Month: January 2013

Better In The Dark #62: THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS and LICENSE TO KILL

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In this extra-long episode, The Guys Outta Brooklyn examine the two-film tenure of a Great, Great Man, Timothy Dalton as James Bond.

http://www.betterinthedarksite.com/episode-archives/episodes-61-70/

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Better In The Dark #57: NEVER SAY NEVER AGAIN and A VIEW TO A KILL

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We reach the darkest part of our journey through cinematic Bond as The Guys Outta Brooklyn dissect the horror that is Roger Moore’s final film. Of course, before they reach this particular (shaken, not stirred) Heart of Darkness, Tom and Derrick debate the value of the Kevin McClory curiosity that marked the surprise return of Sean Connery to the role that made him famous! Plus Derrick reveals his choice for worst Bond Girl ever, the guys discuss busted pilots of the 70′s, and a very, very bad Christopher Walken impression! It’s a dance into the fire, so get to clicking!

http://www.betterinthedarksite.com/episode-archives/episodes-51-60/

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Better In The Dark #144:The Fist Of Water, The Will Of Iron: The Life of Bruce Lee

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Episode 144: THE FIST OF WATER, THE WILL OF IRON: THE LIFE OF BRUCE LEE

In this episode, The Guys Outta Brooklyn honor one of the most influential figures in the history of genre movies and martial arts, Bruce Lee. Tom and Derrick discuss the philosophy and career of this remarkable man, who managed to change the face of cinema after starring in only four movies (and yes, we do discuss that thing that claims to be his fifth film). You know it’s chinese boxing time, so get to clicking!

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Better In The Dark #55: FOR YOUR EYES ONLY and OCTOPUSSY

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The Guys Outta Brooklyn return to the man who likes things shaken and not stirred and examine two of Roger Moore’s better entries. The first shows us the thoroughly hardcore bad-ass Bond Moore could have been, and the second wins out due to superior settings, excellent villains, suspenseful moments….and the revelation that Moore was The Flash. Plus more on the grotesque nature of Lynn-Holly Johnson, a literary announcement that involves both Tom and Derrick, and repeated, joyful use of the word ‘Boobs.’ We have a nasty habit of surviving, so get to clicking!

http://www.betterinthedarksite.com/episode-archives/episodes-51-60/

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Red Hook Summer

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2012

40 Acres & A Mule Filmworks/Variance Films

Directed and Produced by Spike Lee

Written by Spike Lee and James McBride

I’ve watched RED HOOK SUMMER three times now and I still can’t honestly say what I think of it. Which in a way I think is supposed to be the point. I’ve always admired Spike Lee as a filmmaker in his insistence on telling stories that don’t have Hollywood resolutions and endings. That’s because the issues Spike raises in his movies don’t have nice tidy endings where everybody rides off into the sunset happy and joyous. Spike Lee’s movies are about the issues that most of us don’t like to talk about honestly. Race, how the media contributes to the corruption of intelligence, creativity and spirit and urban crime just to name a few. I remember how much trouble he got into with the African-American community when “School Daze” hit the theaters as a large part of the movie’s story dealt with racism among African-Americans regarding skin tone and having “good” and “bad” hair. Black folks were ready to hang Spike behind that one as they felt that was an issue that should stay within the black community and not for public knowledge.

He’s always been a controversial artist and is well known for his public disagreements and arguments with other filmmakers. But he’s got passion for his work. Even in movies like “She Hate Me” and “Girl 6” two films of his that I have not the slightest idea who he thought would be interested in seeing. And there is a whole lot of passion in RED HOOK SUMMER but there’s also a lot WTH as well.

Flik Royale (Jules Brown) is brought to Brooklyn’s infamous Red Hook housing project by his mother Colleen (De’Adre Aziza) to spend the summer with his grandfather, Da Good Bishop Enoch Rouse (Clarke Peters) Flik is a spoiled, arrogant little snot who openly displays disrespect and contempt for the situation he’s in. Having been brought up in Atlanta he knows nothing about the streets, something that his grandfather continually warns him about. It doesn’t help that Flik wanders around past the neighborhood drug dealers and gang bangers with his iPad in front of his face constantly, obsessively recording everything he sees.

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Bishop Enoch puts his grandson to work at The Lil’ Peace of Heaven Baptist Church where Flik meets Chazz Morningstar (Toni Lysaith) who will become his best friend during the course of the hot Brooklyn summer. But just when I thought that this was going to be a movie about a young man’s coming of age and spiritual awakening, Spike Lee quickly changes gears so fast that I had to rewind the movie back a bit to make sure I hadn’t missed something.

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Now, I can’t tell you what shakes up this movie so dramatically just in case you decide to see it but let me say this. That one event drastically changes everything and will cause you to ask: “Well, if Character A knew this about Character B then why put Character C with Character B in the first place.” And that’s as close as I can come to what happens without spoiling it. Most of the time I don’t give a poobah’s pizzle about spoilers (A pox on The Spoiler Police, says I and damn them for puking clackdishes) but in this case, spoilers are warranted.

This is one odd movie in terms of when it’s supposed to be taking place. Except for Flik’s iPad there is no other sign of modern technology in this movie. Carmelo Anthony is prominently mentioned but there’s no cell phones, no flat screen TV’s, no iPhones. No brand name designer clothing. Chazz speaks in 1970’s slang that she definitely could not have heard from other girls or boys her own age or from adults. In fact, everybody dresses like they were from the 1980’s and the movie could easily have been set during that period.

What’s not odd is the powerhouse performance of Clarke Peters. Before this, I only knew his work on “The Wire” and was impressed there. But in RED HOOK SUMMER he’s way more than impressive. He’s downright nuclear. If you decide to watch RED HOOK SUMMER for any reason, Clarke Peters should be it.

I was also delighted with the performance of Toni Lysaith. No, she’s no Cicely Tyson but she’s adorable and obviously having a lot of fun acting in a movie. She’s a lot better than Jules Brown who runs the emotional acting range from pissed off to even more pissed off. He just doesn’t have the acting ability, taught or natural to hold my attention, especially when he has to do scenes with acting powerhouses such as Peters or Thomas Jefferson Byrd who plays Deacon Zee here and many of you will recognize as the father mandated by a judge to be handcuffed to his son while on their way to The Million Man March in 1996’s “Get On the Bus”

And no other filmmaker can so convincingly put Brooklyn on the screen than Spike Lee. I know Red Hook and in just about every shot of RED HOOK SUMMER I recognized where he had filmed.

What else can I say about RED HOOK SUMMER to wrap up this review? Oh, there are two cameos in the movie, one amusing and the other troubling to me. The amusing one is by Tracy Camilla Johns who is introduced to Flik as “Mother Darling” and it wasn’t until talking about the movie with Patricia later on that I realized that Ms. Johns was reprising her Nola Darling character from “She’s Gotta Have It.” I wouldn’t dream of telling you how she shows up in this movie.

The other cameo is by Spike Lee himself, playing Mookie from “Do The Right Thing” Mookie is obviously older, sporting a gray beard and hair but he’s still delivering pizza. To be honest, I’d have liked to have seen Mookie as a businessman owning his own pizza parlor or even a chain of them. Apparently the character has not improved his lot in life since 1989 and that saddened me because I wondered if Spike Lee saw so little in what is one of his most beloved characters that he could not envision any sort of productive future for him or if this was Spike Lee making a self-commentary on his own life. Or maybe a cigar is just a cigar.

So should you see RED HOOK SUMMER? It feels to me strongly like a work still in progress. The screenplay could have used some tightening up of the screws and nuts here and there. But at the same time it’s sheer rawness and sometimes sloppiness of acting and plot has its own power that cannot be denied. Like I said at the beginning of this review, I’ve seen the movie three times now and still can’t make up my mind if I like it or not. See it for yourself and then we’ll talk some more.

Rated R: There is a scene involving the seduction of a young child that while it isn’t graphic it leaves absolutely no doubt as to what is going on.

121 Minutes

Better In The Dark #49: THE SPY WHO LOVED ME and MOONRAKER

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We return to our overview of the James Bond series with the ultimate version of the sublime to the ridiculous, as the Boys Outta Brooklyn examine the pinnacle of the Roger Moore era, and one of the lowest points not just for the Moore movies but for the entire series! This episode gives you a Derrick and Tom so dumbfounded by what they’re reviewing they resort to Foghorn Leghorn impressions to convey their distaste! Plus the revelation of the Stanley Kubrick/James Bond connection, we revisit our adoration of Carolyn Munro and the rise and fall of Jaws. Nobody does it better, so get to clicking!

http://www.betterinthedarksite.com/episode-archives/episodes-41-50/

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Rock & Rule

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Nelvana

Directed by Clive A. Smith

Produced by Michael Hirsh and Patrick Loubert

Screenplay by John Halfpenny and Peter Sauder

Back in the 1980’s there were three notable animated movies that hit the theaters. Well, actually two of them as the movie we’re talking about now, ROCK & RULE never had a real American theatrical run. Reportedly the American distributor, MGM, really didn’t care for the movie at all and had zero interest in any kind of promotion for it. They had it badly recut and some voices re-dubbed, threw it into theaters for about a minute and that was it. Most people like me saw ROCK & RULE either on HBO or Showtime which usually ran it late night on Fridays and Saturdays. But what ROCK & RULE had in common with “American Pop” and “Heavy Metal” was the heavy marketing of their soundtracks. In fact, the rock soundtracks of “Heavy Metal” and ROCK & RULE was blatantly the selling point of both of those movies and not the story. But it’s not hard to see why. ROCK & RULE features the vocal talents of and songs by Cheap Trick, Debbie Harry, Lou Reed, Iggy Pop and Earth, Wind & Fire so why not use them to sell your movie?

I watched the Canadian version on YouTube which Wikipedia tells me has a completely different opening narration from the American version. The Canadian narration neglects to inform viewers that there was a nuclear holocaust and now the world is inhabited by mutated humanoid dogs, cats and rats. Which isn’t a good thing because 90% of the cast goes through the movies either with no noses at all or they’re shaped like bananas so if you have no knowledge of how this world got this way, you’re liable to watch the movie wondering what’s wrong with everybody’s noses. And actually there’s really no good reason I could see for the filmmakers to throw that in as all the characters act like humans and display none of the characteristics of the animals they’re supposed to be mutated from. Except for Mylar (Martin Lavut) the sleazy owner of a bar who is quite obviously a rat.

Mok (Don Francks/ singing voice by Lou Reed & Iggy Pop) is the last great mega-star rock and roller in the world. Mok’s overwhelming artistic desire is to craft a final performance that will make his career immortal. To accomplish this he has created The Armageddon Key, a musical incantation disguised as a song that will open a portal to another dimension and allow a nightmarish demon of staggering power entry to Earth. The last thing Mok needs is a very special voice to sing his apocalyptic song.

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Mok discovers Angel ( Susan Roman/singing voice by Debbie Harry) who is the keyboardist in a four-man rock band. The leader of the band, Omar (Greg Salata/singing voice by Robin Zander) cares only about being a rock star, even at the expense of keeping Angel down. He’s got a good voice but Angel has a great one and Mok intends to use it.  Mok makes for an entertaining villain as he acts more like a Marvel Comics or James Bond supervillain than an aging rock star. One enjoyable scene shows that part of his elaborate mansion can detach from the rest of the building and fly by means of an inflatable blimp. Mok also employs advanced technology to make it seem as if he has magical abilities, hence his nickname of “The Magic Man”

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Mok is certainly more enjoyable to watch than the guy who we’re supposed to root for, Omar. He’s a spoiled man-child who is solely motivated to go to Nuke Yawk not to save Angel from Mok’s dastardly clutches but because he’s pissed off that Mok wants to make Angel a star and not him. Omar’s sidekicks, Dizzy and Stretch are boring characters who contribute nothing to the story except tired comedy relief but they’re not as bad as Mok’s trio of roller-skating goons, the Schlepper Brothers who are nowhere near as funny as the filmmakers obviously thought they were.

I wish I could say that the movie has a kickass soundtrack to make up for its shortcomings but outside of Lou Reed’s “My Name Is Mok” Debbie Harry’s “Angel’s Song” and Earth, Wind & Fire’s “Dance Dance Dance” there aren’t any other songs I can say I enjoyed or found worthy of toe-tapping.

The animation itself is quite good and easy on the eye. It’s very much like Ralph Bakshi’s style of animation. In fact, the movie looks so much like a Bakshi movie that supposedly there were bootleg VHS tapes sold at comic book conventions that did have Ralph Bakshi named as director.

So should you see ROCK & RULE? If you’re an animation fan I would say so. ROCK & RULE has attained a legendary status due to its troubled production history and it becoming a cult movie thanks to HBO and Showtime. It’s nowhere near the masterpiece that some people I know claim it is but neither is it a movie that deserved the throwaway treatment it received from MGM.  It is available on DVD and a Blu-Ray edition was released in 2010. But if you’re just a casual movie fan then the link I provided below should be enough as you can watch the Canadian version on YouTube. Enjoy.