"KEEP BUSTIN'."

Posts Tagged ‘David Patrick Kelly’

The Crow (30th anniversary revisit)

Thursday, May 16th, 2024

On May 13, 1994, Johnny Carson was on Late Show with David Letterman, his final televised appearance. Times were rolling on, guards were changing. That same day Miramax, an indie studio recently purchased by Disney, had their biggest opening ever with a bitter R-rated comic book adaptation. While boomers were preparing to commemorate the 25th anniversary of Woodstock, here was a movie with a soundtrack full of Lollapalooza bands, their names underlined on the poster, above a 1-900 number you could call “for music CD preview.” That particular demographic hadn’t really been cinematically catered to so directly, and they showed up, as did others. It was even well reviewed by critics, who were unlikely to be comic book nerds or Nine Inch Nails fans in those days.

Now THE CROW is 30 years old, further in our past than Woodstock was at the time. Jesus christ, man. I wrote a review of it 15 years ago. Time flies when you’re getting old, I guess. In 1994 this movie seemed amazing and important – it not only felt so new in its style, but was part of a collective mourning and/or discovery of this exciting actor who had lost his life making a movie about losing his life. Maybe I was falling for the ads asking us to “EXPERIENCE THE MOVIE EVENT OF THE YEAR” and “Take the journey. Experience the phenomenon.” But I went solemnly into a dark theater, the movie washed over me, I could just feel it more than think about it. Watching it now it’s more a movie I find interesting than a movie I can love. But I don’t mind that it’s style over substance. That’s why it works. Evocative imagery and effusive, unexamined emotion – that’s what goth is about, as far as I can understand. That’s what being a teenager is about. I used to be one of those. (read the rest of this shit…)

Crooklyn

Monday, May 13th, 2024

MALCOLM X (1992) was a big fucking deal for Spike Lee. A big budget period historical drama, an epic really, that he had to fight to get hired on, and to finance, and to get permission to shoot in Mecca. And got recently freed Nelson Mandela to make a cameo in! It worked, and it was a phenomenon. So how the hell do you follow that up? He chose to make his most autobiographical film, though actually it’s more about his younger sister Joie, who gets a story credit and wrote the screenplay with Spike and their brother Cinqué.

So on May 13th, 1994, three days after Mandela was inaugurated as the first president of free South Africa, CROOKLYN came out, did pretty good, came in third after THE CROW and WHEN A MAN LOVES A WOMAN. Probly felt a little anticlimactic for Spike. But it’s a great movie.

Lee still had editor Barry Alexander Brown, production designer Wynn Thomas, and costume designer Ruth E. Carter, so there’s a continuity with his earlier movies. But Ernest Dickerson, the director of photography for everything since his student film Joe’s Bed-Stuy Barbershop: We Cut Heads, had retired from cinematography to direct JUICE and SURVIVING THE GAME. Those were big shoes to fill. So Lee hooked up with Arthur Jafa, a Howard-educated video artist who had been married to Julie Dash and was d.p. for her DAUGHTERS OF THE DUST. (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…)

John Wick

Monday, October 27th, 2014

tn_johnwickI never figured Keanu Reeves would become an action hall-of-famer, but here we are. Of course he stars in the great POINT BREAK, but we can’t lie, we all kinda chuckle at his FBI surfer dude Johnny Utah in that. And then he was good in SPEED, but would that be enough? If that was enough Matt Damon would be an action legend. Of course, playing Neo in THE MATRIX trilogy sealed the deal, Reeves learned to do all that kung fu and that hadn’t really been done by a normal actor like that before and those movies and those fights hold up today. Still, it seemed like an anomaly in his career. He would always be Neo to the world but that would be it for Action Keanu, right?

Nope. Because he directed last year’s martial arts gem MAN OF TAI CHI and played the villain, creating and performing some more classic fight scenes. When I saw that I realized it was time to acknowledge his greatness. 47 RONIN put a little bit of a damper on that though because it was so boring I never even wrote a review. If I had it would’ve said “Some of the monsters are cool” and that’s about it.

But after JOHN WICK, Reeves’s strong connection to Badass Cinema cannot be denied. This is a fun, violent, straight-ahead revenge action movie. Reeves did not direct it, but his stunt double from the MATRIX movies, Chad Stahelski, did*. So it’s probly a style of directing too dangerous for Reeves to perform. (read the rest of this shit…)