Here’s a neat little short out of Argentina:
Why the #@!! am I not watching this right now?
I finally finished my Luke Cage binge last night, so let the reviewing begin!
I’ve been bouncing back and forth on whether this is the best of the Marvel shows on Netflix, but by the end of the season, I’d have to go with “yes.” Here’s why:
Harlem. They take a real place and they make it the focus of the show. Daredevil tried this in the first season, as well. Hell’s Kitchen, however, is a weird mix of 1980s crack-period Hell’s Kitchen, and the gentrified version of today. This is necessary for the show to keep the Miller/Mazzuccheli flavor they were going for. Luke Cage‘s Harlem is much closer to the real thing, and the importance of the place to black history, culture, and identity is front and center throughout the show.
Blackness. Connected to that, and a defining subtext of the show is blackness. Cottonmouth Stokes, the crime boss who could have been something else; Mariah Dillard, the all-too-realistic politician; Misty Knight, the honest cop who knows everyone in the neighborhood; and Luke Cage, the stoic, hard-working everyman…who just happens to be damned near indestructible all are aspects of the black community, and their conflict mirrors the conflicts of the black professional, the gangster culture, and the middle-class. The music, the location, and the casting all make this a sharply different view of America than Daredevil and Jessica Jones.
The women. There are a lot of important female characters in the show — Mariah Dillard (Alfrie Woodard), Misty Knight (played superbly by Simone Missick), Inspector Pricilla Ridley (Karen Pittman stuck in a stereotypical annoying commanding officer role), and Claire Temple (Rosario Dawson, stealing scenes again..) — the women in the show are integral parts of the drama and plot. They’re not weak. They’re not victims. And none of the important players are young. They’re mature women. It’s refreshing.
Mike Colter. Sweet Christmas this guy’s got charisma. He was the best part of Jessica Jones (my opinion) and he does good work here. There are a lot of great performances in the show, Mahershala Ali’s Stokes is especially good, but COlter manages to hold the spotlight whenever he’s onscreen.
The surprises. (Yeah, spoilers. Shut up.) The decision to take Cottonmouth off the board halfway through the show was an excellent move, and made the show seem less contrived. That said, exchanging Ali for Erik LaRay Harvey’s Diamondback took away an excellent, and somewhat sympathetic villain for a less interesting creature. Diamondback, despite their best efforts, never feels like anything more than the crazed murdering baddie. That’s not Harvey’s fault; the writing on his is a bit lazy, and that’s probably the worst aspect of the show.
Mariah Dillard’s rise to crime boss is the exact opposite. She’s a compelling and realistic character, not entirely competent or comfortable in her new role, but Woodard’s steady move from pawn to queen is well executed by both writers and actress. Did I mention the women in this show knock it out of the park? They do.
A side mention for one of the better supporting cast has to go to Frank Whaley. Who? you ask. You’ve seen him in just about every damned TV show in the last ten years, and a few movies. He plays Scarfe. (Oh, that guy!) His performance is subtle and nuanced. He feels like a 20 year vet of the NYPD who does his job, and just that; he knows his job barely matters and it makes his corruption seem natural.
Lastly…Method Man. I’m not a hip-hop or rap fan. I barely know who the guy is. He steals all the scenes he’s in. There’s a great moment between he and Cage where the superhero geeks out at meeting the musician. It’s one of the best moments in the entire show and feels right.
The bad — ’cause there always is some bad.
Diamondback. The character is a leering psycho whose character development shows him to be a whinging teen with daddy issues. It’s unoriginal and uninteresting. The Bible-quotes and half-assed philosophizing never rises to the levels that Cottonmouth and Mariah have.
While the final fight between he and Cage is beautifully done, it’s really only good to show Cage to be no martial arts master, no skilled bad-ass, but a dude that simply is very strong and impervious to most damage…why would he need to be a fighter? (Throughout the show, the guy doesn’t fight, so much as sort of push and slap his way through the mooks.)
The first episode. It’s a slow episode, mostly for the work it’s doing setting up Harlem as a character, as much as introducing the leads. Wade through it.
So is it worth it? Hell, yes. Go quit your job and stream this thing, right now.
Ignore the prats in the professional review media — this is a solid Bond movie. It’s not quite up to Casino Royale for quality, but it is better than Skyfall. Here’s why this is a superior outing to its predecessor, and probably deserves to be in the top five Bond movies.
While there is a long of bitching about the pacing and length of the movie — and the latter is certainly a valid complaint of nearly ever blockbuster movie of the last 15 years, the pacing of SPECTRE is quick, with the necessary breathers to let character and plot unfold, and the view to gain relief from the action. (This is something action movies have seemed to forget — release and rebuild…just like older men. Looking at you Mad Max: Fury Road…) The action sequences, from the superlative fight/’splosions/chase through the Dia de los Muertos parade in Mexico City, to the car chase in Rome (which the Jaguar should have handily given Bond’s DB10 it’s ass), to the snow chase (the entire piece is an open homage to On Her Majesty’s Secret Service), to the other excellent action set pieces are well-aced, last just long enough to wind the viewer up…then they END.
The other complaint is that this is less emotional a story than Casino Royale or Skyfall…wrong. The piece weaves together all of the Craig movies into a single story: the introduction of Blofeld as someone that has been in and out of Bond’s life since childhood was well-done and provides Bond with a nemesis that is, in every way, his antithesis, as well as giving the villain a reason to have a personal beef with our anti-hero. It draws on the pains of Vesper and M’s losses, and how Bond has integrated those losses and moved on. The character has become blase and had found his humor, but it is still armor to protect him from the world. The female lead isn’t worthless. She’s smart, actively aids Bond, still judges him and tried to force him to be better than he is, as Vesper did. But most importantly, there is humor in this movie; this has been missing since Casino Royale. The movies are generally good (save Quantum of Solice), well-made, but they are serious. Not The Dark Knight serious, but they’re not campy Moore period Bond. This film is fun.
The acting is good, and my main complaint is that Monica Bellucci — who at 50 is still sexier than all of the Bond girls for the last 25 years combined — does not get near enough screen time. In fact, she could have easily taken the place of the still-good Lea Seydoux. All the background characters — M, Q, and Moneypenny get to do things and it works.
The main plot is pretty obvious, as all of the older Bond pics were, as well: there’s a big conspiracy behind all the events of the last three movies, and that group, SPECTRE, is planning to gain control of the world’s intelligence agencies. Realistic? Maybe not. But it’s good Bond fodder. It sure as shit beats the “I get captured to make my master plan work” plot device that Hollywood’s been using for about a decade…and guess what? It was a shit plan and gimmick the first time it was rolled out, but Skyfall did it at the same time as Star Trek: Into Darkness and The Avengers. There were plot holes the size of a helicarrier in Skyfall and the villain was, while amusing (I liked Silva, really!), he was never sinister. Christopher Waltz’s Blofeld is sinister (and doesn’t get enough screen time.)
So, SPECTRE on my scale is a firm “worth full price”. It’s a slick, well-made Bond film.
One of the things that made the DGR so successful last year was the sense of fun and inclusion that it brought to the motorcycle community not just in Albuquerque, but around the world. This was the “little idea that could.” A few guys got together to dress in retro fahion on their old British iron to raise money for prostate cancer. The idea got picked up by riders everywhere and hundreds of rides sprung up.
This year, watching the interaction between Mark Hawwa and the organizers of various rides has been disheartening. While the idea of keeping the ride period appropriate, with only certain kinds of bikes and certain attire was understandable, the response to questions about including folks that didn’t have a bobber or a cafe was always a snarky “If you don’t like it, start your own ride!” Hardly the epitome of gentlemanly conversation. Petulant, you might say.
Strike one, as baseball fans might say.
This morning, I woke to an email from our tireless local organizer, Chris Beggio, who announced he was done with the ride after this year. His reasons were encapsulated in a missive from Hawwa that was, to not put too fine a point on it, rude. The DGR organizers out of Australia have made a point of stomping on any dissent or individuality in the local rides. In this case it was to complain about a ride tee-shirt that had been designed to give the New Mexico event an appropriate flair.On the chest was the DGR logo in a Zia — the symbol of the state of New Mexico and a religious symbol that inspires a lot of affection from the residents here.
Hope all is well! Have an awesome ride this Sunday! Can you please don’t create DGR merchandise, I don’t give you permission to its not accountable to the charities. Its a trademark infringement and we don’t want to set a precedence. Ontop of that it looks terrible and there is official merchandise available on the website…
Fair enough. You don’t want competing “merchandise” even though it was provided free by the vendor and people aren’t buying the shirts (unlike on the website.) It was a bit of swag to encourage people to come back to the ride, not gouge for money. Rather than ask if that was the case, Hawwa tosses out the “trademark infringement” grenade. Strike two.
“Ontop of that it looks terrible…” One — before you send an email, check your spelling and grammar. Two — you could have stopped at the trademark infringement. But no, this was an attempt to be, plainly put, ungentlemanly. Strike three.
At risk of joining this less than gentile behavior, I might point out that having seen the DGR official merchandise, it’s hardly award-winning stuff.
So, this is my last time with this charity. I will ride gentlemanly and distinguished…but I’ll do it my own way.
Cinefix gives us a nice three-part history of action movies and heroes from Douglas Fairbanks to Steve McQueen and Sean Connery…
From Bruce Lee to Sly Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger…
John Mcclane, muthaf$%^er…Die Hard and the decade and a half of knockoff Die Hards, Bonds, and Bruce Lee wannabes, and onto the CGI-laden blockbusters.