Mike Mailer

Mike Mailer

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Black And White (1999) Review


OK
A very unique and brutal subculture exists in America these days. It's a strange juxtaposition of harsh street life and uber-materialistic greed tempered with a sense of justifiability from a code of unwritten ethics. The world is that of the gangsta rappers, the ghetto boys, and the thug-life advocators that dominate the world of hip-hop and rap music. Black and White, the latest film by James Toback, explores this subculture that grows stronger with every new generation it affects.

The hardest thing about an outsider trying to infiltrate a subculture and explain it to the masses is that the truth is often lost in the translation. Toback throws together a huge canvas of characters and actors in attempt to create a clear picture of why white kids are motivated to impersonate black rappers' lifestyles and why rich whit guys treat black rappers like Arnold and Willis from Diff'rent Strokes.

Continue reading: Black And White (1999) Review

Harvard Man Review


Good
James Toback's latest white-teens-in-trouble doesn't offer much we haven't seen in Cruel Intentions, Bully, or every one of Toback's prior films (Black and White, Two Girls and a Guy, etc., etc.). At the same time, it's a rowdy and fast-paced thrill ride that makes it hard not to enjoy.

A cast of excellent character actors doesn't hurt. Scruffy Adrian Grenier is the titular "man," a Harvard student, philosophy major, and basketball player (at what, 5'2"?), who tries to make a deal with his girlfriend's (Sarah Michelle Gellar) mobster father in order to throw the big Dartmouth game, thus ensuring a big gambling payoff so he can buy his folks a new house (theirs was conveniently whisked away by a tornado). Meanwhile, Grenier's Alan bangs his professor (Joey Lauren Adams), encounters an iffy bookie (Eric Stoltz) and his assistant (Rebecca Gayheart), all of whom might be mixed up in a group sex kinda thing. Put Alan in an LSD-infused mania for half the movie and you've got Harvard Man.

Continue reading: Harvard Man Review

The Final Hit Review


Weak
Interested in a movie called The Final Hit? No? Okay, how about The Final Hit -- A Burt Reynolds Film? That's worth seeing on camp value alone!

The film, starring and directed by Reynolds himself, follows a washed-up movie producer searching for $50,000 to option a kid's hot screenplay before a bigshot studio man (Benjamin Bratt) snaps it up. His comedy of errors in search of someone with some money takes him through the highs and lows of Hollywood, from rich actors (including Robert Goulet) to Armenian loan sharks. Does he get his money? Who cares!? The movie's got Ann-Margret in it!

Continue reading: The Final Hit Review

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