Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa

Looking through my DVDs I came across this and thought I would watch it again on a cold Sunday afternoon.

The first few minutes of the film was confusing. It basically whisked the main characters off to Africa from New York using a quick montage and narration. I actually thought at first that the DVD was scratched and the player skipped ahead a few minutes. But, after that the story got under way and things started making sense.

It was pretty much more of the same, with the usual witty jokes, some of which kids would not get at all. The plot was standard stuff, nothing original at all, these types of films rarely are, but it matters not as I am just here for the jokes.

The voice cast were all perfect, I thought they were all brilliant. Bernie Mac died the same year the film was released.

I have not seen Penguins of Madagascar yet, so I will check that out sometime.

Date watched: February 25th
Score: 7.5/10
Film count 2018: 20

The Cable Guy

I was reminded of this film recently in a podcast I listen to called Movie Crush. I have seen this at least once before, but had forgotten a lot of it, so I went to a DVD rental place last night to get it out, along with some newer films.

This film came out in 1996, at a time when Jim was pretty much at the top of his nutty game. He received $20 million big ones to star in this, a new record at the time. A year earlier he was paid $10 million for Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls. Ben Stiller directed.

Compared to his earlier films, this one was a lot darker and at times pretty weird, probably too much so for some audiences. Rotten Tomatoes gives this a 53% rating which I think is a bit low as I enjoyed the mix of comedy with a stalker plot line.

Jim Carrey (Chris Farley was considered for the role) was what made the whole film work. There were some scenes which were obviously created by Jim, such as the nipple scene in the prison (which Carrey based on a scene in Midnight Cowboy).

Looking through Jimbo’s filmography I see that this is the last film he made before his films started to become a bit more sugar-coated. The next film he made was Liar Liar, and after that The Truman Show, both very different and not quite as good as far as I am concerned. But, has has made some memorable films like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and I Love You Phillip Morris (I must watch that again too).

Bob Odenkirk had a small role with one line…

This is not the best film Jim has ever made, but I thought it was still a pretty good laugh.

Date watched: February 24th
Score: 7.5/10
Film count 2018: 19

Colors

I remember this coming out, way back in 1988, and the thing I remember the most about it was the title song by Ice-T, a catchy song.

Back in the day this was a controversial film because of the subject matter. It is of course about gang violence and the cops trying to stop it. These days it seems quite tame as there are no extreme violence scenes where peoples heads are exploded by gunshots, or innocent bystanders are wasted by a psycho-drugged-up Crip or Blood gang member. It was more about the story back then, and great acting.

And the acting is probably the best thing about this film, both Robert Duvall and Sean Penn are both great. The supporting cast including Don Cheadle, María Conchita Alonso, and a one-scene one-line appearance by Jack Nance, are good but not as great (except Nance of course).

The producer hired actual gang members during filming to act as guardians, and two were apparently shot.

Dennis Hopper directed, his first film as director since Easy Rider. He shot many scenes in actual Blood or Crip areas using either Bloods or Crips as extras depending on where he was filming.

Sean Penn got a bit miffed at an extra taking photos of him without permission and gave him a good punching…33 days in prison for him.


The guy on the right in this image amused me. Not only did he look out of place in a Chicano gang, but he also basically took on this pose in almost every scene. A later scene kind of explained later on why he looked like this (he was drugged out of his mind), but it was weird nonetheless.

This is described as a “police procedural” on Wikipedia which it is I suppose, but not as procedural as those of the 1950’s. The story was pretty standard stuff actually. It followed Duvall and Penn who grudgingly become buddies, and together they set about finding out who blew a gang member away in a drive-by shooting (Don Cheadle did it!). It had all of the usual police, gang, love-interest, and car-chase tropes we expect from a police/gang story. But, I guess it portrayed the gang culture of the time well, but I wouldn’t really know.

I would not say this is an essential watch, not these days anyway, and if it wasn’t for Duvall’s and Penn’s acting skills, and Ice-T ‘s nice song, it would not rate as well.

Date watched: February 3rd
Score: 7.5/10
Film count 2018: 9

The Beguiled

This is a remake of an old Clint Eastwood film, but this is told from the perspective of the lady’s, not the soldier. And tops it is too, Sofia Coppola directs, Nicole Kidman and Kirsten Dunst get beguiled and Colin Farrell is the soldier.

Date watched: 19th November
Score: 7.5/10
Film count 2017: 65

Clint’s version might be worth a watch too:

Groundhog Day

I felt like a bit of Bill Murray, so returned to this film which I probably last watched over 20 years ago.

It was pretty much as I remembered, the basic story anyway, I had just forgotten the details. It is an entertaining watch but the whole premise of the film does start getting a little tired towards the end. Bill is funny but quite subdued compared to other films.

For some reason the ending was not as I remembered. I thought it ended with his groundhog day finally finishing, and instead his love interest in the film starting hers. This is not how it ended, but apparently it was in the original script, so perhaps I read it then it somehow morphed in my mind as being the actual ending. The mind is a malleable and tricky thing.

Bill, who seems to be a bit difficult at times, had a falling out with director Harold Ramis, and the two never worked together again.

Not bad, not great, but worth a watch again.

Date watched: December 30th
Score: 7.5/10
Film count 2017: 146

Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels of A Tribe Called Quest

This is a documentary about one of my all-time fave hip-hop acts, A Tribe Called Quest.

It is basically a history of the band, but towards the end looks at the falling out between Q-Tip and Phife Dawg, then looks at Phife’s diabetes problem.

There are plenty of interviews with the band members as well as other acts such as De La Soul, Beastie Boys, and a Jungle Brothers member. There is also a lot of archival footage, as well as footage from Rock the Bells concerts which they headlined. Hip-hop gigs don’t seem to be all that good to me, it just doesn’t seem to work as well live, but maybe you have to be there.

Phife Dawg’s story is a bit sad. He was addicted to sugar which lead to a kidney transplant with his wife donating one kidney, but it did not take well and he had to have another transplant in 2012, and he died last year due to complications with diabetes.

The film had some great graphics, especially in the opening sequence (same as in the poster below).

This is more for A Tribe Called Quest fans than anyone else, but it is well made and somewhat interesting.

Date watched: December 28th
Score: 7.5/10
Film count 2017: 145

Something from Nothing: The Art of Rap

This is a documentary made by Ice=t about how rappers go about writing their music.

He starts off in New York where rap started, and talks with people like Grandmaster Caz (never heard of him, but he is supposedly one of the first rappers), Yasiin (formerly known as Mos Def), and a few others. He then goes to Detroit to see Eminem, who Ice-T seems to have a lot of respect for, then off to Los Angeles. There he meets up with B-Real from Cypress Hill, Run and DMC, Chuck D, Ice Cube, Kanye West, KRS-One, and Snoop Dogg, amongst others. There is also a look at the history of rap.

He asks each rapper about their writing process, and gets them to do a rap to the camera, most of which are quite impressive, and each one has their own unique style. Snoop Dogg was a highlight as he is such a chill and funny guy.

Ice-T was totally down with each person he met, he seemed to be very chummy with all of them. He did a couple of raps of him own.

But unless you like rap this is probably not for everyone. I did find some of the raps a bit tiring at times, they mostly rap about how dangerous they are and how they like shooting guns and spliffing spliffs. But, their passion for writing their music is clearly evident, and they are certainly talented and confident of themselves. They were also all very knowledgeable and respectful of the history of rap and other forms of music.

Date watched: December 9th
Score: 7.5/10
Film count 2017: 139