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Tuesday, January 31, 2017

(Ep. 82): Savage Beach - Movie Commentary: January 2017

1989 | Action | 92 min 

Ready for a trip to Savage Beach?
Come and enjoy beautiful our water
Wine and dine with at the island's number 1 restaurant. 
And come see the last of what the 80's have to offer in Andy Sidaris'...
 

Savage Beach 


Ladies and Gentlemen WE ARE BACK!
THE WOMEN!
THE GUNS!
THE OVER THE TOP CRAZIEST ACTION SCENES!

Ah... 2017 is going to be a good year! All new 90's Andy Sidaris' Films to watch. Honestly what more could you want?!

Shit...I just remembered...the 90's sucked and the world is in turmoil. Oh well let's enjoy what we have left then.

Drug agents Donna (Dona Speir) and Taryn (Hope Marie Carlton) crash-land on a remote island, rumored to have a gold treasure. Treasure isn't the only thing on this island, war-gold seekers searching for their gold will do anything for riches.
Initial release: 1989
Director: Andy Sidaris
Screenplay: Andy Sidaris
Music composed by: Gary Stockdale

 








Monday, January 23, 2017

'The Last Jedi' is 2017 in a Nutshell

After a long weekend of rambling political stances from both Republican and Democratic crazy people, meaningful marches around the world, and coping with the fact that we now live in a world where a man that shaved the head of Vince McMahon at Wrestlemania 23, is now our Commander in Chief, it's time to start talking about things that actually matter; like the reveal of the title for "Star Wars: Episode VIII."


There it is folks. THE LAST JEDI

A few thoughts. I think the timing of the reveal is funny and of course "not at all planned..." After all the dissension this past week, any type of "Star Wars" news is a welcome sight for most, but just seeing the marquee, the coloring, and of course the name, you know things are going to get dark.

As most people see 2017 as the End of Days, it only makes sense that we are going to get a dark sequel to 2015's "The Force Awakens." But it also looks like we are going to get a modeled middle sequel that is going to be just as dark as 1980's "The Empire Strikes Back."

The political climate in 1980 was pretty tense. Jimmy Carter was just leaving office after a pretty tumultuous four-years including the Iranian Hostage Crisis, and we had a former Hollywood actor and at the time oldest president to ever be inaugurated into office with Ronald Reagan.

Fast forward to 2017 and we have an outgoing president where opinions were vastly divided on his eight-year presidency in Barack Obama, but there's no doubt he re-added a touch of class to the office and while his politics might be polarizing, there is no doubt that he was a likable and affable POTUS. Now, we have a combative, instigating, Twitter-trolling, obnoxious, reality show-starring, no political experience man, Donald Trump, as our POTUS. The comparison to Obama and Trump is night and day, personally and politically. Again, for an uncertain time, we are likely going to have another dark chapter in the "Star Wars" mythos.

Of course this is speculation. This might be the cheeriest entry in the mythic sci-fi space opera. But if history tells us anything, we are heading in the direction of "The Last Jedi" being one dark motherfu*ker.

But hey! Even with my doom and gloom, "The Last Jedi" looks like it's going to explain a lot. Who are The Knights of Ren? Why did Luke leave everything behind? Who is Supreme Leader Snoak? What is Rey's family lineage? So many questions to answer, and we'll have to wait another 11 months to see.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Simplistic Lists: The Worst Film and TV Politicans

Maybe...just maybe...it's a little too early to call our incoming Presidents one of the worst of all time. I mean, the inauguration hasn't even happened yet. But sitting through confirmation hearings of people who don't have any experience in the office they are about to take (including our newest president) to be fair, it's a little worrisome for most people that have a care for our country and not just a selfish desire for themselves.

With that being said, I thought it would be fun to take a look at some of the worst politicians from either film or our TV screen:

Mayor of Halloween Town "The Nightmare Before Christmas"

Sure it's a cartoon, but the literal "two-face" mayor goes off at the handle at the sign of discourse and even admits that he's an elected official and can't make decisions by himself.

Mayor Lenny Clotch "Ghostbusters I and II"

First things first, always listen to the Ghostbusters. Two, keep religion out of your politics. Don't kiss the ring of the cardinal and ask him for help during a paranormal crisis. While "Ghostbusters" is taking the piss out of elected officials for the most part, it is scary that some elected officials need to pray and counsel with "a high power" before making a decision that could impact millions.

Mayor Diamond Joe Quimby "The Simpsons"

Womanizing, taking bribes from gangsters, illegitimate kids; all in a days works for the mayor of Springfield. Quimby is so over the top that you have to laugh, but is amalgamation of so many aspects of politics that are corrupt can still give you a sad face.

 State Senator Clayton Davis "The Wire"
While it's hilarious to hear "sheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeet" over and over on a constant loop, there's no doubt the corruption that Senator Davis presides over during the run of "The Wire." The best idea the entire series was "Hamsterdam" and it wasn't even his idea. 

Senator Robert Kelly "X-Men"
A mutant-phobe in favor of a registration act that would "out" all mutants, he's a monster in a $2,000 suit. With so much focus on the rights on members of the LGBTQ community and minority communities, the scary thing is that many of our leaders are much like Senator Kelly.

President Charles Logan "24"
A complete weasel and in the back pocket of the Russians...sounds like someone familiar...

President Arnold Schwarzenegger "Demolition Man"
You might not see him in "Demolition Man" but even back in 1992 we were making movies with celebrities as presidents.....just unpack that for a minute.

I'm sure there are a ton that are missing from this list, but as the list goes on it would just get sadder and sadder. You might think that I missed out on Frank Underwood from "House of Cards" but Frank is so cold and calculating that you have to stand in awe and simply admire him.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Simplistic Interviews: Thomas Perrett, Director of 'Commune'

It's always fun to sit down and chat with a filmmaker and pick their brain. I was lucky enough to be able to chat with Thomas Perrett, the director of the horror short, "Commune," and we discussed everything from his beginnings as a filmmaker, what horror inspires his own creative vision and how good "Black Mirror," really is.

Check out the interview below as well as Thomas' first short, HINDSIGHT.


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Wednesday, January 18, 2017

'Run the Jewels' Run a Marathon in Nashville


Some of the comments in this post will not behoove the irony of what they can be taken as, namely the fact that a well known hip-hop duo like Killer Mike and El-P, collectively, Run the Jewels, was widely attending by an all-white crowd.

This is not meant to be inflammatory at all, it's just a very basic, and simplistic, observation where I was surrounded by a crowd of people that are my skin color. It makes me think of where hip-hop is going and is there an issue with the way shows like this are being advertised. Is it the pricing of the show, is it the venue, which ironically enough is located in a historically black neighborhood. It just made me think since it's a paradox that hip-hop has had such a far-reaching effect on the Caucasian community who come out in droves to support artists.

Personally, I've always loved hip-hop from an early age; my first tape was "The Chronic," which was confiscated by my parents despite the fact that they were the one's that bought it for me, and my love for the genre grew over the years. Until about 2008, which to me so the death of hip-hop for many years. It was a wasteland of just bad music that coincidentally all sounded the same. So shit, on shit, on shit...it wasn't "boom bap," it was poop shit (yes, very grade-schooler of me).

Luckily, more artists like Kendrick Lamar, Schoolboy Q, and Action Bronson have come along, as well as the return of A Tribe Called Quest and De La Soul, hip hop is on the upswing, somewhat, but nothing in my opinion matches the intensity of the super group of Killer Mike, known widely for his contributions to The Dungeon Family and Outkast, and El-P, producer supreme and one of the founders of Company Flow, who formed Run the Jewels back in 2013.

Overall, their performance at Nashville's Marathon Music Works was a grand success. The crowd was into it, the vibe was communal, and the duo of El-P and Killer Mike is one that is tailor made for a road movie about two buddies, one having just broken up with his significant other, and the other wants to get him out of the slump. The two get along that well on stage that I would love to see them star in something together.

There were some low points to the show of course. While the openers were fine, including two DJs, Nick Hook and Gaslamp Killer, and two MCs, Cuz Lightyear and Gangsta Boo, the former a member of Three Six Mafia, the sets went on a little to longer, but that's not discounting the effort that they put in for the crowd. The audio fidelity was also a little suspect at certain points of the show. Maybe the bass was just a little too much for the venue to handle. Add some extended feedback hi-jinks which had my ears ringing, and that was the short of the qualms I had with the show, which really isn't that bad to be honest.

The show in it's entirety ran nearly four hours, which is a lot of hip-hop to squeeze into one night, and Run the Jewels' set went for what seemed nearly 90-minutes of high energy rhymes. However, while the verbal intercourse was something to behold, there was also the message that the group, namely El-P wanted to get across. It's no surprise that El-P and Killer MIke aren't fans of our incoming 45th President of the United States, and the crowd was clearly behind him. But there was also a message of peace and hope. El-P explained that it was amazing to see so many people out late on a Tuesday night for a Run the Jewels show. He also told the crowd to look around and see the types of people in the room. This was a community of people who were all there for a simple purpose; to enjoy an amazing show. A community of like-minded individuals. A community of neighbors. The main point is that we are all one community, no matter what walk of life we might come from. This heartfelt message was in stark comparison to the fact that he just called our incoming president a "c*nt" and a few other choice words, and he also joked about this getting out and the Trump tweet that would likely follow. It hasn't just yet of course.

Overall, seeing a group like Run the Jewels is a treat for anyone. It features to luminaries of hip-hop at the top of their game, while acts like Drake or Migos or Future off nothing more tales of drugs, bougie broads, or elementary school raps, El-P and Killer Mike are offering a sampling of conscience rap with an injection of the surreal and that same braggadocios-style that has been a hallmark of hip-hop since LL Cool J exclaimed "I'm Bad!"

Friday, January 13, 2017

What Does it Mean to "Do The Right Thing"

*The opinion of Matt does not necessarily coincide with the opinions of the rest of the crew of Simplistic Reviews. 

This year will celebrate the 28th anniversary of the Spike Lee Joint, "Do The Right Thing." But the question we always ask ourselves is, "What is the right thing?" Is there a "right" thing? And if there is a "right" thing, how does one make the decision on what the "right" thing is?

There's no doubt that "Thing" was a film that happened at the right place at the right time, and while other films have tried to emulate the race divide and a sign of the times, see also Lee's "Summer of Sam" for a look into the racial and cultural divide in 1970s New York, there still isn't a film, for my money, that captures the anger, anxiety, and zeitgeist of a city sitting on a powder keg. Of course, art often imitates life, and in recent years with police shootings, gang violence, political discourse, and attacks on immigrants, minorities, and the LGBT community on the rise, we all live in uncertain times.

Oh, there is also the fact that we have a bullying, fear-mongering, divisive, reality-show starring megalomaniac about to take the Oath of Office as the 45th President of the United States, but don't worry folks, go watch some foxes jumping in the snow (actually, that doesn't sound like a bad idea).

Back to the point, in "Thing" the climax reaches a fever pitch when the character "Radio" Raheem is murdered by NYPD officers, a fire hose is turned again an angry mob and our "hero," Mookie, played by Lee, throws a trash can through the window of local pizzeria, Sal's Famous. A lot of anger is loaded into the final 15 minutes of the film, but it brings up the question; What is the "Right" thing?

This is an argument that I've gotten into with a lot of people. Personally, I'm always interested to hear what people think is the "right" thing. The biggest point of contention is always whether Mookie should have thrown the garbage can through the window of Sal's Famous. While I understand why this might be a point to argue between people, I'm on the side of this being the "right" thing. Simply, it was rightful rage over the death of an innocent citizen by the "trusted" police force which forces another citizen to act in way that many may never understand how to act. Of course, in turn, this action also saves the lives of Sal and his sons, despite the fact that their business is destroyed by an angry mob. That's the simple way to breakdown the climax of "Thing," but there is much more leading to this choice.

Other aspects of the story certainly play a big part in Mookie's decision. The New York heat, Sal not paying Mookie before the day was up, being accused of being a dead-beat father, the constant harassment by Smiley, there are several aspects of the day that sets Mookie off, but the most reasonable is always going to be seeing "Radio" Raheem murdered in front of him by police who are tasked with upholding the law and having the CPR (Courtesy Professionalism Respect) on the side of their cruiser (the irony). It's a layered argument that can be tossed back and forth, but the reason we still reference "Thing" as the movie that still commands our attention a quarter of a century after it's release is the climate we live in currently.

Police still systematically target minorities which often ends in horrific results, and police are overworked with less officers on the ground to do the job correctly, not to mention the fact that many officers are ill-equipped to get the job done correctly. An overburdened and broken system leads to misjudgment and tragedies that will continue to happen.

Is violence the "right" thing...no....however, when you are kicked, prodded, marginalized, and made to feel that you have no rights as a citizen, what are you going to do? Throwing a TV through a window might be a start, but how about throwing your vote in a ballot box on a local level to make the immediate change that is needed to hopefully, at some point, make a bigger change.

Much was made when "Thing" was released, including comments that viewing this film would incite riots. Lee's response was whether critics believed that minorities, namely African-American's, were unable to control their impulses while viewing a work of fiction. It was a perfect response for people that just don't get it, and will never get it. Hell, if "Thing" makes you angry, IT SHOULD! While it WAS a work of fiction it was still inspired by true events, namely the beating and murder of Michael Stewart by NYPD officers, and we are still seeing the endless deaths of African-Americans around the country, sadly at the hands of law enforcement officials. We should all be upset by this, while Lee is being a politician about it, he should have said "Yes, people should get upset about this film, it's happening, this is the world we live in!"

So, what is the "right" thing? IS there a "right" thing? The "right" thing is to take tragedy and knowledge and apply it in a way that changes the course of your life, your country, and your politics. We are living in scary times, with people in charge that seem to like to "troll" the American people. We literally have an Internet troll who is poised to take the office of The President of the United States shortly. Think about that....someone who made his career firing the like of Lil John and Dennis Rodman from a fake job interview show is going to be hiring people to look after Civil Rights cases and reading the most classified of files, will be running our country for what could be up to eight years.

The "right" thing is to follow the mantra of Public Enemy and "Fight the Power." But fighting the power is more than just with your fists. Fight with your empathy, fight with your courage, fight with your knowledge, shit, fight for your right to party, because if anything you always have the "right to fight."

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Why 'La La Land' is Going to Clean Up this Awards Season

*Post Oscar Update 2-27-17*

*I was partially correct, 14 nominations and six wins isn't too shabby, and even after the Best Picture snafu, "La La Land" came out in the wash clean as hell.*

Hollywood award season is upon us with the Golden Globes set for this coming Sunday, January 8th, 2017. After the snafu that was #OscarsSoWhite and the conclusion of the drama about Leonardo DiCaprio receiving his first Oscar, we might have an Oscar telecast with a little more diversity, but we'll see how that goes.

While 2016 provided us some great films with minorities in the lead role such as "Moonlight" and "Lion" and female-driven fare like "Edge of Seventeen" and "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story," there is one film heads and tails above the rest, and it will be heavily rewarded this award season, and that film is "La La Land."

This is not me saying that "Land" is bad; it's not; its utterly fantastic, I nearly wept during the opening dance number it was so beautiful, (hopefully Another Day of Sun is up for Best Song at the Oscars). However, if history has anything to do with anything, the deck is stacked in favor of "Land," and here are some of the reasons:

1) Hollywood loves to pat itself on the back. "Land" for the most part is a throwback to old Hollywood. It's dancing set-pieces will leave you in awe, the music is infectious, (as I listen to the soundtrack of course) and it's a classic story of following your dreams, despite the hardships and trials and tribulations. This is the classic Hollywood story.

2)  Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone are pure and utter joy. This is their third, and for my money best, collaboration. They are natural fits for one another and play off each other so well it's a mesmerizing things to watch. Gosling has always had stage presence and after "The Nice Guys" there's no doubt about his comedy chops. Stone has gone from "hmmm, okay, she might be good one day," to "oh man, she's really good." The more I think about it, Stone is more of the revelation where she carries a greater weight in this film and her story hits harder when it comes to actresses in the Hollywood system. She was good in "Birdman" but she's great in "Land."

3) It was a struggle to get this film off the ground. It took Damien Chazelle years to get this film going, and it will be commended when the time for awards comes around. Not to forget to mention the fact that while the film is a classic Hollywood film, making of the film is nearly as classic. It's about as Hollywood as it gets.

4) The soundtrack is wonderful. If "Hamilton" was the hit soundtrack of Broadway in 2016, "Land" is the hit soundtrack of Hollywood in 2016. "Land's" soundtrack is an experience and will be awarded as such.

5) The final point is going to piggyback on my first point. In the past seven years at the Oscars the Academy has awarded films well when it comes to films paying homage to Hollywood; "The Artist" in 2011, "Argo" in 2012 and "Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) in 2014. While "Birdman" takes more shots at how Hollywood treats actors, nonetheless, it's a film about Hollywood and all press, is good press.

"The Artist" was at least to me a gimmick film. A silent film made in the day and age of loud Hollywood blockbusters. While I'm not a huge fan, I can understand how people can feel nostalgic for a bygone era.

"Argo" was the ultimate way for Hollywood to fellate themselves. No, I am not saying "Argo" is a bad film, in fact I loved it and it was the catalyst for the re-rising of Ben Affleck's Q Rating (even though the writing was on the wall with "Gone Baby Gone" and "The Town," previously). However, the film is about Hollywood people saving the lives of people in a foreign country overtaken by "the bad guys." It's a whimsical tale of how Hollywood saved the day in a story that seems almost too Hollywood to be real...yet, it was.

"Birdman" did it's best to shit all over the way that Hollywood tosses out old actors after they are done using them up, but despite that, it was impossible to ignore the painstaking process of making this film. The acting was great, the direction was great, the message, while I'm sure it miffed Hollywood, had to be commended for what it was; a film that was hard to make and a technical achievement.

"Land" fits the bill as the film to beat. In a year that was full of despair and woefulness, "Land" is the silver lining. It's got comedy, tragedy, dancing, singing, some great acting and it hits on the idea that you can still go to Hollywood and have all of your dreams come true, but it adds that bittersweet touch. It appeals to idealists, dreamers, and pessimists; it appeals to humanity in these unsure times where a dream is still something to hold onto. Thus, "La La Land" will be your big winner come this award season, and for good reason.

3 Simplistic Things: December 2016

2016 has come to a merciful end, and as we head into the wilderness that is 2017, it's time to see what happened in December, spoiler, more bad news...

Never Gonna Dance Again...
You might call 2016 "The Year the Music Died."

To Me....She's Royalty
"Hope is not lost today....it is found."

Unsinkable

That's 2016 in a nutshell. A series of kicks to the groin and the loss of people that we'll all fondly remember.

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