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Blood & Tears (1999) (V)
4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Keeping the Blood Sweat and Tears in the Family, 30 October 2002

The title of this movie is slightly misleading. It is actually a low budget drama about a sliver of life in the Barrio. Don't expect to see an organized gang of thugs that are terrorizing the neighborhood, and running roughshod over anyone who gets in their way. Don't expect a plot that involves a turf war over who gets permission to sell drugs in the neighborhood. Also don't expect to see any 300 round-a-minute shootouts. Don't expect any butt-naked love scenes in Blood & Tears. In this movie you don't see any clubs that are fronts to hide the profits of crime bosses.If any of the above is your idea of entertainment you will be very disappointed. There is hardly any of the fluff (other than a hip-hop soundtrack) that is normally part of many big studio crime dramas to distract the viewer from the focus of the story.

What you will find is a main character who has to choose between avenging the death of a companion and raising the family that had to do without him during his nine year stint in the Big House. As you will see almost any group of non-whites can be labeled as a gang by mass media. In this urban narrative a few aquaintnces settle their differences with guns. After every scene the picture fades to black as if the closing credits are about to roll. But you'll know when the story is over. The bulk of the movie is profanity filled dialogue with the action occuring once in a while and coming in very short spurts of quick kills.

Blood & Tears looks like a symptom of a fatherless America. Mothers express their concern mainly through nurturing and compassion. While fathers do so through setting rules for their offspring; so they can develop discipline and become productive members of their communities. But when there is no father in the home, and mommy has to be away working, the male child often will seek and find masculine leadership on the street. The result: their only idea of structure is to watch your homeies backs to make sure they stay one step ahead of the law, and not get taken out by a rival crew. Their only concept of manhood lies in their ability to avenge their homey's death and not in their ability to properly raise their children. In fact how will they learn how to be an effective parent if the father is not around, or if the father is in a gang himself?

Even though Blood & Tears is void of a lot of the sensationalism of other "Hood" movies it only scratches the surface of a major survival issue in the barrio. Violence doesn't have to be about: ten square feet of territory,or about what posse gets to distribute illegal narcotics. Sometimes it merely involves an altercation between aquaintances that separate into cliques. Even though turf and dope is not involved, the killings still create problems for law enforcement. The killings still make low-income areas unsafe.

Blood & Tears starts out slow, but picks up when all of the characters involved come together. It shows how someone can get caught up in a cycle of revenge when no one was shown that there is life outside the barrio. But even if you come from the middle or upper-class suburbs you can see the adverse effect of not having an effective father.

5 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
"MTV" spelled the beginning of the end of "AB", 21 October 2002

Pepsi Cola had a very catchy slogan during the 1980s. But unlike "Pepsi" American Bandstand was NOT the choice of a New Generation! The long running music show had a big part in mainstreaming Rock N' Roll. Long time host Dick Clark had a winner for decades. Adolescents was the backbone of it's audience, butGeneration X was slow to embrace AB because MTV conspired with: syndicated, network and local music video programs to challenge American Bandstand's legacy. Music Videos had very little if any audience interaction, unlike Bandstand. This is regardless of whether the interaction had to do with a studio or television audience. VeeJays merely played videotapes. But on the contrary most television viewers did not have to wait for Noon Eastern on Saturday to see their favorite artists perform. Music Videos from decades prior to the Eighties consisted of footage from American Bandstand and talk or variety shows. But now the producers and directors of videos were no longer limited to the set of American Bandstand. They can shoot their videos on location or on major studio backlots. They had the freedom to use : animation, special effects, or any other format they liked. But during this added dimension in pop music what was the viewing experience like for American Bandstand? You tuned in to watch other people dance and to watch recording artists give lip-synch performances. "Dude! That is like, so lame!" As the youngsters would say in 1980s vernacular. With the advent of the Music Video Shows American Bandstand just seemed kind of weak! You may say "Skillz! if it was so lame then explain why a program like the syndicated 'Soul Train' continued to flourish with a simular blueprint of dancing and lip-synching?" I will tell you why! Because viewers wanted to dress in the festive gear that they saw on Soul Train, and they wanted to emulate the dance moves that they saw on the show that was dubbed "The Hippest Trip in America". You watched Soul Train so that you can look and dress the part; and you went clubbing with hopes that you would not leave the disco by yourself! But even compared to its more Nubiancentric competitor American Bandstand paled by comparison. Most of what you saw on Bandstand in the 1980s consisted of dancers dressed like they were at a church picnic and moved like wind-up dolls on the AB dance floor. AB was clearly a shadow of its former self. During the decade of New Wave and Boat Shoes and Micheal Jackson kids just didn't aspire to appear on American Bandstand like they did during previous decades. AB simply experienced the ratings dooldrums at best. Finally ABC ended it's long association with the music show and American Bandstand crawled to basic cable to die.

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
It's the "Michael J. Fox Show", 20 December 2000

"Family Ties" original plan was to center around two former hippy parents. It showed Meredith Baxter-Birney as television's first successful working wife and mother. Sure the 1970s started to showcase unmarried career women and single moms, but the sitcom world by the 1980s had yet to purge itself of wives serving as homemakers! The Keaton family showed a woman balancing a career and motherhood, only to be overshadowed by "The Cosby Show". In fact during the third season of "Family Ties" NBC sandwiched it on Thursday nights between two popular sitcoms: "The Cosby Show" and "Cheers"! After spending three seasons following Cosby the "Peacock Network" uprooted "Family Ties" and had it exiled to Sunday night, in order to make way for Lisa Bonet to star in a "Different World"; which was then a sorry "Cosby Show" spinoff! "Family Ties" served as great springboard for Michael J. Fox! As the series progressed the focus was taken off of the liberal parents and placed on MJF's character: the conservative Alex P. Keaton. It was clear to viewers that without Alex there wouldn't be much to the show! While Meredith Baxter had a proven track record, she was clearly overshadowed by Michael J. Fox. After Fox starred in "Back to the Future","Teenwolf" and other theatrical release blockbusters; he was clearly being groomed for superstardom! In fact he was being molded into the "All-American Boy"! Fox found himself correcting the media by saying he was an "All-Canadian Boy", because he was a native of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada! None of the juvenile stars of "Family Ties" had the screen presence of Michael J. Fox. He was the only one that had a promising future after the series ended.There was good chemistry between him and the adult stars. There were many laughs when Alex's conservative views clashed with the left-leaning views of his parents. This is also combined with the awkwardness of adolescense and taking pride in the fact that he was smart. He exudes the real world sarcasm towards his younger sisters. Everyone else seemed to serve as interchangable leggo pieces! "Family Ties" without Michael J. Fox was like "Corn Flakes" without the milk!

0 out of 3 people found the following review useful:
First Time Viewers Beware!!, 2 December 2000

This commentary is for the rare viewer who has been under a rock since "Gorgeous George" graced the squared circle! Let's quickly bring you up to speed! Regional wrestling promotions have taken a back seat to national promotions that are consistently televised. The two largest American promotions are now The World Wrestling Federation and the Time-Warner owned World Championship Wrestling, which arose when media mongul Ted Turner bought most of the old National Wrestling Alliance!

The McMahon run World Wrestling Federation (WWF) in the early to mid 1990's was losing talent and viewers and money to the "Turner Wrestling" Both WCW and the WWF have gone cable, and the hottest shows on cable are "WWF Raw is War" and "WCW Monday Nitro". Other shows on cable don't even come close! The Turner Wrestling aired Monday Nitro in response to "Raw". Until 1998 "Raw" was a taped show, while Nitro aired live in the same time slot. The peace was disturbed when Rick Rude appeared on both programs. So now Raw is a live show. In addition to airing it live Raw regained the top cable rating by resorting to more rancid plotlines. Now on to Smack Down!

Vince McMahon and his World Wrestling Federation diversified their portfolio by not only having three cable shows:"Raw is War","Sunday Night Heat", "WWF Live Wire"; But also the syndicated show "Jakked". For the first time in more than four decades, pro wrestling has returned to prime-time network television. So in 1999 "WWF Smack Down" aired on recent upstart: United Paramount Network (UPN).

Once you're tuned in you will notice that the WWF fans think that olympic style wrestling is boring! So there are less headlocks and arm drags, and more:drop kicks, hooks, jabs, pedigrees and chair shots than ever before! In terms of plots there are no longer good guys and bad guys! The wrestler that portrays the dutiful, compassionate hero one minute can easily be evil, despicable and heinous the next! Also like "Raw" ; during the first hour of "Smack Down" you will see fourteen minutes of actual wrestling matches! The remaining 46 minutes consists of commercials and trash talk!

The old wrestling programs were more suitable for family viewing! Writers appeal to the lowest common denominator with: profanity, scantily clad women, and rancid plots! Something to think about; how often does Joanie Laurer; that leather clad powerhouse of a woman get hit in the jaw or with a chair, or with a guitar by her hulking male counterparts?

Continuous exposure to this type of action could possibly desenitize young male viewers against domestic violence!

It would be safe to say let the kids watch the Disney Channel during Smack Down! The competitors are still tremendous atheletes, but their "show" is no longer suitable for younger or more sensitive viewers!

Dice Rules (1991)
1 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
Dice's Last Stand, 22 November 2000

In this stand-up routine Dice plays to a sold-out Madison Square Garden. Using a lot of profanity in a stand-up routine is the easiest way to get laughs; but it's also the laziest way! No one knows that better than Andrew Dice Clay! In fact he made a mint getting paid the lazy way! Since the audience knew most of his jokes; he had to come up with some new material. Clay is a talented actor; despite his foul-mouthed routine.

Space Jam (1996)
1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
MJ and Bugs do well in Feature Film Effort!, 11 November 2000

An export from the sports arena is teamed up with animated Warner Brothers characters! Michael Jordan: one of the all-time greats on the hardwood debuts on the big-screen. In reality the cartoon characters are not really there! He is basically in a room by himself responding to voices! Acting in this environment would be difficult enough for a veteran actor; but would be close to impossible for someone else.

Audiences were used to seeing "Air Jordan" teamed up with the animated Warner Brothers characters in "Nike" and "McDonalds" endorsements; so a feature film would not be so far fetched! Someone at Warner Brothers had to write a feature film in an effort to attract kids and MJ fans into the cineplexes! the WB is not quite as versed in kidddie fair as their Disney competitors, but they did a decent job at putting this one together. They also had to cater to kids short attention spans by devising a simple plot. However it earned a "PG" rating because of it's mild violence!

This movie would not be the best barometer for Jordan's acting ability because he spends two-thirds of the flick interacting with characters that he couldn't see! Fortunately he did better at this than he did playing baseball!

2 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
"Well Blow me down!" Popeye is on Saturday Morning!!, 27 October 2000

The bald-headed, one-eyed,pipe-smoking, deformed-armed, spinach loving sailor man sails back into action! This time he is in a Saturday morning version that is probably more favorable towards parents; who want to raise kinder gentler children! In "the All-New Popeye Hour" instead of eating his spinach and beating someone senseless; he saves the day by doing tricks after guzzling a can of the leafy vegetable! However if you're a die-hard fan of animation you would be very disappointed! Max Fleisher provided lively animation in the days of the black-and-white shorts of almost half a century before. As the years went by and Popeye was presented in color, you witnessed the quality of animation gradually erode; until this 1978 series of Popeye cartoons which demonstrated poor animation!

The producers made sure everybody made it back! For the first time in years Popeye is reunited with: Seahag,Alice the Goon, and the Jeep! No version of Popeye would be complete without the always hungry Wimpy, and the big bully Bluto! The E.C. Segar created sailor man continues his engagement to Olive Oyl, which is without doubt the longest engagement in the history of Hollywood! They were eventually married years later! Popeye fans keep your eyes peeled for some REALLY all new Popeyes!

13 out of 27 people found the following review useful:
Margaret Cho the Real All-American Girl!, 27 October 2000

During her slightly hilarious stand-up routine, Margaret Cho is more than successful at pointing out the absurdity of racial and ethnic stereotypes! She was successful enough to join the likes of: Tim Allen, Jerry Seinfeld, Rosanne, and Drew Carey in the world of situation comedies! In "All-American Girl" she plays Margaret Kim: the daughter of Korean Immigrants. Three generations of Kims stay in the same household. Her parents (the bread-winning Kims) often set her up with Korean boys. Not just any Korean boys, but: doctors, lawyers, engineers, and other upwardly mobile professionals! Margaret however, likes to interracially date: aspiring musicians, actors, artists, writers; in other words worthless bums! She is much happier with the club hopping crowd than the silver-spoon eggheads that her parents try to set her up with!

Margaret probably had the most underrated supporting cast in the Industry. But sitcoms that cast a stand-up comedian as the lead only survive if they are well written! Casting Margaret as a party going mall rat did not give her the wiggle room to develop her character into an Emmy nomination! The series could've easily lasted more than one season if it were even SLIGHTLY better written! However ABC was notorious for abruptly pulling the plug on ethnic sitcoms! Margaret has enough talent to appear elsewhere, so look for her in the near future!

2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Great show once it was retooled!, 27 October 2000

Lisa Bonet appearing as a witch in "Angel Heart" threatened to tarnish the clean cut image of "The Cosby Show" so the team of Carsey-Werner(in association with Bill Cosby of course) sent Denise away to college in the spin-off "A Different World". Life wasn't peaches and cream in a different world. It was in danger of being a flop. It was very lucky that it came after the ratings grabbing "Cosby Show". Watching the pilot of this series was like watching old people eat! The original set-up was that the fictional Hillman College be an integrated college, much like the one Bill Cosby attended. The following season Evette Lee was brought in to produce the show, while Howard University Alum (and Phylicia Rashad's sister) was brought in to direct it! This is when Hillman became a "Historically Black Institution!"

Lisa Bonet's supporting cast was talented but they could not overcome the fact that a"A Different World" was lame in it's premier season! In fact the talent of: Jasmine Guy, Kadeem Hardison and the remaining cast made Lisa Bonet expendable! So,after one season, she had to crawl back to "the Cosby Show" with her tail between her legs! The series continued for a long time without her! This series also served as a springboard for Jada Pinket.

1 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
He-Man was nothing more than a program length commercial!, 26 October 2000

Travel with me back to the 1980s: a decade of consumerism! Americans stockpiled material items and debt! Mattel wanted to tap into this consumerism courtesy of "He-Man". The commercial for the toy starts out with a close-up shot of the doll..Excuse me, action figure! It is a detailed figure complete with: blond bangs, broad shoulders, jiggling pecs, beasty biceps, and washboard abdominals. An adult male asks "Whose the big guy with all the muscles?" The boy chimes in: "He's He-Man: the most powerful man in the Universe!" Of course traditional ad campaigning wasn't enough; so Mattel conspired with Filmation to create a cartoon to help sell "The Masters of the Universe Collection"!

When the animated show materializes, He-Man is in civilian form as Prince Adam. Adam is as brawny as the action figure but has an effeminate voice. But when it comes time to battle: Skeletor, Beastman, and other forces of evil he points his sabre skyward, yells "From the Power of Greyskull: I have the poweeeerr!", a bolt of lightning darts out of the sky, strikes the sword, and Prince Adam is transformed into the baritone voiced He-Man! Mattels competitors didn't want the Masters of the Universe to have all the power; so they followed suit and created cartoons in an effort to sell a planned or existing line of toys! Their efforts included but weren't limited to: G.I. Joe, Transformers, GoBots, and Thundercats! The toy wars were raging because you NEVER saw a GoBots commercial during a "Transformers" program! This is proof that the cartoons I've mentioned were nothing more than advertising masquerading as entertainment!

Consumer Advocates argued that children would be defenseless because they would not know the difference between a program and a commercial! However the child is not the consumer, the parent is!The parent "Has the Power" to inform the child of the difference. The parent "Has the Power" to limit the child's viewing. They also "Have the Power" to tell the child "no" once in a while!

If Filmation was smart, they would try to bring this cartoon back. If they do, it will take the pressure off the parents to stay away from the "Toys Sure 'R' Expensive, Considering How Fast They Break" store at the closing credits of every episode!

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