Friday, November 13, 2009

Films That I have seen recently

Cassavettes can not make a bad film if he tried. "Faces" proves this point.

What makes his films so great is the fact they feel so real. Shot in a Cinema Verite style, the films begin to blur the line between fact and fiction as his actors improvise their lines. I am very nostalgic as well, and I appreciate the period in which he made these films.

This film is the Chinese Mean Streets.

This film is different than his later films, but it is still a great watch. It definetly has that Hong Kong Cinema feel and Cinemascape. In addition, his later films focus on Love between lovers. However this film, it is the love of a friendship that takes the central theme.

I cried laughing watching this film.

I reviewed the preview of this film as part of my blaxploitation month blog special. This film delievered everything I could have hoped for and more. Like Dolemite, I had to watch this film multiple times.

David Mamet's dialouge is like listening a Ghostface Killa's rhyme; he is going to catch you off guard with his word play.

This film was an introduction to Mamet's work, and i look forward to see more of his films. I loved the way the film positioned the relationship as a con and risky psychological game of death.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Forgotten History

How come the history channel does not have specials about the African Diaspora (Slavery)?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Force 1TD

I've been watching a lot of short films lately. One of the ones that stands out is Force 1TD.


Friday, September 11, 2009

Mister Freedom (Directed by William Klein)

Today marks the 8th Anniversary of the terrorist attacks that took place on American soil in 2001. While browsing through the video store, I wanted to watch something that was relevant to this occasion and Mister Freedom caught my attention...

Simply stated, this film is beyond satire. For some, Mister Freedom is very real.

The human personification of America has been used in many films but none have come close to the depth of William Klein's Mister Freedom. It is apparent that Klein, an expatriate of the United States, dug deep when he wrote, directed, and designed this film.

With costumes made entirely of sports equipment and villains who are little more than balloons, this film struck me as a child's wild fantasy. Remember when you were a kid and you could turn a skateboard into a get away vehicle and a tennis ball into a grenade while playing cops & robbers with your friends in the neighborhood? Well Mister Freedom is just that, but with grown up political commentary. Perhaps this is all a child's game on the world stage...

Although decades have passed since the premiere of this film, I think it would be interesting to see a Mister Freedom film undertake our modern political issues.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

My Brother in Blog.

My Brother in Rhyme is now my Brother in Blog.

As I have been slipping in recent Months, Tejay's blog is a great place to go as I get my act together...

Reading Tejay's blog, has got my blogging spirit back up. More posts to come!

Thursday, July 9, 2009


Jean-Jacques Beineix's Diva... Everything I love in a film.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Canoa (Directed by Felipe Cazals)

"This 1976 Mexican feature is based on a reportedly real incident which took place in 1968. When a group of hikers happen upon a village governed by a paranoid and fanatical priest, they are labeled as communists and desecrators and are lynched by the bespelled townspeople." -

Canoa hit me harder than most films.

After a recent run in with a serial killer in the corn fields in Indiana, I personally know that shit can hit the fan... Quickly. I realized that I, and anybody, could be one of those hikers.

On a less personal level, I was impressed director Felipe Cazals' use of various modes of narration throughout the film. At times, the film is shot like a mockumentary and several participants from the incident give a "tour" of Canoa to viewers. Other times, the film progresses in a traditional vouyeristic approach and the characters do not acknowledge the camera at all. Cazal skillfully blended the change of narrative into a solid product that tells an emotional story from both sides.

I feel that a general American Audience will not appreciate this film. For some, It comes off as a chessy 70s exploitation flick. However, I believe if this film was remade to tell the story of an American Civil Rights atrocity it would grab the attention of American Audiences.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

2012, its back...

Yahoo news recently posted an exclusive trailer of the 2012 film. I posted the first trailer from this film a few months back, but it was taken off youtube in no time.

This new trailer shows the film will contain biblical references including, blatant nods at Noah's ark and a crack between Adam and God's fingers in the Sistine chapel.

Another interesting addition to film's trailer is the Black President. In 1998's "Deep Impact", Morgan Freeman played the President of the United States. Both "2012" and "Deep Impact" are considered disaster movies. It is clear; If the President is black, the world must be coming to an end! Psuedo-Racist innuendos aside, I wonder will the black President be used as political commentary? If so, will it be negative or positive?

I think one of the most obvious shortcomings of the film is its similarities to "War of the Worlds." Like WOTW, the main character is a Father trying to save his family as the World nears destruction. Do we need another WOTW?

As I've said before, I personally want 2 hours of sheer destruction. Why not pull a "Pyscho" and kill the main character in the beginning of the film? Imagine "Koyaanisqatsi" with burning landmarks throughout the world and mass panic. I believe that is what we are all waiting to see, but will never see....... until 2012.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Mikey and Nikey (Directed by Elaine May)

This past month, I saw a drought in my cinema experience. I honestly did not see a movie interesting enough to propel me to write about it.

Mikey and Nicky was the Indian Rain Dance i needed to get me writing again.

The real life friendship of Peter Faulk and John Cassavetes is easily translated into this film. I think half of the reason this film is so great, is because these two are really good friends and the improvisation feels genuine. At times, the film comes off more as a documentary rather than a fictional film.

John Cassavetes plays Nicky, a gangster on the run from the mob after some bad business. Mikey, played by Peter Faulk, comes to his rescue and seemingly tries to help him get out of the city before the mob catches up to him. However, early on it is implied that Mikey might have some Ulterior motives and might be setting him up.

This film serves as a classic study of a friendship on thin ice. The dialogue in this film beautifully paints each characters psyche and paints the characters history together while completely remaining in the moment. No corny flashbacks in this film. The relationship between the two main characters reminds me of a couple of my own personal relationships. In particular, the film reminds me of my friend Ramon and I and also my friend Austin and I.

Ramon and I have been in a similar situation... details will be spared. During our situation, Ramon was in Nicky's shoes and I was in Mikey's. Although, the outcome of the film is far different than what happened in our situation, walking the thin ice in a relationship is very stressful. But I am happy to say that the ice froze over and Ramon remains one of my closest friends to this day. Crew.

Next week I have an old friend, Austin, coming to visit. I am stoked. When we were in high school we would get together with our friend Wahid and freestyle all day and night. We would hit up B boy (break dancing) events and ride around Atlanta admiring local graffiti. Perhaps it is the fact that Austin and I are both Leos, but every now and then we would brawl. I mean seriously brawl. But Wahid was always there to break it up... When we look back we always laugh, but i think that is a major part of why we have so much love for each other. It is a fact, tumultuous relationships are more interesting than calm "average" relationships. This is evident in Mikey and Nicky as you watch the two characters go from being best friends to worst enemies like the weather patterns. It is just so damn interesting...

Monday, May 18, 2009

New York State of Mind

I’m in a New York State of mind.

Naked City. Blast of Silence. Style wars. Street Trash. The Warriors. Heavy Traffic. The God Father. Once Upon a Time in America. Mean Streets. Coon Skin. Good Fellas. He Got Game. Man Push Carts. King of New York. Bad Lieutenant. Downtown 81. Wildstyle. Day Night Day Night. Husbands. Shadows. Annie Hall. Taxi Driver.

Excuse my French, but Hollywood ain’t got shit on New York City Film making. The West and the East coast styles of film making are polar opposites. Hollywood is about large-scale sets and glamor. New York is more raw and about improvising sets using the city as a backdrop.

I have always been attracted to the art that comes out of New York City. Artists like Dondi White and Jean Michele Basquiat are amongst my favorites and I will always be inspired by directors like Spike Lee, Martin Scorcesse, and Jim Jarmsuch.

Ever since I could remember, I wanted to live in New York City and be apart of the artistic community that produces my favorite work. However, I wonder if this is a dream of a bygone era. Is the New York that I dream of only in films? Does it exist? Did it ever really exist?

Whenever I talk about New York to Native New Yorkers, they always talk about how much it has changed and how Times Square is more like Disney land than an emblem of New York City. During my last trip to the Big Apple I talked to a friend about the artistic movements of New York’s yesteryear. In specific, we talked about the factors that attracted artist during those years. One of the factors was cheap rent. He told me how rent was dirt cheap during the late 1970’s and early 80’s. During this time, artists and creative individuals could afford to live and make a living in New York. Nowadays, nothing is affordable in New York. Can artist afford to live in New York? If not, Is New York the cultural hub that it once was?

I recently came across a book called The Warhol Economy. After reading the first chapter, it explained a lot of what has been on my mind. Author Elizabeth Currid explains that Art economies thrive in both recessions and booms. As a matter of fact, this cycle is essential to the art world. She further explains the mechanics of the Art Economy and the reasons why New York is a major center of culture. The first chapter of her book can be downloaded here.

As we continue to head into the “Great Recession”, I can’t but help but draw comparisons to New York in the late 1970s and the revolution it experienced because of the social and urban decay that resulted from this turbulent period. I see New York City spawning another cultural revolution from the remains of this economic storm. Budget cuts will cause directors to rely on the fundamentals of film making rather than special effects. With this in mind, there will be an invasion of underground cinema during this period. I predict a new set of directors and artist will carry on the traditions of New York’s Cultural elite. I love the films that came out of New York in the 1970’s… I hope to see a return to the film making that I love.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Born Ready: Something in Brighton Beach's water

For years, Coney Island has produced some standout talent in high school basketball; Stephen Marbury and Sabastian Telfair just to name a few... As a matter of fact, Spike Lee's He Got Game , is about a high school player hailing from the legendary black top of Coney Island, USA. With the launch of Fader Films' Born ready web series, It seems that Fiction is not to far from Fact. This web based documentary follows the life of basketball prodigy Lance Stephenson on and off court. Enjoy.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Trailer Park- Retro Edition

Taking Woodstock (Directed by And Lee)

Woodstock was not only the "greatest concert" of all time but a culturally significant event in American history as well...

This film is purported to be based on the actual events surrounding Woodstock and how the land became available. It focuses on the local's and their reaction to the counter culture hippies coming into the town. On a more personal scale, this film looks into sexuality and drug use in this generation defining time period.

I have not seen much from Director Ang Lee... But this film catches my attention because of the nostalgic feel of the cinematography. It has a low saturation and low contrast feel that mimics the film stock of that period. With such attention to detail, I think this film will speak volumes for an aging generation.

The Informers (Directed by Gregor Jordan)

I think I see a pattern here... First sequels and campy super hero flicks are presented to induce a sense a nostalgia amongst movie goers, now all out retro films for certain sub cultures are being made to capitalize on the market.

This film, set in 1980's Los Angeles club scene will be a must see for 80's niche. Upon watching this film, I was intially turned off. It seems to focus on it's star appearances and retro style. However, after reading more about the project, I am interested in how they are going to weave all the separate stories together. This is completely lost in the trailer... But as discussed in a previous blog, you cant judge a film by it's trailer....

Moon (Directed by Duncan Jones)

This is the least retro of the bunch, but it draws inspiration from the classic space films of the 70's. Has Space Odyssey 2001 and Solaris finally meet? It seems so with this tale about an astronaut stranded on the Moon...

When I was 10 I had seen an episode from the television program "The Cape" entitled "Buried in Peace." In this episode, a crew of astronauts go into space to fix a satilite but while in orbit, they come across an old Russian capsule with dead cosmonauts inside. This imagery has stayed with me since. There was something lonely and freaky about dying in space. It would'nt shock me if there was some truth behind it.

I am interested in Moon. It has done well in the festival circut, but Im not sure if it will latch on to American Audiences. I also predict an M. Night Shyamalan esque ending. This is a film that I look forward to reviewing...

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Driller Killer (Directed by Abel Ferrara)

The Driller Killer is one of the worst movies I have ever seen. Enough said.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

History Channel?

What is up with the History Channel nowadays?

The only thing on The History channel is the Ax Men and shows about Aliens!

Why is the show Ax Men constantly on the History Channel? The closest comparison i can think of is how radio stations play the same song over and over due to payola. What does this show have to do with History? I should have saw the signs of the end when they premiered that Ice trucker show. With programming such as these, It seems to be an ill fated attempt at trying to compete with the Discovery channel and TLC. People watch the history channel for history, not documentaries about extreme jobs...

Granted, the history channel has always showed programs about space and aliens, but it has recently gone over board. Alien contact has not been proven as HISTORICAL fact. These shows probably drive up the ratings, but again, this has nothing to do with HISTORY.

As a teenager, I remember watching the history channel and actually learning things. Perhaps those days are just that; History...

Monday, March 23, 2009

Love at first sight?

I dont believe in love at first sight, but I do believe in LUST at first sight... It has gotten me into trouble In the past.

Her name was Diary of the Dead... After coming across the first scene of the film and trailer, I was completely blown away. As a huge fan of the original Dawn of the Dead, I was hyped about going to see this film. I even drug out my friend Alex Hate to come see it with me. To say the least, DOTD was the worst film that I had seen in 2008. Furthermore, I was embarrassed that I had wasted my friends time... The film started off with great potential, but failed to deliver in almost every category except gore. It's true; You can't judge a book by it's cover and you can't judge a movie by it's trailer.

The other night I ran across a trailer for a film called The longest Summer. I was blown away by the feel and imagery of this film. The trailer has a grungy aestheitc with hand held and reportage-like cinematography. I am starting to notice I have an infatuation with the 98-99 trends in filmmaking. I see this film feeling something like another film from 1998, Belly. Like Belly, this film was somewhat panned by critics. However, as you might know, I am a fan of Belly. Perhaps, The longest Summer is another hidden gem.

I went to the local Independent video store, Video Drome ("Product plug! Product Plug!"), and tried to find The longest Summer. Unfourtanetly, they didnt have the film, but they said they had some of Fruit Chan's other films. I decided to give Hollywood Hong Kong a try. I must admit, I did not read much about the film and got it on the strength of The longest Summer's movie trailer. With this in mind, I did not get what I expected and I was not really blown away by the direction of the film. To me, the film felt like the Chinese answer to Delicatessen. I'm not a fan of that movie either.

Although I did not like Fruit Chan's other film, I am still intrigued by The longest Summer's trailer. As with any great trailer, the more I watch it, the more I Lust to see the film...

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Im sorry... You deserve only the best.

Because my previous post was so painful to watch, I decided to treat you all with some films that I am anxiously anticipating.

It is no secret, Jarmusch is up there on my list. As a matter of fact, he's on my starting line up. As an avid lover of New York Cinema, my starting five would be...

PG- Spike Lee * What's a NY Basketball team without Spike?
SG- Martin Scorsese *The Micheal Jordan of NY Film makers!
3 spot- Jim Jarmusch *My Larry Bird. The most dependable in clutch situations.
PF- Abel Ferrara *I need someone to get dirty in the paint.
C- Wong Kar Wai *I have to have an Yao Ming on my squad!

I see Jarmusch's upcoming film, "The Limits of Control", as a mixture of Desperado, Kill Bill, and Ghost Dog: Way of the Samurai. Collaborating with Isaach De Bankole for the fourth time, I see a relationship evolving between the two similar Jarmusch's working relationship with Bill Murray (who is also in the film) and Tom waits. However, unlike the other relationships, I see, at least in this film, something more like a Director Frederico Fellini and Actor Marcello Mastroianni relationship where the director uses the actor as an on screen representation of self. I am anxious to see this film on the big screen and look forward to writing a review about this film...

If Jarmushch Scores, he might walk away as this season's MVP...

With my last name being Acosta, I admit, I might have a biological disposition to being attracted to "Sin Nombre".
As Brown becomes the gray area in America's historically Black and White political/ social landscape, I hope to see more mainstream film releases from this sect of American life. In the seventies, there was a wave of second generation Italians that took over Cinema. Perhaps the next generation of great American screenwriters, directors, and Actors will be of Hispanic origin.

Apparently, this film impressed a lot of people at Sundance and won "Excellence in Direction" and "Excellence in Cinematography." It might be early to say, but I think Slumdog Millionaire might have started a trend...

Trailer Trash

Ok, I'm calling it... Dragonball Evolution will go down in history as one of the worst films ever made. Sure, this film has not been released yet, but it is an obvious scheme to cash into the "Comic book" craze. What gets to me the most, is the fact this live action rendition stems so far away from the source material that it will make die hard fans upset. In addition, I honestly don't see anyone over 21 going to see this film. I feel that this is right up the alley of the Super Mario Brothers live action film. I might be wrong, but I am willing to call this one a flop early...

Monday, March 16, 2009

Rocky Horror Picture Show

I'm nostalgic, but only to a certain extent.

I love my vinyl Collection.
I love film cameras.
I love 70's Cinema...

However, the Rocky Horror Picture show is beyond my "certain extent."

Last weekend, I had some friends in town and wanted to show them a good time. I had passed by the local theater (The Plaza theater) and noticed that it was playing the Rocky Horror Picture show (RHPS) and suggested we all go see it. Of course, I knew of the shenanigans and what to expect...

RHPS takes the Cinema experience to a height I have ever seen experienced before. Along with a screening you can also expect a live performance as well. The performers literally bring the show to the audience with various props and gags. In addition, the crowd participates by somehow turning rude comments into an art form throughout the show.

Personally, I felt that the RHPS is an artifact from the 70's that was revolutionary at the time but is somewhat stale nowadays. As with anything I can respect the tradition and the nostalgia. However, I feel it is a product of a bygone era.

Perhaps it was either the nostalgia or the flying popcorn and pixey sticks that gave me the feeling of being back in Milton High School's cafeteria. Whatever it was, it reminded me of those years and the various tables in the cafeteriaduring lunch time. Of course you had the staple "Black table", "The in crowd table", "The ESOL Table", and the "Social Outcast table". Going to the RHPS you are defintely at the latter. I found much of the humor childish and the show did little to stimulate my interest. It seemed to make a point of being a freakshow with more emphasis on freak than an actual show. But then again, that is what I expected.

RHPS is a cult film. There is something for everybody. RHPS is'nt for me. In 2006, I participated in the Warriors weekend in Atlanta and got a chance to see The Warriors on the big screen. It was great to see all the other Warriors enthusiast "come out and play". It was, by far, one of the greatest weekends of my life...

Sunday, March 15, 2009

March Madness

My car broke down last night. Not fun... But one of the upsides to immobility is the fact that i can put more time into my blog and my new website.

In correaltion with these recent developments and the fact that Atlanta is being over taken by NCAA basketball tournaments, I have deemed this month's series March Madness.

This month's theme is loose and wont be as cohesive as last month's Black Cinema series. I will present everything from films that make me mad to films that the director must have been mad to make. Ok, I agree; This is'nt the best idea for a series, but then again, I can't do much with the March of Dimes...

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Broken Flowers (Directed by Jim Jarmusch)

*Click to watch free on Hulu.

This is the movie that Vincent Gallo wished he made with Brown Bunny.

From beginning to end I was glued to the screen. I think it is safe to say that Jim Jarmusch can not make a bad film.

In Broken Flowers, Jarmusch showed his status as a veteran director. Allsuions to films like Kubrick's Lolita added a great deal of flavor to this story. Also, I admire how Jarmusch transcended the charater of his neighbor, Winston, into various symbols. The character of Winston was present in the form of a music CD that he had given Don. He was also mentioned as a great companion in the form of the Animal Communicator's deceased "Animal friend". These were great touches to the film.

For some, the ending of the film does not provide enough closer. For me, It goes back to the saying; Like Father Like Son.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Popcorn!!! Quick Reviews

Ganja and Hess- I don’t know what is scarier; The fact that this movie is considered art or the fact that I sat through the entirety of this film. While this might have been a milestone for on-screen black identity, it is one that has been seemingly forgotten by blacks as a mass. I argue that this might not be such a bad thing.

Menace to Society- The Hughes brothers were individually twenty years old when they made this film! They directed this tale of street life and it’s predictable outcome with the playful imagination of someone half their age but with the discipline of someone twice their age.

Belly- Everyone in my generation has Attention Deficit Disorder. We can’t help it. Thanks to Hype Williams, we have a film that we can set through. Originally panned by critics as eye candy without substance, this film has found a devout cult following in recent years… In the commentary, Williams said that he had hours of deleted footage. I will know that heaven has got a ghetto, when I see the Criterion release for Belly!

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Chameleon Street

Fact: Some of the greatest art is made on no budget.

Fact: Directors who write and star in their own productions make some of the best films.

Fact: Wendell B. Harris is on a different Wavelength than the rest of the world.

Chameleon Street is a testament to the previous statements. Director, screenwriter, and star Wendell B Harris proves to be a one-man army in this tale about the too cool for school con artist William Douglas Street. This is a film that displays the ingenious of a new director and the quirkiness of the decade that influenced his style.

Although this film is mainly a comedy, there are parts in this film so suspenseful that it is almost painful to watch. Street places himself in situations that the viewer knows is destined for doom. While, there are laughs from end to end, this film is nothing less than a great modern tragedy. I find something haunting about the last frame of the film that solidifies this statement. As the final frame is frozen, Harris breaks the fourth wall with what seems as an expression of insanity and for the first time in the film he is shown as a villain.

In the extra features on the Chameleon Street DVD there was a trailer for Wendell B. Harris’ most recent film, Arbiter Roswell. This was actually a little more than a trailer and more like a preview of select scenes. I must admit, I was turned off by what was presented. The project did not seem cohesive and lacked a point. It seems that his recent work on aliens and conspiracies is a lot like the SETI program. He is sending a lot of signals into space with out any kind of response. However, for a period of time in 1989 when he made Chameleon Street, I picked up his signal.

On a side note: When I was thirteen I received the Blackstarr album from a family friend. One of the tracks on the album was “Brown Skin Lady.” This track sampled a scene from the beginning of Chameleon Street. While watching Chameleon Street it was somewhat surreal to finally watch the original scene that the song had sampled. That scene can be seen here.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

From the Archives- Coming to America v.s. Friday

Two Years ago, I was the online editor for my college newspaper. When I found time, I also contributed to writing film reviews and opinion articles. I decided to bring present an article that I wrote a couple years ago since it goes along with the topic of this month, Black film. Enjoy.

Within the last year, I began looking at films differently. I stopped going to see the latest releases and began watching movies from various top 100 lists.

With my new appreciation for film, I engaged in a general debate with my co-workers about two very different comedies: "Coming to America" and "Friday."

I heard both sides use highlights from the films to support their positions.

Whether it was an infamous barbershop debates or front porch dialogue, the debate was limited to the films' punch lines.

I later came to the conclusion that Coming to America is by far a better film.

I based my initial opinion solely on the representation of blacks depicted in the two films.

Coming to America showcased an assortment of black characters, while Friday did not.

Coming to America painted blacks as royalty and business owners while not overlooking the street hustler and layman. Although Friday is entertaining, its protagonists are lazy, jobless drug users.

I view Friday as a catalyst in the resurgence of blaxploitation films. In the 1970s black action films, the protagonist is often a character who resorts to illegal means to "beat the system."

Although similar characters are seen in Friday, the film ignores the possibility of a greater existence. The two main characters are 20-somethings who seem content living with their parents.

With so many obvious differences, can Coming to America truly be considered a black comedy?

It may surprise some people that Coming to America was not directed by a black person, but rather a Jewish man named John Landis.

I would not consider this a black film. I consider this film, responsibly presented by Jewish Americans, a genius social commentary of the ongoing black culture.

F. Gary Gray's first feature length film, Friday, had obvious rookie mistakes.

The presentation of minorities on screen relied heavily on stereotypes for laughs.

I believe film should be an artistic medium to communicate theories about human emotion, meaningful events and the overall human experience.

But black comedies rely on less than honorable stigmas to generate revenue.

I challenge black directors to make more responsible material when working with black subject matter.

I find it ironic that the Jewish director and writer of Coming to America view black culture in a more complete fashion than the director and writers of Friday.

I challenge the black community to diversify its cinematic libraries with not only black- made films, but films from around the world.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Diary of a Mad Black Woman (Directed by Darren Grant)

Ok, I must admit, Diary of a Mad Black Woman wasn't as bad as I thought it was going to be. Although the film proved too long and predictable, this film has punchlines for even the toughest critics.

I was originally introduced to Tyler Perry through his plays that were sydicated on Bootleg DVDs. At the time I was really shocked by the caricatures of African Americans presented on stage. I think it was the role of Madea and Mr. Brown that struck a nerve in me. Personaly, I thought it was too over the top. For the film release, director Darren Grant made the wise decision of limiting Medea's screen presence. The character that is largely associated with the film appeared in less than 25% of the actual film. I believe this was intentional as the movie was set to reach a wider audience instead of the niche market the plays were made for. This proved to be a wise decision that saved the integrity of the film.

As mentioned earlier, this film was way too long. I believe this film could be cut in half and still retain the laughs and message.

The beginning of the film was surprisingly good. However, the film slowly crept down the drain until it reached the point of no return during the church scene at the end of the film. This scene has to be one of the cheesiest attempts to resolve several intertwining sub plots at one time. It was atrocious. This film relies heavily on the rhetoric of Traditional African American Culture. Outside of this following, this attempt of an ending is seemingly corny.

Ok, I must admit, this isn't my most thorough review. But this film, like so many mainstream "black films," was not made for serious critiques. This is a care free comedy that should be taken as just that.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Medicine for Melancholy

Medicine for Melancholy is the debut film of director Barry Jenkins. I have not personally seen the film, but apparently it takes place the day after a one night stand as two lovers are trying to get to know one another. It is tagged as "A night they barely remember becomes a day they'll never forget."

From the trailer, it seems like a departure from the run of the mill black films. It features two Hip, Fixed Gear Riding, African Americans. It will be interesting to see how this story turns out. The only thing that I can forsee being a problem is the acting by the Male lead Wyatt Cenac. Again, I have yet to see the film but I was not impressed by the trailer.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Neo Blaxploitation

Black Dynamite
, a new parody of the Blaxploitation film genre, has recently received rave reviews at Sundance. The reception was so well, Sony decided to pick it up for a $2 million distribution deal.

With so much anticipation, will this film bring a resurgence of the classic Blaxpliotation genre?

In my opinion, Black Dynamite is the black counterpart to the 2006 film, Grindhouse. This film aims to highlight the atrocious acting, dreadful dialogue, and penny-pinching production aspects of the genre.

However, the truth is Blaxploitation films like Shaft, Sweet Back's Bad assss song, and The Mack were taken seriously and were much needed at the time they were created.

Blaxpliotation films provided a new identity for blacks. Once a black hero could take out the “the man” and sleep with white women on screen, there was no going back to the Aunt Jemima and Uncle Tom archetypes. This genre provided characters that blacks and other minorities could relate to. These films were set in the large urban cities that many blacks had recently migrated to rather than the rural settings of the South that they had moved from. With a backdrop of the decade’s most pressing sociological issues of Social and Urban Decay, the main characters were products of their environment. Minority audiences saw themselves in the pimps, gangsters and hustlers who were willing to escape from the American Nightmare by any means necessary.

I don’t believe that there will be a resurgence of Blaxploitation films because they never went away. The films, like the times, adapted to new trends and archetypes. From the start, music was a major influence on the genre and the appeal of these films. By the 1980’s and early 1990’s the roles reversed with the introduction of Gansgta rap. Much of the imagery and ideals from blaxploitation films appeared in the lyrics and music videos of rappers like Snoop Dogg and members of the Wutang Clan.

Nowadays there is a new politically correct Blaxploitation film. These PC films are not exploitative in regards to sexuality and violence but its formulation of an ideal black middle class who exploits hip hop culture for some type of artistic merit or capitalistic gain. Films like Stomp the Yard, Drumline, You got Served, and Brown Sugar are part of this new wave of Blaxploitation films. These films present African American’s as one dimensional characters who can be easily placed from one film to another dealing with Hip Hop Culture. These films are set in the same Urban settings and always showcase African American’s as performers. Although most of these are set on college campuses, it is not their intellect that saves the day, it is their musical or dance performance.

Of course there is always the not so Politically correct Neo Blaxpliotation films. The Madea and Big Mommas House are a return to the Mammy archetype. Other films like Soul Plane, The Friday series, and similar films take a comedic approach to the characters from classic Blaxploitation films.

It seems to me that the classic Blaxploitation films were so influential that modern black films seem to be stuck in the mold. Whether or not this is a good thing depends on personal taste. Personally, I enjoy some and I'm appalled by others.

However, one thing is for sure. The legacy of Blaxploitation films has lead to doors opening for serious black film makers like Spike Lee. The genre opened doors for actors like Will Smith and Denzel Washington. It is these types of artist who look to create a new identity for blacks on screen like the original makers of Blaxploitation films... without recycling their material.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Black History Cinema Month

In 1991, I transferred from a majority white Kindergarten in Tampa, FL to a Majority black Kindergarten in Decatur, GA. My new school, Woodridge Elementary, took Black History very seriously. There were plays and presentations based on historical black figures and large posters with portraits and biographical information that were displayed near the ceilings throughout Cafeteria. My school went all out for Black History Month...

Keeping true to tradition, I will be celebrating Black History month by reviewing, discussing, and presenting some of my favorite (and not so favorite) black films.

To spark off Black Cinema Month I present the trailer to one of my personal favorites, Melvin Van Peebles' Story of a Three Day Pass.

La Pianiste (Directed by Michael Heneke)

As I sat through this film, I couldn’t help but think of it as the Female counterpart to Bad Lieutenant. Both films are about characters in positions of power on the brink of insanity, addiction issues, and self-destructive behavior. Although these two share similarities, it is their differences that make them unique…

Bad Lieutenant is a very grimy film shot on location in the streets, motels, and crack houses of New York City. The ambient sounds of cursing and car horns can be heard throughout the film.

The Piano Teacher is very clean film shot primarily in recital halls, middle class apartments, and hockey rinks. As the title suggest, the sounds of the grand piano is prevalent throughout the film.

One of the things that stands out most about this film is the main character Erika. Erika partakes in the beautiful and intellectual art form of concert piano but is secretly trapped by her own primal sexual fetishes. Throughout the film she explores the depths of her sexuality on the solo tip with various excursions into the worlds of voyeurism, sadomasochism, and pornography. Unknowingly of her sexual journeys, a young and talented prodigy, Walter, begins to hit on her. This film explores the limits of love and sanity as her perversions come to light.

Director Michael Heneke makes the wise decision of selecting a female as the lead. This film would not be shocking if the lead was a male. Pornography is usually made for men and it is somewhat accepted in society that men watch pornography. On the other hand, it is taboo for a female to enjoy pornography. In The Piano Teacher, this issue is explored in the scene where a couple men stare at Erika as she waits to enter a viewing booth in a Pornography Shop. These men stare at her as if she walks into a boys only club and she fights back with her own awkward but defensive expressions until the booth becomes free.

I honestly had hesitations about this film when a friend recommended it to me. After watching it, I can say that the character and message of this story makes me want to add this to my personal collection.

Monday, January 26, 2009


Visual Poetry... One of the greatest Love stories made.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

POPCORN!!!: Quick Random Reviews

Simply, a visual masterpiece... If the Russians would have applied the ingenuity it took to pull off these camera shots to the space race, maybe they could have made it to the Moon.

Richard Sandler turns a video camera into a cartoonist's fountain pen... This period piece is proof that Times square has not always been Disneyland and once was the battle grounds of the world's grimiest Street preachers.

Very Stylistic piece without much substance... too bad eye candy does not fill the appetite of a true cinema lover.

An original spin on the old topic of race in America... White Dog could have only been pulled off by master director Samuel Fuller.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Young Man with a Horn

I was introduced to Young Man with a Horn through a documentary on that I saw on cinematographers. I was impressed by the scenes presented in the documentary. I initialy went to two stores looking for the film but it proved to be obscure. I ran across the film on Youtube in it's entirety. Enjoy.

Note: The rest of the film can be seen on under the title YMWH b, YMWH c, YMWH d, etc.

Friday, January 9, 2009

The Cry of Jazz (Directed by Edward Bland)

Do you want to know what jazz is? This movie is the place to start.

Right off the bat, this film reminded me of John Cassavetes' Shadows. The Cry of Jazz, like Shadows, is an ode to 50's Beat-Era. However, Unlike Shadows, this film is an interesting mix of dialouge (very cheesy) and documentary.

The Cry of Jazz is a deep look into what jazz actually is and its metaphoric relationship to it's creators, Blacks in America. Interestingly, it was made before the civil rights movement. The ideas and thoughts expressed by the main character/ narrator Alex were the seeds of the civil rights movement. In my opinion this film is a historically significant picture and should be added to the United States National Film Registry.

One thing I found VERY INTERESTING was that Alex proclaimed Jazz dead. I had no idea that Jazz was proclaimed dead before Rock and Roll and even Hip Hop. I wonder if the rapper Nas has seen this film and equated the reasons Alex gave to Jazz being dead to Hip Hop's current state. Alex states, "Jazz is dead because the Negro needs more room to tell his story.... JAZZ JAZZ JAZZ! Jazz for all it's power, beauty, and world domainance is too limiting! It's a genteel slavery!." Later he states, "The Jazz body is dead but the spirit of Jazz is Alive... The spirit of Jazz will remake serious music but the sounds of Jazz will not be used." With this statement I believe he foresees Hip Hop Culture. Perhaps the rapper Nas realizes the same thing with Hip Hop in its current state.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009


The Mayan calander stops 12/12/2012. Some scholars predict this is the day the world is to end. OF course Hollywood grabbed ahold of this story and is coming out with a movie depicting the events of our end... Is this another day after tomorrow?

The problem I have with disaster movies is that they always take the form of a typical mainstream film. There is always a main character, who, despite any odds is able to elude fate and find love. I DON'T want that. I want 2 hours of sheer destruction. I want the makers of the film to actually use science. It would be great if the directors of this film would watch the National Geographic Population Zero Documentary to get some ideas of how the Earth would be without humans...

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (Directed by David Fincher)

When you really think about it... there is no way that this film could have been good. Honestly, the film is a gimmick. I must admit even I fell for the hype and added to it by posting a trailer on my blog.

I saw this film last weekend with a couple friends so the film isn't as fresh as it could be but I still remember leaving the theater unsatisfied.

What gets to me the most is the fact that this film has parts of the film that are not related... There is a complete mini story that has no actual tie in to the film besides a weak attempt to use a clock as a metaphor. I have heard from a couple people, most notably my barber Troy, that this film was similar to Forrest Gump. I agree that this is a watered down version of Forrest Gump. Where Gump shined is where Button failed.

The beautiful thing about Gump was the fact that the director of that filmed tapped into our collective view of history and placed the character in the defining moments of the past 50 years. He utilized the fact that our memory of the past comes from the media that records it. Within this setting he was able to provide political commentary. Gump was a catylast of change. He was an Extrovert. Button was an introvert. This story is not so much about the changing of events in the world as it is about the changes that Button is experiencing. As Mick, one of the people i saw the film with, pointed out, this film would benefit if the Antiwar theme were more pronounced. I think the true meaning of the film is lost with the attempt to appeal to mainstream moviegoers...

If the aging backwards gimmick was taken away, this film would be considered the worst film of the year... It makes me curious to know what people see in Benjamin Button.