Monday, 31 January 2011

Black Dynamite (2010)

Blaxploitation at its best

Image: Icon Entertainment International
Having sat through an endless number of black films over the past couple of years that have amounted to very little, expectations for this movie were, honestly, as high as my knees. However... just under 2 hours and many ass-whuppings later, it would be fairer to say that this is one of the best black films i’ve seen in a long while. And it really has been too long.
Taking its lead from blaxploitation flicks, Black Dynamite follows an ex-CIA agent on the hunt for his brother’s killer. As well as searching for “The Man”, he’s also hell-bent on rebuilding the neighbourhood, and ridding it of all the things that seem to be shrinking its population!
From beginning to end you’re hooked. It’s a meticulous spectacle that showcases the talents of accomplished martial artist, and actor, Michael Jai White, who also created the character of Black Dynamite. White’s knowledge of the blaxploitation genre and black community is evident as he personifies all that is wrong, yet clearly so right with not only the oh-so-smooth, soul blaring, afro wearing, jive talking ‘70s, but modern society, too. How much does cream corn cost these days, around 50 cent? Ludacris!
Go check out this film; it’s funny as a motherf***er. That’s right. You heard me, bitches!
A fitting homage to life as some still know it.

The Fighter

Not an instant knockout, but a knockout nonetheless

Image: Paramount Pictures
Another year, another sports movie. This time it’s David O. Russell’s The Fighter starring frequent collaborator Mark Wahlberg.

Wahlberg plays “Irish” Micky Ward, a boxer from Massachusetts whose shot at the big time is slipping away with every fight. In his corner is his trainer and older brother Dicky (Christian Bale) and his mother Alice (Melissa Leo), who is more supportive of her eldest son, a former boxer turned drug addict. With his career in decline and a family more interested in reliving Dicky’s glory days, Micky must decide what’s more important, his family or his career.

Although The Fighter packs a strong ensemble cast, it takes a while to build up momentum due to a so-so script. Scenes of Micky training in the ring, forming a relationship with barmaid Charlene (Amy Adams), and his suppression by his attention-seeking brother and a mother in denial are necessary, but the time spent establishing these events slows down the tempo and creates a sluggish first hour. This isn’t helped by Wahlberg’s laid-back, restrained approach, which leaves you wondering who the movie’s about as he’s pushed into the background and overshadowed by Bale’s dynamic Dicky (minds out of the gutter!), who gets added attention in the movie thanks to an HBO crew that is filming a documentary about Dicky’s life. Until the second half, which sees the addict thrown in jail, Wahlberg seems to be merely the glue holding some excellent pieces together. And while the glue is important, you don’t notice it.

Bale’s incarnation of the real-life boxer struggling to cope with life away from the spotlight is spot-on, as is Melissa Leo’s. Scenes of Dicky jumping out of crack house windows trying to escape from his mother, as well as the addict incessantly boasting about knocking down Sugar Ray Leonard are both tragic and comical, while Leo’s managerial role is played with great conviction and beautiful desperation as she tries to cling on to broken dreams. Wahlberg and Adams put in solid performances, and while this isn’t Adams’ best performance to date, it’s nice to see her step away from those innocent, naïve roles and go for something with a bit more grit.

Not as enthralling as other infamous boxing films: the script is occasionally slow and the fight sequences aren’t always captivating, but it develops into a stimulating, entertaining drama.



Friday, 28 January 2011

Oh Snap! Source Code Poster

Reply: Of course it doesn't. Lol. But shall we compare thee to an R. Kelly ballad? Hell yeah!

Source Code synopsis: A good soldier wakes up in the body of an unknown man and discovers he must go back in time and re-live an incident in order to prevent a future event.

Image: Summit Entertainment

If I Could Turn Back the Hands of Time Synopsis: A "Bad Man" "Trapped in the Closet" wishes he could go back in time and re-live an incident in to order to prevent his "Honey Love" from leavin' his ass.


Jake Gyllenhall is desperately trying to escape the explosion of memories...

Kelly's "Summer Bunny" is anxious to rid herself of any memory of the ("Snake"? "Gigolo"?), so creates an explosion....

"Make Every Second Count"


Photos of time spent with the one he loves...

They were once "Happy People" too...

The collage of images...

The collage...

of Kelly.

Video Images: Jive

Lol. Oh, "When a Woman's Fed Up"!

"Thank God It's Friday".


Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Delayed Oscar Nominations 2011

Sorry for the delay folks. We had to prepare Oscar for battle.

Costume Design: Fohnjang Ghebdinga

Best Picture
Black Swan
The Fighter
The Kids Are All Right
The King’s Speech
127 Hours
The Social Network
Toy Story 3
True Grit
Winter’s Bone

Best Director
David Fincher – The Social Network
Darren Aronofsky – Black Swan
David O. Russell – The Fighter
Tom Hooper – The King’s Speech
Joel And Ethan Coen – True Grit

Best Actress
Natalie Portman – Black Swan
Annette Bening – The Kids Are All Right
Michelle Williams – Blue Valentine
Nicole Kidman – Rabbit Hole
Jennifer Lawrence – Winter's Bone

Best Actor
Colin Firth – The King's Speech
James Franco – 127 Hours
Javier Bardem – Biutiful
Jeff Bridges – True Grit
Jesse Eisenberg – The Social Network

Best Supporting Actress
Amy Adams – The Fighter
Helena Bonham Carter – The King’s Speech
Melissa Leo – The Fighter
Hailee Steinfeld – True Grit
Jacki Weaver – Animal Kingdom

Best Supporting Actor
Christian Bale – The Fighter
John Hawkes – Winter's Bone
Jeremy Renner – The Town
Geoffrey Rush – The King's Speech
Mark Ruffalo – The Kids Are All Right

Best Original Screenplay
Another Year - Mike Leigh
The Fighter - Scott Silver, Paul Tamasy, Eric Johnson, Keith Dorrington
Inception - Christopher Nolan
The Kids Are All Right - Lisa Cholodenko & Stuart Blumberg
The King's Speech - David Seidler

Best Adapted Screenplay
127 Hours - Danny Boyle & Simon Beaufoy
The Social Network - Aaron Sorkin
Toy Story 3 - Michael Arndt, John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton & Lee Unkrich
True Grit - Joel Coen & Ethan Coen
Winter's Bone - Debra Granik & Anne Rosellini

Best Animated Film
Toy Story 3
The Illusionist
How To Train Your Dragon

Best Foreign Film
Biutiful (Mexico)
Dog Tooth (Greece)
In A Better World (Denmark)
Incendies (Canada)
Outside the Law (Algeria)

Best Cinematography
Black Swan – Matthew Libatique
Inception – Wally Pfister
The King's Speech – Danny Cohen
The Social Network – Jeff Cronenweth
True Grit – Roger Deakins

Best Song
Coming Home from Country Strong – Music and Lyric by Tom Douglas, Troy Verges and Hillary Lindsey
I See the Light from Tangled – Music by Alan Menken Lyric by Glenn Slater
If I Rise from 127 Hours – Music by A.R. Rahman Lyric by Dido and Rollo Armstrong
We Belong Together from Toy Story 3 – Music and Lyric by Randy Newman

Best Score
How to Train Your Dragon – John Powell
Inception – Hans Zimmer
The King's Speech – Alexandre Desplat
127 Hours – A.R. Rahman
The Social Network – Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross

Best Costume Design
Alice in Wonderland – Colleen Atwood
I Am Love – Antonella Cannarozzi
The King's Speech – Jenny Beavan
The Tempest – Sandy Powell
True Grit – Mary Zophres

Best Art Direction
Alice in Wonderland – Robert Stromberg, Karen O'Hara
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 – Stuart Craig, Stephenie McMillan
Inception – Guy Hendrix Dyas, Larry Dias and Doug Mowat
The King's Speech – Eve Stewart , Judy Farr
True Grit – Jess Gonchor, Nancy Haigh

Best Editing
Black Swan
The Fighter
The King's Speech
127 Hours
The Social Network

Best Documentary Feature
Exit through the Gift Shop
Inside Job
Waste Land

And the list goes on...

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Pain of the Pop-Up Kind

Image: Wikipedia

Who the hell invented the pop-up? We know that Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone, that Mark Zuckerberg unashamedly invented Facebook and that Trey Songz believes he invented sex, but no one wants to step forward (wisely) to claim the nuisance that is the pop-up.

This topic isn't going to be groaned about at length as the pop-up is friend to few; however, in a world strangled by advertising, can't man just enjoy [POP-UP] a few minutes surfing the World Wide Web without [POP-UP] interruption?

We can't take it anymore. It's far from amusing - although chief pop-up is somewhere peeing itself with laughter while running for mayor of persistence. The more you hit the "x", the stronger they come back. Rare are the days of random pop-up play when you open a new window. It's now all about the waiting game. They sit in the corners, masquerading as harmless ads, but quickly reveals their true colours as soon as the cursor runs over them, the cheeky motherpoppers.

We haven't always been pop blockers. Bring back the good old days, we say, when pop-ups were just good old-fashioned page-turners...

(Hmm, an alien? Really?!)



Monday, 24 January 2011

Tangled (2010)

50th time lucky?

Image: Walt Disney Pictures

There is a lot of history riding on the back of this film, the fiftieth feature-length offering from that house of the 80 year old mouse, Disney. Tangled has been in production for ages, swapping titles and casts like nobody’s business. It was, until recently, called Rapunzel, and is a Disney-fied version of the classic Brothers Grimm fairytale about a young girl with impossibly long hair. The question is then, after all this time (both in terms of the production of this particular film, and the years Disney has been making animated features), does Tangled live up to our expectations, or is it something we should brush aside? Suffice to say, in terms of this reviewer’s jokes, things might get hairy…
The first thing that needs to be acknowledged about Tangled is that the animation is stunning; glossy, strong and manageable (no Polar Express-style terrifying dead-eyed ani-humans here). Indeed, it is so lovely that it doesn’t detract from the film when moments are taken away from the narrative to focus on it; the floating lanterns are particularly well realised. It might not be the classic cartoon Disney of the past, but it is certainly a worthy successor.
The voice work is great too, but personally I found that having actors as recognisable as Zachary Levi and Mandy Moore caused me to step out of the picture more than I normally tend to do with Disney. I love a good famous villain voice, such as Jeremy Irons in The Lion King, but I prefer the main characters to come with fewer connotations. This said, the leads are very charming, and by the end they will have you rooting for them. The villain of this piece, Mother Gothel, is a fun presence, but never really reaches the heights of the best of her predecessors. Indeed, she often comes across as a watered down cousin of Ursula from The Little Mermaid, with most of the vocal bombast but none of the real menace.
Better luck is had with the animal support. Pascal the lizard is a very Disney creation, making the cute little animal noises so familiar from his filmic antecedents (Evinrude in The Rescuers, for example). Children will adore him, and I can already envision fluffy green tails poking out of stockings come Christmas. The best thing about the film, however, has to be Maximus the guard horse. A lovely rounded character, even without the ability to speak, Maximus brings comedy to every scene he appears in, and his hate/love relationship with Levi’s Flynn Rider is particularly fun. Imagine a silent version of the petulant llama from The Emperor’s New Groove, skipping the line between friend and foe, and you will probably begin to see why he works quite so well.
And what, you are no doubt asking, of the songs? I will admit that the first time I saw the film, none of them stuck in my head. However, second time around shows that there are actually a couple of good numbers to be found. The first song is unbearably twee and rubbish, but things pick up with the villainess’s ‘Mother Knows Best’ (although, following my earlier assertion, it is a bit like a weaker version of ‘Poor Unfortunate Souls’) and reach their peak with ‘I’ve Got A Dream’, a great, rowdy sing-song with Levi and Moore putting in some memorable solos.
The whole film comes to an end rather too quickly, with Mother Gothel’s demise especially lacking sufficient fanfare. There are too many moments when you can imagine how much better Pixar would be doing things – despite the long creative process, it often feels like Disney should have held off a while longer to finish combing out the kinks.
Where then does Tangled fit in the ranking of Disney films? For children, this is certainly one which will not disappoint. They won’t be as lucky as I was, being born at just the right time for the 90s reissue of Snow White, and then the joys of Aladdin and The Lion King, but they are far luckier than the poor little ‘uns who got Home On The Range as their first cinematic experience of Disney, and for that they should be thankful indeed.
By no means a classic, Tangled is still quality entertainment. Children are going to be thrilled, and adults won’t be bored. That old Disney magic hasn’t gone yet, but afterwards you might want to brush up on some of the classics.