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Redfern Now (2012)
A Rare Look at Working Class Indigenous in Australia
Just watched this on Netflix. It was a really interesting show. I really love seeing movies or TV shows about different ethnicities living normal lives rather than as stereotypes. Indigenous Australians have always fascinated me. They rarely get seen on TV here in the US and I can't count the number of times I've seen aborigines portrayed as regular people on one hand. What always springs to mind is the David Bowie video "Let's Dance", that featured the young aborigine teens. I'd also seen Rabbit Proof Fence and a few other movies. There were some great episodes and it's a pity the show didn't last longer than twelve episodes.
As an American, my impression of indigenous Aussies has been of the dark-skinned aborigine bushmen tribes and peoples, so I expected to see more of people with a darker skin tone. While I recognize that like African Americans, there are many indigenous Aussies who are also a mix of Europeans and other races, what I see in the series is mostly mixed raced indigenous and island people. So of course my impression is that this cast is chosen for their appealing looks to interest white viewers rather than authenticity or true aboriginal culture. Forgive me for being ignorant but I've seen other Australian movies that featured aborigines who weren't light-skinned with European features yet this series has maybe one episode with a real blackfella with dark skin and his role is relegated to 10-15 seconds of screen time and four lines. I'm not saying the actors here shouldn't be included or recognized as great indigenous artists, quite the contrary. Many of the performances there are top notch. Deborah Mailman, Wayne Blair, Lisa Flanagan and Rarriwuy Hick especially stand out for great acting and beauty. I just would have preferred that the casting had been more inclusive of the full diaspora of the culture. The few other instances of dark- skinned aborigines in the series amount to background figures cast as homeless people or drunks with no dialogue.
Redfern Now: Promise Me (2015)
Poor Consolation to the Series. Watch that Instead
"Redfern Now: Promise Me" is a TV movie based on the 2012 Australian TV series "Redfern Now" about a community of working class indigenous Australians. The original series ran for two seasons. I only just recently discovered it on Netflix as well as this TV movie.
Two women are raped in separate instances while walking home late at night. Because Robyn decides to remain silent and live in denial about her assault, the rapist is allowed to commit his crime against another woman who also happens to be an acquaintance in her neighborhood. Lorraine, on the other hand, decides to report and prosecute the rapist. Robyn struggles with her guilt over Lorraine's assault.
The main cast is made up of recurring characters from the series, specifically Wayne Blair, Deborah Mailman, Rarriwuy Hick, and Lisa Flanagan. The acting is mostly solid for a TV movie.
The same can't be said for the story. It plays like a Lifetime version of one of those after school specials. For a movie that's supposed to be some type of reward for fans of the series, this is a poor consolation. The original series ran for two seasons and featured many indigenous actors who deserve more attention. But this follow-up only had four or five characters from the series, mostly whose stories were already resolved. Even worse, R:PM is not a particularly deep or complex movie and really only concerns itself with the crime and how the two victims are dealing with it, mainly Robyn. There are no real twists and it's pretty predictable right to the feel good ending. Which is a shame because it could have been so much better.
The series itself was much better and at least the stories were more interesting though just as predictable, despite some great acting. The four principle actors here show up several times among the various episodes and stories, most of which were not connected. It would have been nice to see some of those other actors and characters in this movie. Watch the series if you haven't already. It's much better than this.
The Misogynist Handbook to Rape
A shy female office worker is attacked and raped in her apartment elevator by an unknown attacker. After already realizing all of the women at her job are having sex with their male superiors, she gives into her boss's seductions and discovers she's now become even more turned on by having multiple one-night stands with anonymous men especially when taken by force.
As a devoted porn connoisseur, I was happy to find this title by accident. I normally refuse to watch a foreign movie that has no subtitles but this excellent bit of Japanese vintage soft porn is very easy to decipher. I don't condone rape and I abhor watching it in movies but this obviously takes a misogynistic look at the subject as if to say the woman should be enjoying it which is even more offensive to women but this is after all, porn. The story seems obvious: After being attacked, now she's having a sexual awakening and, despite never reporting the rape, is accosted by several of her male superiors at work and strangers on the street and in bars but she's just going through the motions trying to re-imagine and re-attain the high she got when she was first sexually ravished by her attacker.
The sex is very strong and straight-forward, typical for a 70s soft core. (The Japanese take their porn very seriously to the point that it's a very mainstream part of their culture even today). The cinematography is excellent which is a hallmark of the 70s era when porn was still being filmed like regular movies instead of how porn is made today like a cheap webcam show in some motel room. There's a real plot which I wish I could fully understand but for the most part you get the gist by what you can see. It's vintage 70s. If you appreciate a good soft core like me, then you'll love this.
Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain (2013)
Climbing His Way to the Top
Kevin Hart is poised to become the next big comedy star walking the trail once blazed by Bill Cosby, Richard Pryor, Eddie Murphy and Chris Rock. He first made noticeable appearances on TV series, many of the spoof movies like Scary Movie 3 & 4, Epic Movie, Extreme Movie and other small movie roles, especially his most famous in a small hilarious piece in The 40 year Old Virgin where he plays a dissatisfied customer. He starred in his first movie as a lead, Soul Plane in (2004). Most recently he had a small cameo in Seth Rogen's This is the End. The fact that he was included in that movie which also featured other small uncredited cameos by a host of A-list actors, shows Hart is considered among the elite comic actors in Hollywood.
Unlike a lot of other comedians, Hart's style uses more imagination than observation. He sees things differently than other comedians and employs a very self-deprecating humor that other urban comedians would be too self-conscious to use. Especially other black comedians. He doesn't have to spend five minutes on race or excessive sex jokes to make his point. Though he does sometimes use the N-word, he doesn't use it as a crutch. One of his usual devices is his size. Hart is reportedly only 5'2". He also derives a lot of his humor from his experiences as a father with two young kids. All of these things makes him a comedian with broader appeal than the rest of his peers.
"Let Me Explain" is his fourth stand-up movie and fifth solo stand-up appearance if you include his "Comedy Central Presents" (2004) stand-up routine. After a filmed opening routine, Hart comes to the stage in Madison Square Garden for his first time. This shows he really has made a large impact in his field as the packed-house audience is filled with a large cross-section of people including celebrities in the front rows. Here he proceeds to talk about everything from his kids, bodyguards, homeless people, divorce, horse rides, etc.
Though not as funny as some of his earlier stand-ups, I still found it hilarious. Hart has the ability to bring you into his world, where other comedians simply make observations on everyday things. The prologue and epilogue bits also show Hart's ability as a comic actor and the love he gets from people in other cities and countries.
Requiem for a Bass God *SPOILERS*
I've never been a fan of The Who. Though I do like classic rock, I was always more fan of The Rolling Stones and The Doors. However, I always recognized The Who's contribution to rock and roll. They were definitely pioneers of rock and the genre owes a debt to the "cock-rock" posturing of Roger Daltry, the frenetic drumming hysteria of Keith Moon and bombastic guitar sound and excellent songwriting skills of Pete Townsend whose poignant lyrics expressed the voice of a generation. Which brings us to the often-forgotten member of The Who, John Entwistle.
The "Ox" as he was referred to sometimes, showed that the bass guitar could be more than just a supporting instrument. In his hands, the bass was as powerful a musical weapon as Townsend's guitar. Even more so in fact because Townsend was a just an average rock guitarist who covered up his shortcomings with oceans of distorted and over-driven volume. Entwistle by contrast had musical knowledge even before he picked up bass guitar. He was the only member of the group to have formal musical training before joining. He played piano, trumpet, french horn, trombone and cello among other instruments and often wrote and performed horn arrangements on some of The Who's recordings. He was very much like John Paul Jones of Led Zepplin who was also a multi-instrumentalist and arranger and also a seldom-celebrated and unappreciated band member. Entwistle's style of bass playing was revolutionary at a time when bassists were still standing at the rear of the stage by the drum podium with their heads down and playing root notes for support. He influenced many other rock bassists to come bring their sound from behind the shadows and step up to the front line and challenge the guitar and vocals.
"An Ox's Tale" is a nice tribute to Entwistle narrated by his good friend and rock legend Peter Frampton. Some of the footage was shot as an interview with Entwistle in his home probably a few years prior to when he passed away in 2005 in Las Vegas just as The Who were readying for a world tour. He was always considered "The Quiet One" in The Who and you can tell he was very laid back and modest and even a bit self-deprecating. There are plenty of "talking head" moments with different musicians from Robin Zander from Cheap Trick and Chris Squire of Yes to super bass guitarist Billy Sheehan and Ray Manzarek of The Doors all either recounting old stories of their friendship with Entwistle or his musical influence on their own playing. There's also interviews with his mother, son, former musicians from his solo bands, band managers and of course, there's Pete Townsend showering his departed band partner with praise and love.
The only glaring omission is the absence of The Who vocalist Roger Daltry. Other than concert footage and photos, he doesn't make an appearance at all in the documentary, even to offer words of praise. There is a moment where Ox mentions a moment during a tour when Daltry was constantly complaining about his bass being too loud. This apparently caused a problem during the show as it was apparent that there may have been a bit of friction between the two but that moment was back in the 70s. Still it seems very odd that Daltry wouldn't have participated in a documentary about one of his longest working relationships, even if the two of them possibly never got along. There's also a moment when Townsend talks about how he and Roger had to decide whether to go on with the world tour that The Who were about to launch at the time of Ox's death. Though Townsend speaks with a bit of remorse and regret about deciding to go ahead with the tour, he seemed to be rationalizing why they did it when he knew they probably should have just postponed it or even discontinued performing as The Who to honor their fallen friend. Who knows what the real story is. Perhaps the filmmakers couldn't get catch up with Daltry who may have been on a solo tour or on an acting gig but I have trouble believing they wouldn't have tried or that a meeting, even by telephone, would have been that hard to make happen. Still I find it a bit disheartening that Daltry couldn't have made himself available to say a few words for a musical partner who helped make him a rock icon. It makes the film seem incomplete and makes me think poorly of Daltry.
Don't Waste Your Time! Unless You're High
This is essentially a movie with no story. What starts out as a road trip movie turns into some bad dada-esque, head trip.
Carol and Maureen, two sexy and carefree girls, are hanging out in Florida out in a field near the highway. Along comes Chuck, a good-looking California surfer stud whose driving a RV (they were called mobile homes back then). He offers them a ride and they can't resist. Carol takes to Chuck immediately and flirts with him while they travel. Meanwhile, in the back of the trailer, the dark and mysterious Maureen is deep into her tarot cards and astrology. She's foreseeing danger ahead.
Instead of any real kind of story, what we get is Chuck and Carol running naked through a field and having lots of sex while Maureen looks on envious of the couple. But then eventually she gets her turn with the stud too. Interspersed in all this sex is lots of trippy, psychedelic imagery, groovy music, nude women, sinister clowns and other confusion. It's perfect for a drive-in where hardly anyone is paying attention anyway cuz most of the audience was making out or socializing or a lot of stoners will get a trip watching. Otherwise, this is a complete waste of time unless you want to catch some T&A.
Trip with the Teacher (1975)
Okay For A Cheap Thrill
Ever since Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez produced and directed Death Proof and Planet of Terror, respectively, my interest in grindhouse and drive in movies has been ignited. I never knew much about these types of movies other than that they were pretty lame compared to big budget movies with high paid lead actors. My parents and aunts and uncles used to tell me stories about how these types of exploitation movies and theatrical outings were popular social gatherings on the weekends.
I got "Trip with the Teacher" as part of a box set of 100 movies at a clearance sale of a department store. This movie starred a bunch of unknowns who either did very little after this, were featured in mostly the occasional TV series or had professional acting careers early on before this. Only the lead villain went on to any kind of stardom as an executive producer.
Miss Tenny and her four female students are riding on a small school bus on a field trip to the desert to see some Indian ruins. While stopping for gas, they encounter three bikers, friendly Jay, Pete and his mysterious brother, Al. When their bus breaks down further down the road, the bikers stop to oversee the situation. While Jay wants to help, the sinister and psychotic Al has other plans for the young nubile women.
From what I've already seen of these types of movies, this is a typical biker-dominates- women sexploitation movie. The girls are all cute and showing plenty of legs in shorts and skirts. But the story is pretty thin and isn't even as interesting as the average late 60s biker movies or any of the Billy Jack or William Smith movies that explored similar themes. It's just average drive-in flick that gets teens hot enough to fog up the windows of their cars a little then throws in a little showdown at the end.
Lead baddie, Zalman King, went on to executive produce the popular cable series, "Red Shoe Diaries". Guess he's always had a thing for sexual themes, be it soft erotica or sexploitation.