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Archive for September, 2012|Monthly archive page

Spike Lee Does The Right Thing…..

In Movies on September 23, 2012 at 11:49 am

….YUCK YUCK YUCK punning aside Spike Lee’s “Do the Right Thing” is a funny, dramatic, unnerving, and fantastic movie. Unnerving because like “Crash” a majority of the characters in this movie identify one another disparagingly by their racial background which although seemingly unrealistic does very well happen when people are pushed to their brink.

“Do the Right Thing” takes place in BedStuy New York during the 1980s on the hottest day of the year and revolves around Sal’s Famous Pizzeria which is run by Salvatore ‘Sal” Fragione, played Danny Aiello and his two sons,Vito and Pino played by Richard Edson and John Turtorro, respectively. Mookie, played by Spike Lee, is their pizza boy who doesn’t appear interested in doing his job but would rather visit with his girlfriend Tina, played by Rosie Perez, catch up with his friend, Buggin Out, played by Giancarlo Esposito, taking advice from the Mayor, who gives him the advice of doing the right thing, and is incredibly portrayed by Ossie Davis, and see what song Radio Raheem is blasting, played by Bill Nunn .  With interactions between Korean, African-American, Latin, and Italian individuals increasing in their ferocity things finally explode  nearing the end of the film.

Now unto the actual review!

When this movie was first released, critics believed that it would be the catalyst to inciting African-Americans to rioting, which didn’t happen, if anything the moral of the movie is not to riot, and Spike Lee was very critical of these reviews. I can understand the critics feelings because race is so prevalent within this film, in one scene many of the characters have their own monologues using racial slurs to critique various races, but people aren’t as stupid as many of these critics believed them to be. This movie is trying to show the relationships between races and how the teachings of Martin Luther King and Malcolm X affected these relationships.

In the ending of the film, Smiley, played by Roger Guenveur Smith, pins a picture of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King on the wall of the pizza place and Spike Lee displays two quotes from King and X which both illustrate very different ways to accomplish the same thing, racial equality. “Do the Right Thing” appears to illustrate what would happen if people acted according to Malcolm X’s theories, utilizing violence to accomplish racial equality, and shows just how flawed it is. I thought this movie was intelligent for this. It’s as if Lee was depicting a racial experiment using Malcolm X’s ideas and showing the results of this experiment.

Another aspect I liked about this film was Lee’s character Mookie, whose name is surprisingly close to monkey and moulee, a derogatory Italian word  for African-Americans. Because of this, I wonder why Lee chose this name. I also wonder why Lee had his character constantly begrudging work and his responsibilities. Was Mookie a critique of the modern African-American male? Was Lee showing the world what happens when you are irresponsible and live to only “make that money” ?I can’t say but it definitely made me think, which is what I really love from my movies.

In summary, you should see this movie. It was well written, poignant, and shoved racial issues in the viewer’s face. If my roommates didn’t already own this movie, I would buy it and you should too.

A Truly Towerful Book!

In Books on September 21, 2012 at 5:16 pm

Recently I finished the 7 part, Sweet Jesus soon to be 8 part, Dark Tower  series. First published in 1982 by Stephen King, the Dark Tower series tells the story of Eddie Dean, Susannah Detta Dean, Jake Chambers, Oy, a billy-bumbler,  and Roland Deschain as they make their way to the Dark Tower, the tower that holds all of the universes together, the Tower that is responsible for Ka, destiny, and guides people  throughout their entire life. Roland encounters his Ka-tet,  a group of individuals bound together by fate, throughout various parts of this epic chronicle and teaches them to become gunslingers. In Roland’s world, guns hardly work but the guns of a gunslinger always do and they are just as powerful as the sword from the stone and are viewed as such. Roland teaches his group to be strong, fast, courageous, and thoughtful during the time he spends with them.

This 7 part series is elegantly told without getting too boring. The characters are great and the roads they take are astounding, traveling through time and cities to help each other and reach the Tower. If you like westerns, epics, medieval stories, or The Stand you’ll love this book.

Alright so in order to truly review this book, I’m going to break it down into the things I liked and disliked. *Spoiler Alert*

I enjoyed the language that Stephen King created within this book and his use of language as well. He used the word palaver constantly which means to have a conversation but is so much more of an authentic western way to say it. He also used such words as Ka and ka-tet, which I utilized before, but they are just such interesting words. And such phrases as “Say thank-ye” rather then “thank you” and “Long days and pleasant nights”, meaning have a wonderful day, were used throughout this book and added an extra layer of integrity to this story, like he actually encountered the characters himself.

The characters seemed true to form, like they did actually exist. I could see Eddie Dean saying some of the snide comments that he sprinkled his conversations with. And Roland, GAH, Roland just seemed like every western character I ever wanted to meet. He knew nearly everything and when he didn’t know something he wasn’t afraid to say it, he just said he didn’t understand it.

I loved the post apocalyptic setting that the majority of the books took place in, and I may be speaking for everyone when I say this, but I think you will too. The reader doesn’t find out whether Roland’s world is the future but the story takes place after the fall of a regime and the use of atomic weapons, I can tell you that much. I just loved reading about what used to be and the machines and buildings that were falling apart.

I did not like the sixth book, Song of Susannah, at all. I didn’t like the story line, I didn’t like the verses of the song of Susannah that were printed at the end of each chapter. I most especially, did not like how meta it was. Stephen King wrote about himself interacting with the characters. He included himself in the book and it just seemed out-of-place and somewhat narcissistic because every time after that someone would mention a book he wrote and how good it was.  It seemed a bit out-of-place. He also included other characters within this book and that too seemed a bit much. Like cameos that didn’t really need to be there.

After awhile, you get used to the parts of the paragraphs you can skip in order to get to the actual point of the paragraph. Like I said, this collection consists, currently, of 7 books, and a lot of them are filled with useless description and redundancies. I didn’t need to know the entire train of thought for Eddie Dean and how he figured out how to beat Blaine the Mono, I just needed to know what he used to do so. My friend JJ has a hatred for the Harry Potter series because he believes that J.K. Rowling took a simple story and stretched out to a ridiculous amount of books all for profit. Whether or not this is true, the world may never know BUT I think King suffers a bit from Rowling-ism within this series. He adds a lot of ideas, thoughts, conversations, that just don’t need to be in there. They didn’t need to interact with King but for some reason, King thought it was great to have his characters judge him for how much he used to drink. That’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy these books but it is to say that once you get into it, you’ll know the parts to skip when you see em.

That being said, if you like King and figure yourself an aficionado, then give these books a try. They are lengthy but he makes them fast paced enough so you don’t find yourself getting bored and, well, if you do find yourself getting bored, then just move one.

(F)Lawless? Not Really. But, it’s still good

In Movies on September 17, 2012 at 10:59 pm

Yesterday I had the pleasure of viewing “Lawless” at my local chlorine ridden theater and I was rather pleased with my choice.

“Lawless” depicts the struggles of outlaw moonshining brothers Jack Bodurant, Shia LaBeouf, Forrest Bondurant, Tom Hardy, and Howard Bondurant, Jason Clarke as they take on Charlie Rakes, Guy Pearce, who wants to charge them making liquor and ensures that by doing so he will not harm them. However, the Bodurants will not stand down to NOBODY and fight the man who intends to do them harm. Gary Oldman is also present in this film as Floyd Banner,gangster, who sadly doesn’t have that much screen time. This is based upon a surprisingly true story that took place in Franklin County Virginia.

I was interested in this story because, I love this genre. I love outlaws, love guns and violence, and love Gary Oldman and Tom Hardy. I will honestly watch anything with them in it. So it’s no surprise that I went and saw this movie and enjoyed it, but I did not love it. There were some parts of it that I truly enjoyed from Guy Pearce’s creepy portrayal of Charlie Rakes who has a part so damn perfect that it looks like he had to shave a little bit of hair from the center of his forehead. I also liked Shia. A lot of people have given him a lot of grief for the Transformers movies but I liked him in them, I liked him in “Disturbia” and I also liked him in “A Guide to Recognizing Your Own Saints”. If you haven’t seen this movie and you still hate Shia, watch it and let me know what you think. I also liked some of the silhouette shots that occurred within the movie. There weren’t many of them but they were still very powerful and very well done. Lastly, I loved Tom Hardy. I thought he was a great powerful, slow to anger, invincible character and he played him so well. He was the Bondurant legend in the flesh who not only created the legend but fueled it.

The aspects I did not enjoy about this movie was the little screen time that Gary Oldman had, the romance between Jack and Bertha Minnix, Mia Wasikowska, and Howard Bondurant. I felt that the romance between Jack and Bertha was rushed because the director only had so much time to portray this romance, Forrest’s romance, and the impending doom that was Charlie Rakes. I guess what I’m saying is, is that if they don’t have the time to develop something then maybe it shouldn’t be developed. I also thought Jason Clarke’s character just kind of existed. He didn’t seem to amount too much, other than drinking, and he didn’t offer much to the viewer, up until the end. He was simply there and didn’t seem to bring anything to the screen.

That being said, I think you should check this movie out on Netflix or rent it, when it comes out. If you can catch it in a cheap theater, then by all means do it, but definitely do not pay 11 bucks to see this movie.

People Change, but the Game? The Game Stays Exactly the Same

In Television on September 9, 2012 at 9:05 pm

Recently I was addicted to a show that consumed me. I would watch three to four episodes in one sitting and not be ashamed or disgusted with myself for spending four hours of my life in front of the computer. I would crave this show and right up until the last episode I did. I was a full-blown “Wire” addict. The characters, the storyline, the transformations, the drug game, ALL OF IT, was so well done. It was so real and is somewhat real, according to David Simon who created this show and infused several fictitious characters with some real ones that he actually met. David Simon portrays the intelligence and understanding he has about the Baltimore drug trade on this show showing how many individuals are affected by drugs and just how harshly they are affected. My main man Dennis Lehane also helped out of on a few episodes which gives you even more of a reason to watch this show. But, I digress, first let me tell you what this show is about and then I will tell you my favorites seasons and why.

This show covers the Baltimore drug trade from all aspects, the police, the dealers, the suppliers, newspaper reporters, and the kids that are involved as well. Dominic West plays Jimmy McNulty who I believe represents that protagonist and is one hell of a police officer, when he wants to be. He is truly a twisted character and struggles with the flaws that make him great and have the potential to destroy him as well. Lance Reddick also stars in this show as Cedric Daniels, many of you might recognize him from “Fringe” where he is  legit is. He is great in this show and plays a cop who know what’s right and will take very little to deter him from this. Clarke Peters plays quite the memorable character Lester Freamon who definitely is my second favorite by the end of the show, second to Omar played by Michael Kenneth Williams. Sweet   Jesus what a great actor and character. He is boisterous, cocky, and intelligent. He knows everything there is to know about the drug trade and will stop at nothing to get what he wants. Idris Elba playing Stringer Bell also does such a phenomenal job trying to make that transference from gangster to business man.   Andrea Royo also has a great role in this film playing Bubbles who shows the destructive nature that drugs can have on the body, mind, and soul. All in all, this show has some great actors and some great talent that came together to create my favorite show of all time. I now compare every show I see against “The Wire” standard, meaning it will last 5 seasons or longer and still keep me interested. I love this show and I already cannot wait to watch it again, but now, onto my favorite seasons. SPOILERS AHEAD! YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!

My favorite season is the 4th in which the children star. The audience gets to see  the pivotal role that kids have in dealing and how many children believe that being a drug dealer is a way out. The best part about this show is that McNulty isn’t given a lot of screen time, which is nice because it allows some other characters to shine like Dookie, Namond, Michael, and Randy all children who have some sort of relationship with the drug world. That’s not to say that McNulty’s a bad character but you do get a bit sick of him and his shenanigans. I loved watching these children grow and change as a result of their relationship with the drug trade, it appeared to be so realistic and non-Dinseyesque. Detective Carver, played by Seth Gilliam, also really shines in this season. He begins to understand what it means to be a respectable police officer, meaning you don’t want to beat on the individuals who you are bound to protect.  Prezbo, played by Jim True-Frost, does such a good job in this season too, going from police officer to teacher. I love how much he cares and how his character completely understands just how the school system and statistics works, given his time on the police force.The finale for this season is realistic and fantastic. Not everyone makes it out of the streets alive but Simon gives the audience one character, one single character who does and that’s all I needed to continue watching the show. I wanted so badly for all of the kids to make it out, but that would have been a fantasy and a contradiction to just how great this show is.

The next season would have to be the 3rd. I love Howard “Bunny” Colvin, played by Robert Wisdom and the solution he reaches for lowering his statistics. It may seem unrealistic and a bit stretched but Simon does a hell of a job portraying what happens when you ask someone to do the impossible. He is also great in the 4th season as well and his character begins to shine when he is introduced. The demise of Stringer and how he turned on Avon was just done perfectly in this season. The conversation that they have on the balcony reminiscing about the “good ol days” flew in the face of the betrayal that they both commit several scenes later.  The audience gets introduce to Caretti in this season, played by Aiden Gillian who also pulls the strings as Littlefinger in “Game of Thrones” and sees this shining new politician who’s going to change Baltimore. He appears to be perfectly human, wants change, will fight for it, but will also cheat on his wife. As the audience sees in the later seasons, given the way politics is run, it is difficult, nay, impossible to change everything but Carcetti does try. Cutty, played by Chad L. Coleman is a great character that is introduced. He goes from prisoner to gangsta to boxing coach and he tries so hard to stay out of the street and to keep his kids out of the street. But unless he changes the game, he will be unable to do so.

My least favorite season is the last one due solely to the way in which Omar dies which is anticlimactic to say the least. He was one of my favorite characters and Simon just has some little kid shoot him in the back of his head. Prop Joe got one hell of a death, so did Stringer, which proves that Simon does create some climatic moments but he just had Omar die suddenly and randomly. I know I kept on hoping he was going to come back alive, which I know Simon wanted us to think given the random shot he included showing Omar’s body bag label getting mixed up. I just wish he either died dramatically or walked away. But that being said, I liked how Simon set it up so that Michael appeared to be the new Omar.

All in all, it is a great show. I quickly became addicted to it and had to finish it before school picked up because it would have been one hell of a distraction. Watch this show, I promise you won’t regret it.

Powered by the People!

In Television on September 5, 2012 at 10:59 am

Last night I had the ability, nay I say the privilege, of attending a free screening, thanks to mi amor, of  “Revolution” a new show coming this fall to NBC directed by Jon Favreau, produced by J.J. Abrams, and full of action and adventure.

This screening took place in Pier 57 which is an abandoned pier located near 15th street and the Hudson River Park. My God, what an appropriate setting for this screening. The interior did not need to be manipulated or changed in any way to make it have that post apocalyptic feel, a few flaming lights were hung as well as some ivy, but other than that this was the perfect spot to get into the mood of “Revolution”.  It also had a great view of the Hudson river via a huge sliding door that was left open to ventilate the space. After viewing “Revolution” here I wanted so badly to host a party in this place because it would be amazing.

Another great aspect of this viewing, which also created a few slight problems, was that the screening was powered by cyclists. Pictures of this awesome event can be viewed below. People had been biking all day to power this screening and it was such a neat and unique idea. However, when the show actually began there were some power problems that needed to be fixed because apparently they were not getting enough power, WAH WAH WAH. But despite this, the screening began and “Revolution” will be, I predict, a show that will probably be around for 5 or 6 seasons.

“Revolution” stars Tracy Spiridakos, playing Charlie Matheson, Tim Guinee, who appeared bearded and all manned out at she screening as Ben Matheson, Charlie’s father, Billy Burke as Miles Matheson, Elizabeth Mitchell as Rachel Matheson, WHAT’S GOOD LOST?!, and  Graham Rogers as Danny Matheson. And that’s it for the Matheson’s. The reason I feel that all these actors are worth mentioning is because they will have a pivotal role in this series. It’s not just the individual family members that are important, rather the family themselves, this is made very clear in the pilot.

Honorably mentions go to Giancarlo Esposito, also known as Gus Chicken Brother Fring, who plays the  soldier Captain Neville. He has a great scene in the pilot where he just shows how much power he has and how little he cares for other people. So excited to see his character develop, which it will it totally will.  Zak Orth, playing Aaron, is also worth mentioning. He played the bumbling idiot quite well but there will be so much more to him. So much more.

All in all, this show had a great pilot. I thought it moved a little fast for my taste but the cliffhanger that it left the audience with was phenomenal. It set it up in a very “Lost”-esque way leaning towards some overarching entity that is pulling the strings. I just really really hope they don’t stray too much into the fantastical and just stick to the science, much like “Fringe”. I loved and still do love “Lost” but some of the problems that I have from that show is the mythical turn it took with the smoke monster and the island hopping. I thought it was good but it was a bit of a stretch for me. I hope “Revolution” keeps it close to reality and strays a little bit into the science fiction.

So, in conclusion, I suggest you watch this show. Why not? I trust J.J. Abrams, he hasn’t done me wrong yet, and Jon Favreau? God, I love that man, as a director not so much an actor. I think this show will do quite well and keep America wondering, why did the lights go out?