Ossie Davis

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Grumpy Old Men Review


Good
Grumpy Old Men, directed with general disinterest by Donald Petrie, is 100 minutes of Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon pulling pranks, calling each other names, complaining and falling in love with Ann-Margret. I am suitably entertained by these things. Whether or not you are will be the deciding factor of what you think of what is ostensibly a geriatric Odd Couple.

Milking a 50-odd year rivalry, John Gustafson (Lemmon) and Max Goldman (Matthau), for reasons where logic dare not tread, live right next to each other in suburban Minnesota. Their lives hinge on very few things: Their kids, fishing, grandkids, fishing, evading tax collectors, fishing, and going to the bait shop to talk with Charlie (Ossie Davis) about fishing. That is when they aren't being a royal pain in each other's asses.

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Dinosaur Review


Weak
Leave it to Disney to finally come up with a family-friendly way to explore natural selection. Much like The Lion King's "Circle of Life," Dinosaur regales itself in survival of the fittest, only few people are going to be humming "Hakuna Matata" after this one.

For starters, Dinosaur is that rarest of Disney animation flicks which is not a musical. There's a thumping James Newton Howard score, but the only singing here comes from trumpeting iguanodons and brachiosaurs. The story, on the other hand, is typical Disney kiddie fare: Iguanodon Aladar (D.B. Sweeney) is orphaned as a wee dino-egg on a remote island, where he is raised, Tarzan-style, by a family of lemurs (er... okay). When a freak meteor strike blows the island away, along with much of the rest of the world, Aladar swims to the mainland with his lemur family on his back, where he meets up with the surviving herbivorous dinosaurs who have banded together to trek to "the nesting grounds," a Waterworld-style vale which hasn't been reduced to desert and ruins like, apparently, the rest of the earth. (And never mind the fallout; there is none...)

Continue reading: Dinosaur Review

Dinosaur Review


Weak
Leave it to Disney to finally come up with a family-friendly way to explore natural selection. Much like The Lion King's "Circle of Life," Dinosaur regales itself in survival of the fittest, only few people are going to be humming "Hakuna Matata" after this one.

For starters, Dinosaur is that rarest of Disney animation flicks which is not a musical. There's a thumping James Newton Howard score, but the only singing here comes from trumpeting iguanodons and brachiosaurs. The story, on the other hand, is typical Disney kiddie fare: Iguanodon Aladar (D.B. Sweeney) is orphaned as a wee dino-egg on a remote island, where he is raised, Tarzan-style, by a family of lemurs (er... okay). When a freak meteor strike blows the island away, along with much of the rest of the world, Aladar swims to the mainland with his lemur family on his back, where he meets up with the surviving herbivorous dinosaurs who have banded together to trek to "the nesting grounds," a Waterworld-style vale which hasn't been reduced to desert and ruins like, apparently, the rest of the earth. (And never mind the fallout; there is none...)

Continue reading: Dinosaur Review

Baadasssss! Review


Very Good
Baadasssss! is a rollicking, high-energy, and monumentally-titled film re-creation of the trials and travails of the making of Melvin Van Peeble's 1971 black independent hit Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song.

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

I'm Not Rappaport Review


OK
Turning a play into a movie is always a hit-or-miss process, and I still don't know quite what to make of the latest film to take that journey, I'm Not Rappaport.

Based on the critically-acclaimed play of the same name, I'm Not Rappaport as the story of two elderly men, Nat, a Jewish/socialist radical and compulsive liar (Walter Matthau), and Midge, a black, nearly blind apartment superintendent (Ossie Davis). The pair has an uneasy friendship based on the fact that they sit on the same bench in Central Park, where Nat fills Midge's head with fabrications. Nat's flair for creating new personae for himself draws the pair into one minor adventure after another, involving a young artist-in-training (Martha Plimpton), a drug dealer (Craig T. Nelson), a mugger (Guillermo Diaz), and threats from Nat's daughter (Amy Irving) regarding the ever-looming old folks' home.

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Doctor Dolittle (1998) Review


Very Good
If I could talk to the animals, I'd be a millionnaire... I wouldn't be locked up in the loony bin.

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Bubba Ho-Tep Review


Very Good
Let's just get it out there: Bubba Ho-Tep is about an elderly Elvis Presley (Bruce Campbell) fighting a mummy in a Texas rest-home. In Elvis's corner, there is an elderly African-American fellow (Ossie Davis) who believes he's JFK. You could say JFK is included out of faithfulness to the short-story upon which Ho-Tep is based (unread by me). Or you could just assume director Don Coscarelli really enjoys a challenge.

Actually, the film's casting ensures wide viewing across two specialized, rabid demographics: Elvis fans and Bruce Campbell fans. Some of the former are marked by their staunch, pioneering disbelief that Elvis could actually be dead, later applied to nearly any pop star who died before 50.

Continue reading: Bubba Ho-Tep Review

Baadasssss! Review


Good

"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

SHE HATE ME Review


Bad

What could Spike Lee have been thinking?

Right on the heels of an unalloyed masterpiece, "25th Hour," the great American filmmaker delivers "She Hate Me," a bizarre, head-scratching hodgepodge of poorly executed bad ideas.

Many film buffs consider Lee a hit-and-miss director, but even his biggest failures ("Jungle Fever," "Summer of Sam," "Bamboozled") have had some kind of coherence, some alignment of angry, passionate ideas, painted with Lee's singular vision and voice.

Continue reading: SHE HATE ME Review

Ossie Davis

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Dev Patel Is A Lost Boy In Touching True Story Drama 'Lion'

Dev Patel Is A Lost Boy In Touching True Story Drama 'Lion'

There's already an Oscars buzz surrounding this movie.

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Ossie Davis Movies

Dinosaur Movie Review

Dinosaur Movie Review

Leave it to Disney to finally come up with a family-friendly way to explore natural...

Dinosaur Movie Review

Dinosaur Movie Review

Leave it to Disney to finally come up with a family-friendly way to explore natural...

Baadasssss! Movie Review

Baadasssss! Movie Review

Baadasssss! is a rollicking, high-energy, and monumentally-titled film re-creation of the trials and travails of...

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I'm Not Rappaport Movie Review

I'm Not Rappaport Movie Review

Turning a play into a movie is always a hit-or-miss process, and I still don't...

Bubba Ho-Tep Movie Review

Bubba Ho-Tep Movie Review

Let's just get it out there: Bubba Ho-Tep is about an elderly Elvis Presley (Bruce...

Baadasssss! Movie Review

Baadasssss! Movie Review

"Baadassss!" is Mario Van Peebles' fond commemoration of his cantankerous father's bull-headed cinematic audacity. An...

SHE HATE ME Movie Review

SHE HATE ME Movie Review

What could Spike Lee have been thinking?Right on the heels of an unalloyed masterpiece, "25th...

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