The film, based mainly on Melvin Van Peeples' book about making the film, illustrates many of the difficulties that plagued it; from financial troubles and crew infighting, to the demanding logistics of the shoot and family dilemmas, all of which made the entire production nearly fall apart.
Continue reading: Baadasssss! Review
Let's not sugarcoat it. Tall remains a one-note genre picture specifically tailored to its shining star - The Rock. For what it is, though, Tall is quite good. It has fun with its limitations. It boasts strong fight choreography and interesting direction by Kevin Bray, who keeps the spotlight on its charismatic and camera-friendly leading man.
Continue reading: Walking Tall (2004) Review
If the roller-disco nostalgia comedy "Roll Bounce" didn't have Malcolm D. Lee in the director's chair, it would be downright unwatchable.
Built on a sloppy, fill-in-the-blanks plot, it follows a group of rollerskate-crazy 1970s teens from Chicago's tough South Side as they're forced to migrate to trendy North Side roller disco because their run-down local rink has been shuttered. This leads inevitably to a into a rivalry with hot-shot locals and a "skate-off" finale, and the story couldn't be more stale if the script itself were a dusted-off relic from the Jimmy Carter era.
But Lee has a gift for finding gold nuggets of personality and comedy in the tailings of over-mined plots. He turned 1999's contrived reunion/wedding flick "The Best Man" into a character-rich dramedy and exploited the stupidity of 2002's "Undercover Brother" for great laughs. In "Roll Bounce," he makes up for the shopworn, thoroughly predictable source material by punching up the comedy and hiring talented young stars to flesh out the stock characters.
Continue reading: Roll Bounce Review
"Baadassss!" is Mario Van Peebles' fond commemoration of his cantankerous father's bull-headed cinematic audacity. An unblinking, if slightly golden-toned, account of the making of Melvin Van Peebles' violent, dark, gritty and groundbreaking "Sweet Sweetback's Baadassss Song," it's a clear labor of love, and so much the better for it.
"Sweetback" -- a "ghetto Western" about a slick, taciturn pimp who becomes a hunted man for killing a couple thug cops who beat a black militant -- scared the hell out of Hollywood, yet its success ($15 million in limited release in 1971) gave rise to scores of shallower imitators that became the blaxploitation genre of "Coffy" and "Shaft."
Getting the divisive, patently anti-establishment film made was a nightmare of financing and bounced checks ("Baadasssss!" implies that drug money was to be used before Bill Cosby stepped in), of casting (writer-director Melvin played the lead when he couldn't find the right actor), of union problems (the industry guilds were practically all-white at the time -- and expensive), of controversy (an X rating), and of distribution (only two privately-owned theaters would touch it at first).
Continue reading: Baadasssss! Review
The all-American butt-kicking charisma of former wrestler and action-hero heir-apparent The Rock seems to have a miraculous, popcorn-pleasure effect on otherwise lame movies.
"The Scorpion King" would have been straight-to-video fare without his capricious, self-aware screen presence and "The Rundown" was bargain-basement Steven Seagal fodder that this guy's muscular smile helped lift to the level of a gratifying, preposterous-fracas matinee fodder.
Any fan of The Rock (the actor or the wrestler) will find similar lowbrow satisfaction in his latest B-movie -- a remake of the vigilante-justice flick "Walking Tall."
Continue reading: Walking Tall Review
A rare kids' flick that engages youthful intellect and heart instead of patting youngsters on the head and spoon-feeding them stock anecdotes and tie-in toys, "Holes" is a fun family flick with a manifold plot about a smart, quiet teenager who gets the fate-fueled chance to reverse his family's hereditary bad luck.
It seems a curse was put the great-great-grandfather of curly-headed moppet Stanley Yelnats (Shia LaBeouf), and the trickle-down effect has landed the kid at a parched, ghost-town-like juvenile rehabilitation center in West Texas -- ironically called Camp Green Lake -- for a crime he didn't commit.
The venomous Warden (Sigorney Weaver, delighting in the role's sneering, sinister qualities) has a strange idea for building character in her charges: the boys spend every single day digging five-foot-deep holes in the dry lakebed. Her policies are enforced by the Mr. Sir, a classically menacing, beer-bellied, bow-legged figure played by Jon Voight in a scene-stealing standout performance. Sporting a graying Elvis pompadour, a villain's pencil mustache, twitchy wild eyes, and a low-slung holster, he's the kind of baddie who makes you giggle while making your skin crawl too, as he squints in the faces of potential escapees and seethes that in the desert "the buzzards'll pick ya clean by the end of the third day."
Continue reading: Holes Review
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Baadasssss! is a rollicking, high-energy, and monumentally-titled film re-creation of the trials and travails of...
Ironically, Walking Tall runs short. Credits included, the testosterone opera two-fists its way through 77...
If the roller-disco nostalgia comedy "Roll Bounce" didn't have Malcolm D. Lee in the director's...
"Baadassss!" is Mario Van Peebles' fond commemoration of his cantankerous father's bull-headed cinematic audacity. An...
The all-American butt-kicking charisma of former wrestler and action-hero heir-apparent The Rock seems to have...
A rare kids' flick that engages youthful intellect and heart instead of patting youngsters on...