Blackkklansman


Viewed – 05 February 2019 online rental

An African-American cop in the 70’s infiltrates the Klu Klux Klan in a bid to expose them and prove himself at the same time.

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This movie had a really strange vibe. Lead actor John David Washington stood out like a comedy actor in a straight movie who still thinks he’s in a comedy. The subject of racism and the KKK is clearly being satirised but sits uneasy with such a serious, sickening subject. This is not helped by the movie eventually throwing in shocking real-life footage to hammer home its point. Director Spike Lee has always been one of the strongest voices for black culture and black cinema but here his intentions feel misguided. The story based on a book isn’t as compelling either and I came away wondering just what had the main character achieved? Star Wars’ Adam Driver is decent as a fellow detective and performances overall are fine. Lee has delivered a stylish, authentic looking movie yet also fills it with some odd music cues with an overall 70’s blaxploitation feel.

As a different take on the subject of racism and as a movie that certainly has some fun and intriguing moments it’s worth a watch … I just think it would have been more impactful played either entirely comedic or entirely straight.

Verdict: 2.5 /5

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Inside Man


Viewed – 21 May 2009  DVD

Now this ticks two boxes to my liking straight away … the always reliable acting talents of one Denzel Washington, probably my favourite African-American actor (yeah, even more so than Samuel L, folks), and secondly, the fact this is a Spike Lee joint.  Now this director has made plenty of celebrated films, not all of which have I actually bothered to see, but it has to be said, when I do take the time to take a puff on said joint, he impresses.  Do The Right Thing is a definite classic, and I also recommend Edward Norton vehicle The 25th Hour for fans of quality, no-holds-barred acting.

Now back to the feature in hand.  Lee has long since graduated from being the black-folks voice of a generation, and is now one of the most assured and skillful directors working today, and this very well done thriller is no exception.  Step into the breach one Clive Owen, another actor I admire but don’t always manage to see the best of, and here he plays a clever-ass bank robber with an ingenious plan up his sleeve.  On his tail is dapperly-dressed NYPD detective Denzel, ready to pitt wits with the criminals and hopefully save the day … but what he hasn’t banked on is just how damn clever this robber’s plan is, and not even a smug, shady government-type (Jodie Foster) can out smart him.

This is gripping, stylish and very well acted, even if a few of the cast-choices seem a little wasted (really, what is Willem Dafoe doing here?  And Foster, although beautiful and sophisticated, has handled much meatier roles than this).  But the story held my interest – I was eager to see how it all played out, and the timer on the DVD was not looked at once (a habit I fall into when a film looses me somewhere).  No fear here, and although the final, drawn-out pay off is a little ‘meh’, this was a solidly entertaining 2hrs.

Verdict:  4 /5

Do The Right Thing


Viewed – 4 August 2008  DVD

Criterion Collection

Spike Lee’s powerful 1989 ghetto drama always seemed to me like a poor man’s Boyz N the Hood at the time when I first saw it – where’s all the Mo Fo’s and the Gats?  But seriously, this is a very different and believable portrait of racial tension and ignorance that gradually builds up during one hot summers day in suburban Brooklyn.  The film revolves around a Pizzeria known as Sal’s and is owned by Italian Danny Aiello and his two sons (with a stand out John Turturro as the bullying Pino) with Lee’s own Mookie as the Pizza delivery boy.  After one of the local black guys spots that Sal only has Italian celebrities on his wall of fame, a boycott of the pizzeria is started, and although the film mostly focuses on the comings and goings of a bunch of very vivid characters, trouble soon erupts, leading to a startling climax.

This thought provoking film really pulled me in, and is an intelligent look at different ethnic cultures in modern America and the ignorance and bigotry that can be caused.  From a personal viewpoint, I find it hard to sympathise with some of the black characters, who play the victim when they themselves are stirring it up.  Although Sal’s boys and some other bystanders don’t exactly make things any easier.  Overall this is fascinating, often funny and challenging cinema that really should be seen by the widest audience.

The DVD from the good ‘ol boys at Criterion is a deluxe two disc set, with a wealth of documentaries on the second disc (including a fascinating return to Brooklyn sequence by Spike Lee and producer Jon Kilik) and we also get a commentary track with Lee again and the crew.  Picture and sound are first rate, and although the film looks a little grainy in the darker scenes, its vibrant colours are shown off brilliantly.  Oh and Public Enemy’s Fight The Power will blow you away, despite the basic 2.0 surround soundtrack (to preserve the film’s original recording).

Verdict:  5 /5

New DVD purchases!!


I don’t know what possessed me, but after watching a YouTube video of some girl’s (mightily) impressive DVD collection – I thought it was high time I had a piece of the pie.  Ok, you may say “Haven’t you got enough DVDs?” but to that I always reply – yes!  But these are in nice new shiney limited editions, extended cuts, special packaging etc. 

DVDs I have ordered online and await with eager anticipation are:

 

Alien Quadrilogy

(9 disc complete box set)

…oh my god, oh my god, oh my god…

*

Titanic

(Special edition 2 disc set)

Another favourite of mine that I haven’t had the pleasure of seeing in a long time.  Looking forward to reviewing this one.

*

From Beyond 

(Director’s Cut)

Still not available in the UK, this classic gory horror is now fully uncensored with newly restored footage – result!

 *

Dr Strangelove 

(The Reel Collection edition)

This will form Part Six of my Kubrick Project

* 

Terminator 2: Judgement Day 

(Extreme DVD edition)

One of my all time favourite movies in a deluxe package…hubba hubba…

Do The Right Thing 

(Criterion Collection edition)

The Criterion Collection never fails to impress with superb packaging and stellar image / sound quality – and this film is a classic.

 

As always I will be posting reviews of each, with additional brief opinions of their DVD editions.