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He Got Game (1998)
Just A Bit Better Than "School Daze"
Possible Spoilers Here
Let's get one thing straight. I like Spike Lee, but I must say this to him and all film directors and producers. If I wanna see gratuitous sex in a film, I'll rent a porno... and won't be afraid to admit it. I'll really do it. It ain't that I mind sex and violence in major feature films. It's just insulting to me when Hollywood gives us sex and violence in flicks and they have NOTHING TO DO WITH THE STORY.
This film could have been a LOT better without the insulting sexual situations. Like I said, watching other people doin' it ain't the worst thing in the world. The problem with this film is that there was a sexual situation that actually occurred in the story and was essential to the plot... BUT WASN'T EVEN SHOWN!!! In fact, most of the sex that WAS shown featured people who weren't even characters in the story! They were figures in a senseless montage of sex and violence narrated by an obscure acquaintance of the main character.
With that aside, the story was actually interesting (as it usually is up to the middle of Spike Lee's flicks). As usual, however, Spike had to throw his little personal favorite artsy filming techniques in it and suture his patented ridiculous ending to the film. To be fair, if you like sports flicks, this one is a necessary evil because of what occurs in the story. If you like sex in movies for no reason, you'll like this one too. After all, the stupid sex scenes were as steamy as the MPAA will allow in an R-rated flick. If you're a drama-lover or a serious film watcher, this ain't a necessary flick.
Best Since "Do The Right Thing"
Read most of the reviews for this flick and you can tell that they are written by people who are saying more about how they feel about Spike Lee and racial issues than this movie. Here's something about me pertaining to this. I like Spike Lee, but I only like two of his films (before this one). His TV commercials are more entertaining than the rest of the flicks.
"Malcolm X" was the best, but most of that was based on the autobiography completed by Alex Haley. "Do The Right Thing" on the other hand was pure Spike Lee brilliance, but none of his films following that one (and "X") were worth viewing much... until this one.
Damon Wayans' performance was compelling, though the accent was a little too emphasized and annoying (It was Damon, not Keenan... you idiots!). Jada Pinkett's good in anything. As for Mos Def et. al.... Their characters might have been mostly illogical, but their contribution to the story was believable and powerful. The climax, in particular, literally had my heart pounding with an anticipation I can't remember having for anything in a motion picture.
I ain't a know-it-all wanna-be-intelligent-sounding film critic, but take it from me. If you don't like Spike, you won't like this one. In fact, this film and the story therein aren't for you. This is more for those who have an interest in the entertainment business with pertinence to racial relations. Particularly, if you think you don't see color 'cause one of your girlfriends or boyfriends were of a different race, you might need to check-out this one; not that this is the topic of the story, but your way of thinking is.
This film has good casting, a good script, an important topic, a compelling story, and a compelling soundtrack (particularly Stevie Wonder's "Misrepresented People").
The Distinguished Gentleman (1992)
One of the Best Political Comedies Ever
I've seen Citizen Kane and wasn't half as impressed with it as I was with this film which I credit to producer and writer Marty Kaplan (who, as I understand, is a CPA). The only thing this movie lacks is violence and nudity, not that it needs either.
I've never seen a more thorough and realistic comedy about government and politics before or since this film. Only Bulworth comes close, yet the solutions suggested in that film were just as liberal as the institution it parodied. There are a few liberal connotations in The Distinguished Gentleman (particularly environmental), but they are immediately balanced and authenticated by the conditions presented in the story.
This film isn't an absolute probe into political science, but it gives a more lucid perspective of politics than the media would ever care to attempt. Eddie Murphy's performance is vintage, particularly his mimicking skills and his genuine comedic brilliance. A moment that defines the film is when his character gives a victory speech which consists exclusively of several cliches coined by historic politicians ("'Four score and seven years ago...' 'If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen...' 'We have nothing to fear but fear itself...' 'Ask not what your country can do for you...' and in conclusion 'Read my lips!'"). The crowd response, as with actual politicians, is full of mindless cheers of concurrence.
Political experts may find this film silly and full of inconsistencies. Yet, the fact is, most movies are silly compared to reality. This film, however, does not insult the viewer and gives political novices a good idea of political mechanics while presenting a hilarious performance. The fact presented in this film is that the most powerful people are the most corrupt, and corruption can only be defeated by more clever and deceptive corruption.
This is not a film for "Generation X"ers who rate a film on its music soundtrack and how thoroughly the females cast in it prostitute themselves. If you appreciate the comedy of Eddie Murphy and have a critical appreciation for politics, you will enjoy this film.
I'd give it a 9.5, but the IMDB won't allow decimals.
Alongside Star Wars, this is the best saga in motion picture
The first two episodes of The Godfather have already been critically acclaimed. There's not much of a point in adding to these praises. There have been so many negative critiques of Part III that a commentary in favor of the final episode is due.
Here it is. The last of the trilogy can be appreciated for its consistency with the first two, particularly with the film's loyalty to the recurring theme of the entire saga: family.
Once lineless and rendered obscure to the plot, Lucy Mancini (original actress and all) has returned to the saga after being left behind in Part I. And she has brought a not-so-little remnant of her affair with Santino Corleone with her. Recall the scene in Part I when Sonny leaves Lucy's apartment with his henchmen to pick up his sister. That was perhaps the very moment after which the last Don Corleone was conceived.
Another one of Santino's remnants has returned to the saga in Part III: his twins (Francesca and the other one). They are now grown and still identical, and still adorable too. Remember their line in Part II, Mommy, Daddy's fighting again!" and their inclusion in the Corleone family portrait taken at Connie's wedding.
Also returning are Al Neri, Calo (the Sicilian bodyguard), Tommassino, Johnny Fontaine (voice still intact), and Sofia Coppola even though she posed as Connie's baby in Part 1. Speaking of Sofia, she arouses a touching appreciation of the scene in Part II that shows little Mary Corleone running in a hotel hallway while her parents argue inside the room. And Anthony becomes a paradox to the boy in Part I who is ostensibly imminent to be the next Godfather.
As usual, the political intrigue makes the film exciting if you're paying attention. And the very title of Part III presents a double meaning: third episode, third Godfather. Andy Garcia is perfect for the part (remember him in The Untouchables). As they say in the mob, Vincent Corleone "wears it" when he is ordained Don Corleone, Neri and others acknowledging his throne in the proper fashion. The scene chills you with nostalgia and images of Bonasera kissing Vito's hand, and Clemenza and Rocco Lampone kissing Michael's.
To be honest, Part III is rude to newcomers to the Corleone family. It's presumptuous that viewers will appreciate what's occurring without realizing that this will be the first time many even see a Godfather flick. This is also why so many critics bashed Part III. They critique it as an individual feature instead of an integral episode to a classic saga. Okay, okay...
The shortcomings of Part III comprise the main reason why the Trilogy version must be viewed to appreciate the Godfather saga. Like Phantom Menace, The Godfather Part III is empty without the rest of the story (even though Menace can stand alone better). Yet, like Star Wars, The Godfather is a classic of classics in literature, performance, and cinema: the best in motion picture history.
Best "'Hood" Film Ever
With the 1990s came the release of major motion pictures dedicated to presenting Black urban life in the United States from Black perspectives. The only predecessors of these films were either "Blaxploitation" films or White perspective productions with ambiguous glimpses into the essence of Black city life at best. Until such films as Boyz 'N' The Hood and Juice, Black youths had to depend on either White film executives or Spike Lee if they wanted to see familiar situations in major films.
Since John Singleton's masterpiece, many producers and directors followed suit with their own version of what some like to call "'hood" movies (after Singleton's Boyz 'N' The Hood). Even Oliver Stone managed to concoct an exceptional addition, South Central, to his list of film excellence. He even managed it without his trademark "artsy" camera tricks he used in JFK and Natural Born Killers, which were excellent films nonetheless.
The 'hood movie has one defining attribute. It is a full-length feature film with the United States Black and/or Hispanic urban neighborhood experience as the dominant theme. This disqualifies Dennis Hopper's Colors (because cops were the main focus), Sugar Hill and New Jack City (they were more gangster dramas than 'hood films), and Master P's I'm 'Bout It (which was a gangsta rap teeny-bop fairytale at best).
Fresh is the first (and perhaps the last) motion picture to bring the 'hood film to the drama level of The Godfather. Anyone who appreciates Mario Puzo's masterpiece brought to life by Francis Ford Coppola should appreciate this film. There are no scenes with gratuitous sex or violence. The one instance of nudity may have been unnecessary, but it wasn't tasteless. The violence shown isn't glorified, humorized, nor emphasized.>
Unlike other 'hood films, Fresh does not need an urban contemporary soundtrack infested with gangsta rap and R & B ballads to sell nor enhance it. Such music has its place in Singleton's 'Hood and many other films, but to add the like to Fresh would have been unnecessary and perhaps a mistake.
The dramatic vigor of Fresh is unprecedented in 'hood films because the story does not insult the viewers' intelligence, as compared to Menace II Society in which the main character's father shoots a man seven or eight times with a revolver (a type of gun that exists mostly as a five- or six-shooter in reality).
The biggest contrast between Fresh and such films as Menace II Society is that Fresh refuses to appeal to the least common viewing denominator while Menace II Society thrives on it. And while Boyz 'N' The Hood was indeed an outstanding film, Fresh depends on no hip hop personalities to support its cast. The reason why Fresh was never celebrated as the other 'hood films is because the film never celebrated itself. It's like a platinum nugget in a pile of gold. Relatively few people appreciate it, but it's worth much more than its counterparts.