NetFlix Review: Black Dynamite

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Black Dynamite is a spoof movie based on the blaxploitation films of the seventies. It is also one of the cleverest; laugh out loud, funniest movies that I’ve seen in quite some time. Black Dynamite recreates the low budget, poorly acted, one-dimensional elements of those 70’era films with a hilarious accuracy. It is so funny because it is a movie that looks bad without actually being bad and it is done that way on purpose.

Michael Jai White stars as the title character, an ex-CIA agent that is out for justice after his brother is killed by the man. He is also after the distributors of a new drug that hit the streets and anybody else trying to keep the black man down. His investigations lead him the beds of many women and villains ranging from the mafia to the fiendish Dr. Wu. There are lots of familiar faces in Black Dynamite and a few actors you haven’t seen in a minute including Arsenio Hall (Tasty Freeze), Tommy Davidson (Cream Corn), Cedric Yarborough (Chocolate Giddy-Up) and Bokeem Woodbine(the crazy ass brother from Jason’s Lyric).

There are tons of sight gags, over the top humor and intentional cheesiness. The filmmakers seemed to have watched tons of blaxploitation films and everything from those movies are on display here. From the visible boom mikes and the horrible outfits to the ridiculous dialogue, like (“I’m sorry I pimped slapped you into that china cabinet”), and (“your knowledge of scientifical biological transmogrifications is only out matched by your zest for kung-fu treachery”). The Fuck? All of this is plausible and funny because we know that it was done on purpose.

For about an Hour and Twenty minutes Michael Jai White kicks ass, sexes the ladies, smooth talks, refuses to take any shit from the man and never breaks character. There is even a bizarre kung-Fu showdown with Richard Nixon that you have to see to believe. The tone, the style and the gags are spot on. I haven’t laughed that hard in a long time. Director Scott Sanders and Michael Jai White have made a classic spoof film reminiscent of Airplane and Naked Gun but with some soul power.

Flick Review: Shutter Island

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“I’ve been thinking. Is it better to live life as a monster or die as a good man?” Those are the last words from the main character at the end of Shutter Island. There isn’t much I can tell you about Shutter Island without ruining the experience. There are repeated flashbacks and lots of clues to help the viewer out in this slow burning psychological thriller. When I thought I knew what was going on, I would realize that I really didn’t know what was going on. It messes with your head; it was that type of movie. At least it messed with mine and everybody knows that I am two sandwiches short of a picnic.

The film opens with Teddy Daniels (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Chuck Aule (Mark Ruffalo) on a ferry headed to Shutter Island. The men are US Marshalls sent to investigate the disappearance of one of the inmates, a woman that murdered her three children. They are met by Dr. Cawley (Ben Kingsley) the institutions chief psychiatrist, who gives them details about the patient that the two men are investigating. They meet another old German psychiatrist (Max Von Sydow), they interview some patients and then all types of psychological fuckery ensue for the rest of the movie.

Martin Scorsese is a master filmmaker,so there are gothic touches and Edgar Allan Poe inspired darkness to the set design. This movie was visually sexy and I can tell by watching it that Scorsese was inspired by film noir classics like “The Birds” and “Vertigo”. The main character was a tortured soul, there are lots of subtle clues throughout and there are cool touches like the spooky insane asylum scene complete with patients screaming in agony and dark corridors just like the old masterpieces.

In case you are wondering, DiCaprio does have an emotional outburst in the movie, like the kind he has in all of his movies. The on screen outbursts when he’s calm and all of sudden somebody pisses him off and yells really aggressively “Bullshit!” or “Fuck You!” all serious actor like and shit. Maybe it’s contractual, who knows?

Shutter Island is familiar territory, but Scorsese has a way of making familiar themes fresh again. The movies strength is the atmospheric tensions and the “what is real?” and “what is not?” narratives. I think DiCaprio was good like he always is and Scorsese added a nice mixture of Hitchcockian suspense. The supporting cast was very supporting. Jackie Earle Haley plays degenerates really well, just thought I’d throw that observation in. I liked it and I think that it is a movie that will be discussed for an hour or two after it’s over.

Flicks Review:Valentine's Day

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Where do I begin? This movie was heavy on the star power and light on being good, I’ll attempt to explain the plot in a nutshell. It was an ensemble piece showing different scenarios involving a group of Los Angelenos whose lives were affected directly and indirectly on Valentine’s Day. This movie is marketed as a romantic comedy but there are very few laughs. I watched the movie feeling like there was something missing, I even dosed off a few times. The plots twists were unoriginal and uninteresting and by the time parts were revealed, I could care less. There was too much going on to have a well rounded story. Basically, the wrapping paper was pretty, but the gift was returnable, you get my drift? It was long as hell too.

I mean it was so thin that I didn’t care if the florist dude found love; I was annoyed when the news dude finally got with the publicist chick. Even though Dr. McDreamy was an asshole, and Ben Affleck’s wife was the chick every man dreams of, I didn’t care that he did what he did to her. There is even a gay storyline but it is rather predictable in a “Come the fuck on” kind of way. Anne Hathaway’s character was interesting only because she is a kick ass actress and Jessica Alba was in this why? She was the most forgetful of the star studded cast; I guess it pays to be hot. When is Ashton Kutcher going to be in a good movie? The most enjoyable character in the film was surprise, Taylor Swift. Yeah I said it! She was funny as hell and her character was believable. Kanye West’s kryptonite played the ditzy, life imitating art, high school love freak with a curious accuracy, maybe she wasn’t acting at all.

I didn’t enjoy it as you can probably tell by now; it was too flat and just plain boring. I know Gary Marshall is a directing legend and everything, but he took an L with this one, sorry Laverne’s brother. The movie did make a shit load of money on its opening weekend, so what do I know?

Goodbye Tawn

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The Washington Wizards suck ass. I know…I know it hurts me to say it. The anticipation for a Washington Wizards season is like waiting for a Nas album. You get excited at the thought of it, but once you finally get it you listen to it for a few days and then it becomes one of many albums on your iTunes list, you never listen to again unless it’s on shuffle mode and you haul ass to the laptop to change it. By the way, Nas is my favorite emcee of all time, but that statement shows you how real I keep it, but I digress. Apparently the Wizards’ front office shares my enthusiasm for the team, because they made some major moves in the past few days.

On Monday Wizards general manager Ernie Grunfeld traded Caron Butler, Brendan Haywood and Deshawn Stevenson to the Dallas Mavericks for Josh Howard and some other dudes I know nothing about. As much I hated to see Caron go (he was the most solid player they had in my opinion) they needed to do something after a terrible start of the season, and the bad decision making of that human cluster fuck Gilbert Arenas. Tonight they traded Antawn Jamison to the Cleveland Cavaliers for Zydrunas Ilgauskas and two other dudes that I know nothing about.

I bet Tawn is jumping for joy about the fact that he is going to be playing with King James every night. No longer does he have to tolerate Gilbert “always stay strapped” Arenas taking three pointers from fifty feet away or watching Brendan Haywood not pass the ball out of a triple team in the paint. Tawn is the king of the awkward shot, but he was consistent. Caron was the Wizards most solid player but Tawn was their best player. I am going to hate not seeing him running the floor at full speed and taking that snake hook jump shot over two defenders

The Wizards are rebuilding, that’s cool, the only problem I have with that is the dude who is in charge of the rebuilding process, is the one that created this shitty team in the first place. Who’s to say that he won’t create another shitty team? I like Josh Howard as player and I think DC is a good fit for him, not the team necessarily but the city. In no time Josh Howard will be hanging out in South East, smoking a cherry black and mild and wearing sponge bob pajama pants. Zydrunas Ilgauskas is a solid player but his feet aren’t trust worthy, I’ll be shocked if he makes it through the remainder of the season. The other dudes just may turn out to be diamonds in the rough.

Hopefully this is a sign of good things to come, we may not see the results in a few years but you have to destroy to rebuild, this appears to be a step in the right direction. They may even get a few more wins out of this season. They got rid of some big salaries, so they have some leverage when it comes time to lure a free agent and hopefully they’ll have a successful draft, all it takes is a player here and a player there and boom, we got a playoff team. As far as Arenas is concerned, he needs a new start as well. Man, I hope Grunfeld doesn’t fuck this up.

Charles Bukowski don't play that shit!

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Those close to me know that I am nice with words. Because of my ability to pull poetry out of my ass, I think of myself as a poet, I prefer the term word warrior. But anyway, one of my favorite poets is Charles Bukowski. He was pretty much a loser who wrote realistic prose about, losers. Most of his life he worked regular jobs at the post office and a few other places, he didn’t become famous until he was around 49 years old. He wrote prolifically, drank tons of booze and became a hero to the skid row dwellers, squatters and people that lived in seedy motels and ate sardines and Vienna sausages. I found this video of him on YouTube, when I was searching for interesting shit to watch. I laughed my ass off when I saw it, not because I condone violence against women, but because his approach to problem solving didn't shock me. He was nice and calm and then suddenly he attacked. I thought "damn he is one of those people that he would write about"; apparently this lady was using him or something, but for him to call her a “fuckin whoooooore” like that, I can tell he was passionate about her. The hurt that she was inflicitng on him must have kicked in,( no pun intended) during this interview.

We Are the World 25: What the Hell !?!?

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There are certain songs that shouldn’t be touched. There are certain songs and events that have a comfortable condo in our collective consciousness that shouldn’t be fucked with. We are the world is one of those events. I know this is for the Haiti relief effort and it is evidence that a bunch of artists can put their egos aside and join together for a common cause and blah, blah, blah. First off, the song we are the world was recorded for something else, if they were smart they would have produced a new song that can be identified with this particular disaster. Secondly, if they were smart they wouldn’t have allowed Wyclef Jean to be screaming like a cracked out hyena. I watched the video and felt embarrassed about how poorly it was executed. It seemed contrived almost and why the fuck were they using auto-tune? Lil Wayne, Come on really? Even the looks on some of the artists faces was telling. Their facial expressions appeared to say I know that this is going to be a cluster fuck, but it’s for a good cause and I want people to think that I give a shit. The artists who sounded the best were Pink and Michael Jackson and he’s dead, may his soul rest in peace. I hope that they don’t have flat screens in heaven, because MJ is gonna throw his off of a cloud after he sees and hears that shit. I can take the high road and say “it’s for a good cause” and” it’s nice that they all came together to do this” but fuck that! Like I said, there are some moments that are special and that should be left alone and there are some songs that just shouldn’t be touched.


JB

Is John Mayer this year's Kanye West?

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I am not huge fan of John Clayton Mayer’s music. I only have four of his songs on my iTunes list. However, I am a fan of his humor and his conversational swagger for lack of a better term. If they had an all-interview team for musicians John Mayer would be on the first team. Which brings me to the recent backlash he is receiving for his use of the dreaded N-word in his interview with Playboy magazine. First off, I don’t believe that John Mayer is a racist. John Mayer is an artist, and individual expression is everything to a true artist, so I’ve been told. I read the Playboy interview in its entirety and it was classic Mayer, outrageous statements, over the top confidence, self deprecation and an understated plea to be understood even though he says stupid and unnecessary shit from time to time. This is the part of the interview that has everybody’s panties in a bunch:

PLAYBOY: If you didn’t know you, would you think you’re a douche bag?

MAYER: It depends on what I picked up. My two biggest hits are “Your Body Is a Wonderland” and “Daughters.” If you think those songs are pandering, then you’ll think I’m a douche bag. It’s like I come on very strong. I am a very…I’m just very. V-E-R-Y. And if you can’t handle very, then I’m a douche bag. But I think the world needs a little very. That’s why black people love me.

PLAYBOY: Because you’re very?

MAYER: Someone asked me the other day, “What does it feel like now to have a hood pass?” And by the way, it’s sort of a contradiction in terms, because if you really had a hood pass, you could call it a nigger pass. Why are you pulling a punch and calling it a hood pass if you really have a hood pass? But I said, “I can’t really have a hood pass. I’ve never walked into a restaurant, asked for a table and been told, ‘We’re full.’”

I was online today reading people’s thoughts about his comments and it appears that John Mayer is getting the Kanye West (remember him?) treatment somewhat. He has been called a racist, a wimp, a douche bag, ugly and lots of other shit that is probably lowering his self esteem even lower than it is already, that’s to say if he even has low self esteem. Like I stated earlier I don’t believe John Mayer is a racist. I think John Mayer is a guy blessed with a gift for gab, that talks too much and who thrives off of attention. Making outrageous statements is a part of his self-manufactured image, just like making that 70’s era, singer/songwriter, pop schlock that he makes.

For someone as famous and as respected a musician as he is, he should have known better, good scotch be damned, especially, when it comes to the use of the dreaded N-word. My take on his use of the N-word in the interview is the same take I have when anybody uses it. Before I give you my take, let me attempt to explain what I think he may have meant by his statements. I think that he felt that by implying that he had a hood pass was ridiculous, because he if he did he could use the word nigger freely, because they use that word a lot in the hood. In a witty way he was saying I don’t have a hood pass, I am just a white guy who makes music that sounds good to the ears of some black people. By stating that he’s never walked in a restaurant and been told that it’s full, he was saying because I am white, I don’t have the problems that some black people have because of issues with race.

Not to go all around Robin Thicke’s barn and whatnot, he was basically saying I don’t have a hood pass. I can’t say nigger whenever I want because I’m white and it’s a nasty, dirty, stinky word that has horrible and negative connotations. Also, saying that I have a hood pass is derogatory as well, because it is implying that the only black people that like my music live in low income neighborhoods maybe? I am not defending John Mayer’s ability to make an ass out of himself on Twitter or any of these other social networking entrapments, I just took his statements to mean something different than others have.

As far as the joke he made about his penis being David Duke, I thought that was hilarious and brilliant. People seemed to be worked up about that statement as well, but he stated earlier in the interview that he has never slept with a black woman, and everything David Duke stands for is anti-black. Get the irony in that? It wasn’t intended to be offensive; it was intended to be ridiculous, just like David Duke’s thinking is. He went on to say “I am going to start dating separately from my dick.” I can only take that as humor, because it is one of the most idiotic things that I’ve heard in the last ten minutes. I’m thinking he was either really wasted or he is really stupid; I’ll put my money on the former.

Describing Jessica Simpson’s bedroom skills as sexual napalm was actually a compliment, but in an obnoxious, locker room, degrading women session kind of way. I look at it like this, If Chris Brown made the details of what he and Rhianna did sexually to the public; you would probably want to read about it, I know that I would. If you are a dude (and some women too) you’ve probably thought about how Rhianna is in bed at least once, if not two million times. As for the dudes that would like to bang Jessica Simpson, I’m sure they are secretly thanking Johnny Boy for confirming what they probably believed anyway. Now back to the point I was trying to make, if I have one at all.

The use of the N-word is still a touchy subject. Personally, I feel if you use it, you shouldn’t get upset when you hear other people using it no matter their race. The N-word means different things to different people; By the way, I don’t buy that term of endearment justification crap. The way I see it, it’s a double standard when black comedians make bashing white people a huge part of their act, but when a white comedian makes jokes about black people no matter how funny, that is a planet that they shouldn’t step foot on. The music industry promotes illusions and contradictions and unreality, so I can see how easy it would be for an artist to get caught up in that matrix.

Unfortunately racism is not going away; it is a part of the American fabric like baseball and apple pie. And the N-word no matter how horrible is just a word. To some it is a disgusting reminder of a pain filled past for the people of color in this country. For others it is a term of strength and cultural identity that brings us together and expresses love. You can’t kill something by continuing to perpetuate the actions that keep it alive. Calling John Mayer a racist is just as bad as him using the word nigger in my opinion. Like I said, I don’t think John Mayer is a racist; he’s just a guy that needs to learn when to shut up.

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