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Sunday, November 29, 2015





"What was his name?"

This film was kind of important to me.  Like most Americans growing up in the 80’s I saw and loved every Rocky film. Selective memory of my childhood allows me to remember little things like my first time in the theater watching The Empire Strikes Back and how I felt about Han Solo being frozen like that… no horror movie ever came CLOSE to that feeling.  I also remember walking out of Superman (Christopher Reeves) at age 3, beating everyone to the car to see if I could lift it... dead set on picking it off the ground. I also remember being in the theater with my sister(s) watching Rocky 2 in 1979 [I was four] and all of us up and out of our seats bouncing and throwing straights, hooks and haymakers at the screen alongside Rock to get that title… That, whole [entire] feeling, was recaptured in this flawlessly done masterpiece.

   Honestly, I didn’t expect much from a spin off in a series now 7 deep.  I went in hoping that the new director and screenwriter Ryan Coogler didn’t muck it up that bad… my expectations were grossly surpassed.  I almost want to delay writing about it until I had some time away from the moment. Just so you don’t get a false review based on a decent movie not being a terrible one, allow me to add that I saw it again yesterday and KNOWING what was going to happen it STILL enthralled and captured me… I’ll explain.

    The first thing I noticed was the very seamless and uncomplicated character build up with ALL the characters. Secondly the subplots were just as important as the main plot to me.  I loved the meet cute with his love interest.  The dialog boxes popping up when a new opponent was introduced to streamline the energy flow of those already tense moments.  I thought [from the trailer] that this would be a straight line from Apollo’s son learning that his father is Apollo Creed, then him seeking Rocky for help and they go on to the big fight… the path took so many detours that the longest ‘Rocky” film according to didn’t seem long at all.

  Thirdly, well, let me say it like this… usually when a cinematic franchise decides to go modern-urban they either miss the mark too high whereas it is corny or too low and the general public doesn’t feel the authenticity, common term is “too street”.  Sylvester and Ryan Coogler [dir. of Fruitvale Station] did something very unique and special. They seamlessly combined the very best of both worlds and presented it very neatly, ultimately the quintessential boxing movie that was thoroughly more than the genre itself.

    Fourthly, the action set a new precedent for captured movement in films. I don’t know if Michael B. Jordan was really taking shots or if CGI was involved.  That fact that I don’t know is just as amazing to me.  The freelance camera angles in the ring and super close-ups made each swing, connected or not, seem personal. In fact that zoom lens was used throughout the film in non-action shots too. There was an “artsy” feel to the story using the camera that way only this film wasn’t boring. Shots fired. Cue in Nas’s “Made you look”, and speaking of Nas…

   Lastly, I MUST own this soundtrack and while I am at it I will purchase the score movie music as well.  Not going to go down the film track for track but EVERYTHING just worked.  I am especially impressed with Tessa Thompson’s 3 tracks. I have a love for Electronic music.

   Definitely Worth Watching and worth owning.  Don’t wait for bluray though, go be apart of the electricity in the theater.  Almost every experience in the  theater that I’ve heard of, including my two, was a lot of crowd participation and applauding… not just at the end but throughout.  As a film lover it was pretty cool seeing my family and myself enjoying ROCKY again, even if I was watching us through the little kids a few rows in front covering up or yelling “Get Uuuuup!!!”

  Smh, marvelous.

letter grade:  A+

from the NyTimes: 
During production, he fought real fighters and had no body double. “That was him taking real punches,” Mr. Coogler said. “That was all Mike.” Mr. Jordan was routinely bloodied, bruised and dizzy — “pain,” he said, “was definitely involved” — and endured ice baths and a Chinese therapy called Gua sha. (Google image it if you dare.) Beyond the physical duress, he also had to meet the emotional demands of his role: falling in love, channeling anger and wrestling childhood demons.

Friday, November 13, 2015





"You are a kite dancing in a hurricane, Mr Bond."

    Because Skyfall was mostly an analytical scavenger hunt and all through the film we suffer with Bond trying to heal and find his way back to 00 status... I gave it a pass. I thought to myself, okay Spectre should be more action, more of everything I love about Bond… Even though Spectre was riddled with throwbacks and soft celebrations of older Bond films thinking older fans would appreciate it…  still… there wasn’t enough fun. 
 Perhaps my expectation level was too high but I wanted more scenes like “the train” scene. I “needed” a little more action and a smidgen less problem solving… Selfishly I write this knowing that after I watch it a few more times I may come to love exactly how it is but for now Spectre is 4th in the Daniel Craig Bond films.

    Just to think Christopher Nolan almost directed this film makes me cringe a bit.   Although brilliant, his films tend to be an overload of thought and concepts. Which is what I thought was exactly “wrong” with this Bond at this time in the franchise.

    I am trying not to be thin and shallow.  Like I said before I may end up loving this film after the third watch but I can not help but point out stuff like the cinematography.  It maybe just me, but I thought there just wasn’t as much beautiful scenery promoting the exotic locations I am accustomed to with Bond flicks.  I also realize people had a bit to say about the new Bond girl(s) but I certainly didn’t.  In fact, you are way off base if you think any Bond romance could add up to or equal the one in Casino Royale… Being that this was the only flick Bond found true love… No I am afraid that I am not that cynical but just enough to voice (write) these concerns.

    Sam Smith did a great job with the opening sequence music and I can only marvel at all the great artists over all the years that have continually done just an incredible job.  I sparked a debate about which artist stood atop the others and although I loved what Tina Turner did with Goldeneye, nothing comes close to Madonna’s  Die Another Day.  I still have that song in my workout playlist.

    I realize that these latest 007 flicks are constructed to dwell more in the world of realism… After all the franchise was competing with Bourne, yet another legendary title.  I have not the gall to suggest anything to a brand that has been successful throughout the age of the recent world but I would hope in the future we can revisit a more fun Bond without risking pragmatism, practicality and authenticity to the Bond universe… selfishly :)

I hope that is not asking too much.

Worth Watching.

letter grade: B-

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Black Mass




"You were just saying? "Just saying" gets people sent away. "Just saying" got me a nine-year stretch in Alcatraz, you understand? So, "just saying" can get you buried real quick"

    This movie reminded me of The Counselor, a very unfortunate waste of a very talented cast. There was absolutely nothing new here and there was nothing interesting in the script either. Sure there were some cute one-liners but… smh

   I realize gangster films may be among one of the hardest genres to write for.  Most of the best stories have already been told.  Albeit, I still expect better than this!

   Afterwards I was very surprised with Johnny Depp. He is usually very particular about the roles he chooses to undergo. Maybe the true story intrigued him somewhere growing up. *hunching shoulders*

  Definitely NOT worth watching!

letter grade:

The Gift




"Life is like a coin, you can spend it on whatever you want to... but you can only spend it once."

Psychological thriller defined to a perfect “T”.  I loved how the film slowly brought me into the lives of all the characters in this story and then scrambled my eggs before sending me home.  I didn’t feel as the film tried too hard to be complex.  There was a natural progression of connecting with the three main characters. I genuinely cared about their origins, well being, purpose in this story, etc.  In the process I thought I knew how each would turn out but I was wrong and that is what made this “psycho thriller” so right!
I really recommend this film, it is definitely worth watching!!

letter grade: A

War Room




"Very few of us know how to fight the right way."

This has to be one of the most important films since Fireproof!! I think the movie should be seen by everyone.  I enjoyed it immensely.  Be aware of some shabby acting even though the story itself more than balances the scale for an incredible experience at the show.

Worth watching!!

letter grade:

Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation




"I can neither confirm nor deny any details about any operation without the permission of the Secretary."

  Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation stayed true to the MI infrastructure which has made it’s brand a legendary franchise.  That should bode well for most of us and then again perhaps not...  I observed a few complaints about the predictability of the storyline despite the film’s loyalty to the original fanbase.  Objectively, I can see both sides even though I lean more towards respecting the brand and not trying to be something else.  Risky transformations of identity can work and I cite Fast Five quickly but risky tuns tricky promptly…  if you lose the core audience.  

   The IMF is always running the risk of being shut down but that threat is imminent this narrative.  I really found this story interesting and unpredictable, two characteristics of any successful movie.  I thought this was one of the better chapters in the MI gift set.


   Quick notation of a pleasantly hidden easter egg, I love the soft reverence to the classic Casablanca. Not only was a portion of the story there but the lead actress's name is Ilsa. The actress Rebecca Ferguson is Swedish like Ingrid Bergman… Selfishly I had to point that out because remember, Casablanca made my 15 Greatest Films of All-Time [so far] list.

 So!!!  Worth Watching in my book!
letter grade: B+

The Most Insane Tom Cruise Stunts Ever!
Tom Cruise has quite the reputation for performing his own stunts...I had NO idea he did THIS many! #MPOriginal
Posted by Moviepilot Video on Monday, August 17, 2015