I figure I’d finish out black history month with Straight Outta Compton. Something I wouldn’t normally see, because I don’t listen to gangsta rap. I only listen to rap on the occasion that I get into the song. So why would I see Straight Outta Compton then? Well the buzz and eventual controversy surrounding it was unavoidable. Despite its relevance today, Straight Outta Compton was almost completely ignored by the Oscars. It’s very well put together, but I think it was just too intense. Since the movie delves into the beginnings of young gangsta rap group N.W.A. and how they made an impact on society at the time. Their brand of hip-hop didn’t hold back on the reality of living in a tough neighborhood. Their most career defining song was easily “F*** tha Police.” We see the rapper’s struggle and eventual success in the music industry. Paul Giamotti knows something good when he sees it. Each member is affected by the groups fame differently. Eazy-E had his life tradcially cut short. While Dr. Dre and Ice Cube are of course the most well known members today. The latter was played to perfection by his own son O’Shea Jackson Jr. DJ Yella and MC Ren aren’t exactly household names. They wisely leave out scenes depicting the filming of Boyz n the Hood. Since it would have been too much. Not that Straight Outta Compton isn’t nearly 3 hours long. With a very R rating full of profanity, graphic nudity, gang violence, and debauchery. Exactly what you’d expect. Straight Outta Compton makes a statement that we heard loud and clear.
The Room is often referred to as the Citizen Kane of bad movies. It’s definitely bad, but I wouldn’t call it offensively bad. No, The Room falls under the category of “so bad it’s good.” Not like other bad movies that are so bad you never want to see them again. The Room actually has surprisingly good rewatchability. In case you’re unaware, The Room is an independent low-budget movie written by, produced by, directed by, and starring the infamous Tommy Wiseau. A mysterious foreigner who was somehow able to get this movie made. Despite how bad it turned out. Even its bizarre poster and billboard became iconic. I can’t really say in a few short sentences what it’s about, because I don’t even think Tommy Wiseau knows what it’s about. It’s labeled a Drama, but the movie’s so hilariously bad that most consider it a comedy. That’s what makes The Room good in a bad way. Every line in the movie is so bafflingly bad that it’s kinda clever. With several scenes that go absolutely nowhere, uncomfortable sex scenes, and acting that almost has to be seen to be believed…
The Room takes place in the lovely San Francisco landscape. I say lovely because almost half of the movie is just establishing shots of the city (or in poorly CGI’d background shots). Tommy Wiseau plays the all-American hero Johnny. Despite having a hard to place foreign accent. Best recognised by his constant laughter and inability to make chicken noises. Everybody knows and loves Johnny. He works a successful banker job, has a “future wife” named Lisa, and a best friend named Mark. Both of whom are at least a few decades younger than him. Everything seems to be going well for Johnny until Lisa suddenly decides out of nowhere that she doesn’t love him anymore. Something that gets brought up at least 5 times throughout the movie. Until she doesn’t want to talk about it. She also starts to sleep with best friend Mark. This leads Johnny to feel betrayed and get fed up with this world. The plot is pretty simple, but it’s what happens in between that really makes The Room stand out. The Room is filled with several lengthy sex scenes that happen with R&B songs playing. The beginning of the movie has so many that you’d almost swear you were watching a bad porno. If not for Tommy Wiseau’s ridiculously high aim. As well as unexplained games of football. One even played in tuxedos. There’s also a random scene with a drug dealer involving Johnny’s creepy roommate Denny (he’s like a son to Johnny). A conversation involving Lisa’s mother where she says she “definitely has breast cancer.” Also never brought up again. Sudden mood spikes, an out of nowhere scene in a coffee shop, and a particularly memorable scene in a flower shop (“hi doggy”). Not to mention the fact that so many of Wiseau’s lines had to be dubbed. Despite all these glaring problems, The Room later managed to become a cult hit. One that hundreds of fans watch, quote, and enjoy (spoons!). The Room is just a really bad movie, beginning to end. I definitely recommend it.
Citizen Kane is often regarded as the “The Greatest Film Ever Made”. So is there any truth to this claim. Short answer: yes. Long answer: debatable. First I’ll start with the premise. Citizen Kane is about an old wealthy newspaper publisher named Charles Foster Kane who has just died, but not before uttering the famous last words “Rosebud”. After his death, an investigative reporter is tasked with uncovering the meaning behind his last word. Along the way the movie swaps back and forth between Kane’s life and reporter seeking answers. So what makes Citizen Kane so good exactly? Well the movie was directed by the late Orson Welles. The man responsible for the infamous radio broadcast of The War of the Worlds…
Orson Welles was a pioneer in his own right. Citizen Kane was revolutionary for being one of the first movies to utilize a non linear storytelling method. As well as using old person makeup to show a time lapse in a movie. It’s also one of the first movies with dramatic camera work and a twist ending. There’s a lot movies today have Citizen Kane to thank for. So is there anything bad about the movie? Well here’s what I’ll say. Citizen Kane has had an interesting history. Believe it or not, Citizen Kane didn’t win Best Picture at the Oscars. No they gave it to a movie nobody will ever think to watch. It wasn’t until way later that it was declared “The Greatest Film Ever Made”. After that everybody knew about the movie. That includes the twist. Which everybody should know pretty well by this point. I still consider it an amazing movie whether you know the twist or not. I actually saw the movie on my own. I wasn’t forced to by a film class or anything like that. Long story short, this is a great movie that everyone should see at least once in their life.
Splash is a regular “fish out of water” story. Both literally and figuratively. I think it’s safe to say that Splash is the second greatest mermaid movie ever made. The greatest mermaid movie is obvious. Interestingly enough, Splash was Disney’s first movie targeted towards adults. Not to say that it’s mature or anything, but this is a mermaid we’re talking about. There is brief nudity. I would say the movie benefits most from the “fish out of water” style humor. As well as the idea of a human/mermaid romance. Tom Hanks is as good as to be expected and Daryl Hannah shines as the mermaid. In many ways, Splash was a pioneer in the mermaid romance genre. So dive on in, the water’s fine.
Dirty Dancing is a fun dance movie. Nothing more, nothing less. It’s also a great romance movie. I guess there’s just some parts of the movie that turned me off a bit. In particular, the baby related subplot that most people forget about. Aside from that, it’s a harmless enough movie to watch. Most people remember it for its cheesy line “Nobody puts Baby in the corner”. That famous lift scene which many couples have tried to imitate (and injured themselves tremendously). As well as the Oscar winning song “Time of My Life”. If you just focus on the dancing and romance, then you’ll have fun watching it.
Eight Legged Freaks, the perfect blend of cheese and over the top animal attacking. It’s definitely my second favorite spider themed movie from 2002. I didn’t see it theaters, but me and my mom watched it several times on VHS. My brother has a fear of spiders so I had to convince him that it was tame enough to watch (and it is tame). The movie tries to emulate B movie horror. Which in my opinion, it succeeds. I just have fun with it. A diverse collection of spiders gets contaminated with toxic waste and grows to enormous size. What’s not to like? If you like either spiders, bad CGI, or David Arquette. Then you’ll love this movie.
Why does nobody talk about Pleasantville? It’s so relevant to modern social issues that it’s hard to believe it’s so underrated. Pleasantville is of course another movie I grew up with. Having seen it many times when I was younger since Tobey Maguire was everywhere in the late 90’s & early 2000’s. Even though some of it went over my innocent mind. Pleasantville is about a 90’s teen and his sister getting stuck inside a 50’s sitcom. A show called Pleasantville that exemplifies the “perfect town and family” premise of that era. Nobody has any real problems, everyone eats a hearty breakfast, nothing changes, and the weather is just swell. Tobey Maguire plays David/Bud, a nerd obsessed with the show. While Reese Witherspoon plays Jennifer/Mary Sue, his sister with a need to act out. Things take an unexpected turn when the two introduce change into their perfect little town. Sex, violence, expression, and loose morals. Arguably the best thing about the movie is its special effects. Characters and objects will turn to color and everything else will stay black & white. It’s really quite beautiful. Another strength is the movie’s humor. Especially if you’re familiar with 50’s sitcoms. Pleasantville is a pleasantly swell film that deserves way more attention.
Whiplash is about as perfect as a movie can be. I’ve never played the drums before, but if it’s half as demanding as it appears in this movie, then no thank you. Why do I say that? Well let’s examine the premise. Whiplash is about a young drummer who joins a studio band and receives lessons from an instructor. Simple right… wrong. This instructor happens to be abusive, insulting, and ruthless. Played to pure perfection by J.K. Simmons who is most known for playing J Jonah Jameson in the Spider-Man Trilogy. J. K. Simmons manages to make his character both unlikable and likable at the same time. I will admit that there were times where I tried to contain a laugh. The insults he hurls out are just so creatively vicious. Whiplash is definitely one of my favorite films of the last 5 years.
Well it’s Presidents Day. I thought I’d review a presidential movie. So I chose to review The American President (and I ain’t talkin’ Trump). No I mean the 1995 Rob Reiner film The American President. I first watched it in my Junior government class. Honestly if it wasn’t for that I probably would never have seen it. The American President is about fictional Commander-and-Chief Andrew Shepard. A recently widowed Democratic President played the always reliable Michael Douglas. I don’t completely agree with his politics, but that’s not what the movie is about. This is actually a very charming movie about the personal life of the President. It brings up interesting questions like “what if the President was dating?” An interesting scenario that would only be worse in this day in age. President Murphy begins dating Sydney Ellen Wade, played by Annette Benning. He does normal things like dance with her, buy her flowers, and stuff like that. It’s just the fact that he’s the President that makes it an issue since the media can’t resist a story like that. Of course the Aaron Sorkin dialogue helps. Even if you’re not that into politics, I’m sure you’ll enjoy the romance, humor, and subtext of The American President.
P.S. The American President is also notable for maintaining a PG-13 rating despite 3 F-bombs.
School of Rock rocks! I first saw the movie in class and I was instantly hooked. I was even surprised to know that my parents had already watched it. The movie mostly benefits from Jack Black’s signature brand of manic man humor. It’s probably Jack Black’s most career defining role as well. For those who don’t know, School of Rock is about a deadbeat rock star who pretends to be a substitute teacher in order to make some extra money. He later learns that the stuffy kids actually have musical talent. So he teaches them how to rock. That’s when Jack Black really shines. It’s a really fun movie with lots of catchy songs. Even those who don’t like rock music will love it.