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RIPPA

2020 ERNIE LADD BLACK HISTORY MONTH

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Okay - I guess I have gotten what I am getting. So here come the reviews

If you need to reference the other thread.

 

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TO SIR, WITH LOVE (James Clavell, 1967)

IMDB : ROTTEN TOMATOES (89/88)

Selected By: @Execproducer

Chosen for the iconic Sidney Poitier role. Mr. Poitier's presence, Judy Geeson,  and the hit title song by Lulu, who also had a role in the film, elevate a somewhat pedestrian story into something worth watching. Mr. Poitier's break-out role was as a troubled youth in The Blackboard Jungle (1955)  and here, as an established Movie Star, he has the lead in the Inspirational Teacher role.  '67 was a huge year for Mr. Poitier and many might consider this the lesser of his three films behind In the Heat of the Night and Guess Who's Coming to Dinner but it is a personal favorite of mine. 

IMO, like Pam Grier, there should be at least one Sidney Poitier film represented every time we do this and there are enough quality ones to get us through the next decade pretty easily. 

 

Reviewed By: @driver

To Sir, With Love

What we have here is the great Sidney Poitier vehicle To Sir, With Love.

If you're unfamiliar with the movie, it's about an American school teacher taking a job at a school in England. As the movie begins our hero finds himself the center of a bit of good natured sexual objectification by two middle-aged woman on a crowded bus.

"Most of the students here are rejects from other schools. We have to teach them as much as we can as fast as we can. And the local authorities are not entirely on our side." is what Mark Thackeray is told during his meeting with the school's principal. Before that he was wondering why he was constantly being encouraged to stay. Now he knows why.

His class is full of clowns. I guess that makes him the Gabe Kaplan to their Sweathogs.

A teacher named Weston looks like he couldn't give two shits about his job or the kids, he's just there for the cheque.Thackeray does his best to not get discouraged, either because of his students' hijinks or Weston's defeatism. All that goes out the window when Thackeray enters his class and finds a dirty Kotex burning in the class stove. He dismisses the boys and berates the girls for acting unladylike.

So he decides to teach them without text books and treat them like adults. This might or might not end well.

Cut to a museum trip and stills of the students as Lulu's amazing theme song plays over the scene.

Things have their ups and downs. But in the end everybody comes together and the day is saved.

Overall I liked the movie. It was an easy watch. Poitier(as usual) and the students were really good.
 

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I have a feeling a lot of these movies will be films I love that I cannot watch without falling into fits of rage. Thank God, that To Sir With Love was a bit of a feel good type of film.

Edited by J.T.
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3 hours ago, RIPPA said:

Okay - I guess I have gotten what I am getting.

I'll have mine in by tomorrow night. 🙂

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6 hours ago, RIPPA said:

Okay - I guess I have gotten what I am getting. So here come the reviews

 

Did you get mine?

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13 minutes ago, JLSigman said:

Did you get mine?

Yup - you are good

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FAST COLOR (Julia Hart, 2018)

IMDB : ROTTEN TOMATOES (82/67)

Selected By: @JLSigman

Reviewed By: @Curt McGirt

Wow. 

Just, wow. 

This is one hell of a movie. 

I have not seen too many films in recent years -- actually, ever -- where I came in pretty much cold and was consistently surprised by every layer peeled back, like an onion, revealing more of a story, more of a mystery, simply on the basis that you are told nothing and only some things are revealed to you. Not many films ask you to fill in the blanks anymore. This one certainly does. 

Gugu Mbatha-Raw stars as Ruth, a woman who supposedly has super powers, but (as one cheeky moment entails) is not a super hero. She is also of a lineage of women with super powers. Her mother and her daughter, who she escapes from unexplained captivity back to her home with both, also have them -- and in a world where the skies have dried up and water has become a premium. If I gave you just this you could come up with a thousand different comic book stories for films. This one doesn't do any of those. Instead it gives a subtle, silent, personal description of a woman given to addiction and self-destruction trying to come to terms with her failures and reconnect with her family. 

The reveal of her life and the story as a whole is piecemeal, which is brilliant. It's not maybe 3/4 of the way through the film that you realize what is actually transpiring, but it holds you the entire time. Who is this woman running through a barren desert with injured arms from rope burns? Why was she restrained? Why is some random goober of a white dude in glasses trying to anesthetize her and take her away? The film gives no easy answers and you have to just have patience, sit back and roll with it. 

The analogies to black and female suppression and the inherent power of black people and women are all over this film, and they should be applauded for their strength. Sometimes they aren't subtle, but art doesn't have to be. The white guys are the bad guys here, but aren't they in real life too? The strength in the story is that it tells you only enough to wonder the hows and whys of the world beyond the immediate goings-on and lets you draw your own analogies to the world you live in. 

Highest recommendation. 

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Good pick, JL!  My daughter and I LOVED Fast Color.  It's currently available on demand if you are a subscriber to the Encore / Starz / Epix premium channel network..

It's interesting how films like this and Chronicle are taking old and worn superhero tropes and telling familiar stories in brand new ways.  It's also funny how the director picked everything up in medias res.  I think someone told her that superhero origin stories in movies sometimes suck.

Edited by J.T.
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Fast Color is also on Hulu and Prime

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Whoops I forgot to mention that, I caught it on Prime. Here's a hint to anyone that has to review one of our collective movie picks: it's pretty awesome to have something on hand and then just jump in on it immediately instead of procrastinating. Within hours of me getting my pick I found it and watched it (first time ever), and it was pretty damn cool to have it done, off and running. Then again that probably had a lot to do with how sweet the movie was too 😉

Bonus punk points for them having X-Ray Spex not only on the soundtrack but bringing them up in the film! 

 

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I also want to thank JL for saying nothing about it, now that I think about it -- but it's time you spill the beans and tell us your opinion.

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1 hour ago, Curt McGirt said:

I also want to thank JL for saying nothing about it, now that I think about it -- but it's time you spill the beans and tell us your opinion.

It's easily in my favorite movies of 2019. It's both small (the family) and huge (OMG the worldbuilding) and does both excellently. Each shot is just... you want to pause and stare and look around. Like you said, layers and layers. I basically flailed and cried the whole way through. I am so, so glad you liked it. 🙂 

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Seriously, thank you. And I hope everyone else takes time to watch it. 

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On 2/18/2020 at 11:51 AM, RIPPA said:

TO SIR, WITH LOVE (James Clavell, 1967)

IMDB : ROTTEN TOMATOES (89/88)

Today is Sidney Poitier's birthday!

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DOLEMITE IS MY NAME (Craig Brewer,  2019)

IMDB ROTTEN TOMATOES (97/91)

SELECTED by RIPPA

Due to a combination of Eddie Murphy's "comeback" and the subject matter (along with its easy availability on Netflix) - I figured this was a perfect movie for the theme.

REVIEWED by @J.T.

Dolemite Is My Name

Directed by: Craig Brewer 

Starring:  Eddie Murphy as Rudy Ray Moore

Featuring:  Da'Vine Joy Randolph as Lady Reed, Keegan-Michael Key as Jerry Jones, Mike Epps as Jimmy Lynch, Craig Robinson as Ben Taylor, Tituss Burgess as Theodore Toney,.Wesley Snipes as D'Urville Martin, Chris Rock as Bobby Vale, Tip "TI Harris as Bobby Vale, Luenelle as Aunt, Snoop Dogg as DJ

Eddie Murphy has not exactly been dormant since his Oscar nomination for his role in the 2006 critically acclaimed Dreamgirls, but he has been under wraps long enough for this movie to be called something of a comeback, especially given Murphy's ownership of the box office in the mid 1980's.

I can't think of two many black people of my age that did not sneak Dolomite records onto the family stereo when they were kids and the 'rents weren't at home, but for those not in the know here's a quick history lesson.

Rudy Ray Moore chased success as a singer, dancer, and stand-up before finding it in his mid-forties (in the early '70s) in the persona of Dolemite, his pimp-styled character who delivered artfully filthy rhymes over a backbeat while using as many vulgarities as it took  to get his point across.

Moore's standup comedy, records and movies related earthy rhyming tales of a vivid gaggle of characters as they lurched from sexual escapade to sexual escapade in a boisterous oral tradition, born in Africa, that helped shape today's hip-hop. 

Rap and African-American blue humor both have the same father and his name is Rudy Ray Moore.

I am not sure what I expected when I first tuned into this joint on Netflix.  I think I was a bit disappointed at first because I believe that Rudy Ray Moore is an underloved cultural icon that deserves to have his real story told, yet this film felt more like a folk tale than it did and honest biopic.  However, the more I watched it, the more I thought that it was somewhat fitting for Rudy Ray's life story to have a little artistic license taken with it to make it seem as larger than life as Dolomite was.

The ensemble cast is as brilliant as the names above would imply and the theme of the appreciation of inclusion is constant.  Whether it be Black Panther or Crazy Rich Asians, it is an important part of cultural identity to see faces that resemble yours on the big screen or the little screen, and Rudy Ray Moore's unlikely blueprint to fame has continued to inspire so many other artists after him to bring their dreams to fruition no matter what the personal cost.

If you're looking for an honest account of the life of Rudy Ray Moore, I don't think this is the movie for you, but I recommend watching it anyway just so that one of the most unappreciated African-American performance artists can finally get his just due.

Moore's taste in films is also after my own heart.  There is a scene early in the movie where Moore and two friends exit a showing of Billy Wilder's The Front Page and you can see that Moore is quite disappointed with the film.  Moore (Murphy) groans without batting an eyelash, "This movie had no titites, no funny, and no kung fu.  The stuff that people like us want to see."

Amen, brother.

And yeah, if you are easily offended by boobs and casual droppings of the f-bomb or the n-word, I'd avoid this movie like the Coronavirus.  Thin skin and thick ears are mandatory.

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I loved it. If you don't mind me asking, what were your specific complaints with the realism of the film? It seemed pretty honest to me though I'm no historian on Moore's life. 

As far as my personal connection to Moore it was renting Dolemite to watch with a couple of my buddies when they were living here for college. As soon as we saw the boom mic dip into the frame we knew we had struck gold. The other movies were of lesser quality (and I still haven't seen Snoop's favorite Petey Wheatstraw) but the original is still hilarious. 

One of my favorite parts was him seeing the crowd that had gathered for the film, putting his gear on and going out and doing the character to entertain them in the meantime. That's a showman right there. One thing that I thought was funny was seeing Blowfly on one of the show posters in the film considering he had a concurrent career in being a rap godfather and purveyor of filth but there was no other mention of him. Ah well, that's for another movie I suppose. 

Edited by Curt McGirt
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33 minutes ago, Curt McGirt said:

I loved it. If you don't mind me asking, what were your specific complaints with the realism of the film? It seemed pretty honest to me though I'm no historian on Moore's life. 

The movie felt more like a tall tale version of Rudy Ray's life than it did a biographical film, but IMO since he was such a talented storyteller I kinda enjoyed his story being told in a more embellished style.  

This movie has actually whetted my appetite for an honest bio of Jimmy Lynch or another unsung early blue comedian like Jimmy Thompson.

Jesus, if your ears burned while listening to Dolemite, then Thompson's materiel like King Monkey or the Bulldagger's Ball would probably set them ablaze. 

I'm still partial to blue comedy over clean comedy.  Comics seem more honest with their storytelling and observations if there is a swear word or two in there.  It may very well be a cultural thing going back to Rudy Ray and the early days of blue comedy.  Never thought of it like that before.

Edited by J.T.
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I had thought about picking Human Tornado as my choice or doing it as a bonus pick, but went with a different choice. 

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I don't think I can name a clean comedian I've ever wanted to watch. 

EDIT: Okay, there is one, and he's very obvious. But he's the exception that proves the rule. 

And nobody wants to listen to his ass anymore anyway, the motherfucker

EDIT II: My memory of Rudy actually does go a little farther. When I was a kid there was a Kroger store in town that had a video spot in the middle of the store, and I always gawked at their copies of The Human Tornado and Petey Wheatstraw. I had no idea what those movies could be as a kid. It was baffling. 

Edited by Curt McGirt
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On 2/25/2020 at 3:42 PM, Curt McGirt said:

I don't think I can name a clean comedian I've ever wanted to watch. 

EDIT: Okay, there is one, and he's very obvious. But he's the exception that proves the rule. 

And nobody wants to listen to his ass anymore anyway, the motherfucker.

I'm dying to know, but I imagine he used to have an impeccable taste in sweaters.

Me, I enjoy Brian Regan, and he's pretty inoffensive.

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2 hours ago, nate said:

I'm dying to know, but I imagine he used to have an impeccable taste in sweaters.

Maybe it was this guy.

Image result for jimmy walker clean comedian?

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SLAUGHTER (Jack Starrett, 1972)

IMDB : ROTTEN TOMATOES (NA/45%)

Selected By: @odessasteps

When the Jim Brown talk surfaced in the pre Super Bowl thread, I had to stop from saying “Hey, my movie pick for Ernie Ladd Month stars Jim Brown.” So as not to give it away.

Well, you have Jim Brown, as an ex Green Beret seeking Vengeance and young Rip Torn as a racist mobster who killed Jim’s dad. what more do you need to know? Yes, there is also the great Billy Preston theme, perhaps known to modern audiences from its use as the Hugo Stiglitz stinger in Inglorious Basterds.

And, in case the reviewer dies not dig up this trivia, director Jack Starrett played Gabby Johnson in Blazing Saddles.

Since i couldnt pick a double feature, also check outthe sequel, Slaughter’s Big Rip Off, where the big bad is mobster Ed McMahon. Yes, Ed McMahon. 

Reviewed By @JLSigman

I got Slaughter, a 1972 blaxploitation film starring former football star Jim Brown. 

As a film of that genre, it hits every bullet point: the Whites are either evil or mostly incompetent, the Black man is hyper competent and nearly indestructible, and everyone gets their just desserts in the end. This entry, unfortunately, delves into some misogynoir - the only Black woman is constantly belittled by both White men and Slaughter, despite her being one of the good guys. The music was quite good, a great mix of early 70's funk with Latin flourishes. 

I can't say I enjoyed it, but I'm not the target audience. I spent a lot of time either rolling my eyes are the awfully cheesy dialog or cringing at the blatant sexism. The version I watched on YouTube also had some occasional video glitches that had me looking for the tracking control on the VCR. 

-jls

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 NEW JACK CITY (Mario Van Pebbles, 1991)

IMDB : ROTTEN TOMATOES (77%/80%)

Selected by @J.H.

Reviewed by @odessasteps

New Jack City (1991)

Director: Mario Van Peebles

“Life is weighed on the scale of a triple beam”

I am so old that i am pretty sure i reviewed this in 1991 when i was one of the film critics at the IU student newspaper. Due to circumstances, i was not able to track it down. I think i can it a good review, but likely in the snarky way too smart for their own good college kids often write. 

This film is now an interesting relic of early 90s gangsta culture, from the music to the style. Having gone through 30 years of hip hop, The Wire, and more, there is almost a nostalgia to watching it. 

Nico Brown (Wesley Snipes) is the #1 crime lord in NYC, thanks to being at the forefront of the crack revolution. Opposing him are a bunch of “dont play by the book” cops, lead by Scotty Appleton (Ice T) and Nick Peretti (Judd Nelson). There are a number of familar faces also in the cast, including Bill Nunn, “the other” Vanessa Williams and Chris Rock as Pookie, the junkie who turns snitch. Plus cameos from a bunch of music folks, including Keith Sweat, Flava Flav and Fab Five Freddie. 

Watching this in 2020, you wonder at how many things in the movie end up as tropes, like the references to Scarface, the shootouts and the fate of Nico Brown. You can probably also include Ice-T playing a cop, given his decades on the various Law and Order shows. 

Both Ice-T and Snipes are great in the picture, as is young Chris Rock. It came up on the board recently about his acting and i thinkthis is the one performance people mention as to his dramatic ability. 

The film certainly holds up 30 years later. 

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Poor JL.  I think she should've gotten To Sir With Love.

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RIPPA seems to have a knack of giving my picks to the wrong people. 🙂

(it cant be what I'm picking, right?) 

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