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

“Malone.”

“You got a first name?”

“Yeah.”

Posts Tagged ‘Angela Bassett’

Bumblebee

Tuesday, January 8th, 2019

Weird, but true: turns out you can make a TRANSFORMERS movie that’s sweet and funny, with sensible, reasonably concise storytelling that never feels like it’s whacking you in the face with a frying pan, and has characters you can care about. Even a human female one! All you gotta do is get the director of KUBO AND THE TWO STRINGS and a script by Christina Hodson (SHUT IN, BIRDS OF PREY).

Michael Bay and Steven Spielberg are both listed as executive producers, but BUMBLEBEE definitely feels more like the latter, taking heaps of inspiration from E.T. THE EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL but none that I noticed from ARMAGEDDON. Set in 1987, it does work as a prequel to Bay’s TRANSFORMERS (2007), telling the story of a soldier robot who flees the war on his home planet of Cybertron to hide out in California disguised as a car and wait for the others while evading the secret government agency Sector 7 and two evil Decepticon robots voiced by Angela Bassett (STRANGE DAYS) and Justin Theroux (MIAMI VICE).

But that’s all going on in the midst of a teen movie centering on Charlie Watson (Hailee Steinfeld, 3 DAYS TO KILL), who has just turned 18 and has been going through some shit ever since her dad (Tim Martin Gleason) died suddenly an unspecified few years ago. She resents that her mom (Pamela Adlon, THE ADVENTURES OF FORD FAIRLANE) has a dorky new husband (Stephen Schneider, 2012: SUPERNOVA), she fights with her little brother Otis (Jason Drucker, BARELY LETHAL) and gets into it with mean girls like Tina (Gracie Dzienny) and hunky asshole Tripp Summers (Ricardo Hoyos, Degrassi: The Next Generation) who embarrass her while she’s working at Hot Dog on a Stick. Not necessarily unrelated, her favorite band is The Smiths. (read the rest of this shit…)

Innocent Blood

Wednesday, December 12th, 2018

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again, I’m saying it now: when it comes to balancing horror and comedy, AN AMERICAN WEREWOLF IN LONDON is the goal. I mean, there ones I love just as much that I consider a little heavier on the goofiness, like RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD and EVIL DEAD 2, but AMERICAN WEREWOLF is that ideal where it’s a perfectly serious horror movie and also it’s funny because of the situations and the way the story is told, and neither quality takes away from the other, in fact they only enhance each other.

Well, what seemed like a million years later, but was actually only eleven, director John Landis did a far lesser known but confidently crafted horror-movie-that-is-funny, this time in the vampire realm. INNOCENT BLOOD tells the story of an out of control couple of nights in Pittsburgh when a well(ish)-intentioned bloodsucker named Marie (Anne Parillaud, LA FEMME NIKITA) decides to feed on the local mafia, and it turns into a big mess. (read the rest of this shit…)

Vampire in Brooklyn

Wednesday, November 21st, 2018

I don’t know why there was a Wes Craven movie that I didn’t bother to see in the theater and then didn’t bother to see on home video for over 20 years. Granted, everyone said it was terrible, and it seemed to be an Eddie Murphy comedy vehicle, not a real horror movie, and he started wearing fat suits and shit right around that time.

But these days you can’t take fresh Wes Craven movies for granted, so I decided the moment had come to watch VAMPIRE IN BROOKLYN. The verdict: it’s not an unheralded gem. But it’s also not what I had pictured. It’s a mildly interesting failure.

Murphy (DOLEMITE IS MY NAME) plays Maximillian, the only survivor of a tribe of Egyptian vampire who “traveled south through Africa and over the Atlantic to a beautiful island hidden deep in the Bermuda Triangle,” where they lived for centuries before the vampire hunters found them. There’s a certain parallel to COMING TO AMERICA, because he’s this confident, exotic visitor from another culture, looking for a woman. In this case it’s a specific woman, Rita (Angela Bassett, PANTHER, BLACK PANTHER), a rookie NYPD detective who doesn’t know there are vampires, or that her dad was one, or that she’s the last descendent and only hope to revive the race. (read the rest of this shit…)

Black Panther

Monday, February 19th, 2018

(SPOILERS)

BLACK PANTHER is the first Marvel movie I was anticipating mainly because of the director. FRUITVALE STATION was very good, but of course it was CREED that made me think Ryan Coogler is one of the most promising young directors we have. Best and most miraculous movie of 2015 that didn’t star Charlize Theron with a robot arm. I’d be up for whatever Coogler wanted to do next, but this seemed like a particularly good match for him after CREED’s mix of moving personal drama, immaculate filmatistic style and 21st century pop mythmaking.

#2 reason: Chadwick Boseman. The guy playing the title character shot to the top of my most exciting actors list when I saw his incredible performance as James Brown in GET ON UP. I didn’t know how anybody could pull off playing The Godfather and here is this actor I barely heard of before transforming himself into crazy old man James Brown, young James Brown, all kinds of James Browns. And dancing and strutting and grunting and referring to himself in the third person and pulling it off. He didn’t get all that much acclaim for it, definitely not any awards – somehow he got to skip that step before becoming a super hero.

If you want to call him that. T’Challa isn’t a vigilante or anything, he’s the King of Wakanda, a culture where part of the job is getting supernatural strength and wearing a panther costume to defend the kingdom. It’s like if the president also had to be Superman. What’s cool about this is that Black Panther has to think about things none of his peers do. He has to be a symbol much like Captain America, but with the responsibilities that Thor skipped out of when he turned down the throne. Here he’s challenged to not only defend his rule from a dangerous usurper, but convince his people to shift the direction of the country in order to make a better world. (read the rest of this shit…)

London Has Fallen

Monday, March 7th, 2016

tn_londonhasfallenLONDON HAS FALLEN is the sequel to 2013’s OLYMPUS HAS FALLEN, that one where Gerard Butler (GODS OF EGYPT) plays Secret Service agent Mike Banning, protecting President Benjamin Asher (Aaron Eckhart, I FRANKENSTEIN) when the White House is attacked. It is not to be confused with WHITE HOUSE DOWN, the one where it’s Channing Tatum protecting Jamie Foxx.

Who am I fooling though? I get them confused so much I sincerely mixed up the titles when I wrote the first draft of this review in my notebook, and when I fixed it I started to type OLYMPUS DOWN. I was thinking I’d found the Tatum one to be the more passable 2013 half-assed excuse for a DIE HARD rip-off, but then I went to the tape. My review of that one is a little harsher, and ends by saying “If you see only one UNDER SIEGE IN THE WHITE HOUSE movie this year, see… ah, who gives a shit? Nobody will remember either of these movies a year from now. Of the two I think I preferred OLYMPUS HAS FALLEN. I forget why though. Something about Melissa Leo?”

In my day a movie had to excite somebody’s imagination to get a sequel. Now it just hast to be the one of two similar bad movies that gets more money because it came out first. (read the rest of this shit…)

Chi-Raq

Wednesday, December 9th, 2015

tn_chiraqCHI-RAQ (Chicago + Iraq, pronounced shy-rack) is the Spikiest Spike Lee Joint achieved so far. It seems like whatever itch Lee was trying to scratch with those musical numbers in SCHOOL DAZE has been building up for all these years until it exploded onto the screen like that inflating dude in BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA. Lee must’ve woke up one morning and said fuck it, I’m gonna make a movie that’s so Spike Lee it turns into Baz Luhrmann.

Let me tell you a few things about how heightened and crazy this is. It has musical numbers. It has dance numbers. It has a rap number that breaks into a gun fight precipitated by an argument depicted in onscreen text messages. It has an army of women in chastity belts performing a sexy choreographed group lip-synch to “Oh Girl” by the Chi-Lites (maybe my favorite scene). The two rival gangs wear purple and orange, and are called the Trojans and the Cyclops Spartans, whose leader is Cyclops (Wesley Snipes wearing a red-sequined eyepatch). There’s an explicit reference to THE WARRIORS so you know Spike knows what this reminds us of. (Also Luther himself, David Patrick Kelly, is in it.) All of this is presided over by a fourth-wall-breaking narrator played by Samuel L. Jackson wearing fly suits, spinning a cane and reciting toasts and dirty jokes like Dolemite. That’s not just me reading into it, because he’s called Dolmedes and he references Shine and the Signifying Monkey.

Oh, by the way: all of the other characters speak in rhyme also. So that’s pretty different from most movies. (read the rest of this shit…)

Boyz n the Hood

Wednesday, August 19th, 2015

tn_boyzOf course I had to re-watch BOYZ N THE HOOD as part of the N.W.A celebration. Not only is it named after an Eazy-E song, but it’s the actorial debut of Ice Cube, and still, in my opinion, one of his best performances. (No offense, GHOSTS OF MARS.)

The lead, though, is future DTV master (and Oscar winner, but who cares?) Cuba Gooding Jr. as Tre Styles, a teen in South Central L.A. circa 1991. He lives with his dad Furious (Larry Fishburne, DEATH WISH II), a firebrand mortgage broker who works hard to instill discipline and responsibility in his son, and whose fierce attention to politics gets him called “Malcolm Farrakhan.” In one scene he drives Tre and his friend out to Compton to give them a big speech about gentrification and the importance of black-owned businesses. They’re impressed, but mostly just scared to be in that neighborhood. They’re happy to get back in the car and drive straight outta Compton.

Tre’s friends don’t have fathers, and most of them spend more time sitting on the porch drinking 40s than he does. One of them, Dooky, is always sucking on a pacifier. Apparently that’s because the actor, Dedrick D. Gobert, did that to stop smoking, but it definitely comes across as a symbol of men who never get around to grow into adults, or never get a chance to. These guys live something closer to the lifestyle described in the Eazy-E song than Tre does, but with less shooting and drug money and no hitting women as far as we see. (read the rest of this shit…)

Panther

Wednesday, January 14th, 2015

tn_pantherPANTHER, directed by Mario Van Peebles, written by his dad Melvin Van Peebles based on his own novel, shows the formation and rise and dissolution of the Black Panther Party For Self Defense. That last part of the name is usually left off, which makes sense because it sounds a little awkward. But if they left it on it would make it a little harder to pretend they’re the Kill Whitey Committee.

This is a ’60s period piece made 20 years ago and never even released on DVD in the U.S. as far as I can tell, but it’s timely and provocative because it’s about a community that gets fed up with the shit end of the stick and tries to figure out a better way to deal with it. It opens with a boy riding his bike, taking in the sights of his Oakland neighborhood. He and an older man both watch in delight as a bus blasts by a dressed up lady at a bus stop, blowing her skirt up like Marilyn Monroe. They love that they get to see her garters, and don’t seem to notice that some racist bus driver didn’t stop to pick her up. The innocence of childhood. Nostalgic first person narration is telling us this is where it all started, so it’s a bit of a shock when that kids gets nailed by a car.

He’s not the narrator as a child, it turns out. He’s the dead kid who convinced everybody that they could no longer take “No, you don’t need a stop light at that intersection” for an answer. (read the rest of this shit…)

Olympus Has Fallen

Sunday, March 24th, 2013

tn_olympushasfallenOLYMPUS HAS FALLEN is a watchable but instantly forgettable throwback to a subgenre I miss, the glossy ’90s studio action like IN THE LINE OF FIRE and UNDER SIEGE. I mean it’s not a studio movie – it was made by the until-recently-DTV sausage factory Millennium Films – but it sure seems legit with its respectable cast of Aaron Eckhart as the President, Ashley Judd as the First Lady, Academy Award winner Morgan Freeman as the Speaker of the House  (a demotion from DEEP IMPACT), Academy Award nominee Angela Bassett as the Secret Service director, Academy Award winner Melissa Leo as the Secretary of Defense, Golden Globe winner Dylan McDermott as… some other type of White House guy. Lending whatever action movie credibility they can muster are 300’s Gerard Butler as the hero, PITCH BLACK’s Radha Mitchell as the hero’s wife, THE MAN WITH THE IRON FISTS’s Rick Yune as the villain, and PAPARAZZI’s Cole Hauser reprising his A GOOD DAY TO DIE HARD role as Agent Who Gets Killed Early On. (read the rest of this shit…)

Strange Days

Saturday, November 21st, 2009

tn_strangedaysStrange days we’re livin in, here in the futuristic year of 1999. Everywhere you go there’s people getting chased, cars on fire. I just saw 2 people beating up Santa Claus on the sidewalk. Can you believe gas has gotten up to three whole dollars a gallon? What a nightmare! And man, I almost miss junkies. They were so much better than these “wireheads” you got now, who plug into recordings of the brain responses to sex and bank robberies and stuff. Those guys make me sick.

Okay, you got me, this is actually late 2009 when I’m writing this, and that was a made up science fiction scenario that did not end up happening in ’99. I would remember if it had. Isn’t that weird? In less then two months we’ll be at the 10th anniversary not of this movie, but of the future it takes place in. So it’s ironic that it’s about people stuck on re-living old experiences, and meanwhile we’re watching it comparing it to the actual New Year’s Eve 1999 we experienced. (read the rest of this shit…)