Peter Heller

Peter Heller

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Dreamland Review


Good
If the movies are any guide, the world's best stories can be found in the dingiest, most remote, most podunk trailer parks in the country. From Gas Food Lodging to Raising Arizona, trailer parks appear to be populated with only two categories of people: misunderstood genius artists and drunks.

Dreamland may be stuffed full of cliched characters in its trailer trash setting (and why a trailer park would be constructed under power lines in the middle of the New Mexico desert I have no idea), but let's put that aside for a moment. At its heart it is not the awful direct-to-DVD movie that you're probably expecting. The only legitimate reason for that is star Agnes Bruckner, who continues to take role after role in movies that simply don't measure up to her capabilities as one of our best young actresses. (If you haven't seen her in her other headlining role this year, The Woods, don't.)

Continue reading: Dreamland Review

Brown Sugar Review


Weak
To completely understand Brown Sugar requires an appreciation of what hip-hop means to the lives of those who listen to it. Since I'm not well versed in hip-hop music and culture, I didn't understand some parts of the film that the majority of my audience clearly did. I can, however, recognize good filmmaking when I see it. And unfortunately, Brown Sugar is not sweet enough to liven up its predictable story and will leave even fans of hip-hop sorely disappointed.

The film's setup is simple. Dre (Taye Diggs) and Sidney (Sanaa Lathan) have been very close friends since childhood, when hip-hop was just coming into its own. Dre is a well-known hip-hop record producer who is unhappy with his job and is about to get married. Sidney is a magazine editor who is working on a book about the origins of hip-hop and cannot find the right man to fit her groove. She is of course secretly in love with Dre because he is the only man who can connect with her and her music, and Dre is secretly in love with Sidney because she is the only woman who will support his dreams. Both Dre and Sidney have problems with the other's initial choice of spouse (Nicole Ari Parker and Boris Kodjoe).

Continue reading: Brown Sugar Review

Bones Review


Weak
In this cheesy flick, rapper extraordinaire Snoop Dogg simply barks up the wrong tree. Snoop, who has previously tested the acting waters with his menacing persona in inner city dramas such as Training Day and Baby Boy, gets to strut his stuff in director Ernest Dickerson's garishly laughable thriller. Dickerson (Juice) wastes his star in a labored vehicle that is riddled with misguided camp and countless spook-infested clichés. Not enough to even deem this imbecilic fable a worthy copycat blaxploitation flick, there are sticks and stones that can certainly break the brittle Bones. No doubt the filmmakers behind this bloated hip-hoppish Halloween costume drama will draw its intended audience to see their "phat" Snoop Dogg do his thing. It's too bad he plays second fiddle to the ridiculous premise of this mockish movie.

Snoop Dogg portrays charismatic hood Jimmy Bones, a stylish late '70s dude with a cool demeanor to match his threads. Jimmy has always protected his community by looking out for his crime-ridden neighborhood. He possesses the cocky swagger of John Shaft and the street savvy of Superfly's Priest. We're told in flashback that Jimmy Bones refused to deal crack cocaine to his beloved people, and thus the crooked cops and thugs snuffed him out. But nobody betrays Jimmy Bones -- nobody! So he comes back from the dead.

Continue reading: Bones Review

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Peter Heller Movies

Brown Sugar Movie Review

Brown Sugar Movie Review

To completely understand Brown Sugar requires an appreciation of what hip-hop means to the lives...

Bones Movie Review

Bones Movie Review

In this cheesy flick, rapper extraordinaire Snoop Dogg simply barks up the wrong tree....

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