Directed by Michael Campus and released in its home country of the USA in 1973.
Being heavily into hip hop I’ve heard so many songs and albums that sample either the fantastic Willie Hutch soundtrack or lines of dialogue from this movie. Looking at the poster I always thought Richard Pryor was the main character and its his involvement that piqued my interest in this along with the aforementioned sampling through hip hop history. Fortunately upon viewing I found out that there was so much more to this than Richard Pryor and a few bad-ass one liners.
The film tells the story of a man who, after a shootout with a rival gang, ends up being imprisoned. He comes out after a five year stretch to find his brother is now preaching black nationalism ala Malcolm X or Huey Newton. Our titular character, who has always dreamed of providing for his aging mother, decides to take the militarism of his brothers activism and funnel it into another avenue: pimping. He gets to the top of the game, but not without a few enemies.
Now if that doesn’t spark your interest, I don’t know what will. Those involved in the film say its not a blaxploitation film, and I tend to agree with them. While it does have many of the same tropes, I actually found it to be a gritty and very well done film with a stellar screenplay that keeps you wondering whats around the corner.
I was surprised to find out that many of the speeches delivered by The Mack’s brother in the film were word for word taken from speeches given by Black Panther Huey P. Newton.
The film is also historically relevant as it really does give you an insight into what life was like in these areas of America for black people during the early 1970s. It highlights the corruption of the police departments as well as highlighting the pitfalls of entering into criminal organisations such as pimping. Even so, I just couldn’t stop thinking how damn badass The Mack was through the whole picture.
Really loved this one.
Directed by Roberto Faenza and, while filmed in 1981, it was released in Italy in 1983 and in the country in which it is set not long after in 1984.
Former lead singer of iconic punk rock band the Sex Pistols, Johnny Rotten, stars alongside Harvey Keitel in quite the strange film I must say. Whilst the director ended up trying to market the film to the arthouse crowd, it was filmed in 1981 and not released until 1983. The film has various titles, Copkiller, Order Of Death, Corrupt, as well as its Italian title L’Assassino dei Poliziotti, just to name a few.
It tells the story of a string of murders with the victims all being police officers. Rotten’s character, a rich bachelor with a history of confessing to crimes he supposedly hasn’t committed, turns up at one of two apartments’ belong to Harvey Keitel and one of his friends and professes that he is indeed the cop killer. The film is quite clever in that it leaves you guessing throughout the entire film who exactly the murderer is.
The film as a whole, at least for me, ends up quite all over the place and doesn’t really hold up very well over time. Having said that, the performance from the punk rock singer is quite the turn especially for those who know his music. I, myself, certainly didn’t expect him to pull in such a brilliant performance. The always brilliant Keitel offers a great performance too but as I mentioned before the film unfortunately does fall flat and while the atmosphere which pervades the film is quite eery and fits in with the theme of the film, I think – among other things – that the camera lingers on much too long for much of the film.
What’s also interesting to note is the score is done by the composing legend of spagehetti western fame Ennio Morricone. Not much to say on that really, beside the fact it helped build the creepy atmosphere which fitted well with the performances.
See it only if you’re interested in seeing how Rotten performs on film – you’ll be pleasantly surprised. He’s said himself he’s proud of the film and despite not particularly liking the finished film I can definitely see why.
Directed by Stacy Peralta and released in its home country of the USA in 2008.
This documentary is a frightening look into the history of the oppression of minorities in the United States of America pretty much since its inception. It was of course the political activism of the 1960s and ’70s which ultimately gave birth to the gang violence which is so eloquently displayed in this film through the use of news stories and interviews with gang members from all across the country.
The way in which it looks over the entire history and doesn’t hold anything back is one of the best things about the film. I feel that the emergence of crack cocaine definitely helped fuel the violence in these communities especially during the 1980s but I guess it didn’t really impact the gang culture too much as there isn’t much by way of that topic in this documentary.
Having said that it is fleshed out with interviews of family members of those who have been slain in gang violence and really gives you a glimpse into the dark side of the American life that hasn’t really been portrayed in any form of media so far as I can see.
Directed by Rian Johnson and released in it’s home country of the USA in 2012.
More often than not highly intelligent films such as this require repeat viewings to drill the meanings and plot into your head – like such titles as Fight Club or Primer – but with Looper it’s condensed into one viewing and you don’t have to be an idiot to follow it.
When I first saw Rian Johnson’s Brick back in 2006 I never imagined this was where the director would be at this point in his career, 6 years later. Fortunately for him, especially considering his just above average previous film The Brothers Bloom, I can safely say that this is the best thing he’s done since then.
It’s an awesome film, sadly I’d already had the ending of it spoiled for me months ago but I still can say I enjoyed it thoroughly. The effects and story tie together well with the characters. It’s nice to see such great writing, despite some of the elements which I didn’t gravitate toward. As for Joseph Gordon Levitt, the prosthetics he donned for this to try and make him look more like a younger Bruce Willis completely make him look like something else… plus it looks absolutely nothing like Willis. Still, the screenplay is really special and it’s a great modern science fiction film.
Directed by Henry Joost & Ariel Schulman and released in it’s home country of the USA in 2012.
The budget of the first Paranormal Activity film amounted to $15,000 but somehow the budgets of its three sequels, which are all pretty much exactly the same film, are in the millions. Why the extra cost? Marketing; the studios have no choice but to produce incredibly viral marketing for these films because the sequels are all exactly the fucking same films.
So in summary, the entire saga of these films has been utterly shite… this one however, number four, is by far the worst of the series. In the third film the story was actually somewhat plausible and it tied in together very nicely but after about ten minutes of this, I completely despised every minute of it. This kind of filmmaking is just abysmal and I am positive that if another of these comes out I won’t be sitting through it.
Directed by Harmony Korine and released in its home country of the USA in 2013.
After following Harmony Korine’s career for quite some time his move into the mainstream didn’t surprise. He took a leave from filmmaking after making the Dogme 95 film Julien Donkey-Boy (1999) – heavy drug use was the reason for his absence – then he made Mister Lonely (2007) which was his most accessible piece to date while still retaining the oddities of many of his previous efforts. Around this time he married Rachel Korine and had a child together more recently – she is the star of his last three features – and I think that really helped his ideas formulate.
Korine has always been the most articulate American filmmaker in the past 20 years and Trash Humpers (2009) was an abrasive and brash film that is hard to even take in. During an interview for the film he said he’d have loved to see it open in shopping malls and he expressed a want to work with the likes of Miley Cyrus. So, from my point of view leading up to this I could see what direction he was going with this. His short films Umshini Wam (2010) and Lotus Community Workshop – part of The Fourth Dimension (2010) – were stepping stones to this. In these films he began to experiment more with new digital cameras, an exact opposite of the format for Trash Humpers (VHS).
The film itself is a dreary and twisted telling of The American Dream – while simultaneously poking fun at both spring break and gangster rap culture. The spring break setting really isn’t important and as Korine says is moreso a symbol of these girls’ Dreams. The repetitive use of specific shots aswell as the hypnotizing voices on the soundtrack (mostly those of James Franco and Rachel Korine) and, which is now becoming somewhat of a trademark for Korine, the use of a host of different cameras which make for good mindfucking.
The film is entertaining but I do have some qualms. The soundtrack – I just hate this commercial dubstep shit – is hard to sit through and by around the 45 minute mark the repetition becomes boring. This film could’ve easily ended at least 10 minutes earlier if it just cut out all of those shots of either three or four of the girls just staring into space for elongated periods of time. Going into this I was most excited to see these four hot chicks in a movie done by Korine. I was somewhat disappointed by the performances delivered by Gomez especially (the screenplay did call for her to be a drag but not to this extent surely) and Rachel Korine does not fit this type of role either. I saw her in the Harmony-produced short film The Dirty Ones (2008) and her performance in that was incredible.
I have to commend Gucci Mane for managing to stay as gutta as possible while getting rode by a black chick with a fat ass. It was easily the funniest moment in the film. Franco’s accent really was irritating however, but by the time he’s stopped screaming “Look at my shit!” I’m already looking at a subliminally placed shot of a set of tits or some chick shaking her butt.
The director said that he sees the film as a sort of “pop-poem” and I praise the new “liquid-narrative” which he has carved perfectly with this film and the short films that I mentioned before. There are really no filmmakers alive any more that toy around with the medium as much as Harmony does. At the box office these days, it’s either the convoluted and lifeless film made for big bucks or the quiet indie film that no one ever sees that cost nothing. Spring Breakers sits comfortably in between those two and still manages to encapsulate the youth of the time that it shows and is aimed directly at.
All I can say to top it all off is that I didn’t expect to love it as I do for the majority of Harmony Korine’s other works but it’s decent and I’m very interested to see what his next film is going to be seeing as I haven’t heard anything on the radar so far.
Directed by Robert Zemeckis and released in it’s home country of the USA in 1997.
The following review does contain spoilers.
So I just spent the last week absolutely devoted to Carl Sagan’s mini-series Cosmos. To say the least, it made me more intrigued by science than I ever have been before – and I’m sure that goes for most anyone who watches it. So on the basis of that, I figured after I’d finished the series I’d watch this, a film based on Sagan’s only novel in amongst an array of scientific books. Much to my celebration, I was not disappointed whatsoever.
I knew that being such an intelligent man, Carl Sagan would not hesitate to present an intellectually objective film and he did precisely that. Everything in this film is presented incredibly impartially especially considering Sagan’s own scepticism – from the test launch being interrupted by a suicide bomber, to Congress not believing a word the protagonist says aswell as holding back vital information that would lead to widespread awareness of the facts.
With this film, Carl Sagan created one of the most intelligent films about extra-terrestrial life I am sure has ever been made and ever will be made. I am now making it my top priority to delve deeper into Sagan’s works, especially the book that this film was based on.