Showing posts with label Aparajito (movie review). Show all posts
Showing posts with label Aparajito (movie review). Show all posts

Friday, December 19, 2014

Chris Rock's New Movie "Top Five" and The Week in Reviews

[I review Chris Rock's new movie "Top Five," the DVDs "Make Your Move" and "22 Jump Street" and the book "Marianne Faithfull - A Life on Record."  I also bring you up to date on my "My 1001 Movies I Must See Before I Die Project" and my "A-HA Moment of the Week."]

Stand-up comic, Andre Allen (Chris Rock), wants to be taken seriously, so he has given up stand-up, given up "funny movies," given up alcohol and bankrolled a serious film about a Haitian uprising.  But now he's worried.

Andre made a name for himself as Hammy the Bear in a series of superhero cop films where he wears a bear suit and shoots his AK-47 while shouting "It's Hammy Time!" but now he's had it with funny and wants to be serious (reminds me of "Birdman").  He is also trying to maintain his hard-earned sobriety and fears that now he is sober, he is no longer funny. His new film "Uprize," about a little known Haitian uprising where the slaves killed 50,000 whites, is due to open and his televised wedding to a reality star, Erica Long (Gabrielle Union), is the next big thing.  Enter Chelsea Brown (Rosario Dawson), an attractive, smart reporter from the New York Times who wants to interview Andre and we have our conflict, friends.  Well, one of them, anyway. 

Chelsea and Andre walk around New York City talking about life, relationships, and failures in what look to be Rock's homage to Richard Linklater's "Before Series (that makes sense because he starred with Julie Delpy in "Two Days in New York," Delpy starring and writing the "Before" movies).

Rock, who wrote, directed and stars, lampoons and questions reality TV, fame, sobriety, black comics, art and even the meaning of life.

Many of Rock's comic friends have cameos:  Cedric the Entertainer, Sherri Shepherd, Jerry Seinfeld, Adam Sandler, Whoopi Goldberg, Tracy Morgan (before his accident), JB Smoove as his goes on and on.

Andre giving up his "funny" films for more serious pursuits is reminiscent of Woody Allen when he moved away from films like "Sleeper," "Annie Hall" and "Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex" to his Bergman phase with "Interiors."  Allen acknowledged that in "Stardust Memories," where several characters talk about his filmmaking, "especially the early funny ones."  Rock seems to be channeling Allen in his neurotic rants.

There are a lot of "M" words and "N" words and "F" words, and very raunchy sex scenes, but despite that, there is a sweetness about this film as Rock works out how to bring personal meaning to his life.  

Rosy the Reviewer says...if you like Chris Rock, it's a funny enjoyable film, but not as funny as his stand-up can be. 

You Might Have Missed
(And Some You Will Be Glad You Did)
Make Your Move (2013)

Donny (Derek Hough of "Dancing with the Stars" fame) and Aya (South Korean pop singer BoA) find themselves in the center of a feud between their brothers and the brothers' competing nightclubs.

Romeo and Juliet anyone?

Donny is an ex-con trying to make it dancing on the street for tips. Without getting permission from his parole officer, Donny heads to New York City to visit his brother who owns a nightclub, thinking he can earn money dancing there.  However, he unwittingly walks into a feud between his brother and his brother's former partner, Kaz, who has opened up a rival nightclub.

Naturally Kaz has a younger sister (Aya) and naturally Donny immediately falls for her.

Derek's acting is better than expected.  I can't say the same for BoA.  Nor can I say the same for the dialogue. It's a simplistic plot that allows for lots of dancing and the dancing is good.  So see this for the dancing.

But, though Derek made his fame as the Fred Astaire of "Dancing with the Stars," don't expect to see Derek doing any ballroom.  In this film he exercises his tapping and hip hop chops, something we don't get to see him do much of on "Dancing With The Stars."

People familiar with "So You Think You Can Dance" will recognize choreographers Tabitha and Napoleon ("Nappytabs" to us in the Biz) who are known on that show for their original hip hop routines and those abound here to great effect.

Rosy the Reviewer says...the plot is slim, but if you are a Derek Hough fan, there is lots of Derek here, but don't expect any ballroom dancing.  This is strictly tap tap and hip hop.

22 Jump Street (2014)

It's "21 Jump Street" all over again (not to be confused with the Johnny Depp TV show), except this time Schmidt (Jonah Hill) and Jenko (Channing Tatum) have finally graduated from high school and are headed for college.

Captain Dickson (Ice Cube) sends Schmidt and Jenko off to college to try to find out who is dealing a synthetic drug. Jenko is immediately popular and is seduced by a football playing fraternity brother. Together they decide they will make the "anals of football history (that's the kind of humor).  Jenko buys the whole thing: college, football, the fraternity. 

Jenko is the dummy and Schmidt is the smart-ass, but they are both pretty clueless, hence the humor.  I guess you would call that humor.

When they first arrive, Jenko stands looking at the college campus and emotionally says, "It's just I'm the first person in my family to pretend to go to college."  

The best line in the movie.

Schmidt's and Jenko's partnership is like a marriage so when Jenko finds a new bestie, Schmidt gets jealous. This alliance leads to Schmidt and Jenko breaking up in one of the few funny scenes.

"Maybe we should just investigate other people."

"You want an open investigation?"

And then they get back together for a "one time hookup" to catch the bad guys.

I laughed at those bits, but then it was all downhill after that. 

The film is aimed at the 13-22 age group so there is lots of action.  It starts out with an action scene on a racing semi that reminded me of some of the stunts on "Fear Factor."  The last half hour is nothing but fights, shoot 'en ups and car chases with a final preposterous helicopter stunt.

The whole thing is pretty preposterous, actually, which wouldn't be so bad if the movie was funny.  It has it's moments, but it's mostly silly stuff aimed at the prepubescent male and women who can't get enough of Channing Tatum (ahem).

If you don't take my advice and do see this movie, watch the credits.  It's the funniest part.

Rosy the Reviewer says...However, it's not a good sign when the funniest part of the film is the credits where they list upcoming undercover assignments for future "Jump Street" movies - medical school, culinary school, flight school, ballet school, retirement goes on and on all the way to "40 Jump Street."  All I can say is god help us.

***My 1001 Movies I Must See Before I Die Project***

293 to go! 
Aparajito (1957)

The second installment of the "Apu Trilogy" finds Apu leaving home to attend college.

Satyajit Ray was an Indian filmmaker considered one of the greatest auteur directors of all timeHis films are de rigeur in film school and in classes on film.
The Apu Trilogy comprises three films: Pather Pachali (1955), which I reviewed early in this project, this film, Aparajito (1956) and Apur Sansar (1959). Ray decided to use Pather Panchali (1928), the classic Bildungsroman of Bengali literature, as the basis for his first film. The semi-autobiographical novel describes the coming of age of Apu, a small boy in a Bengal village and we follow him through the next two films that comprise the trilogy.

Why it's a Must See: "As befits its midway status, [this film] forms the bridge in Ray's trilogy.  It opens up the timeless, self-contained life of Pather Panchali's Bengali village to the disruptive influence of the city, showing Ray's young hero torn between two world's, gradually and inevitably growing away from his parents.  As always, Ray doesn't load the dice in favor of one character or another.  We understand why Apu feels compelled to seek the wider world; we share his delight in learning his sense of personal achievement.  At the same time, however, we see [his mother's] pain; she's lost her daughter to an early death, now she's losing her son."
---1001 Films You Must See Before You Die."

Ray's power lies in his ability to tap that core of humanity to which we can all relate and make the viewer feel what his characters are feeling.  He himself said:

"If you're able to portray universal feelings, universal relations, emotions, and characters, you can cross certain barriers and reach out to others."

The original music for the films was composed by Ravi Shankar.

Rosy the Reviewer says...if you fancy yourself a film aficionado, Ray's films are a must.

Alice (1988)

A reworking of the "Alice in Wonderland" tale from Czech filmmaker Jan Svankmajer.
Svankmajer is a director, an animator and a puppeteer and he employs all of those skills to tell the "Alice" tale once again in a surreal and quite frightening way.
Why it's a Must See:  "In Svankmajer's conception, the disposable products of domestic life (such as rulers, socks, jars and buttons) become the raw material for gothic splendor.  And Lewis's familiar characters...are here more creepy than charming; as one critic writes, 'they're partly enchanted, partly haunted, and there's a...trace of formaldehyde.'"
Just think if Salvador Dali retold "Alice in Wonderland."  That's what this is like.
Rosy the Reviewer says...strangely beautiful, but not for everyone.  But for those of you who are subtitle phobic, it's dubbed!

***Book of the Week***

Marianne Faithfull - A Life on Record by Marianne Faithfull (2014)

A coffee table book about Faithfull that coincides with the 50th anniversary of the debut of her single "As Tears Go By."


Faithfull is probably most famous as Mick Jagger's girlfriend through the swinging 60's. This is not a memoir, but a series of photographs of Faithfull taken by famous photographers and with her handwritten captions.

Faithfull was an icon of pop culture for the 60's and despite some early success as a singer and actress, her real success came later with her breakthrough album "Broken English," her once sweet voice ironically ravaged by drug use. 


Rosy the Reviewer $65 for this, for Marianne Faithfull superfans only.  All others would learn more about her by reading her autobiography, "Faithfull (2000)."

***My A-HA Moment of the Week***
It's actually more of a Wow! moment.  Hello Kitty is not a cat!  According to Sanrio, she is a little girl.  Who knew?  Now you know.


Thanks for Reading!


That's it for this week.


See you Tuesday for

"What The Holidays Mean To Me"


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