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The House That Jack Built (2013)
Solid film, I'd recommend it.
The House that Jack Built is a 2013 family drama film starring E. J. Bonilla and Melissa Fumero.
The story revolves around Jack (E. J. Bonilla), he owns an apartment building that he bought and refurbished, he houses his extended family in the building rent free, his parents Carlos (John Herrera) and Martha (Saundra Santiago), his Grandmother (Judith Delgado), his sister Nadia (Rosal Colon), older brother Richie (Leo Minaya) and his wife Rosa (Flor De Liz Perez), and his two cousins Hector (Javier Muñoz) and Manny (Desmin Borges), his does this because his loves his family, and also because he wants to keep them together for nostalgic reasons, yearning for a time when everyone was happy and things were less complicated.
Aside from being the landlord of the building, he also runs a bodega that is actually a front for dealing drugs, his mother hears about this through gossip at the laundromat, and asks her son if this is true, he of course lies to her.
But despite this, Jack has morals, for example: when a drug addict tries to pimp out his young daughter in exchange for drugs, Jack beats up the junkie for even suggesting such a thing, even threatening to kill him if he does this again.
Tensions arise in the apartment building to the point where Jack has to meddle in everybody's affairs, his parents fight constantly due to his father being a drunk, Nadia is secretly a lesbian, which Jack cannot accept, almost to where he asks one of his friends to sleep with her, Richie doesn't like that Rosa would rather go out with her girlfriends instead of being home with him and their newborn baby, and the cousins bicker over the smallest of things, Jack also deals with his fiancée, Lily (Melissa Fumero) who prematurely picks out a wedding dress and tries to domesticate him, which is something he doesn't really want to do, preferring to keep things the way they are.
But when a rival drug dealer (Fidel Vicioso) wants to muscle in on Jack's territory, problems begin to surface, I won't spoil this part of the story, so you'll have to watch the movie for the outcome.
Everybody does quite well in their performances, this was definitely a good watch.
The film was directed by Henry Barrial, who does a pretty good job with the material. The script was written by the late Joseph B. Vasquez, who's best known for having written and directed the 1991 movie, "Hangin' with the Homeboys", this script was one of the last ones he had written prior to his death in 1995.
If you're a fan of Vasquez's work, you'd like this film.
Street Hitz (1992)
A movie you have to watch more than once to appreciate it.
1992's Street Hitz is one of those films you have to watch more than once to appreciate it.
The film is about two brothers living in the South Bronx, New York. The older brother, Junior is the resident tough guy that the block respects, he's pretty much set in the life he has, working a dead end job, and married to a woman only because she's pregnant, the younger brother, Joey, is a college student that has a bright future ahead of him, both Junior and their father want Joey to succeed, and get out of the Bronx, but surprise, surprise, Joey mentions to his brother that his girlfriend is pregnant, immediately angering Junior, thinking that Joey is gonna throw away his future, Joey says he's not, he tells his brother that's he gonna succeed, but an act of violence sets off a chain of events that end tragically.
Aside from Joey's situation, Junior also has his own dilemma, because of his reputation in the community, local gangster Dino is trying to recruit Junior into his crime family. Junior is conflicted because he wants to do the right thing in life, but he also knows the kind of money this job would offer. There's also a subplot with a young boy who looks up to Junior, but I won't spoil this part of the film, so you'd have to watch it to see the outcome.
The film was written, produced, and directed by Joseph Vasquez, a talented writer/director who died young, this film was actually his first one, it was filmed in 1988, but was later released in 1992 after the success of his most well-known movie, "Hangin' With the Homeboys".
For a low budget film, it's a great watch, the acting is good, sometimes a bit over the top, but everyone seems to be giving it their all, you can tell this was a labor of love, aside from writing and directing, Vasquez also was the cinematographer, editor, and production manager on the film, he clearly was a Jack-of-all-trades, and had he lived longer, he would've been a successful filmmaker.
If you're a fan of his work, or a fan of low budget films, then this movie is for you.
The Hollywood Detective (1989)
The Lost Kojak Movie?
The Hollywood Detective is a 1989 television movie starring Kojak star Telly Savalas as Harry Bell, a once legendary Tv Detective, now down on his luck actor who is approached by a young woman to locate her missing boyfriend, desperate for money, he takes the offer. He begins his investigation, it leads him to the missing boyfriend, who's been killed, the police arrive on scene right after he does, and arrest him, the authorities immediately look at him as their prime murder suspect. Now Harry has to pull himself together, solve the murder, and clear his name.
The film is a typical Television movie, it looks low budget, and some of the acting from the supporting cast is average at best, it's not bad, just average, the camera work is good, same goes for the dialogue, I like the soundtrack, and Telly Savalas is great in this film, his voice-over narration throughout the film is reminiscent of the classic detective shows and films from the golden age of television, at times the movie feels like it could have been a lost episode of Kojak, or one of the made-for-tv films that would come out around this time. If you're a fan of Telly Savalas, you'll like this movie.
Off Limits (1988)
Taking place in Saigon during the Vietnam War, we have two CID officers (McGriff and Perkins) investigating the murder of a prostitute, during said investigation it's discovered that the murder is the latest in a series of murders that have happened in the past year, and that the previous investigation was dropped by higher-ranking officials, further complications arise when it's revealed that the killer is a U. S. Army officer, and witnesses either disappear, or end up dead. I won't spoil the ending, so you'll have to watch it to see for yourselves.
Willem Dafoe (McGriff) and Gregory Hines (Perkins) have good chemistry in the lead roles, Amanda Pays plays Sister Nicole, a nun who helps the two officers in their investigation, she does well in her part, her and Defoe have good chemistry together, I honestly thought there was gonna be a romance between them, I was wrong, but it shows that she does care for him, other actors such as Fred Ward, David Alan Grier, Keith David, and Scott Glenn do good in their parts.
The film is brilliantly directed by Christopher Crowe (who also co-wrote the screenplay), the cinematography is great, the music score by James Newton Howard is also great, along with the film's soundtrack which includes artists such as Jimi Hendrix, Sly and The Family Stone, among others. Very much a product of its time, I recommend it.
Body Count (1998)
Flawed, but Underrated.
Pike (Ving Rhames) is released from jail, Crane (Forest Whitaker), his old partner in crime meets up with him, they plan to rob an art museum, of 15 million dollars of paintings, Pike and Crane are joined by Chino (John Leguizamo), Booker (Donnie Wahlberg), and Hobbs (David Caruso). The heist goes according to plan, but it backfires (thanks to Chino shooting two security guards), Crane gets killed in the process, the rest of them manage to get away, with Crane dead, Pike takes charge, and plans to go to Miami by himself, to meet the buyer, and collect the money, he instructs the others to lay low until he returns (good idea), but the others protest, and it becomes a road trip, one that does not go well, with discontent among the thieves (mostly between Hobbs and Chino) and a hitchhiker (Linda Fiorentino) who has ideas of her own, it gets pretty predictable from this point, but it pays off by the time the film ends.
The cast is pretty solid, Ving Rhames does a great job as the one who tries to keep things from getting out of control, he carries this film. Forest Whitaker also does a good job with his part. David Caruso also is good, you wanna hate this guy, but he grows on you, plus he has most of the good one liners. John Leguizamo's character comes off as super annoying and unlikable, you just want him to shut up. I can't say much about Donnie Wahlberg's character because he gets killed off early in the trip, but he comes off as one of the sane people. Linda Fiorentino does good in her part.
This film is predictable yes, with the familiar premise of a robbery gone awry and everything that follows, it has some good performances from the cast (even though some of the characters are unlikable), some good dialogue, and a great music score. The film does feel a bit rushed at times, but I can't complain too much. I like it for what it is.