they should focus on heart, soul and intention.”

And I do think some of that manages to come through in the movie, through Pfeiffer, even though the overall message ends up feeling wrong.

On the N.W.A timeline, DANGEROUS MINDS falls several months after Eazy-E died, and after Ice Cube released FRIDAY, and Belmont is a six hour drive from Compton. But it’s probly still the best Summer of 1995 movie to happen to fall during N.W.A week here at outlawvern.com. I don’t really know what the connection is other than that there is a reference to Snoop Doggy Dogg, who was of course discovered and produced by Dr. Dre. There’s also a song on the soundtrack by Devante Swing called “Gin & Juice,” but it’s not related to the more famous Snoop song. And Coolio, though never strongly affiliated with N.W.A, did happen to be straight outta Compton himself. Furthermore, one of his first recordings was on the WC and the Maad Circle song “You Don’t Work, U Don’t Eat,” which also featured Ice Cube and was produced by Cube’s longtime collaborators WC and Sir Jinx.

post-script:

Wade Dominguez, who plays Emilio, the kid who dies too young, died a few years later. He was in CITY OF INDUSTRY though, which was a pretty good crime movie.

DANGEROUS MINDS is the third Summer of ’95 movie, after CLUELESS and THE NET, to be adapted into a TV series. It started in ’96, lasted 17 episodes and starred Annie Potts as LouAnne Johnson. Even more than the movie, the show had alot of content that bothered the real Ms. Johnson (an episode where she brings her students to a strip club, for example). She explained on an episode of This American Life that she felt the show portrayed schools as a “war zone,” which she doesn’t think is accurate, and that it promotes stereotypes of violent black males and other things that she was trying to dispel with her book. She tried to get on the show as a consultant, which they weren’t interested in. She says when they sent her her royalty checks for it she sent them back.

“Gangsta’s Paradise” was a big hit and won a Grammy for Best Rap Solo Performance. It also inspired a Weird Al parody (“Food Paradise” or “Star Wars Paradise” or who knows) although it was already itself an unparody of Stevie Wonder’s “Pastime Paradise” from Songs In the Key of Life.

Pfeiffer actually appears in the video with Coolio. It was directed by Antoine Fuqua, who wouldn’t get into movies until THE REPLACEMENT KILLERS in 1998.

After this Coolio became an occasional actor, including an appearance as “sex educator” on the Dangerous Minds pilot. He’s shown up in BATMAN AND ROBIN, DAREDEVIL, LEPRECHAUN IN THE HOOD, and, honestly, mostly movies less watchable than those.

I don’t know what to think about all this, but in my opinion DANGEROUS MINDS is worth existing if it in any way inspired the SUBSTITUTE series of films, which started in ’96, and are our nation’s final word on education.

Nobody seems to have done any 20 year anniversary oral histories or anything like that, but I enjoyed this piece by a teacher talking about the tropes of teacher movies.

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, August 11th, 2015 at 11:13 am and is filed under Drama, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

49 Responses to “Dangerous Minds”

  1. Nobody’s done a 20th anniversary retrospective on the movie, but Rolling Stone did a nifty oral history on “Gangsta’s Paradise”, the song and the video…

    Coolio's 'Gangsta's Paradise': The Oral History of 1995's Pop-Rap Smash

    How Stevie Wonder, Michelle Pfeiffer and "Weird Al" Yankovic played a role in the ubiquitous mega-hit

  2. Just watched this one for the first time a year ago.
    This must have been before all the teachers sleeping with their students scandals because the whole sequence where she’s at the fancy restaurant with the student had me thinking the principal would be there too and get the wrong idea and that would be an uncomfortable subplot but it didn’t go down that road at all.

  3. Vern, tell me you’ve seen Coolio in Stanley Tong’s China Strike Force.

  4. caruso_stalker217

    August 11th, 2015 at 12:33 pm

    I’ve never seen this, but I watched RENAISSANCE MAN about a million times as a kid and it’s basically the same thing except in the army and with The Penguin instead of Catwoman and it’s a comedy and it’s a Penny Marshall movie so it’s super fucking corny. But I’ll always cherish it because it was my introduction to Hamlet and to Shakespeare in general. So you could say it taught me some things, even though I was not a struggling inner city youth.

    And Marky Mark is in it (his film debut) but he doesn’t rap even though there is a scene where every other character raps.

    Gregory Hines is also in it (he plays the guy who doesn’t approve of Danny DeVito’s methods), but he doesn’t tap dance or anything. No one in the film tap dances. It’s not that kind of movie.

  5. The Original Paul

    August 11th, 2015 at 12:57 pm

    I’ve never seen the film (and honestly Vern’s review hasn’t convinced me otherwise, it just doesn’t seem like my kind of thing) but GANGSTA’S PARADISE is a classic. I wrote it up in my rap retrospective on the forums (one of these days I’m going to find something else to put in that!) To me, and I think a lot of people at the time, it was the song that brought rap into the mainstream in the UK. It doesn’t hurt that it’s a fantastic piece of music either.

  6. I shit you not, Caruso, but one second after I read your last sentence, a tweet popped in my feed, saying “Dick van Dyke is still tapdancing at 89 years old”.

    I have nothing to say about the movie, but there was a weird trend in the 90s, that you simply couldn’t have a huge hit without someone making an ultra cheesy dance music cover version of. This is Gangster’s Paradise’s. Are you strong enough to endure it?

    https://youtu.be/knAn1h2_VdY

  7. caruso_stalker217

    August 11th, 2015 at 1:35 pm

    I always thought “Gangsta’s Paradise” needed more na-na-nas.

  8. But of course Coolio will always be best known for his recurring seasonal role as Kwanzabot on FUTURAMA, where we also find out his face is on the futuristic quarter.

  9. On an audio commentary for Coolio’s first FUTURAMA episode, Matt Groening and Co talk about how impressed they were by his voice acting talents. According to them, he came up with a dozen different voices and they even talk about offering him a starring role, if they ever make another cartoon show.

  10. Coolio really brought rap into the mainstream, Paul? Did you guys get to skip MC Hammer over there?

  11. The Original Paul

    August 11th, 2015 at 7:27 pm

    Vern – well, yes, but everyone regarded MC Hammer as something of a joke artist, even back then. I mean, you can’t look at the baggy pants video or listen to his pronunciation of “Why would I ever stop doing this?”, which he drags out over two full phrases of the song, and really tell me that that stuff could be taken seriously. Even at the time I don’t think it was, let alone now.

    Coolio was different. My personal experience – and I realise it’s not everyone’s – is that this is the first “serious” rap that everybody and their grandmother thought was really freakin’ good. The fact that it was rap didn’t matter to them, it was just good music. I can’t think of a single other song that came out earlier that made that kind of an impact. There probably were some songs that fit that description, but they haven’t stuck with me in the same way as GANGSTA’S PARADISE has – at any rate I can’t recall a specific one. Does that make sense?

  12. Watching the music video for Gangsta’s Paradise on MTV as a little kid was pretty much my first introduction to the concepts of “gangstas” and “the Hood”, it was pretty shocking.

    But Vern, why you gotta diss Weird Al? Amish Paradise is one of the funniest ones he ever did in my opinion.

    But seriously, Weird Al is awesome.

  13. Gangsta’s Paradise brought rap into the mainstream in the UK? Eight years after Salt N Pepa had a number two hit with Push It?!

    Feel free to reframe it as your own experience or anything else that doesn’t actually mean “mainstream”, but surely it’s when novelty acts like Hammer, Vanilla Ice and Partners in Kryme are having huge hits (five years earlier) that marks the point when rap has gone fully mainstream.

    Not to mention the ubiquity of rap verses and phrasing in every dance hit from the late 80s onwards. Be it 2 Unlimited or The Shamen (we should be proud to come from a country which had a number one single celebrating the delights of MDMA twenty years before Madonna ever heard of it.)

    Oh yeah, the film. The only thing I remember about it is “It could be you and your homies lined in chalk!”

    Been enjoying this series of reviews even though I haven’t commented on man and it seems a bit late to go back through them now. Strange to see how out of sync I am with the majority views. Both Die Hard With a Vengeance and Mission: Impossible I thought were terrible at the time and haven’t ever revisited. Waterworld and Batman Forever I think are unfairly maligned. Apollo 13 I unreservedly love for its stolid, spacefaring ethos.

    I remember being surprised on first seeing Kids at how unshocking it was. The impression I’d got from the press at the time was that the cast were much younger than they were. Fifteen/Sixteen year olds talking shit and being obsessed with sex seemed, from my then fairly recent experience, a pretty uncontroversial stance. I realise Vern covered the effect of distance on the observed in his review. Maybe I should try it again.

    Still, we’ll always have Babe and Fury Road.

  14. It blows my mind that Weird Al is still going. I had the 7″ of Eat It many moons ago. I think that might be the only real success he had over here, although I remember seeing the Nirvana one on MTV a lot.

  15. Mainstream rap? What about Vanilla Ice´s legendary Ninja Rap? That is as mainstream as it get

  16. I can imagine he meant a more authentic rap, that was brought to the British mainstream. Salt N Pepa. Vanilla Ice and co were more pop (With Salt n Pepa being the most credible of the bunch), but compared to PUSH IT, ICE ICE BABY or CAN’T TOUCH THIS, G’s P definitely feels more authentic and gritty and credible and yet it was a huge radio hit, that even was considered for an Oscar nomination. (It got kicked off the short list because it was decided that a song, that uses parts of another song, isn’t Oscar material. I’m sure Coolio hates Adele a lot.)

  17. also came here to talk about china strike force. i could have sworn vern reviewed it way back in the geocities days but maybe i’m imagining that.

  18. I was already a major hip-hop snob by the time “Gangsta’s Paradise” came out, so to me, it was just some more phony baloney pop R&B crap designed to make white people feel like they were down with the struggle without being in any way threatening or hardcore. I’ve softened quite a bit on this matter over time, partially because “Gangsta’s Paradise” sounds like fucking “Fight the Power” compared to the shit that would soon follow in its wake, but the idea that at a certain time and place it was considered some kind of ambassador of authentic rap is just adorable to me. It’s like David Hasselhoff being the first rock and roll those poor bastards on the other side of the Berlin Wall got to experience. But I can’t even hate. You guys did your best over there with what you had to work with. It could have been worse.

    The only Coolio song I really like is “Mama I’m in Love With a Gangsta.” He rhymes “motherfucker” with “motherfuckers,” which pretty much makes it the pinnacle of the art form.

  19. It’s interesting to see the decline of these teaching movies over the years. I remember Dangerous Minds being huge at the time, at least big enough to spawn a number of parodies, including that John Lovitz movie. And, of course, Dangerous Minds was preceded by Lean on Me, Stand and Deliver, and Dead Poets Society. I guess Dangerous Minds was the high water mark of the genre.

    But by the time we get into the 2000s, I think the formula had gotten old, and people could sense how unrealistic these films are. If I’m not mistaken, that Freedom Writer movie bombed. And even when people try to tweak the formula, no one wants to see these films. Bad Teacher was another failure as was the anti-union, anti-public schools Won’t Back Down. If I’m being optimistic, the decline in these films might come from the fact that audiences are smarter than these films. They understand that problems in education aren’t solved by being the “cool teacher” who gives inspiring speeches.

    I’ve spent some time working in underfunded public schools and with at risk students, and I think the most realistic look at this environment is probably season 4 of The Wire. It seems to understand the structural problems that hurt these underfunded schools as well as the trade offs inherent in tracking and mainstreaming. I’ve always wondered why we’ve never gotten a successful TV show focused on teachers when there are a million of them about cops and doctors.

  20. I´ve tried teaching. In fact ,once I was given the task of educating a bunch of kids in WW1. Not the easiest task, but also made me realize what a difficult job it is and made me appreciate the good teachers even more. I was never cut out for it, but i sure admire those who have the angelic patience and the willing to get something through their heads.

  21. Also, the little bastards stole my chair…

  22. Hey, I never said that Gangster’s Paradise WAS some kind of authentic street level rap. Only that it felt more like it, compared to the other mainstream hits of that time.

    The last hight point (maybe the highest) of that teachers-try-to-reach-their-often-underpriviliged-students subgenre, was the TV show BOSTON PUBLIC. At least during its first two seasons, before it hit the same fate as 99% of all David E. Kelley shows. (He got bored by it and focused on another show, the best characters were replaced by not so good ones, the scripts became less good, etc) It covered all kinds of topics, both from the teacher and student sides. Yes, including a hard-to-teach class named “the dungeon”. (The series begins when a depressive teacher, played by the always great Loretta Devine, walks out of that class, only leaving the message: “I’m gonna killy myself now, I hope you are happy” on the blackboard.) The typical Kelley quirkiness helped it to get away with certain cliches, but all in all it was a good show. (Still, the first two seasons more than the last two.) And it had a great theme music.

    Thomas Newman - Boston Public Theme

    Edited: the paint author is Norbert Judt. Enjoy the unique music from Thomas Newman.

  23. The hood loved Gangsta’s Paradise though. At least the ones I used to kick it in anyway growing up (Harlem, Bed Stuy, Mid Bronx and Da Heights). Sure people were also bumping shit like DOE OR DIE, CUBAN LINX and THE INFAMOUS…. at the time but Coolio’s song really resonated with the cats I knew who were putting it in on the street. Of course it probably helped that Coolio had some sort of credibility prior to that thanks to FANTASTIC VOYAGE being a house party staple a couple of years earlier.

  24. Attention, dramaturges of the future: This was the point where Chekhov’s Gun suddenly lost its ground to Vern’s Karate Move.

  25. I vaguely remember Boston Public, but I honestly didn’t think the show made it past its first season. But that’s still one teaching show against hundreds of cop and doctor shows. I actually wonder if teaching is too controversial of a topic for a show to address. Even if they have never stepped in front of a classroom, so many people have their own rigid opinion about what a good teacher does and what a school should do that a show is bound to piss off its audience.

    Shoot McKay, sorry to hear about your chair. I can’t claim that I have extensive experience teaching grade school, but I did work in an underfunded public school for a year and for a year an a half I worked at a group home with kids in state custody. Even though I worked at the group home for just a year and a half, I outlasted everyone at that job (which, to this day, I’m still kind of proud of). Most people left within a couple of months. Both were great experiences, because they helped me to really understand and appreciate people who teach or work with kids from difficult backgrounds. Although, I became better and better at those jobs as time went on, I can’t say it’s the kind of work that I wanted to spend most of my life doing.

    It’s not surprising to me in the least that there are parts of the U.S. that are now facing massive teaching shortages. We treat teachers like garbage in this country, and we just assume that people won’t find another job or that students graduating from college won’t look towards other professions.

  26. Broddie: Makes sense. There’s no one more militant about “real” rap than a whiteboy from the suburbs.

  27. Being a teacher requires commitment. It´s not a throw away job in which you just show up to work your hours. It requires passion and a serious interest in kids and an interest in them as individuals. There are a lot of teachers in Sweden who quit long before retirement because of how much it requires of them. And I don´t blame them. A lot of administrative tasks have also benn heaped upon them on top of being semi-parents. I´ve seen what it takes and I don´t want to burn myself out doing something I can´t say i have enough motivation, so that is why I quit my teacher education.

  28. Great stuff Vern. Aisha Harris at Slate just wrote a piece on the 20 year anniversary.

    http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/culturebox/2015/08/dangerous_minds_20_years_later_the_real_life_louanne_johnson_screenwriter.html

    Bass, the screenwriter, tells me, “The movie you saw wasn’t the screenplay I wrote. My name is on the script, because the writer who came in and did very substantial rewriting”—Elaine May—“didn’t want credit, and I was asked to take the sole credit.” In his version, Bass had hoped to convey the strong bond he’d witnessed between Johnson and her students while sitting in on one of her classes, and how much they gave to her as she did them. Bass is well-aware of how the final version of Dangerous Minds can be seen by some as being overtly paternalistic, with the white hero coming to save the day. But he also insists that that was never the intent of those who worked closely on the movie. He told me:

    I admire the work that Elaine did … I wonder if in retrospect, hearing that said sometimes over the years, if anybody would say I didn’t realize that the balance was such that it could make people wonder if that was in the mix. If I had to go back, I’d certainly switch scenes back in, I’d readjust the balance so that everybody knew that the relationship was a two-way street.

  29. Does this movie have a line where the teacher tells a Mexican student to turn in his essay and the kid replies that he’s no fucking snitch? Cause that would be awesome.
    Also, I may have to turn in my outlaw card, but I really like A Walk in the Clouds. Anthony Quinn can play a patriarch like no other.

  30. Shoot: People are always saying to me, “Why don’t you teach? I bet you’d be great at it.” And I say “Because I know a lot of teachers.” Burned-out, exhausted, broke, frustrated, and bitter, every last one of them. Unless you have endless patience and idealism, it just seems like a shitty life that grinds you down. I agree that I’d be great in front of a classroom, but I think the long haul would turn me into a soulless husk. I believe the children are the future and all that, but they can go ahead and do it without me.

  31. “Being a teacher requires commitment. It´s not a throw away job in which you just show up to work your hours. It requires passion and a serious interest in kids and an interest in them as individuals.”

    I think that’s certainly true, but there are plenty of ways in which we could make it easier for people to teach and learn how to teach. From my experience, it’s not that people either have the passion or don’t. Just like with everything else, it’s a skill you learn and improve upon, and just like anything else there are some people who probably don’t have the temperament for the job. But I think it’s this idea that teaching is an almost religious vocation where you must sacrifice yourself mentally and financially in order to teach is harmful to teaching, at least here in the States.

    Teaching is the backbone of democracy, and there are plenty of things we can do to support teachers. We could decrease class sizes and the number of classes that teachers have each semester. We could have better training and support. We could make it so that experienced teachers are given time and money to mentor younger teachers. These changes won’t solve all of the difficulties associated with teaching (kids can be annoying), but they would help create a better environment for students and teachers. Unfortunately, this will likely cost money, and in the U.S. no one wants to pay to educate other people’s children.

  32. Vern, I don’t know how much of a Grantland nut you are, but their “white saviours in the movies” conversation from back in February was amazing, and builds to a hell of a punchline:

    A Conversation About Great White Saviors in Movies

    Have we reached the point where most smart people see "white savior" movies as silly anachronisms, rather than "noble" or "important" statements?

  33. The Original Paul

    August 12th, 2015 at 10:03 am

    The Cosh – it IS my experience, I think I made that clear. I’m not saying there weren’t rap hits before then, but I don’t think they made the same impact as GANGSTA’S PARADISE, at least with the people around me. I think CJ has hit what I’m trying to say. I remember PUSH IT coming out when I was very young. It was a good song but I don’t remember it having any impact with people who didn’t really like pop music already. GANGSTA’S PARADISE had the impact, back then, of a BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY or something. People who didn’t like any pop music heard it and wanted to know what it was. And they still remember it today.

    But yeah, I’m absolutely not saying this is anything but my personal subjective experience.

  34. The Original Paul

    August 12th, 2015 at 10:24 am

    And Totorito – that link was great. I love the addition of Mel Gibson in LETHAL WEAPON 2 “because he pulled Danny Glover off the exploding toilet.”

  35. What do you guys think of the sequels, CONFESSIONS OF A DANGEROUS MIND and A DANGEROUS METHOD? They don’t seem very faithful to the original as far as I can see, although I guess they’re technically both prequels.

  36. The Original Paul

    August 12th, 2015 at 11:00 am

    Majestyk – we already had a FIGHT THE POWER. Personally I think IT TAKES A NATION absolutely deserves its “classic” reputation. But I doubt anybody’s grandmother was listening to it (unless they had a really, really, really cool grandmother.) Coolio was about as “authentic” as you could get, considering his position. He was rapping about what he knew.

    I’m trying to think of another rapper since then who made the same kind of impact. The only one I can think of is a nasally-voiced white* boy who was sued by his own mother for lying about her being a drug-addict (and who settled said lawsuit out of court for $25,000). Authenticity!

    (*Actually I have been harsh on Eminem in the past about the race “issue”. His biography makes it clear that he was discovered by Dr Dre after he’d been rapping for a long time in the “underground circuit”, whatever that is. The point being, he’s not some record executive’s cynical attempt to cash-in on a “black music” trend by having a more “accessible” white guy perform it instead. He actually seems to have had some rap credibility before then. Still doesn’t mean I have to like his music though.)

  37. As hipster as it may sound Eminem was better when he was underground and trying to rip off Nas’ Illmatic flow. The shit on Soundbombing II and THE SLIM SHADY EP were legitimately good and had everybody here in the East going “WTF somebody from Detroit really raps like this?” then THE SLIM SHADY LP and MARSHALL MATHERS LP dropped and he peaked. Hasn’t been the same since then. (THE EMINEM SHOW is a borderline farce to me personally so I don’t even really rate it).

    I especially can’t stand the yelling shit he’s been doing since RECOVERY. I stopped listening to his music altogether cause of it. It’s not “experimenting with flows” it sounds like he’s going deaf in his middle age or something.

  38. Mr. S: A DANGEROUS METHOD at least had lots more scenes of Keira Knightley receiving corporal punishment.

  39. I loved RENAISSANCE MAN as a kid, although I can’t remember why, or much about it at all. I think I just really liked Danny DeVito back then. I should give it a re-watch.

    I can remember MC Hammer’s HAMMERTIME cartoon being on TV in the UK as late as 1997; schedulers for kids TV here seeming played stuff for as long as they felt like it, irrespective of popularity or cultural relevance, until about 10 years ago.

  40. One of my favorite things to do at karaoke is to put on Weird Al’s Amish Paradise and thenwatch as everybody gets real excited for the first 10 seconds only to become really disappointed when the lyrics start.

  41. Eminem always has frustrating elements to all his albums, but I think to this day when he’s great he’s really great, and the Marshall Mathers LP 2 has some of that on it. When that first came out I sat and listened to that first song “Bad GuY” over and over, reading along with the lyrics. The way it plays with your expectations of what you think he’s talking about, double and triple meanings, with a surprise twist where it turns into a sequel to one of his classic songs. But then it transforms into this different type of song where he speaks emotionally from the point of view of all his biggest fears and flaws, like some kind of demonic Richard Pryor routine. He goes so hard into himself on that song, acknowledging his greatest hypocrisies: “I’m the bullies you hate / That you became with every “f-ggot” you slaughtered / Coming back on you, every woman you insult, batter / but the double-standards you have when it comes to your daughters…”

    I mean, it’s epic, but if you have some time to sit and study it, it’s worth it:

    https://youtu.be/vlWVHdLpElU

    But then he starts doing those things he criticized himself for later on the album (including a couple lines in “Rap God,” which is still an exhilarating show-off song) and going after more easy pop star targets and stuff. I don’t know. There’s alot of good stuff on there though.

    But I agree. I miss Soundbombing 2 Eminem.

  42. so speaking of eminem this just happened on facebook

  43. Vern I remember speaking to you back when I was on facebook about that album.

    I wasn’t even impressed by that track because it just seemed like more forced placating to his fans because they hated RELAPSE.

    I remember finding it extremely forgettable and overall very safe yet out of whack but nowhere as visceral or engaging as STAN was.

    That album in general I just don’t remember a lot of. I never felt like “I have to bump that again”.

    To me really RELAPSE was the last time I found Eminem at least interesting. From his flow concepts on that album and how he shifted seemingly despite the different thematic content on each song to Dre’s grandest production to date. It worked for me even if it didn’t for most but the post-RELAPSE Eminem just doesn’t really do it for me in anyway as a listener. Perhaps BAD MEETS EVIL is the exception but again that has a lot more in common with RELAPSE than it does RECOVERY so maybe that’s why.

    I just think I was always more into Slim Shady TBH than Marshall Mathers or Eminem if that makes any sense.

    Since RELAPSE/REFILL was the end of Slim Shady I view it the same way I do Jay-Z with American Gangster. That was the end of Jigga and the end of me as a current listener of his latest works. BLUEPRINT 3 was his RECOVERY. Both dudes are 2 of the best to do it but at the same time I have more than enough from them and really couldn’t be bothered with anything else. At this point they just seem like try hards.

  44. Em is frustrating because I don’t think there’s any denying that he’s got talent, it’s just that he’s so very, very rarely interested in talking about any subject besides himself, his own self-mythologizing, and his ongoing battle/love affair with celebrity. His whole oeuvre is all about himself and his own life, but he’s just not all that interesting a person. His contradictions are pretty superficial and his self-mythologizing reached parody level early on. For all the words, and all the technique, there’s just not a whole lot there, most of the time.

  45. Mr. Subtlety – You may be on to something there. That same sort of self centeredness is also what has turned me off from Jay-Z’s newer music too. Like “ok yeah you nice with it but where’s the heart at?”

    Of course it may just be a reflection of the nature of modern rap music in general. Narcissistic themes are what’s in. This is after all Generation ME so that’s what caters to their ears. At the same time though as you implied Eminem pretty much has been that way all along so in his case perhaps he was just ahead of the curve. However it was him and then Kanye West that really did it like that as far as I can think back now. In return they have spawned more pretentious “listen to my life cause it’s the greatest shit ever” rappers to pop up like the Drakes and Big Seans of today.

    That’s why I still fuck with Nas and Ghostface mostly cause they’re the only cats from their generation who aren’t really trying to keep up with the Joneses and legitimately just doing their own thing as it should be with a lot of soul to spare. Of the newer cats from like the last decade till now it’s still pretty much Cunninlynguist and Big K.R.I.T.T. for me.

  46. Oh and since this comment thread is currently on that hip hop tip even though it’s been days now it still can’t be said enough

    R.I.P. Sean Price

  47. Jareth Cutestory

    August 15th, 2015 at 6:01 am

    I also believe that the children are the future. That’s why we have to stop them now.

  48. The Original Paul

    August 15th, 2015 at 7:25 am

    Jareth – ah, the BATTLE ROYALE theory of childcare.

    Happily, I know very few people who actually subscribe to that particular theory. Although a few might say they do. Get those darn kids off my lawn!

Leave a Reply





XHTML: You can use: <a href="" title=""> <img src=""> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <b> <i> <strike> <em> <strong>