Archive for the 'Movies' Category


It’s Judd Apatow’s world. We’re just living in it.

Knocked Up hits theaters tomorrow. If the trailer and the initial reviews are any indications, he’s got another hit on his hands.

The New York Times has an excellent profile of Apatow and some insight on what makes him tick.

Wired magazine lets Apatow and some of the stars of his various works give an oral history of his work, starting with Freaks and Geeks.


A white person is wrong about Spike Lee…again.

The current issue of Esquire contains a piece by Mike D’Angelo entitled Critical Blasphemy: Five Things You Can’t Say in Hollywood. After assailing Ben Stiller’s recent work, high-minded documentaries, The Queen and “lengthy, ultracomplex, and artsy single takes” that he believes are ruining filmmaking, he makes the following bold statement:

“Spike Lee’s best movie of the past 15 years is one he did primarily about white people.”

Here’s why he’s wrong.

1. Since when did taking a shot at Spike Lee become blasphemous in Hollywood? Spike Lee is far from a sacred cow in this town. He’s always remained something of a pariah in Los Angeles because he clearly doesn’t care much for the city or it’s primary industry’s machinations. Also, he has a tendency to not take any shit from white people. (A friend of mine was doing production work on a Spike Lee directed State Farm Insurance commercial. The premise of the commercial was that a black guy had taken out insurance on his car’s expensive rims. When one of the suits suggested that the actor try smiling more, Spike turned to the guy and screamed, “You want him to dance too?”) It took him directing a painfully moving Hurricane Katrina documentary and his most commercially successful movie ever in the same year to finally get in the good graces of white folks. I’m sure you would find a ton of people in this city to agree with the sentiment that 25th Hour is his best work in fifteen years. And I’m sure that the vast majority of those people never bothered to see Clockers or He Got Game.

2. In his rush to praise a Spike Lee film that doesn’t feature black characters, D’Angelo forgets one important thing. There are several Spike Lee Joints produced post-1992 that are better movies than 25th Hour. Malcolm X, 4 Little Girls, When the Levees Broke,and The Inside Man are all significantly superior films. But, of course, those movies aren’t about white people.


Jamie Kennedy needs a dictionary

I can’t say I’m a huge fan of his work, but I’m interested in anything that discusses stand-up related issues. As such, I was curious to see the trailer for his upcoming documentary film, Heckler. It starts out logically enough with clips of Kennedy and other comedians being heckled and sit down interviews of guys like Joe Rogan and David Cross talking about hecklers. From there, things get a little weird.

See it for yourself here:

heck·le /ˈhɛkəl/ verb, -led, -ling, noun
–verb (used with object)
1. to harass (a public speaker, performer, etc.) with impertinent questions, gibes, or the like; badger.

Lumping online critics in with someone who is actually interrupting a live performance that people paid to see is some serious faulty logic. It seems like he was just using this movie as an excuse to confront people who’ve written negative reviews of his films online. It’s narcissistic and disingenuous. As my friend and fellow comic Jasper Redd said, “When you stand up and say, ‘Hey look at me!’ you have to be willing to take the criticism.” Especially when you starred in Son of the Mask.

As if the trailer for that movie doesn’t make him look lame enough, fellow Carolina-born comedian Peter Grumbine’s account of Kennedy’s actions at a taping of G4’s Attack of the Show is the icing on the cake.


Oliver Stone: “All niggers like Scarface.”

Apparently, this is what a coked-out Stone said to New Jack City screenwriter Barry Michael Cooper. Cooper tells the story to Michael A. Gonzales in the current edition of Stop Smiling magazine.

I met Oliver Stone at a party. It was me, Russell Simmons and Stan Lathan. It was Paula Abdul’s platinum party on Hacienda Boulevard. Eddie Murphy was there. I said, “Oliver Stone’s my hero,” so I went over to him, but he was tied up. I said, “Man, my name is Barry Michael Cooper.” This was after NJC had come out. “I wrote the movie.” He said, “Okay” and shook my hand. I said, “Man, I love your movie Wall Street. That’s how I learned to write. That was my tool and my instruction book for writing NJC.” He said to me, “Okay, thank you very much. I bet you like Scarface, too — all niggers like Scarface.” And he stumbled off.

Right before I could go after him and commit career suicide, Stan and Russell pulled on my arm and said, “No you don’t. Let it go. That’s just him, he’s high.” High or not, it was a crazy statement. Still, I respect the man.

Another quotable from the piece.

This is gonna sound freaky, but crack made hip-hop corporate, because the guys who emulated the crack dealers became rap stars. They wanted to be tough like them and wanted to floss. Crack made hip-hop very corporate. It took it beyond break dancing, graffiti and the South Bronx. The stories that Biggie told, that Jigga told, that Eazy-E told, all of them guys came out of the crack culture. It really had a profound change on the culture.


They should get an Oscar just for this.


Fela Kuti/Melvin Van Peebles film festival.

It only lasted two nights. Both films were screened in our living room by an exclusive audience numbering four. Two human. Two feline.

Two nights ago we were blown away by an amazing Fela Kuti documentary called Music is the Weapon. My TiVo has strict instructions to record anything about Fela or his son Femi, and this was a great find. The brief, 1982 documentary is amazing examination of his struggle with the Nigerian government, his political and personal philosophies, and his music. Take one part John Coltrane, one part James Brown, one part Bob Marley, give him a compound to live in and a venue in which to play every night, surrounding him with musicians, friends and bodyguards, add about fifteen wives and apparently the largest weed stash in all of Nigeria. You got yourself a documentary. Here’s a clip:

Last night, we followed that up with How to Eat Your Watermelon in White Company (and Enjoy It) over on IFC. It’s a biography of Melvin Van Peebles. I don’t throw words like pioneer, visionary and renaissance man around lightly. But anyone who’s made important cinema in two different languages, invented a genre of film, had two plays on Broadway at once and recorded several influential albums has earned the right to be called all those things and more.

Here’s the trailer:


Bastards of the Party

The new HBO documentary by longtime Athens Park Blood Cle “Bone” Sloan has been getting tons of press and rave reviews. And it deserves every bit of praise that it has gotten. It was one of those films that I was eagerly anticipating and dreading at the same time. Sloan’s doc is an thoroughly researched investigation into the origins of the gang culture that grew to engulf huge chunks of Los Angeles.

The movie is frustrating, illuminating, and heart-wrenching. It’s also another example of why HBO is currently running circles around every other network on television.

The LA Weekly’s Ernest Hardy interviews Sloan in the most recent issue.


2007 Independent Spirit Awards Nominee You’re Gonna Miss Me

The nominees for what is always the most entertaining awards show of the year were announced and it just so happens that a good friend of mine is up for an award. Keven McAlester’s debut film, You’re Gonna Miss Me was nominated in the Best Documentary category. I’ve seen the movie twice and it’s a damn powerful film.

Full disclosure. I could never be truly objective on this one. This man danced at my wedding, and I at his.

Having said that, I’ve seen the film twice. Both times I was completely engrossed. The movie tells the story of Roky Erickson, lead singer of pioneering psychedelic rock group The 13th Floor Elevators. The movie chronicles his drug-fueled, messianic assent. And, ultimately, his drug-fueled, hellish, insane asylum descent. It’s a “truth is stranger than fiction” story that punches you in the nose right away and demands your unflinching attention. It’s also smart enough to stay out of it’s own way. McAlester and cinematographer Lee Daniel find a way to plant themselves in the corner of the room and simply document all the craziness unfolding on the screen.

Ultimately, The movie hinges on one essential point. Even though most people who aren’t lucky enough to own the High Fidelity soundtrack have probably never heard of the group, it only takes a few seconds of seeing a young Roky Erickson on screen to realize that he was a star. Erickson’s howling, fire and brimstone microphone assault combined with the group’s signature southern rock/blues/country/psychedelic sound to create a revelation. Of course, the documentary takes it’s title from their incredible signature song. It’s the kind of thing that only young, unselfconscious geniuses make. See for yourself in this “Reason #4,080 why YouTube is incredible” clip. This is apparently a 1966 episode of a show called Where the Action Is.

Sadly, this is a rock music documentary. By law, it cannot end well. Without giving away too much of the story; Roky has some…difficulties. His younger brother decides to intervene via the court system so that he can provide Roky with what he believes to be better physical and mental care. The movie examines both the legal and familial struggle and the back story of Roky’s tragic rise and fall. There’s a whole creepy thing between Roky and his mother and…I’m not gonna give too much of it away, but it’s a really fucking good movie. In addition to having it’s world premiere at the 2005 South by Southwest Festival, the film won the 2005 AFI Silverdoc Best Music Documentary award. It was also a finalist for the Jury Prize at the 2005 London Film Festival.

If you’re interested, keep your eyes peeled to the site for information about theatrical/television/DVD release news.

Friend of mine or not, this show is always really fun television. Here is the full list of all the nominees.

Bonus video!
If my man Keven isn’t indie enough for you, this is an Old 97′s music video that he directed called In The Satellite Rides The Star. Note the Ghidrah poster in the background. That’s right. He’s down with Doom. More bonus points.


You are what you eat.

It’s rare when my excitement and anticipation for a new movie hasn’t completely waned by the time it opens. From the first time I read Eric Schlosser’s eye-opening book, Fast Food Nation, I thought that I would make a compelling documentary. Richard Linklater took it one step further with his fictionalized film adaptation, which opens today. If it’s half as good as the book, it’ll be worth the price of admission. Even if it has Fez in it. Here’s the trailer and a link to a Q & A with Linklater.

Along the same lines, Netflix blessed me with another gem recently. The Future of Food is sobering look at the controversy over genetically modified food. Just when you think you hate all the right companies for all the right reasons, along comes Monsanto to take everything up a notch. Who’s hungry?

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