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Hi, and welcome to my profile page!
Reading, working out at the gym, collecting DVDs, CDs and Books to own or sell, cooking, hanging out with friends, going to the movies, solving crossword puzzles, listening to music, watching the news...and the list goes on....
AND THESE ARE A FEW---OR NOT SO FEW---OF MY FAVORITE THINGS:
Favorite Color: Black
Favorite Season: Autumn
Favorite Athletes: Kobe Bryant, Dwayne Wade, LeBron James, Floyd Mayweather
Favorite Sports: Boxing, Tennis, Football, Basketball
Favorite Musicians: Nat King Cole, Nas, 2Pac, Biggie, AZ, Alicia Keys, Enya
Favorite Board Games: Checkers and Scrabble
Favorite Reality TV Shows: The Amazing Race, Hell's Kitchen, American Idol, Survivor.
Favorite Genres: Thriller, Suspense, Comedy, Drama, Film Noir, Action/Adventure.
Favorite Books: Native Son, Henderson: The Rain King, A House For Mr. Biswas, An American Tragedy, Windmills of the Gods, The Moviegoer, To The Lighthouse
Favorite Actors: Marlon Brando, Montgomery Clift, Al Pacino, Denzel Washington, Robert DeNiro
Favorite Actresses: Bette Davis, Meryl Streep, Cate Blanchett, Jennifer Connelly, Laura Linney
Favorite Directors: Steven Spielberg, Akira Kurosawa, Elia Kazan, Francis Ford Coppola, Alfred Hitchcock, Martin Scorsese, David Lean
Favorite Foods: Pizza, Chicken Enchilada, Lasagna, General Tso Chicken, Fried Calamari
Favorite Cocktails: Sea Breeze, Mojito, Salty Dog
Top 25 Favorite Movies of all time:
01.) Gone With The Wind(1939)
02.) The Godfather(1972)
03.) The World of Apu(1959)
04.) Raging Bull(1980)
06.) The Seventh Seal(1957)
09.) Raiders of the Lost Ark(1982)
10.) The Sound of Music(1965)
12.) Lawrence of Arabia(1962)
13.) The 400 Blows(1959)
16.) The Big Sleep(1946)
17.) The Manchurian Candidate(1962) 18.) Citizen Kane(1941)
19.) White Heat(1949)
21.) On the Waterfront(1954)
22.) The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly(1966)
23.) The Conversation(1974)
24.) Pulp Fiction(1994)
Top 10 Favorite Quotes:
Hatred paralyzes life; love releases it. Hatred confuses life; love harmonizes it. Hatred darkens life; love illuminates it--- Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
I am a little pencil in the hand of a writing God who is sending a love letter to the world--- Mother Teresa
An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.--- Mahatma Ghandi
I am America. I am the part you won't recognize. But get used to me. Black, confident, cocky; my name, not yours; my religion, not yours; my goals, my own; get used to me.--- Muhammed Ali
Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I'm not sure about the former.--- Albert Einstein
The light by which we see in this world comes from the soul of the observer--- Ralph Waldo Emerson
Everything popular is wrong.--- Oscar Wilde
The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall--- Nelson Mandela
Forgive me my nonsense, as I also forgive the nonsense of those that think they talk sense.--- Robert Frost
Truth is incontrovertible; malice may attack it and ignorance may deride it; but, in the end; there it is.--- Sir Winston Churchill
10 Famous People That Inspire Me:
01.) Dr. Martin Luther King Jr
02.) Sidney Poitier
03.) Muhammed Ali
04.) Nelson Mandela
05.) Mahatma Ghandi
06.) President Barack Obama
07.) Rev. Billy Graham
08.) W.E.B. DuBois
09.) Maya Angelou
10.) Mother Teresa
Here are mine in no particular order....
In the Loop (2009)
Great political satire! A true diamond-in-the-rough!
"In The Loop" is an intelligent, incisive British political satire and one of my absolute favorite movies of 2009. I'm hoping that more people will find it because its really a doozy!. Masterfully directed by Armando Iannucci, the same writer and producer responsible for the highly successful BBC satirical sitcom, " The Thick of It". What I find truly remarkable about In The Loop is that it remains neutral throughout its duration. Choosing not to take sides, it mocks its own government as well as the American government. It also has a stellar cast of British and American actors.
The performances by the most unknown cast are uniformly excellent. Tom Holland is very effective as Simon Foster, a British bureaucrat with a serious foot-in-mouth disease. A gaffe master who doesn't think before he speaks, he has a tendency to make idiotic and highly embarrassing statements to the press. Even when he publicly backtracks after making an offhanded comment in a radio interview about an"unforeseeable" war, he sounds even more ridiculous and offensive. His ineptitude ends up infuriating the spin doctor for the the British government, played by an outstanding Peter Capaldi. Capaldi not only steals the show, he gives one of the greatest male performances of the year as the hilarious, caustic and excessively profane(he makes insults sound almost like poetry!) Malcolm Tucker. Its a travesty that this brilliant character actor failed to secure a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination for his performance. He really deserved it.
The always superb James Gandolfini shines as general George Miller, the pentagon attaché that locks horns with the cantankerous Malcolm Tucker. Mimi Kennedy scores as Karen Clark, the U.S. Assistant secretary for diplomacy. David Rasche is solid as Linton Barwick, the Washington hawk with whom Karen Clark and general Miller are always at loggerheads. It's a sheer delight seeing the doe-eyed former child star, Anna Chlumsky(of "My Girl" fame) make a comeback after disappearing from big screen for years. She's in fine form here as the witty state department aide, Liza Weld. Chris Addison delivers as the political damage control expert, Toby. Steve Coogan is hilarious in a cameo. Olivia Poulet, Enzo Cilenti, Paul Higgins, Alex MacQueen, etc, give good accounts of themselves.
You won't find a dull moment in this film. You'll be too busy laughing to take a look at your watch or at the clock. The brisk pace never lets up and not one of the cast is wasted. Every single character is memorable no matter the length of role. In The Loop is without a doubt the best political satire i've seen since Barry Levinson's Wag The Dog(1997). I highly recommend it!
Black Dynamite (2009)
A breakthrough performance by Micheal Jai White!
Movies like Black Dynamite give you an intense yearning for blaxploitation films. Its one of those sadly rare---if not moribund---genres that deserve to be resurrected. I'm quite sure you'll agree when you see it. It first premiered at the 2009 Sundance film festival, where Sony worldwide acquisitions picked it up for distribution. Its a shame Hollywood doesn't produce them as frequently as they did in the early to mid-70s. I don't think I've seen another one since Undercover Brother(2002), which I quite liked. Blaxploitation---even though contemporary ones are few and far between---is one of my favorite movie genres. Those types of films are witty, hilariously silly, tongue-in-cheek and immensely entertaining, and Black Dynamite is no exception.
I felt a deep sense of nostalgia watching it because it reminded me of classic films of the genre, especially the highly influential Foxy Brown(1972). Incidentally, just like in Black Dynamite, the antagonist in Foxy Brown is also known as "The Man". I tremendously enjoyed other blaxploitation films such as Jackie Brown(1997), Shaft(1971), Superfly(1972), Coffey(1973), I'm Gonna Git You Sucka(1988), etc, so I eagerly anticipated Black Dynamite when I saw the trailer early last year, and boy did it deliver!. Kudos to Scott Sanders for his inspired direction, Adrian Younge for his original score and editing, and Shawn Maurer(cinematographer) for capturing the 1970's zeitgeist so vividly. I can say with absolute certainty that its arguably the best blaxploitation film since Shaft. Its infinitely better than Undercover Brother. And did I mention its relentlessly hilarious? It rivals The Hangover as one of the funniest films of 2009.
Micheal Jai White---who shares writing credits Byron Minns and Scott Sanders---really should be a bigger star. With a strong screen presence and undeniable charisma, he's proved he's quite capable of carrying a movie. I wish Hollywood producers would cast this guy more often. Despite being basically a Micheal Jai White show, gorgeous leading lady Salli Richardson-Whitfied makes her presence felt as Gloria, Black Dynamite's partner. Also starring in the film, in smaller roles include Kym Whitley, Arsenio Hall, Nicole Ari Parker, R&B singer Brian Mcknight, Tommy Davison, Mykelti Williamson, to name a few. Jason James and Rick Montgomery did a great job casting them. Even if you're not a fan of blaxploitation films, there's no doubt you'll have a great time watching this terrific film. I've never seen a film this funny in such a long time. Don't miss it! You dig?
Exceptional, powerful film
'Trainspotting' is a bleak, powerful and harrowing indie film, which propelled then unknown British actor, Ewan McGregor, onto the world stage. Its a controversial examination of the exploits, simultaneously humorous and poignant, of a coterie of Scottish drug addicts. Amazingly enough, this is only the second directorial effort from Danny Boyle after his acclaimed debut, "Shallow Grave"(1994). Shot entirely on location in the capital of Scotland, Edinburgh, it revolves around six key characters--Mark, Francis, Sickboy, Spud, Tommy and Diane. The film is narrated by Ewan McGregor's central character, Mark "rent-boy" Renton, who decides to change his self-destructive lifestyle. His struggle to quell his heroin addiction subsequently effects his relationship with his family and drug-addled friends. Some will extol the film's unsettling and harsh depiction of a gang of drug junkies whereas others will rebuke the film for glorifying and advocating drug use.
'Trainspotting' is like modern-day "Clockwork Orange" in terms of temperament and setting, as it were. There are a few scenes that are somewhat reminiscent of 'Clockwork Orange' but aren't necessarily identical. In essence, its a film about youth culture as well as drugs. and its incredibly funny. Its not easy to watch, though. Its not for the squeamish, that's for sure. There are really disturbing images that will haunt the viewer days, if not weeks, after seeing the film. I've seen a lot of great drug-themed films(ex: 'The Man With The Golden Arm', 'Drugstore Cowboy', 'Down to The Bone' and 'Requiem for A Dream' immediately come to mind), "Trainspotting" joins the list. I don't know if its the best one out of the bunch, but I like it the most. Its a rather strange film in the sense that there's no concrete story. A great deal happens inside the character's head and some of it is quite disturbing. Only toward the end is there a semblance of a chronological narrative. Boyle deserves credit for eschewing social realism because the film isn't as depressing as a result. Instead of basking in the depravity of the characters, he has chosen to celebrate the prosperity of life, even in the hardships of these junkies.
The performances are simply exceptional through and through. As the flawed yet redeemable Mark Renton, Ewan McGregor turns in an outstanding performance, probably the finest of his entire career. He reportedly went to extremes, like Christian Bale did for "The Machinist", to make his character look more believable as far as physical appearance was concerned. Bravo!. The great Robert Carlyle, however, owns the film as the alcoholic, violent, mercurial psychotic, Francis Begbie. He exudes a sense of danger and ominousness whenever he appears on screen. Its a shame that this brilliant, chameleon-like actor has never received an Oscar nomination. Its been long overdue after so many great performances in his career. Johnny Lee Miller, despite the brevity of his role, gives an excellent performance as the James Bond-loving heroin addict, "Sickboy". There are other performances well worth mentioning as well. Ewen Bremner is quite superb as the funny nitwit, "Spud". Kevin McKidd really shines as Tommy, a drug-free but curious athlete. Kelly MacDonald makes a stellar acting debut as the lovable "Diane", the voice of reason for Mark Renton. James Cosmo and Eileen Nicholas are effective as Mark Renton's parents.
Technically, the film is really top-notch. Besides the uniformly great performances, the film has a great script, solid screenplay by John Hodge(received Oscar nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay), clever editing, arresting cinematography, sharp and witty dialogs. The narration by Ewan McGregor is excellent and helps propel the story. The direction by Danny Boyle is truly superb. The soundtrack and innovative techniques really add to the film's drug-soaked atmosphere as well. "Trainspotting" is a film that will age well. After 11 years, its still as powerful and influential as ever. One of the classic chronicles of addiction. Make seeing this film a priority.
The Ring (2002)
Many critics heaped praise on this film, some even calling it the scariest film since "The Exorcist". I can name several horror films that were far more scarier than this film. Is it is a good horror movie? Yes. A great one? I don't think so. "The Ring" is just as overrated and devoid of scares as "The Blair Witch Project". If you want a good scare, I suggest horror films like "The Omen", "Suspiria", "Rosemary's Baby", and "The Changeling". "The Ring" isn't a patch on these horror classics.
"The Ring" is obviously a remake of a 1998 Japanese film called "Ringu", which is a much better and scarier version. I liked some things about this film--the sense of foreboding and atmosphere of the film, the background score, most of the performances. I thought Naomi Watts gave a fantastic performance, as did David Dorfman, who plays Noami's creepy young son. Brian Cox and Jane Alexander were both quite effective in their small roles. Daveigh Chase gives a chilling performance as Samara. I didn't like Martin Henderson's performance. I thought it was rather empty. All in all, "The Ring" is a good horror film, but its not really that scary.
Another superb work by Inarritu
'Babel' is a fascinating study of communication barriers, universal politics, cultural diversity and existential loneliness. Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu has made two complex and thought-provoking films("21 grams" and Amores Perros") but his latest masterpiece, 'Babel', is probably the most heartbreaking and haunting yet. Of course, the credit also goes to screenwriter Guillermo Arriaga and cinematographer, Rodrigo Prieto(a frequent collaborator of Inarritu's) for their clarity of vision and creativity. You either get this film or you miss the boat on it entirely, there's no in-between. I can tell you one thing though, its one of the very best Hollywood films of last year. A truly powerful and brilliant film that stays with you long after it has concluded. The film is set in four countries: Morocco, United states, Mexico and Japan. And its really amazing how Inarritu masterfully leaps from one story to another building up to a powerful climax.
There are basically four intersecting story lines in the film, and they're connected but not precisely in a synchronized fashion. It feels like you're going back and forth through chapters of a book. Brad Pitt (in his best performance in years) and Cate Blanchett(outstanding, as usual) play Richard and Susan, respectively. Richard and Susan are grief-stricken American couple from San Diego, California, who decide to take a trip to Morocco to find some piece of mind after tragically losing their youngest child. They leave their older children(played by Ellen Fanning and Nathan Gamble)in the care of their Mexican maid, Amelia(a brilliant Adriana Barraza).
Unbeknownst to them, Amelia takes the children, without permission, to her native Mexico to attend her only son's wedding. The driver happens to be Amelia's alcoholic, abrasive illegal immigrant nephew, Santiago(played by Gael Garcia Bernal). On their re-entry into the United States, they're stopped by a border patrol officer(the criminally underrated Clifton Collins, Jr). Seeing two White kids at the backseat, the patrol officer grows increasingly suspicious and orders them out of the car. Santiago panics, takes off and it results in a terrifying car chase into the night.
One of the key segments features a Moroccan goat herder who lives on the hillside with his two wayward young sons. When the Moroccan goat herder carelessly hands a rifle to his young sons(the intent was to keep jackals away from the livestock), the kids use an approaching tourist bus as target practice instead. As they test their rifle by firing at the tourist bus, a stray bullet accidentally hits Richard's wife on the shoulder. The incident triggers a ripple effect that transcends the African nation. The U.S. government mistake it as an act of terrorism. The Moroccan authorities start investigation; eventually, they learn that the goat herding family residing on the hillside are the culprits. They also learn who sold the goat herder the rifle used in the shooting, a Japanese businessman(Koji Yakusho).
The story jumps to Tokyo, Japan. The businessman has a deaf-mute teenager daughter named Cheiko(Rinko Kikuchi, in a stunning, show-stealing performance). Its very obvious that this is a girl in great deal of emotional pain. Her mother committed suicide and the father is emotionally distant, so she rebels against him by being promiscuous with strange boys, throwing herself at a detective, boozing and partying hard at nightclubs. All she wants is to feel close to someone, anyone, even if that means compromising her dignity in the process. Her loneliness is very palpable. you can't help but feel heartbreak as soon as she walks inside a nightclub brimming with life. The director takes you into her lonely world but frequently muting the loud noise from the nightclub. I feel tremendous sympathy for deaf-mutes. How do they manage to live a life of complete silence? I can't imagine not hearing voices, sounds of nature, music, etc. When words fail, what are the ramifications?. Watch 'Babel' to find out. Excellent film!
Ying xiong (2002)
Good, but a tad overrated.
What many people probably don't know is that Zhang Yimou's "Hero" spent 2 years on the shelf before finally making it to the big screen, in America, anyway. Before it made it to American theaters, It was a smash hit in China and has already garnered a Best Foreign language Oscar nomination. I can say with absolute certainty that "Hero" is one of the most aesthetic films ever made. You'd be hard pressed to find a movie more visually breathtaking than this one. Every single frame of this film is like a Van Gogh painting. It simply has to be seen to be believed.
As a life-long martial-arts film enthusiast, I expected more in terms of entertainment but found the film a bit on the slow side. I'm not gainsaying that fact that the film was very well-made, I just wasn't very entertained by it. The story could've been a bit better. It was a bit too simplistic and prosaic for my liking. There isn't much to this film plot-wise. The fight sequences were a bit of a letdown for me. I prefer the fast and furious type of martial-arts fight sequences as opposed to the Peter Panesque, slow-mo ballet dance.
There were certainly several moments of sheer brilliance in the film, and for that reason, I'm recommending it. The performances are impressive. Jet Li isn't exactly a great dramatic actor but he's effective here. The beautiful acclaimed actress, Maggie Cheung, never fails to impress. She shines as "Flying Snow". Zhang Ziyi is wonderfully understated as "Moon". Tony Leung Chiu Wai, who appeared in Kar Wai Wong's masterpiece, "In The Mood For Love", with Maggie Cheung, also makes his presence felt. Donnie Yen, an accomplished martial-artist, had such infinitesimal screen time, much to my chagrin. I was hoping he had more fight sequences featuring him and Li.
In the final analysis, this is a very good film, but it isn't the masterpiece "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" was.
One of the greatest films ever made, in any language
This is one of the greatest films I've ever seen, in any language, I might add. A haunting, unforgettable classic from the directorial genius, Akira Kurosawa. Its truly unlike any movie you've ever seen before. It examines and questions the very essence of truth. Its incredible that it was made in 1950, even today, its still a staggering and enduring influence on cinema throughout the world.
'Rashomon' is truly an unconventional and existential film with a non-linear narrative. It is such a profound film that even if you see it numerous times, you'll still be picking out things you didn't notice previously. Its punctuated with poetic metaphors and symbolisms throughout. Now I know where great American directors like Robert Altman, Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg, etc, all get their inspiration from. I love Kurosawa's expressionistic approach to film-making. His use of camera angles, lighting, etc, is a treat to behold.
This film basically tells the story of a priest, a woodcutter, a thief and an ordinary man who all take turns narrating, through flashbacks, the same series of events while waiting out a heavy rainstorm. They all discuss the brutal murder of a Samurai and the rape of his wife they claim they witnessed in the jungle. You, the viewer, like the characters in the film, are never sure what is real and what isn't. It is never explained, you're forced to draw your own conclusions. What you hear is four completely different stories of the crimes committed in the woods. Every storyteller is untrustworthy, especially the woodcutter's, who was the first to see evidence of the crimes.
This film has a very powerful and spiritual ending where the woodcutter get a shot a redemption. I can see why this film is still very influential and important since its release 54 years ago. An unqualified masterpiece!
Flags of Our Fathers (2006)
'Flags of our Fathers' joins the vast library of Clint Eastwood gems.
In a nutshell, the film is about the lives of the men featured in the iconic portrait of a group of brave soldiers hoisting up an American flag at Iwo Jima during World War 2. Eastwood brings the characters alive like only he can. Its a meditative, elegiac, hard-hitting and viscerally moving film about the true definition of a hero, how heroes are judged and treated by society, how they view themselves and what they go through mentally and emotionally. This is a bit different from the war films you're usually accustomed to in a sense that the film is not set entirely on the war front. Most of the story takes place post-Iwo Jima but the soldiers relive the horrors of the war via flashbacks. Like 'Saving Private Ryan' this film also features thousands of soldiers landing on the beach and engaging in a full-throttle enemy assault, but the similarities end there.
The film focuses principally on the three returning Iwo Jima war veterans--John "Doc" Bradley, Rene Gagnon, and Ira Hayes(played by Ryan Phillippe, Jesse Bradford and Adam Beach, respectively). On the home front, the US government take interest in the three Iwo-Jima flag-raisers in the picture and exploit them to raise money for war bonds. On their goodwill tour across the states, they're heralded by reporters, photographers and the American public. While Bradley and Gagnon seem very comfortable being the center of attention, Hayes wrestles with insurmountable demons. Disillusioned that his own country doesn't laud or appreciate him despite laying his life on the line on the battlefield. He's disgusted with the thought of being labeled a "hero" because he's suffering from survivor's guilt. Scoffed at for being "American Indian", he's discriminated against at a restaurant which enrages him. He subsequently gets into a brawl before being dragged away by Bradley and Gagnon.
The performances in this film is very a strong with Ryan Phillippe and Jesse Bradford turning in the best performances of their careers, but if anyone truly deserved an Oscar nomination for acting, it had to be Adam Beach for his nuanced, heartbreaking performance as the emotionally damaged, disenchanted ex-soldier. I hardly know this actor(I think he also was in John Woo's "Windtalkers") but he's prodigiously talented. Paul Walker, Neal McDonough, Robert Patrick, Barry Pepper, Jamie Bell, and John Benjamin Hickey are impressive in their brief roles.
Clint Eastwood brought so much depth and creativity to this film. Steven Spielberg steps in as producer. One of the Eastwood's biggest strengths is his painstaking attention to detail--how people dress, the ambiance, the kind of music being played on the radio, etc. He captures the zeitgeist of 40's quite vividly. He also takes the story beyond the generation of the characters. One of the soldier's adult son (played by Tom McCarthy) interviews his father's old comrades in order to find out more about what happened to his father during the war.
Technically, 'Flags of Our Fathers' is as good as it gets. What can I say about the war scenes!. Its one of the most realistic ones I've ever seen. It rivals those seen in Spielberg's "Saving Private Ryan". You just have to see it to believe it. I'm convinced there is no genre the great Eastwood is incapable of tackling, and he just made a great war film here, even better is his follow-up, "Letters from Iwo Jima". This film some may find a bit slow and introspective, but that's how Eastwood intended it. One key message this film really drives home is that the real war heroes aren't the ones who made it out of the battlefield, but the ones who died there. This is one of the best Hollywood films of its year. Take a bow, Mr. Eastwood.
The Sentinel (2006)
A fast-paced, endlessly gripping thriller!
Folks, do not pay attention to critics on this one. "The Sentinel" has to be one of the most riveting thrillers I've seen in a very, very long time. Its a really well done thriller. Micheal Douglas, Keifer Sutherland, Kim Basinger, and the sexy Eva Longoria(she should do more films) all turn in credible performances. I almost ended up not watching it because of unfavorable reviews, but I'm so glad I did!. This film is being unfairly compared to the Wolfgang Peterson's 1993 masterpiece, "In The Line of Fire". It obviously pales in comparison in every aspect but its nowhere as bad as the reviews suggest. If you're a Micheal Douglas fan, definitely go for it, chances are, you will not be disappointed!. I'm just trying to remember the last time I really enjoyed a Micheal Douglas film, oh yeah, Traffic, and that was 6 damn years ago!. Welcome back, Mr. Douglas