Thursday, February 16, 2017

Ten Statements About....BLACK DYNAMITE (2009)

"Stare at my crazy face!  STARE, I say!
“Now Aunt Billy, how many times have I told you not to call here and interrupt my Kung Fu?"

1) Here is the major problem with this film--while comedy should be played straight, the cast plays it so straight that the humor dissipates, leaving just a sad copy of 1970‘s blaxploitation cinema.  For most of its running time, before the story finally gets silly, it’s just dull.

2)  I get it that this is a vanity project of Michael Jai White (you say labor of love, I say vanity project).  That doesn’t mean that Jai White is any good in the role.  He never gives us a sense of Black Dynamite as a character, his overtly earnest delivery never rising above being a guy playing dress-up.  He never gives us a sense of the character and his relationship to the world is (unlike, let’s say, Leslie Neilson’s Detective Drebbin in the Naked Gun movies).White aims for Richard Roundtree but ends up hitting a second rate imitation of Dolemite.

3) Even though he also gives us the sense of a guy playing dress up, I appreciate how Tommy
"I swear the talent in this movie is down here somewhere..."
Davidson’s Cream Corn is patterned so closely on Antonio Fargas that he inadvertently adds a hint of veracity in the proceedings.

4) Seeing Nicole Sullivan playing Pat Nixon mainly makes me wish I could see more of Nicole Sullivan, well, pretty much anywhere.

5) Even though this film is only 83 minutes, there are scenes that just go on forever.  One sequence, set at a version of The Pimp’s Ball, is obsessed more with introducing the actors doing cameos than advancing the story.

6) Yes, there have been blaxploitation films where the soundtrack plays as a Greek chorus, but they never repeated exactly what we’ve seen like this one does...and it’s not funny, it’s annoying.

So is that ‘Din-o-myte/Din-o-myte’ riff you play every time Jai White walks into a room.

7) I will admit that things do pick up once the script embraces the inherent silliness it obviously wants to be known for--but since that happens with only fifteen minutes left in the movie, it’s kinda too late.
President Nixon will kung-fu your ass!

8) I wonder who thought it was funny to have Black Dynomite’s back story contradict itself--first he’s promising his mother he’ll look after his brother, then he’s an orphan when the actor is obviously meant to be younger--but it only serves to  make the viewer question the world the film is set in.

9) I didn’t realize that Kevin Chapman was the same one who played Detective Fusco on Person of Interest until he was cut down in a hail of gunfire.  Which I guess says something about his chops.

10) I’m sorry, but that make-up effect of a fat guy displaying...something that ties in with the film’s MacGuffin...looks nothing like the thing it’s supposed to be.

Overall...An awful film that seems to be congratulating itself about how clever it is, yet is anything but.  It actually makes me yearn for an appearance by Creeper The Hamburger Pimp (look it up)....

Monday, February 6, 2017

Ten Statements About....AMERICAN HUSTLE (2013)

Ooooooh....double-plus purty
“I think the name of this operation is offensive. What, Abscam? "Arab-scam"? It's racist!"
“Are you fucking kidding? What do you care? You're Mexican.."

1) I don’t know, but for a film that’s supposed to be a period piece, it doesn’t feel like a period piece.  Hell, you could do this film more modern-day with only a little tweaking.  The whole sense is that these are not 70‘s people, but people playing dress up.

2) That being said, I appreciate how the bulk of the actors are made to look distinctively different from their normal look--thus giving us more of a sense of veracity and allowing us to immerse ourselves in the story.

3) David O. Russell must really love Good Fellas, because so much of the structure and the way the film handles music is lifted from that film.

4) I really don’t understand why this is considered a comedy, as the tone is more grim than humorous.
"Hey, Jeremy...move your hair.  It's blocking my sightlines..."

5) I was really taken with Amy Adams’ Sydney--and not just because she’s purty (and show quite a bit of cleavage throughout).  When she’s masquerading as the very British ‘Edith,’ Adams allows her natural intonations slip through at key points, reminding us that she’s new at playing a role.  And the fact that she’s manipulating Bradley Cooper’s Richie is very well handled.  That being said...

6) ...I really think it was a mistake to give Adams a narration sequence in Act One.  It disappears fairly early on in the proceedings and dilutes the fact that this is Irving’s story.

7) Boy, Jeremy Renner’s hairstyle should get its own credit considering how it seems to dominate the proceedings every time it’s onscreen.

"No, dammit...I won't play Pattycake with you!"
8) I love how Russell’s opening title card--’Some of this stuff is true’--allows him to embellish the story to his heart’s content.

9) I get that a pop music soundtrack is now essential to any period piece movie (and that Russell is trying to emulate Good Fellas’ usage of the same), but the songs seem chosen haphazardly and placed in the film obtrusively.

10) The resolution of the story arc of Sydney’s and Christian Bale’s Irving seems forced.  It seems like they’re made to do what Russell wants them to do and not what’s organic to the story itself.

Overall...painfully flawed but with some interesting performances, it’s mildly worth a watch.  I can’t see why it was nominated for Best Picture, though.