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Posts Tagged ‘Jonathan Majors’

The Harder They Fall

Thursday, December 9th, 2021

THE HARDER THEY FALL (no relation to THE HARDER THEY COME) is one of the better movies I’ve seen this year, and definitely one of the better made-for-Netflix ones. It’s a western with an all-Black, all-star cast, and the opening title card says, “While the events in this story are fictional… These. People. Existed.”

That hand clap emoji type cadence makes me think they’re talking to doofuses who don’t know basic history and/or Mario Van Peebles’ POSSE and think there weren’t Black people in the Old West. But also They. Existed. in the sense that most of the main characters are based on – or at least named after – actual historical figures. But writer/director Jeymes Samuel and co-writer Boaz Yakin (THE PUNISHER [1989], THE ROOKIE, FRESH, FROM DUSK TILL DAWN 2, PRINCE OF PERSIA, SAFE) have no qualms about putting together people who never would’ve crossed paths, giving them totally new origin stories, killing them young in a gunfight even if they died of old age. But think of it as a LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMAN type team-up fantasy. It’s a good western story.

Jonathan Majors (HOSTILES, DA 5 BLOODS) ably stars as Nat Love, the legendary outlaw whose tragic backstory opens the film. He’s a kid (Chase Dillon from The Underground Railroad) at the dinner table with his parents when Rufus Buck (Idris Elba, PROM NIGHT) and another guy come in, blast them away with golden pistols for some unexplained debt, and carve a cross into little Nat’s forehead. So, like Harmonica in ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST or Ellen in THE QUICK AND THE DEAD, this kid’s got a pretty good revenge mission to get to when he grows up. (read the rest of this shit…)

Da 5 Bloods

Tuesday, June 16th, 2020

DA 5 BLOODS is Spike Lee’s new Vietnam War joint that happened to be produced by Netflix, so when our current global nightmare thwarted theatrical release they didn’t have to delay it, they just put it right onto their service, making it one of Pandemic Summer’s biggest blockbusters in my opinion. For now this is our James Bond and our Top Gun (I won’t say Wonder Woman, because it’s very male oriented).

Like so many of Lee’s movies, it finds interesting ways to visually connect history to the present. Think of DO THE RIGHT THING’s showcasing of the photos and quotes of Dr. King and Malcolm, MALCOLM X’s coda of real people (including a newly freed Nelson Mandela) saying “I am Malcolm X!,” or BLACKKKLANSMAN’s montage with the murder of Heather Heyer, the real David Duke and the president’s other Very Fine People in Charlottesville. Following in that tradition, DA 5 BLOODS opens with historical footage and photos establishing Those Uncertain Times of the Vietnam era.

Muhammad Ali explains his refusal to kill people who haven’t done anything to him on behalf of people who have. To the tune of “Inner City Blues,” we see black soldiers in Vietnam, whitey on “Da Moon,” Black Panthers, Malcolm, Martin, Kwame Ture, Angela Davis. We alternate between brutality in Vietnam and at home: burning monks, the Kent State shootings, the street execution from that famous photo, police clubbing protesters at the DNC, the children burned with napalm. When the war ends and this volley of fast-speed documentary turmoil subsides, the frame stretches and contracts to widescreen, and Saigon dissolves to modern tourism-friendly Ho Chi Minh City, where four of our titular quintet meet up in a hotel lobby, hugging and hand shaking, sipping the first of many fruity umbrella cocktails, in a present that will repeatedly bleed into the past. (read the rest of this shit…)