I'm not trying to be a hero! I'M FIGHTING THE DRAGON!!

Posts Tagged ‘John Singleton’

Remember the Time

Tuesday, August 29th, 2017

Today is Michael Jackson’s birthday. On this day in 2009 I wrote about Martin Scorsese’s “Bad” video, and in 2016 I wrote about John Landis’s “Black or White.” I like the idea of making it a tradition, so this year I’m taking a look at “Remember the Time,” directed by John Singleton (SHAFT [2000]) and produced by Reid Shane (production manager, BIG BAD MAMA II) of Propaganda Films.

“Remember the Time” was filmed in January of 1992 and simultaneously debuted at 8:25 pm February 2nd on MTV, BET and Fox, another major television event for MJ. It was the second single from the album Dangerous, so it was the followup to “Black or White.” I suspect it’s intentional that the 9-minute short film and/or video links to the last one through the use of cats. Remember, when last we saw Michael he had morphed into a panther and exited the soundstage. This video begins and ends with a cat, though not one that appears to represent Michael. Just a feline associate, I presume. (read the rest of this shit…)

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.

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…)

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.

Abduction

Friday, February 17th, 2012

tn_abductionIn the summer of 1991 a 23-year-old director named John Singleton made a hell of a debut with BOYZ N THE HOOD. It was a preachy, of-the-moment anti-violence tale inspired by his (recent) youth in South Central Los Angeles, tempted by the machismo of gang life but smart enough to avoid getting tangled in its endless cycle of retaliation. The movie had breakthrough roles for Cuba Gooding Jr. before “Show me the money,” and for Larry Fishburne before Ike Turner or Morpheus. He was so memorable as Furious Styles that he turned into a Laurence 2 years later. (read the rest of this shit…)

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.

2 Fast 2 Furious

Friday, July 7th, 2006

I recently saw and enjoyed THE FAST AND THE FURIOUS PRESENTS TOKYO DRIFT, part 3 in the FAST AND THE FURIOUS saga. And it reminded me that it was time I got around to seeing part 2. This one is closer to a straightup sequel. They couldn’t get Vin Diesel to return so instead they just follow Paul Walker’s character.

I know that probaly all of you have seen that first movie over a thousand times and have it memorized backwards, forwards and sideways, but in case there is one person out there who may not be familiar with the story, I want to help that one person out. In the first movie, Paul Walker is a new street racer in town who befriends Vin Diesel, who is the charismatic leader of a team of racers, but is also leading a gang of armed robbers or a chop shop or arms dealers or kidnappers or something. And a ways into the movie you find out that Paul is actually an undercover cop trying to bust Vin. But throughout the movie they have a special sort of male bonding – the type that happens between an undercover cop and his mark, or between two dudes obsessed with cars – so at the end Paul purposely lets Vin escape. (read the rest of this shit…)

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.

Four Brothers

Sunday, August 21st, 2005

A saintly old white lady gets killed during a liquor store robbery in Detroit. She has four adopted sons that return to town for her funeral – Mark Wahlberg from Boogie Nights, Andre Benjamin from Be Cool, Tyrese from Baby Boy, and… some kid in a leather jacket. See, this dead lady was some kind of pillar of the community, bein a grandma to all the disadvantaged kids in the neighborhood, bringing people free turkeys on thanksgiving, teaching important moral lessons and what not. But these four kids, these were the worst motherfuckers anybody ever saw… out of all the kids she helped, these were the only little shits she couldn’t get anybody to adopt, because they were too bad. The dirty dozen of juvenile delinquents. Except there’s only four of them, I think I mentioned that already but I don’t want anybody to get confused. The dirty four brothers.

So now Motown’s Most Infamous are back in the neighborhood like blaxploitation stars, and somebody out there killed their mom, and they aren’t quite as forgiving as she is so holy shit is somebody gonna have all hell brought down on them, in my opinion. (read the rest of this shit…)

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.

Baby Boy

Saturday, June 30th, 2001

Baby Boy is the underrated new picture by young Johnny Singleton, the director of Shaft 2K who was also the youngest fella to ever get nominated for a best director oscar. That was for Boyz N the Hood, and what makes Baby Boy interesting is that it is a companion piece to that movie, telling the story of thugs and gangstas in South Central Los Angeles. But now Singleton is older and he sees things differently. So instead of portraying these thugs as a menace to society, he portrays them as a bunch of fucking babies who need their mommies.

The main character is Jody, who is played by a model named Tyrese. He is bald and muscled, like what Singleton wishes he looked like. But he drives his girlfriend’s car or, when necessary, rides a bike. And he lives with his mom, even though he has two different babies from two different mamas. (read the rest of this shit…)

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.

Shaft (2000)

Friday, June 16th, 2000

Going in I didn’t know WHAT to expect. A remake? A sequel? The ads made it look silly and ridiculous. Like not so much a remake as a big screen addaptation of the Shaft theme song.

But then I never thought Shaft was the god damn word of the lord or anything. He’s a cool character and I like his work and what he accomplishes with the ladies but I never thought his pictures had the same emotional depth of Superfly or The Mack or Blacula. Maybe it’s because those are movies about outlaws instead of a law enforcement figure like a private eye. Or maybe not. I think you kind of had to be black at that time to know what it meant to finally see a black James Bond character like John Shaft. But at the time, just as now, I was a white man.

So I was open to some noodling and fiddling with the Shaft character, but to my surprise it is a surprisingly faithful update with hardly any shenanigans. It is a pretty serious story of Shaft trying to catch a racist murderer rich boy bail jumper played by none other than the American Psycho from the film American Psycho starring Patrick Bateman. The tone of the picture is a very strange and enjoyable cross between gritty police stories like Clockers and the Homicide television program and the more corny ’70s tv shows like CHiPs. So the violent scenes are grim and disturbing but you still got a foot chase or two with Shaft chasing a dude up and down fire escapes fueled only by wah wah guitars.

The reason I like this picture is mostly the ’70s feel. The only Isaac Hayes song they used is the main theme, but the score is all extrapolated from the style of that piece. And Shaft is a character with a combination of qualities you just don’t see all at once anymore. He is the guy who always looks cool, always knows how to trick somebody or kick somebody’s ass something good, is single and open to sharing his charms with many ladies, and who also is sensitive and supportive to the point of sainthood. During the court room scene, he is sitting behind the mother of the victim, rubbing her shoulders and telling her everything is gonna be okay. You almost think he is a guardian angel. (read the rest of this shit…)

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.