Monday, June 30, 2008

Video Saved the Video Store: Be Kind Rewind

Jack Black always plays an annoying guy, but in almost every film he is in he is actually is very funny. In this film, he manages to be annoying while not providing us with any real humor. He does not fit into a movie about re-shooting movies, because he is not that type of guy. Mos Def is fine in this role, but Black makes the movie unsuccessful. You would think with a director like Michel Gondry (who pieced together Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, which is one of the most creative films of the last twenty years), who is witty, visionary, and artistic, that this film would be a success.

But let me sum it up for you: it really isn't. The premise is good, about remaking famous movies, but the execution is off. Be Kind Rewind is a video store not unlike your local movie rental business. It sells the same movies that any place sells. But it violates building codes and is in a zone that the city (Passaic, New Jersey, to be exact) wants to make it some sort of housing complex or something. But if the store, run by Elroy Fletcher (Danny Glover), can raise a high amount of money (like $60,000) so it can be renovated, the city I guess will have mercy. Fletcher, at this time, is just about to embark on a train ride to go to some sort of Fats Waller memorial (he's his hero) and leaves the store over to assistant Mike (Def).

Fletcher also tells Mike not to let Mike's kooky friend Jerry (Black) into the store, because Jerry means trouble. Jerry, meanwhile, is planning to sabotage his local power plant, and, in the process, is magnetized. So when Jerry comes into the store, he erases all the tapes. So people get mad and demand their money back. Miss Falewicz (Mia Farrow) gives them another chance, as she wants to see "Ghostbusters." She doesn't know what it's about, so that gives Mike and Jerry some leeway. Mike decides to re-shoot the movie. This is two of three sequences that charmed me. They do the works: ominous file cabinets moving in and out (courtesy of Jerry), a lit-on-fire Marshmallow Man, a negative night sequence, on and on. It actually is a job well done. It fools her, I guess.

Meanwhile, another guy wants "Rush Hour 2." This goes smoothly, until Wilson (Irv Gooch), Jerry's mechanic who is doubling as Ziyi Zhang's villain, quits. They have to find a replacement, and they go to the laundromat. They find Alma (Melonie Diaz), who fills the void and completes the film. She becomes the third part of the Be Kind Rewind video machine, and together, they go on to film many films (including "Robocop", "The Lion King", "King Kong", and "2001: A Space Odyssey"). Then, they start to include other people and they make films. Among these films is "2010: The Year We Make Contact", a censored "Boogie Nights", and "The Cell"? What? No wonder it's just listed in the montage sequence (like in a Time hits commercial) then actually shown. CRAPPY SPOILER WARNING: Then, the copyright people come in and ruin everything by destroying all the tapes and making a fool out of the guys. Then, the town and the store unite to make a fictional biography of Fats Waller's life (because, he was born in the same building as Be Kind Rewind!). The making of the film is odd, because it allows the people to have equipment that studios use, while still trying to maintain that low-budget feel that has been long lost. In the end, the guy from the superstore (West Coast Video) lends them the projector and the film is viewed and even Mr. Demolition Head is charmed. That's the end that it all comes crashing to. END OF THAT

Anyways, the acting, on the most part, is a travesty. Black, Glover, Farrow, and Diaz turn in really mediocre performances that are not Gondry standard. Def is good as Mike, though. The scenes in between the amateur shoots were soapy and irrelevant. They brought this movie to its knees. The timing, as with almost every film these days, is way off. And the humor is too. This movie fails to be amusing. The movie is so desperate to be amusing I wouldn't have been surprised if Mike's character was named Ben. Black isn't funny, at all. His "Sweded" joke turns out to be very dumb. And that's what the whole advertising campaign is based on. Bottom line: this movie compares with its' rival Son of Rambow, and that's not a compliment. This movie begs to be re-shot itself. C

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Love Game: Match Point

A perfectly sinister guilt drama from Woody Allen, whose peak seems to have actually hit right now. He introduces a new type of character into his complex affair: a sort of slick but ultimately extremely guilty guy. He is Chris Wilton (Jonathan Rhys Meyers of Bend it Like Beckham) a tennis pro turned instructor, who has just accepted his teaching job when Tom Hewett (Matthew Goode) takes lessons with him. He is part of a rich, high class family. Chris then meets Chloe (Emily Mortimer of Dear Frankie), who is Tom's sister. She falls head over heels in love with him, and he loves her, until he becomes entranced by the struggling but feisty actress Nola (Scarlett Johanson), who is Tom's fiancee. Their first scene is perfect: she is playing ping-pong and he steps in and their proverbial ping-pong/tennis match begins with a bang as they go back and forth. The two leave lasting impressions on each other, and they fall in love. Then, Chris and Chloe marry. And just after, the bomb drops: Tom and Nola are calling it off. So Chris is tempted, and thinks that Chloe is getting boring, so he starts seeing Nola and soon she is pregnant. This is the major source of tension, as Chris must choose between his rich life, pampering family, and guaranteed job, and his lust. Chloe, meanwhile, does kind of suspect something is up, but Allen's formula rules that out. About that: Allen's ideas have been the same lately. He focuses in on murder and guilt. He does his directing extremely well in this film, while providing a great, innuendo-filled, Oscar-nominated script. (SPOILER ALERT) The film does sort to drive to the same end like his others, as Chris, feeling guilty about his situation and not being able to bring himself to tell his wife, goes to Nola's apartment, and not only fakes a break-in and kills her neighbor but kills her too. And he feels like crap and all, but he believes it is the only way to go. He gets called in by a detective and is heavily suggested as the murderer, but one of his actions saves him. When he was casting off Nola's elderly neighbor's jewelry into the waters of London, Chris accidentally tosses her ring towards the depths, but the ring hits the barrier and stays on land (recalling thoughts of the opening tennis monologue). A murder in the area shows that this ring was being carried by the drug-addled killer (Chris' break-in was classified as a drug murder). Anyways, this elaborates things and makes the detective (who woke up with a hunch that Chris was the one) look like a dreamer, setting Chris free and intertwining Allen's famous getting away endings with the movie itself. Great stuff. Also, Meyers turns in a spectacular performance, one that makes a movie and takes it to great heights. Johanson isn't quite so, but is good as the actress, with personality and a drive, unlike Hayley Atwell in Cassandra's Dream, which really is eerily similar. Anyways, the tennis theme and the double entendres set this movie apart. Bottom line: Allen may be known for such movies as Annie Hall and Manhattan, but this one is really up there. Game, set, and match. A

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Big Picture: Blowup

A classic and iconic film from Michelangelo Antonioni, about photography, murder, and life itself. I believe that this film is very good and gets its elusive point across ultimately. But it is not one of the greatest films of all-time, not by a long shot. David Hemmings plays Thomas, a photographer who is a veteran snapper. He takes strange shots: some of factory workers in their sad life, some of women in weird, garish costumes, and a few snaps of a couple (Vanessa Redgrave and an uncredited Ronan O'Casey). The ones of the park duo upset Jane (Redgrave) who doesn't want him to keep them. He eventually tricks her out of them. And he discovers that Jane's beau was murdered.

So while this is happening, two women (credited as The Blonde and The Brunette, Jane Birkin and Gillian Hills respectively) keep wanting them to help them by taking pictures or something. He gets mad at them. And, while this is happening, he is assembling a book of pictures of the factory workers and of the couple with this guy named Ron (Peter Bowles). In the last 30 minutes, it seems like it is building up to a climax, but no. Thomas goes to a strange Yardbirds concert where Keith Reif is lip-synching to himself, and there is no Eric Clapton to be seen. I guess the "highlight" of the scene is when the bassist (I'm not a hardcore fan of the Yardbirds) smashes his bass and Thomas keeps the neck and then throws it out while walking on the street. The scene has no relevance to the movie. Maybe Antonioni felt obliged to add some random pop culture into the movie. I don't know, but it really doesn't help the movie's cause.

Then, Thomas goes to Ron's party where people are rolling joints and just chilling. He then realizes that he must take a picture of the body. He didn't take the chance the night before when he saw the body. But when he goes, the body is gone, and he is just standing around watching mimes play air tennis. Not very fulfilling.So the lesson here is you don't mix art and 60's pop culture together. I mean, the movie was good up until the last 30 minutes. I won't talk about the acting, because it is not important. The movie is beautiful and is extremely artistic and symbolic, but the greatness is broken by the "needs" of the times. It's the same thing I always grimace about when I go to pop cinema: directors try to be hip and impressive, instead of just creating something halfway artistic, and wind up coming out embarrassing. I didn't find Blowup embarrassing, but I wonder what would have happened if Antonioni had not tried to be more hip than the movie needed to be. B+

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Man Alive: The Third Man

Film noir at its absolute best. This is a poster movie for the genre and it is the perfect mystery flick, rivaling the likes of Orson Welles' great work Touch of Evil. Which is to say that Carol Reed is an outstanding director and can make a spectacular film. His film is a story of murder unlike most noir flicks, as it involves an American who is not a detective but actually an author of many westerns. This man is Holly Martins (Joseph Cotton), and he comes to Vienna to see Harry Lime. When he arrives, he finds that Lime has been accidentally run over by a car. He hears this from a porter in Lime's building. He also meets a friend of Lime's, Kurtz (Ernst Deutsch), but he has a totally different story. When Martins hears this, he starts to become suspicious. He decides to dig deeper and meets Anna Schmidt (Valli), Lime's lover. At this point, most noirs tend to fall into romance, but this movie doesn't, as the relationship between Martins and Schmidt seems pretty business only. Anyways, the two interact and sort of flirt and go to see the porter again. How is this significant? Well, a little boy sees the porter and Martins arguing. When the porter ends up murdered the next day, he tells the police to go after Martins as he thinks he's the one. This ends up not really mattering, as the police are not really concerned with Martins. Meanwhile, Schmidt's passport is being checked and it is found that the passport is foraged and she must go back to Czechoslovakia. At this point, the movie is falling into the realm of a typical film noir, as it is just kind of only a whodunit. Enter Lime (Orson Welles), who steps out of the shadows and shakes things up. Significance? Lime has been giving out bad penicillin to hospital patients and deeply damaging their health conditions. So the police are after him. The only person Lime can trust is his good friend Holly, and this is the way that Major Calloway (Trevor Howard) wants to catch him. So Lime is chased into the sewers and is pursued in one of the best scenes in cinema history. Let me sum it up. The camerawork is masterful, the setting is priceless, and the possibilities are endless. Best of all, it actually makes Lime look human, as he is, in the end, defeated, as he is trying to crawl up through a sewer grate and is executed by his good friend Holly (in a nice Hitchcockian shot). Peter Bogdanovich said in a Criterion introduction for this film that color distracts the viewers from the beauty of a film. It especially applies to this scene. This long section in the sewers needs black and white to reveal its full potential. The rest of the film after this is a set of beautiful shots, especially a long shot of Schmidt walking briskly past Martins, rather than even say a word. It is totally priceless. Now to the technicalities: the acting is great. Cotton is not the most interesting of actors, but he does his job nicely. Anyways, he has Valli and Welles to help him. They both turn in great performances. The script is sharp, adapted by Graham Greene from his own novel. The cinematography is stellar, especially in the sewer sequence. And finally, the music ("The Third Man Theme", which plays throughout the movie, with Anton Karas on zither) is what it's all about. It is a genius composition and is perfect for this film. Bottom line: most film noir films fall into the same drowsy structure. But this great is alive, amplified, and one for the ages. A

Saturday, June 21, 2008

The Smoking Guns: Cassandra's Dream

Woody Allen is a great director, and has been for over 30 years. He has made many great movies, including Annie Hall, Manhattan, Match Point, and Scoop (which may not have been great, but was extremely enjoyable). This movie is not a great film. It is not a good film. It is a decent film. And it seemed like Allen was rushing to keep his once-a-year movie status. This one is a murder mystery, just like his last few films, except you know who the murderers are, and you are given time to relate with them. Terry (Colin Farrell) is a former soccer star who is now working as a mechanic. He's a really, really nice guy, and he has a big conscience. He drinks, gambles, smokes, and pops pills, though, but he's nice. His mother, though, thinks he doesn't have a conscience. That might be because he gets in a heck of a lot of debt. But she's wrong. His budding businessman brother, Ian (Ewan McGregor), is a "nice guy". He's a nice guy if you don't count him cheating on his girlfriend with an "good" actress (Hayley Atwell), always showing up late for work at his father's restaurant, and damaging one of the cars from Terry's auto shop. Anyways, "bad" Terry gets 90,000 pounds in debt during a card game, and the two turn to Uncle Howard (Tom Wilkinson), who is a prince who knows the ropes of the world. But Uncle Howie is a little on the shady side, and he wants the two brothers to take out a guy on his board (Philip Davis) because some testimony he's gonna make will potentially jail Howard. So the two contemplate how they will murder the businessman and Terry feels bad that he will have to play contact killer. So somehow our good friend Ian (who's pretty much a senseless killer at heart) talks Terry into the job, and the two pull it off on the side streets of London. Then, Terry falls into utter depression and his girlfriend Kate (Sally Hawkins) tries to help him, but he just feels like crap about it. Ian is happy, though, because the man he calls Uncle helps him out with a big business deal in LA and gives Ian's girlfriend (who is a terrible actress) a potential hookup with a director. I suggest you stop reading if you actually decide to waste enough time watching this movie and be "surprised." So officially: SPOILER ALERT! Ian must take out Terry. And in the most predictable scene in the movie, Ian is gonna poison Terry, has a "conscience" finally (he decides to fist fight with Terry, not poison him), and Terry accidentally kills Ian and takes his own life (the latter mentioned, not shown). Anyways, this plot is too predictable and is not up to the level of Allen's other films. Now, to acting and technicalities: this film proves that Farrell can be a much better actor than McGregor, though I thought I saw McGregor mouthing a couple of lines to Farrell. McGregor was probably cheating himself. Take, for example, the one scene between Wilkinson and McGregor when they are contemplating the murder of Ian's brother. McGregor seems to be staring at something, because his eyes look like they're reading and the same camera angle is used repeatedly. It may even be possible that Wilkinson's lines and McGregor's lines were shot separately. But I'm being picky. I guess it's not that bad. Now too the supporting acting: Atwell is okay, but Wilkinson is pretty good (not good enough, though). Who is the best? Sally Hawkins, as Terry's girl, but she gets not much screen time. Bottom line: Scoop was good, smart, and worthwhile. This movie is barely passible, not very smart, and not worth the price of admission or, really, the price of a rental. C

Note: Having read a story ("Nanny Dearest") in Woody Allen's new story collection Mere Anarchy, I had to wonder whether one influenced the other. If it was literature to cinema, then that's a double whammy for Allen.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

The Kid With the Movie Camera: Son of Rambow

When I saw that there was going to be a movie made about an amateur filmmaker recreating a major movie on home video, I thought I was going to be treated to a great, quirky movie. I got one half of that correct: it sure was quirky, but it was definitely not great or even good. It actually was quite mediocre. It seemed that the director, Garth Jennings, thought he could actually fool people by adding in Garageband sound effects (during many scenes there was Kids Booing). I mean, who is his target audience anyways? If you make a movie about making a movie, you are gonna get your share of Youtubers who want to see something about videomaking. If that's not the target audience, the crowd Jennings was probably aiming for was the sentimental ones who were looking for a nice, tearjerker movie. He probably won over those people, but not myself (I have dabbled in the craft of videos) and probably a lot of others. Anyways, to the plot. The story centers around Will Proudfoot (Bill Milner), a kid who is in a religious brethren and can't watch certain TV programs that his teacher at his school makes the kids watch. During one of his sit-outs, he meets Lee Carter (Will Poulter) who gets into a fight with Will over Will's drawing book and ends up knocking over a fishbowl (the breakable thing law that has surfaced in movies lately). They are sent to the principal's office, and they bond in the waiting room. Already at this moment I was thinking that the plot was developing too fast. So, Lee takes the blame and demands the watch that Will is wearing in return. He also demands that he must help him shoot a sort of remake of Rambo for a contest called Screen Test. While he is over at Lee's place, Will becomes enchanted with the Sly Stallone character, and in a extremely garish and weird scene, "becomes the son of Rambo(w, as he thinks it is spelled)." He also comes up with the plot for Lee's amateur video. I have to mention something about the video. The stunts that Will ends up doing are outrageous and absolutely defy the laws of physics. When Lee propels Will backwards, he flies backwards 20 feet into the air, and it is sickening. Anyways, this business relationship interferes with Will's church schedule and his mom Mary (Jessica Hynes, in a terrible performance) becomes concerned. So she hires Joshua (Neil Dudgeon, another actor performing terribly) to help him stay faithful. While this is going on, at school, the "French Exchange Friends" have come to school, led by the idolized (he is followed around by many doting Brits) Didier Revol (Jules Sitruk), who compares himself to Patrick Swayze and thinks he will be a great edition to the movie. So Will hires him and Lee gets mad and they visit a glue-sniffing club and film more garish scenes and the watch is passed back and forth and on and on and on. Then, Lee gets nearly killed when a building falls down. At this point, the movie can go two ways: 1. Will edits the film and the movie wins the contest and there is a happy ending or 2. Will doesn't edit the movie in time, the movie doesn't win the contest, but the movie does end up on a matinee with "Yentl." If you guessed 2. you were correct. Some nerdy guy who apparently paid a lot more attention to time constraints and wasn't religious wins, but Will ends up editing the movie so Lee can see it at the local theatre as a short film before the Barbara Streisand "classic." During the film, which is crudely edited by Will and Lee's brother, Lee's brother (who looks a lot like Smosh's Anthony Padilla) makes a heartfelt speech, and the movie ends shortly after. This movie feels empty, and it doesn't seem like it can fill it's hole. Bottom line: great idea, bad writing, directing, and acting. The main problem, though, is that Will and Lee have more scope than the makers of this movie. C

Monday, June 9, 2008

Artists Only: Matchstick Men

"Matchstick Men" shows up movies such as The Grifters because it is intelligent as well as slick. Nicolas Cage is Roy Waller, a veteran con man/OCD neat freak (stained carpets make him flip out), who is living a pretty routine life. In fact, routine is his life. His partner, Frank (Sam Rockwell, with a touch of wit), is a polar opposite, but still, they work well together and they get the job done. A pill problem sends Waller to his psychiatrist, Dr. Klein (Bruce Altman), who notifies him (after Roy tells him to call his wife for him) that he has a daughter, named Angela. Angela is played by Alison Lohman, who is convincing as a teenager, although she was not close to being one when she shot this film. She plays the part well, though, with a charming sense and a real chemistry with Cage on-screen. After a while (after his daughter starts crashing at his place), he breaks it to her what his real occupation is (he originally told her he was an antique salesman). She wants to help and so on and so forth. As a subplot, Roy and Frank are working on a long con to trick Chuck (Bruce McGill). Anyways, that's not exactly extremely important to this review right now. Just to tell you, the next part is a spoiler, and if you want to enjoy the full experience of the movie, I suggest that you stop reading. I am only including this for the purpose of discussion. My advice for those who decide not to keep reading is to view multiple times. What happens later is that Angela isn't Roy's daughter and that she is only there to get his coveted Safety Deposit Box passcode to take the money and Frank. So basically Frank is a real son of a gun here (or to use the modern phraseology, a dirty rotter). So Roy is the (cigarette) butt of the joke and loses out on tons of money. He ends up (in a cheesy tack-on ending) being a carpet (ha, ha, ha) salesman and marrying a grocery clerk that he likes and making tongue-in-cheek parting remarks with his now grown up daughter (she's 15, so that's pretty darn old, ain't it?). I really wished they didn't do this. Anyways, Nicolas Cage is amazing in his part, and from this movie and The Family Man and Adaptation, he has proved to be the leading authority on the slick/nervous guy. Rockwell is at his smarmy best, playing a real smarty of a partner. The supporting cast is good, too. I also liked the many cons in this movie, especially the lottery ticket one (which I won't spoil). Bottom line: Ridley Scott is doing very well. A

Saturday, June 7, 2008

The Grittiest Case Ever: My Cousin Vinny

A hilarious yet charming movie about lawyers and coming back. The plot: Two guys (Ralph Macchio and Mitchell Whitfield) stop at a rest stop in Alabama and buy loads of stuff. Macchio forgets to pay for a can of tuna and he and his buddy drive off in oblivion. Two minutes later, they are being hauled into the station on account of shoplifting (reasonable) and murder (obviously not). So Macchio calls his cousin Vinny (Joe Pesci), who is less competent than The Verdict's Francis Galvin on a drinking spurt. In fact, Vinny happens to be the worst lawyer ever, and he is so bad, he can't even plead guilty or not guilty. So basically a People's Court fan would be able to outdo him in a trial. Pesci is a great choice for this kind of character, because he is able to channel the humorous aspects of his role in Raging Bull and Goodfellas and lay down a great comedic performance. Also great is Marisa Tomei as his fiance Mona Lisa Vito, an eccentric car buff who is extremely funny. Anyways, the opposing side has three decisive witnesses and a judge (Fred Gwynne) who disapproves of Vinny's informal manner. For example, he makes fun of Vin's black leather jacket and ridicules him and makes it clear that he should wear a coat and tie. But don't worry: this is as funny as it sounds. In the end, though, Vinny realizes the consequences of a sentence and decides he should step up his game. And step up he does. He puts Denzel Washington's Philadelphia lawyer to shame. He kicks the crap out of the opposing by whittling each witness down one by one until they look foolish. This is hard to believe. I guess the notes that the opposing lawyer supplied helped. Plus, Vinny's experiences in Alabama have eerie effects on the success of his arguments. So as to say, his experiences help him out. This is a little too coincidental for me. I liked Tomei's final car argument to justify that there could be another car besides the Buick Skylark, but everything after that seemed too textbook. And also, the experiences were funny, but how much crap really can happen to two people when they are in bed? Excuse me, that was a dumb question. When it comes to movies, bad luck always happens to people when they are sleeping. How could I be so foolish? Another thing: the character development is a work of stupidity. But heck with that. This film is actually a very funny insight on courtroom dramas and actually is effective in what it wants to do. Case closed. B+

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Father Crime: The Godfather

Francis Ford Coppola made himself a film legend with this classic mafia movie, and for good reason. This film deserves much praise for every detail. It is a 175 minute opus, and it has some of the most grand scope of any movie ever. It switches from the rich backdrop of 1940's New York to the amazing country side of Sicily, and then back again in great fashion. The violence is handled perfectly, with a limited amount of the bloodshed for such a genre, yet there are still many scenes of it. And, of course, the acting is spectacular. Marlon Brando as the mafia godfather Don Vito Corleone is great, as he is serious and somewhat silly at the same time with his Italian lisp. Robert Duvall is also good as the foundling who was taken into the family and now is a major part. James Caan also deserves kudos for his portrayal of Sonny, who is much more interested in violence and strategy, and, because he is the oldest son, is sure he is the perfect choice as the successor of Vito. But it is Al Pacino who trumps the competition as Michael Corleone. The most disturbing thing in this movie, past the horse heads and stabbed hands and stranglings, is the transformation of Michael from the innocent young war vet (he even said to his sweetheart Diane Keaton that he had nothing to do with the family) to the family patriarch, basically taking the place of Don as the new senseless dealmaker. It probably wasn't his first hit, but in fact his trip to Italy, where his short-lived wife (Simonetta Stefanelli) was tragically car bombed. It's extremely sad to see such a nice young man turn terrible. Anyways, this movie also spawned the phrases "I'll give him an offer he can't refuse" and "He was swimming with the fishes." It also is obviously the inspiration for such movies as Goodfellas. There is not much to say about this movie, other than that it is one of the greatest films of all time and it deserves all the honors, if not more. Gangster movies nowadays lack the vision of such a director and are more urban thrillers than mafioso epics. This one definitely falls in the latter category, because it is epic. As I stated before, it clocks in at an astounding 175 minutes, something you don't see these days anymore. It is an intense experience to watch this movie, but if Don Corleone had been real, that would have made him proud, and for good reason. There will never be another film as rich, grand, and epic as "The Godfather." There are aspects of this film that can not ever be re-created, and no special effects will ever help that. A

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Block Party: Do the Right Thing

An outstanding film by Spike Lee has great characters who I won't forget for a long time and great depth on race. From the start, this movie is about as informal as possible, and that is what seals the deal. You feel a part of the Bed-Stuy neighborhood, and you can relate to the characters. There really is no main character, but the movie mostly follows Mookie (Lee himself), a pizza delivery guy for the neighborhood pizzeria Sal's Famous Pizza, run by Sal (Danny Aiello, who plays the part very well) and his two sons, Pino and Vino (John Tuturro and Richard Edson). All the while, small racial conflicts are happening, such as with Bugging Out (Giancarlo Esposito) and Sal about the lack of pictures of "brothers" on the Wall of Fame and also with Sal, Radio Raheem (Bill Nunn) about his "Fight the Power" spewing boombox that he blasts. Outside of the conflicts, there are Da Mayor (Ossie Davis), a usually drunken wise man, Mother Sister (Ruby Dee, amazingly), who is a mother figure, Mister Senor Love Daddy (Samuel L. Jackson), who is the local DJ who punctuates the action with bursts of his own radio and standard DJ stuff, Smiley (Roger Guenveur Smith), a stutterer who keeps selling doodled-on pictures of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr. standing next to each other and a few others played by future major actors (Rosie Perez and Martin Lawrence to name a couple). There also a group of lounging old guys making stabs at Mike Tyson and the Korean business across the way. Oh, I've forgot to mention: it's blazing hot, and the heat has shaken things up a bit. This is basically a recap of a day, and it totally works. I can see how Crash was an imitator of this movie. The only difference: this film is hardcore racial greatness and Crash is a pampered, overrated Oscar darling which thinks race is an interesting subject. This movie not only is about racial issues, it knows it like the Brooklyn 'hood it's set in. And, sorry Mr. Haggis, but the same cops motif only works when you are in a certain part of the city, not over the whole city. And Crash is too frickin' serious. Ludicris is funny, but he isn't half as funny as Radio Raheem or Bugging Out or anyone in this masterpiece for that matter. The actors in Crash just played the part. These actors lived it for god's sake. This movie beats Crash to a pulp and then some. This is the definitive race movie. Its statement on violence (especially its epic final scene) and race are unparalleled by anything I have seen. This deserves its spot on the AFI Top 100 as much as Casablanca does, and it is amazing. A