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Posts Tagged ‘Dave Chappelle’

life

Life: I’m neither a fan of Eddie Murphy nor Martin Lawrence. Give me Katt Williams, Anthony Anderson or Dave Chappelle any day of the week. Thankfully, director Ted Demme’s Life doesn’t aspire to be one of those bid-budget comedies, it just happens to find irreverent humour in tragic situations. Eddie and Martin excel in their roles; the two ‘legendary’ comedians act their little hearts out like never before and sadly never after. The film starts off as a buddy comedy about two African American New Yorkers – one a hustler (Ray Gibson), the other an aspiring bank teller (Claude Banks) – landing in jail, thanks to a dead body and the apathetic American legal system. So Claude, an otherwise straight-edge guy, is sentenced along with Ray to a lifetime’s worth imprisonment at the infamous Camp 8 in Mississippi. Of course, he doesn’t plan on forgiving Ray anytime soon for leading him so far astray from the life he had planned.

Life Eddie Murphy

Anderson, Bernie Mac, Obba Babatunde, Miguel Núnez play fellow prisoner stuck under sweltering Mississippi sun. Bernie is especially friggin hilarious as Jangle Leg; his random muttering is the stuff that a Jerry Lewis skit could have been built around. Also, Nick Cassavetes, writer of Alpha Dog and Blow, is wicked as Sergeant Dillard – a character you would love to hate, but just can’t seem to find the reason to. Things really pick up when Ray and Claude get into a heated argument and decide that they in fact hate each other. The film then changes its pace and colour and becomes an idyllic prison drama in which only cynicism towards death has a genuinely funny punchline.

At one point the narrator mentions how he “didn’t see nothing special the first time Ray and Claude walked into the cage. They were just a couple of fools whose luck had run out”. Initially, I didn’t see much I liked about the film either, but unlike its real counterpart, Life evolves into something better than most people give it credit for.

The Hamiltons

The Hamiltons: Good independent horror films are surprisingly easy to find. The reason why so many of them work so well is because their directors do everything they can to defy the accepted norms of giving us chills and thrills. Gone are tediously predictable bloodbaths, little girl ghosts, celebrity cameos and overblown CGI effects (or at least desperate attempts of having such); instead a craving for conspicuously deranged storylines, with minimal gloss and a fetish for understating evil gave rise to the indie horror genre.

The Hamiltons, directed by Mitchell Altieri and Phil Flores a.k.a The Butcher Brothers, tells a tale of four orphaned siblings trying to make sustain a normal household in American suburbia. The eldest David (Samuel Child) is the breadwinner, desperate to be the glue that keeps the family together; the twins – Wendell (Joseph McKelheer) and Darlene (Mackenzie Firgens) – are the creepiest of lot, with their sociopathic behavior proving to be more and more dangerous. The youngest – Francis (Cory Knauf) – is the odd sibling out and for reasons far more unpredictable and gloomier than one would imagine. The only thing that slightly irked me was the hype of the climax that I had eagerly bought from Bloody Disgusting website’s (my bad, not theirs) glowing review of the film.

Hamiltons Butcher Brothers

See, Bloody Disgusting is the one place that I consistently go to for feeding on horror films…they have an excellent archive of lesser known stuff, as well as pretty convincing reviews that make me want to torrent whatever they praise, but I thought they sort of overrated the “big” secret at the end. Matter of fact I thought the climax was absolutely perfect only because it lacked a proper twist that might have left me with a bad aftertaste. When a film moves at such a pace, it is only fitting that it ends with a whimper – one that warms the audience to the whimsies of indie filmmaking while keeping in close quarters all the ingredients that make for a fantastic horror film.

Sick-Girl

Sick Girl: Just so you know, I have always hated the ‘torture porn’ tag that new age slasher flicks have learnt to live and die by. It just sounds friggin vile; might as well lump shitty romantic comedies into the ‘scat porn’ category. Well, Eben McGarr’s Sick Girl is proof that independent, unpaid critics are idiots who jump to conclusions and more importantly, gives validity to calling such films as “torture porn”. See, my croonies, it is common knowledge that sex and pain are bedmates and even the wantonly dumb Chicks on Flicks on Sony Pix would tell you that cinema is one voyeuristic bastard. Imagine if you must…a bunch of normal (heh) people sitting in front of our laptops,getting strangely aroused by the pain inflicted on others. Remember James Wan’s Saw and how excited we were about the climax? A nice enough chap mutilated in front of our eyes and whose only ray of hope is extinguished with the speed and velocity of a Japanese freight train and all that most of us could say was, “oh that shit’s just fucking cool”. Even if the arousal probably had nothing to do with sexual desire, it still indicative of the extent that we, humans, would go in search of stimulation.

Having said all that, director Eben McGarr doesn’t just bait the audience with blood, gore and clumsy violence. There is a pretty interesting story that binds all the severed human bits together. The principle characters – Izzy (Leslie Andrews), Barney (John McGarr) and Kevin (Charlie Trepany) – are tremendous, as well. Leslie, in particular, is super fucking gnarly as Izzy Shea – the psychotic sister who guards her kid brother and her home in small rural town near California while waiting for her elder brother Rusty to find his way back from the war. I’m telling you, she could bitchslap The Bride, O-Ren Ishii and the entire cast of Charlie Angels with one arm tied behind her back.  I really dug John McGarr’s character too; he plays a kind-hearted biker who happens to be the only other person Izzy allows to befriend her little brother Kevin.

The extent of graphic violence in Sick Girl could have been toned down slightly; Izzy going berserk on the teenagers towards the end is a bit hard to stomach. Leaps and bounds better than any of those stupid teen slasher movies, but falls just short of forming a really good argument against the ungainly ‘torture porn’ tag. Now all I have to figure out is whether that’s a good thing.

Borderland

Borderland: Zev Berman’s Borderland is another film that shows how twisted and vulnerable the human psyche can be. There is even the obligatory ‘based on a true story’ line, just to remind us that the stuff that these directors think of pales in comparison to the shit that happens in real life. I’ll keep this one short…three friends go to a colourful town near the US-Mexican border to (a) get laid (b) get drunk (c) get laid again. Instead of the expected binge, they (a) get their skulls opened (b) get their limbs mutilated (c) get on the bad side of a human sacrifice cult. For what it’s worth, the torture sequence with the hapless police officer is truly cringe-worthy. His other film Briar Patch seems much more interesting. Borderland – strictly recommended for those who enjoyed a good meal while watching Hostel.

the_commitments

The Commitments: I really really wanted to like Alan Parker’s The Commitments – a film about an aspiring soul band in Dublin looking to make waves in pop culture at the behest of their manager. Most of the actors in the film are actually real-life members of the band The Commitments, so like the dude in IMDB tells us – “the key players in this movie were not chosen for their acting abilities, but rather for their musical talent”. In case you didn’t know, Alan Parker is the dude who directed Pink Floyd’s The Wall movie, the excellent Mathew Modine-starrer Birdy and Midnight Express. Hold on, I have got one more…the film was based on a Roddy Doyle novel!

Despite all these delightfully awesome details, something went wrong that made the film less enjoyable than I had hoped. Maybe the music (as good as it actually is) totally overshadowed the storyline. Maybe the humour was too one-sided to remain funny after an hour. Whatever it was, it dulled my senses towards the film.

Like I said, the music is pretty good (the singer sounds a lot like Joe Cocker) and none of the characters overstay their welcome, but towards the end I was left with the feeling of ‘meh could have been better”. Colm Meaney, who plays Elvis enthusiast Jimmy Rabbit Sr., gets in the best line of the film – “That’s fuckin’ blasphemy. Elvis wasn’t a Cajun”. Now everybody get your hands on Michael Winterbottom’s 24 Hour Party People.

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chappelle1Thanks to external influences and an explosive urge to laugh the fuck out, Jerry has downloaded Season 1 and 2 of the Dave Chappelle Show. After the watching the entire lot over the past weekend, I can definitely testify that Chappelle is one of the funniest mofos out there.

Quite possibly, my favourite skits from the show

When Keepin’ It Real Goes Wrong

Tyrone Biggums’ Intervention

The Racial Draft

I’m Wayne Brady, Bitch

A Moment In The Life Of Lil Jon

Prince vs Dave Chappelle

Charlie Murphy’s True Hollywood Story of Rick James

You can also watch the entire lot (I think) at Comedy Central

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Firstly, big props to Jerry for the steady flow of bittorrent downloads. I pretty much spent the weekend tripping out episodes from the Dave Chappelle Show and Werner Herzog films. Keep em coming, son.

dave-chappelles-block-partyDave Chappelle’s Block Party: For the past two decades, Dave Chappelle has been a lot of things. A socially relevant intellectual. Brilliant comedian. Burned out performer. Guy who wrote a poem called Fuck Ashton Kutcher. The man who turned down 50 million dollars for the sake of integrity. Rick James…bitch. And once, during the summer of 2004, documentary scriptwriter of a fantastic, quirky documentary called Dave Chappelle’s Block Party. Directed by Michael Gondry (yes, that Gondry), Block Party was filmed a few months after the 50 million dollar announcement. In fact, many saw Chappelle’s attempt at hosting a free comedy-hip hop concert at Brooklyn as some sort of a reiteration of the stand he had taken in refusing HBO’s big ass contract. Maybe that’s why dedications run wild in this documentary. Giving props to legendary musicians, fallen comrades, and the unified beat to which Brooklyn’s ghettos get their shit together to, the documentary seems to be inspired by Chappelle’s sense of nostalgia; a sincere tribute to his proverbial roots, if you will.chappelle-block-party-08

It’s also quite the picture to see his fellow brethren from hip-hop community hit that nostalgia pipe and smoke out mesmerizing performances. From the legendary Mos Def, Roots, Common and Kanye West (with a phenomenal orchestral version of Jesus Walks) to the neo goddess of soul Jill Scott, Dead Prez and ghetto poet Talib Kweli, the music from and inspired by Block Party is a fucking beast.

Oh and there’s the little incident of…you know, Fu-fucking-gees reunion! I’d like to say that the Fugees breaking their seven-year itch with the music industry is worth the price of the disc, or if you are thieving bastards like us, the time taken for the download…but a dragging version of Killing Me Softy (my least favourite Lauryn Hill moment) prevents me from saying so. I’m going to go with Dead Prez and their totally fucking gnarly version of their 2000 classic – Hip Hop. I swear, MC Stic Man is to freestyling as a chainsaw is to killing. Dave Chappelle’s there too. Ripping on the crowd, pulling fast ones, and taking us, the audience, on a personal tour of the Brooklyn corners, which gave birth to the fire that shot his wisecracking ass to celebrity status. Great stuff.

beyondreasonBeyond Reason: A basic knowledge of rocket science is not a pre-requisite to knowing that BBC television executive Alan Yentob worships Werner Herzog. To such an extent that he decides to make a documentary of the man himself as part of the Imagine series with BBC. In fact, so much that at times, I got the impression that he was eagerly looking to pick apart the more palpably human side of Werner Herzog in an effort to almost demystify the legend.

Quite simply put, Beyond Reason is one man’s attempt at documenting a story of a filmmaker and condensing it down to an hour. Now it would have worked if he were talking about Spielberg or perhaps, Tom Hanks. Celebrities and artists whose lives has symbolically followed similar pattern to the characters they have played or created. There’s pre-Hollywood ‘I slept on park benches’ nostalgia, then the prolonged fellatio sequence with major Hollywood producers, and the obligatory post-drug use or hugging trees and orphans or whatever.

But how do you tell a story of someone as complex as Werner Herzog, both as a man and a filmmaker?

werner-herzog-and-klaus-kinskiEspecially, considering the sheer amount of controversies and unsolved puzzles around the man. Did he really hold actor Klaus Kinski at gunpoint? Did he let intoxicated dwarves perform impromptu stunts on his car? Did he really direct Christian Bale? He did WHAT to that ship in Peru? And why the hell is Harmony Korine talking about Herzog? Beyond Reason offers a few answers, but with Herzog’s penchant for drama, most of the questions just keep coming back with a greater degree of tolerance. The most interesting part, I felt, was the prolongation of a debate that questioned his efforts at seeking the truth that so purposefully eludes artists and thinkers alike. Few have even opined that he is so infatuated with the search that Herzog sometimes manipulates people who are featured in his documentaries to corroborate his version of what the truth should be.

Personally, I have always thought of the German filmmaker as a creator rather than an observer. I see little point in such men merely chronicling events over which they have absolutely no control. As gloriously twisted and ironic that our real world is, I must say that it still is nowhere close to deserving a filmmaker’s trust for leaving it alone to tell a story. I’ll eat popcorn and watch scenes from Werner Herzog’s world all day, thank you very much.

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