Archive for Tyra Ferrell

Poetic Justice

Posted in Drama, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , on May 17, 2011 by Mystery Man

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PLOT:

Justice (Janet Jackson) is a young woman living in South Central, Los Angeles. She was named Justice by her late mother, who gave birth to her while attending law school. After the shooting death of her boyfriend (Q-Tip), the young woman becomes deeply depressed. Shortly thereafter, she meets a Post Office clerk and single father named Lucky (Tupac Shakur), who embarks with her on a trip to Oakland with Iesha and her boyfriend Chicago (played by Regina King and Joe Torry, respectively). In classic Hollywood type, the young woman’s heart opens to her suitor’s attentions as she finds a new meaning for life.

REVIEW:

Some people have called this film Boyz N the Hood lite. I really don’t understand that, since they have little in common with each other, but to each their own, I suppose.

Poetic Justice is a film about Justice, a single woman who writes these beautiful poems and her relationship with Lucky, the mailman who wants out of the ‘hood. Of course, these two don’t begin the film together, as a matter of fact when they first meet, Justice is still mourning the loss of her previous boyfriend who was shot at the drive in right in front of her, but this wouldn’t be a Hollywood production if the two didn’t get together, especially over the course of a road trip.

When this film was released there was one reason, and one reason alone, I wanted to see it…JANET JACKSON!!!

Hey, don’t judge me! I was a teenage boy at the time, and she was one of the many women plastered on my wall!

As time has passed, though, I have come to realize what a great film this is…and Janet is still a major reason for watching this!

First off, let me mention the drive-in. This is one of those pieces of Americana that seems to have disappeared overnight, so anytime I see one on-screen, I have to mention them. I wasn’t around in their heyday, but I did have the opportunity to go to a double feature at one back in 2004. I loved it! It really is a shame they can’t make a comeback!

Back to Poetic Justice…with a title like that, you know there has to be some sort of poetry, right? Well, there is, written so eloquently by Maya Angelou.

The story, albeit a bit cliché and predictable, is actually quite interesting. Seeing these characters develop as individuals and their feelings for each other is a real treat. This filmmaker really did a good job making it believable on film.

I will say, though, that the subplot with the supporting characters seemed a bit…I don’t know…either forced or forgotten, depending on how you look at it.

The themes throughout this film are probably what makes it so memorable. Urban living, single father trying to make it, etc. Real life situations that people can relate too, not to mention characters that seem like you would know them.

Janet Jackson shines in this role. It makes me wonder why she really hasn’t done more acting. I guess she didn’t want to get overexposed, she is shy after all.

Tupac…R.I.P…also does a real good job with his role and the chemistry between he and Janet had me wanting to do bad things to him. No worries, that’s a good thing…a testament to how good he was in this film. Shame his life was cut shirt before we cold see what else he could do on screen.

Poetic Justice is one of those films that has a little bit of something for everyone. Keanu Reeves is actually in here somewhere, but I didn’t see him. Do I recommend this? Yes, unless you just hate dramas, chances are you’ll thoroughly enjoy this picture.

4 1/2 out of 5 stars

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White Men Can’t Jump

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , on February 15, 2011 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Billy Hoyle (Harrelson) is a former college basketball player who makes a living hustling streetballers who assume he cannot play well because he is white. The hustle is even more provocative because, although he appears to be “a chump” and “a geek,” Hoyle never downplays his skill to increase the stakes; it is the Black basketball players’ own assumptions that are at the root of the hustle.

Such a talented but arrogant player is Sidney Deane (Wesley Snipes), a star on the Venice Beach, California outdoor courts. He is humiliated twice by Billy in front of his friends, losing a wager. But he also recognizes a good thing when he sees one and immediately begins to think of a number of ways Billy can be useful to him.

Billy and his girlfriend Gloria Clemente (Rosie Perez) are on the run from out-of-state mobsters because of a gambling debt. A voracious reader, making note of obscure facts, Gloria’s goal in life is to be a contestant on the television show Jeopardy! and make a fortune. Sidney’s mission in life is to buy a house for his family outside the rough Baldwin Village, Crenshaw District neighborhood of Los Angeles. He talks Billy into a partnership and they hustle other players for money. But when they unexpectedly lose a game, it turns out that Sidney has double-crossed Billy by deliberately playing badly alongside him, making Billy lose $1,700 to a group of Sidney’s friends.

Gloria is incensed at Billy’s blowing his money again and is also suspicious of how it happened. On the way to Sidney’s apartment, she tells Billy: “Sometimes when you win, you really lose. And sometimes when you lose, you really win. And sometimes when you win or lose, you actually tie and sometimes when you tie, you actually win or lose. Winning or losing is all one organic globule, from which one extracts what one needs.”

Once they get to Sidney’s and appeal to his wife (Tyra Ferrell) for fairness, Gloria agrees to share some of the money provided Sidney and Billy are willing to team up again for a major 2-on-2 outdoor tournament. While they bicker incessantly, Sidney and Billy do win the grand prize of $5,000, largely due to Billy’s ability to disrupt his opponents’ concentration. Billy’s most notable claim is that he is “in the zone,” a state of mind in which nothing can get in his way. Sidney is pleased with the outcome, yet he can’t help mocking Billy about his inability to slam dunk. “White men can’t jump,” he notes. Billy, however, claims that dunking the basketball is unnecessary grand-standing, while expressing a belief that guys like Sidney would “rather look good and lose than look bad and win.”

Billy insists that he can indeed dunk but Sidney clearly disagrees. Infuriated, Billy claims he is willing to bet his $2,500 on his ability to dunk. Sidney accepts and gives him three chances. Billy fails, losing the $2,500. When he tells Gloria, she leaves him. One of Sidney’s friends works as a security guard at the TV studio that produces Jeopardy!. He agrees to get her on the show, if Billy can sink a half court hook shot, which he does. To begin, Gloria stumbles over sports questions (notably naming Babe Ruth as the NBA’s leading rebounder), but makes a comeback with a pet topic, “Foods That Start With The Letter ‘Q’ “. She wins $14,100 on her first episode. Gloria and Billy get back together.

Billy sings Gloria a song he has composed to win her back. Everything in his world is all right again, but now it is Sidney who suffers misfortune and needs a favor. He and his family are burglarized and become more desperate for money. Billy is supposed to get a steady job and settle down, but Sidney needs him to play basketball for money again and use his share of Gloria’s take. Gloria warns that if Billy gambles with her money “we are through.” Billy feels he must honor the obligation he owes Sidney for getting Gloria on Jeopardy! in the first place. They play a final game against two hoops legends of the L.A. scene, “The King” and “Duck.” In a very tight game, Sidney and Billy prevail, the winning points coming when Sidney lobs an “alley-oop” pass to Billy, who dunks it.

Returning home happily, Billy discovers Gloria has kept her word and left him for good. He is crushed. Then the mobsters who are after Billy track him down and he pays off his debts. Billy once again asks Sidney to set him up with a real job. Billy says that Gloria has left him many times, but that “this is it”, and Sidney remarks “Maybe you two were better off without each other.” As the closing credits are about to roll, Billy launches into yet another basketball argument with Sidney and they are right back where they began—but, this time, as friends.

REVIEW:

 Is the title true? Well, it depends. At the time this was made, it was believed to be true, because players in the NBA such as Larry Bird never dunked. These days, I think the same is true, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Dirk Nowitzki go for a tomahawk slam over LeBron James one day.

So, what is the story here? Well, token white boy, Billy, happens across street hustler Sidney. The two form a partnership that takes them to the streetball tournament where they are to make enough to money to pay off their respective money issues. Oh, and there’s some teammate drama and something about Jeopardy! along the way.

Yeah, that’s pretty much it, and yet somehow they managed to turn this into a 2 hr film. It works, though.

The good…the dynamic between Snipes and Harrelson really drives the film forward, especially when there is friction. The trash talking that goes on at the courts always has me cracking up. Despite her annoying voice, Rosie Perez was hot in this film. The way the basketball scenes were shot, complete with slow motion, was a thing of beauty.

The bad…those hilarious scenes at the court, and one scene in the car, are the only bit of comedy we get from this film. The rest, belive it or not, can be considered drama more than anything else. While some people may have been a fan of that, I’m more of a purist. If this was meant to be a comedy, then let it be a comedy, if it was meant to be a drama, let it be a drama. I realize that Sidney and Billy were the main characters, but it seems as if the other players were just generic guys that were on a court when they were shooting. Maybe I’m alone in thinking this, but wouldn’t it have been more effective to let them, especially the guys in the finals, get a little character development?

The casting of Snipes and Harrelson as the proverbial yin and yang was a move of pure genius. Throw in a bit of…I guess we’ll say butterscotch, for Rose Perez and it really works. Of course, you know someone somewhere is wondering why their respective race isn’t represented. Some people just need something to complain about, I swear!

Someone said that they loved this film when it was initially released, but after watching it years later, it just doesn’t have the same “magic” anymore. That may be true for that particular person, bt not me. If anything, I like this flick more now than I did then. For those of you that have seen it, maybe you will, as well. As for those that haven’t…isn’t it about time to check it out?

4 out of 5 stars

Boyz N the Hood

Posted in Drama, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , on February 24, 2010 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

The film opens in 1984, focusing on three young black male youths, Tre, Doughboy and Ricky, as they grow up in South Central Los Angeles. Tre Styles is an intelligent young student but encounters disciplinary problems at a young age. His mother, Reva Devereaux (Angela Bassett), decides it would be best for her son if Tre were to live with his father, Furious Styles (Laurence Fishburne). Furious is a no-nonsense disciplinarian who teaches his son how to be a man. Tre begins his new life in South Central and reunites with old friends Doughboy, Ricky and Little Chris. Shortly after being reunited, Doughboy and Chris are arrested for shoplifting from a local convenience store.

Seven years later in 1991, the three boys lead very different lives. Tre (Cuba Gooding, Jr.) is a senior attending Crenshaw High School and also has a girlfriend, Brandi (Nia Long). Tension exists between the two because he wants to have a sexual relationship with Brandi, who resists the idea because of her Catholic faith. Ricky (Morris Chestnut) also attends Crenshaw High School where he is a star running back. Ricky has a son with his girlfriend Shanice (Alysia Rogers) and is being recruited by the University of Southern California, but needs to earn a minimum SAT score of 700 to receive an athletic scholarship. Doughboy (Ice Cube) has just been released from prison and spends most of his time hanging out with friends Chris (who now uses a wheelchair), Monster and Dooky.

In the climax of the film Ricky is murdered by members of the local Bloods with whom he had an earlier minor conflict. Doughboy, Monster and Dooky intend to retaliate to avenge Ricky’s death.

Tre, who was Ricky’s best friend, takes his father’s gun, but is stopped by Furious before leaving the house. Furious convinces Tre not to seek revenge and ruin his future. Tre seems to relent, but soon joins Doughboy and his friends on the revenge mission. Half way through the trip, Tre realizes his father was correct and returns home. Doughboy and his two friends proceed and avenge Ricky’s murder, gunning down his killers in cold blood.

The film ends the following morning with a conversation between Tre and Doughboy. Doughboy understands why Tre left the revenge mission and both lament the circumstances that exist in South Central and question whether or not they are locked in an unending cycle of violence. The end reveals that Ricky scored 710 in his SATs, and the titles reveal that Doughboy was murdered two weeks later and Tre went on to college with Brandi in Atlanta.

REVIEW:

Every now and then, a film comes out that makes people sit up and take notice. In the early 90s, Boyz N the Hood was that picture. It did such a good job of doing so that it is in the Library of Cngress’  national film registry for being culturally significant. For a film like this, that’s a bigger feat that an Academy Award. Hmm…are any of Spike Lee’s overtly racist films in there? I think not!

The good…if this film was released today, it’d be all gritty and dark, but John Singleton chose to make it a more realistic look at urban life, that is there are good times and bad. The cast, at the time, were mostly up and coming actors. I would wager that this film vaulted them into bigger and better things, most notably Cuba Gooding, Jr. and Ice Cube. The dialogue between Cube and his flunkies, if you will, make for some really entertaining scenes. Ricky’s murder makes the most sense of all the characters, and I commend the filmmakers for choosing him rather than Doughboy or Tre, neither of which would have been as effective.

The bad…its obvious that Ricky’s mother favored him, but it never is really said why, save for a slight mention that they have different dads. I know this is supposed to be about the boys and all, but they could have given us a bit more on the women in the hood, at least more on the Ricky’s baby mama and mother. I don’t know all the women, except Nia Long and Regina King, seemed sort of wasted and/or underused here. Maybe it’s just me, though.

I’m sure there are films we’ve all seen when we were younger and didn’t quite understand ro appreciate, then a few years later we watch them again and gain a newfound respect for said pictures. That’s how Boyz N the Hood is for me. I watched this when I was still in junior high, and the only thing I remembered about it was the brief sex scene. Now, I appreciate how well made this film is, not to mention the fact that it entertains as well as provides some food for thought. A definite must-see, if you ask me.

4 1/2 out of 5 stars