Archive for the '4 Star' Category

28
May
08

Super Disco Friends – Dimitri from Paris and DJ Muro

Super Disco Friends – Dimitri from Paris and DJ Muro [2005]

Yes, everyones favorite DJ is back. Although born in Turkey, and of Greek decent, most people simply know him as Dimitri from Paris. Or ‘Dim’ for short.

This time he has brought with him another huge underground DJ. DJ Muro from Japan. Dim’s favorite past time is record digging, and while on hunt for rare gems, he met DJ Muro. While Dim was into soul and disco, Muro was into hip-hop. But they very similar taste, because hip-hops origins and roots come from soul and disco.

DJ Muro took him to a club in Japan where he began spinning tracks. Dimitri was blown away by his skill, and also the fact that he was playing sweet jams even Dimitri could not name. Although there was a language barrier, they got along great and decided to bring their collections together to make compilation album.

DJ Muro is big into early hip-hop. A/B rhyme scheme and old school breaks. Dimitri on the other hand loves late 70’s disco and rare dance beats. The two decided to make their album a tribute to the emerging block party scene in late 70’s and early 80’s.

This album is definitely another side of Dimitri most may have not seen. Gone are his white tuxedo and 60’s MOD hair styles. Instead, as shown above, he goes for the RUN DMC leather fedora and Adidas sweats. And I gotta say its a transition that is easy for him to pull off.

I am a HUGE fan of pretty much any black inspired music of the decades all the way up to the 90’s. Soul, R&B, Funk, Disco, and Rap are all expert areas for me. While this may seem out of character to some, to me it is not at all. Rap began as a way to get the crowd going at parties. Little short rhymes here or there done over breaks in the disco songs. Its a simple and easy marriage.

The album consists of 2 CD’s. Both CD’s feature old school rap and breaks. The first one is Dimitri’s go at it called “The Underdogs”. Almost every track is pure art. My favorites right now include:

Get Fly – TJ Swan

Boggie to the Bop – Mantus and Omega 88

Family Affiar (Instrumental) – Family

Very funky. Family Affair is a AWESOME break that makes me want to work on more break-dancing moves right away. And could someone tell me who the hell TJ Swan is?!?! Man that track is hot, but I cant shake that it sounds like a rap from a dancing video game.

The second CD is DJ Muro’s turn to show his stuff. Its no wonder Dim chose him to work with. He really is one of the best hip-hop DJ’s in Japan. And he knows his stuff too! His disc is called “The Foundation”. Current favorites include:

Positive Life – Harlem World, Lovebug Starski

Nobody Can Be You – Steve Arrington’s Hall of Fame

I Just Wanna Do My Thing – Edwin Starr

Ultimate Rap (Holiday Rec) – Nice & Nasty

Ultimate Rap and Positive Life are great A/B rhyme scheme party raps. Great beats and great lyrics. I Just Wanna Do My Thing sounds like a 70s barbecue sauce commercial. In a good way. But my only criticism of Muro is not that bad at all. Its only that his tracks are all cut short. Like one of my favorites, Nobody Can Be You, is barley over a minute. I’m hungry and I want my prime cuts in large slabs.

Dimitri’s average song is 5-7 minutes long, where as Muro’s are 2-3. This may not be such a bad thing as it depends on where your coming from. Old soul and disco are known for 12″ LP’s that last forever with large instrument solos. Where as hip-hop is all about the break beat, or the small part of the song that is your favorite. So, I think this is merely a matter of taste.

I’m gonna go with 4 stars for now. Its not the best Dimitri from Paris I have heard, but it sure gives the best a run for its money. If you are looking for this kind of music, or this era, I dont think you could ever find anything more up your alley.

 

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03
May
08

Day of the Dead

Day of the Dead [1985]

George A. Romero continues half horror, half human commentary in his living dead series with Day of the Dead. Taking place after Dawn of the Dead and just before Land of the Dead, Day of the Dead deals with some key developments in the series.

We start in Florida with a group of human survivors after the zombie infestation. Although very small, this group is organized into 3 parts. Military, doctors, and working civilians. Their goals are to find other survivors, wait for word from Washington D.C., and continue scientific research on zombies.
The movie revolves primarily around ‘Sarah’ (Lori Cardille). But many others are key players too. Such as Dr. Logan (Richard Liberty). Although very kind, he is somewhat of a mad scientist. He shrugs off the nickname ‘Frankenstein’ and continues his research. Other doctors search for a cure. He believes that will take far more time and research than they may have left on this planet. Instead, he focuses his time on trying to find a method of domesticating them, or as he says “…teaching them to behave…”
His most promising subject is a zombie named after Logan’s father. Simply ‘Bub’. Bub is showing great progress as he tries to grasp concepts from his former human life. If you put a book in front of him, he picks it up and slowly attempts to turn the pages as if to read.
Despite the progress, the 3 groups are NOT cooperating well, and the new military commander is becoming a dictator. There is a lot of stress when you have been living in an underground base and you have the same contact with the same 12 people. No fancy dinners, no radio, no TV, no companionship of the opposite sex… As ego’s rise and tempers flare, the humans become more dangerous to each other than the zombies ever were.
Well, without giving too much away, this zombie movie is damn good. Romero’s carrier has highs and lows, and this is very much one of his highs. Most his movies deal with a social commentary if you will… It is often cited, but is without a doubt at its most strongest with Day of the Dead. You get a ironic contrast with ‘Bub’ the somewhat nice zombie, and the evil dictator like military commander Capt. Rhodes (Joe Pilato). The humans start to wonder if they deserve this terrible fate. Because they cannot treat each other with any decency. Its beautifully done. I absolutely loved the story.
The special effects (or EFX as they were called back then) are second to none. Tom Savini once again easily proves why he is the king of preCGI special effects. Simply a terrific job on his part. And that also has to do with the violence. The violence was powerful, horrifying and gratuitous. Man, there were quite a few times where I screamed in pain as something was happening to someone! Now that’s entertainment! Oh yeah! The soundtrack was super 80s eerie. Very well done.
B u t . . . not all is perfect in this zombie infestation. Just as horrifying as movie was the horrifying acting. I found most of it to be quite amateur. Like a play where everyone from your church or school has to participate. Sure, some are better than others… even OK… but there is 80% bad ones dragging you down. And it really doesn’t help the movie…
Which leaves me with this. 4 stars. Very good for a zombie movie, almost to the very top! But there has been much better acting in zombie films. And line after line, this one slowly drains itself of a 5 star rating.
03
May
08

Electra Glide in Blue


Electra Glide in Blue [1973]

Someone once said, “Electra Glide in Blue is the best movie you have never heard of.” Whoever said that, I would most defiantly have to agree. Before I tell you why I found this so entertaining, lets start with the basics.

Robert Blake stars as ‘John Wintergreen’. Wintergreen is sometimes referred to as ‘Big John’, a tease as to his very short height. John is a motorcycle cop in Arizona. Along with his partner ‘Zipper’ (Billy Green Bush), they lead a boring job writing tickets and citations. Zipper is just fine with that, but Big John has big dreams.

He wants to become a detective and get all the glitz and glamour that goes along with it. Well, a murder falsely set up as a suicide give him the chance to prove his detective skills. And as he plays his usual “by the book” routine, he finds people on both sides of the law are constantly trying to bend it in their favor. While searching for the murderer, he listens to what everyone says rather than listening to the voice within himself, telling him what he knew was true all the long.

But you know, living “by the book” and listening to yourself can only get you so far, and John Wintergreen has a few more lessons to learn before the credits roll.

Electra Glide in Blue is an odd little movie. This movie is very difficult to write about. It really must be seen to appreciate its full beauty. There is no ONE climax that the movie builds around. Rather, several small ones. It keeps the flow smooth and always ready for the next moment. I have not seen any other Robert Blake movies, but from what I hear, this is his best performance. I don’t doubt that one bit. This performance is nothing short of perfect. You feel like John Wintergreen is a real person. Most likely someone you have met in real life before. Also, Billy Green Bush does a fantastic job as Zipper. Someone get this man a best supporting actor nomination please!! The same can go for Mitchell Ryan playing detective ‘Harve Pool’. Yes, I know hes the dad from ‘Dharma & Greg’, but a role like this shows he can do much more.

The story and acting are so gripping, they suck you in the middle immediately. It makes you think on many multilayer levels. After pulling your thoughts and emotions in so many directions, its hard to find a common theme in the movie. But as confused as it may seem, its really a beautiful piece of work. When you see Wintergreen put on his detective suit for the first time, or when you see him pull over a Vietnam vet truck driver, or when you see Zipper’s joy to show off his new bike, it all feels so real, it could be a documentary almost. Maybe slightly exaggerated, but still real to life none the less 🙂

This is a wonderful movie, but its not perfect. People put this in the stunt car movie category. They say the motorcycle chase scene is like ‘Vanishing Point’ or ‘Gone in 60 seconds’. If you are watching it for this reason, prepare to be disappointed. There is only one chase scene, and it seems to only last one minute. It is very well done, but still, this is not a ‘chase’ or ride by the seat of your pants type movie.

Although I have high praises, I’m not sure this movie is a 5 star complete classic. Some people may find it useless and boring. You will at the very least be entertained however. After much thought between 3, 4, and 5 stars, I have decided to give it a 4. Hopefully, you will see why, if you have a different opinion, let me know! That’s why we have comments! 🙂

03
May
08

Jackie Brown

Jackie Brown [1997]

Pam Grier stars as ‘Jackie Brown’ in Quentin Tarantino’s film adaptation of the now famous novel ‘Rum Punch’.

The film has an all-star cast including not only Pam Grier, but Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Forster, Robert De Niro, Michael Keaton, and Bridget Fonda as well.

Jackie works as a flight attendant for a small Mexican airline. However, the pay is minimal, so she is involved in bringing illegal money into the country for a ruthless, low-life weapons dealer, Ordell Robbie (Jackson). As the police begin to crack down on Ordell, they take various people into custody, including Jackie Brown. Fearing his employees may snitch, Ordell begins to find ways to ‘silence’ them.

Max Cherry (Robert Forster) a bail bondsmen, comes to Jackie’s rescue and begins to fall deeply for her. Together the two plan an elaborate scheme to get Ordell’s cash money, ditch the cops, and leave their dead end lives behind. This proves difficult as the police are watching their every move. Not only that, but Ordell has his own movers and shakers including Louis Gara (Robert De Niro) and Melanie Ralston (Bridget Fonda) to put the squeeze on them.

I find this movie to be one of the most solid movies available. The script is tight, the acting is the best around, and the story telling is fantastic! They really found a diamond in the rough with Pam Grier. Other than her skin color, you would never guess she got her start in Blaxploitation films. She carries herself with such a presence, you would swear she studied at Juilliard. Not only that, she look amazing for 48 (at the time of the films release). Another star that shines perhaps more than it was intended to, was Robert Forster as Max. Forster does a terrific job as a gentle, reliable, and tough when necessary aging man. His performance is defiantly reminiscent of the leading roles in classic western movies. And when this old ‘square’ white guy falls in love with a slick sista, he preforms it innocently and makes it more than realistic.

On the villain side, Samuel L. Jackson does a terrific job in what I think is one of his best roles ever. He perfectly walks the fine line between too cool for school and paranoid. If you had your own personal Samuel L. Jackson, you could throw out your microwave, because his stone cold gazes would heat your food up in a jiffy. As usual, you can count on Bobby De Niro to bring his A game. People thinking acting dumb is easy. I find it to be one of the most challenging roles an actor can take on. Like Sylvester Stallone in Cop Land, Robert De Niro plays it second nature. Trust me, its much harder than it looks. Both together seem harmless, but the danger is real when you cross them.

The story is awesome, and much like Scorsese’s Casino or Goodfellas, you are taken for a ride by the seat of your pants, with every factor explained to you in detail. The only thing I could find wrong with this movie, was Jackie gets off the hook a little too easy, and Ordell’s last scene has no real satisfaction.

But overall, it was so well done, it effortlessly deserves 4 stars. Its very close to a 5 star, but I just don’t see it as a movie you would love to show off to all your friends when they come over. It being over 2 and 1/2 hours makes it hard to pop in over and over.

03
May
08

Mean Streets

Mean Streets [1973]

Martin Scorsese takes us on a honest and turbulent journey through Little Italy. This is done in the eyes of Charlie (Harvey Keitel). Charlie is always searching for something with a deeper meaning. Wether its the local mafia, church, or his friendships, he strives for a greater connection. Unfortunately, for Charlie, all seems to be against each other. Within the mafia he wants to move up. Within the church, he seeks true salvation. And within his friendships, he feels the need to protect and look out for those less fortunate than him.

Enter Johnny Boy (Robert De Niro). Johnny Boy is a character most of us in life have known. And if you don’t recognize him, you probably are like him. Johnny Boy is irresponsible, free-spirited, and self destructive. The kind of guy that you swore said he would give you gas money, and when you reach empty, he suddenly doesn’t know what you are talking about. But he can be fun to be around, and his life is in worse shape than yours, so you constantly forgive him, smile, and move on.

Charlie feels the need to help out, protect, and even clean up Johnny Boy’s messes. But even Charlie seems to know that by patronizing him, he will only prolong the inevitable. As magnetic as Johnny Boy is, and as minor as his misdeeds may be, every one knows the wild roller coaster will eventually have to come to an end.

This movie really spoke to me on many levels. The character of Charlie is one I can relate to. He seeks true salvation rather than the cliche religious lip service some churches give out. He is mentally trapped between his lover, his friend, his salvation, and his job. None of them want to cut him some slack for the other. Keitel plays the role effortlessly, proving he can be a power house, or a quiet storm. De Niro, however, steals the show. Its no wonder he won Best Supporting Actor from The National Society of Film Critics. He plays perfectly this irresponsible ADDish looser with a perfect balance between rowdy and just plain insane.

Scorsese is a master of putting together small, almost insignificant scenes to achieve an over all theme, mood, or style. This is observed when Charlie often tries to touch fire, or when Charlie decides to get with a black chick, then changes his mind. Things like these seem meaningless at the time, but little did you know, it was painting a grand picture for you to step back and really think about when looking at it. And when you do step back and look at it, the picture is amazing.

With great direction, classic Scorsese style soundtrack, powerful acting, subtle yet strong story, and engaging theme, this flick will stick with you long after you view it.

Mean Streets gets 4 stars. It is a very well deserved classic. Its not gonna totally rock your cinema world, but if you get the chance to see it, you will most defiantly want to take up the opportunity. You WILL NOT be sorry!




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