I Saw That!

One woman's opinions about popular entertainment.

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Location: Chicago, Illinois, United States

Amateur boxing coach, Christian (but not so heavenly-minded that I'm no earthly good) singer, writer, self-defense advocate, childfree. feminist www.smartwomenboxingtraining.org

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Madea's Family Reunion (2006)

The film is somewhat different than the popular stage play. The granddaughter engaged to a well-to-do man who beat her is still there, but the plot about another granddaughter with a drug problem is gone. Also, the story about the granddaughter trying to salvage her troubled marriage to an ex-con is missing. Added is a granddaughter who is being wooed by a bus driver, and a mouthy foster kid whom Madea is forced to take in.

There is a lot of sermonizing in the movie. In addition to advice Madea gives out to family members, Cicely Tyson and Maya Angelou have scenes where they have speeches about love and respect. The story is heavy-handed, but amusing in spots. A scene where Madea slaps around a bully who's messing with her foster daughter is a crowd pleaser. Blair Underwood proves that he can play a good bad guy, as the odious fiance of one of the granddaughters. Lynn Whitfield also has good scenes as a calculating witch of a mother. Tyler Perry, the star, director, and writer of the film, has three roles as outspoken Madea, outspoken Uncle Joe, and a lawyer who's a nephew of Madea.

Ms. Tyson is a respected actress with numerous appearances on TV and in film, including the excellent made-for-TV- film, "The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman". Ms. Angelou is an well-known author and speaker. Mr. Underwood had been a cast member on TV's "L.A. Law", and appeared as Jada Pinkett Smith's love interest in the movie Set It Off.

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Saturday, March 04, 2006

Friday (1995)

Rapper Ice Cube co-wrote this slice of life about a day in an inner-city neighborhood of Los Angeles. Craig Jones (Ice Cube) and pal Smokey (Chris Tucker) are two young men who appear to do nothing about hang around the 'hood all day. Craig has just been fired from his latest dead-end job. Craig's dad (John Witherspoon), is always on him to do something with his life. Dana (Regina King), Craig's sister goes to school and is overly concerned with her hair.

The movie consists of the antics of Craig and Smokey's family and friends throughout the day. Some of it is funny, but a lot of it misses the mark. There is a long scene where Craig and Smokey are sitting on the front porch smoking, drinking, and making comments about the people who are passing by. It totally stops the movie in its tracks, and does not move the story along.

Ice Cube was a member of a notorious rap group known as NWA, known for such hits as "Gangsta, Gangsta" and "Fuck The Police". He has gone on to appear in such films as Barbershop. Chris Tucker paired with martial artist Jackie Chan for two installments of the movie Rush Hour. John Witherspoon was a regular on TV's "The Wayans Brothers". Anna Marie Horsford, who plays Ice Cube's mom in the film, was a regular on "Amen". Regina King was a regular on "227" and was in the movies, Jerry McGuire and Ray.

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Halloween (1978)

The boogeyman cometh in this very scary horror classic, directed by John Carpenter. It is never explained why Michael Myers kills; a flashback scene shows a six year old Meyers taking a butcher knife to his sister on Halloween night. Flash forward to the present where the medical board of the institution Myers has been in for a couple of decades review his file to see if he can be released. Dr. Sam Loomis (Donald Pleasance) speaks strongly against Myers' release and it is not granted. Later that night, Myers gets loose and escapes.

He goes back to small, sleepy Illinois town he came from, where teenaged friends Laurie, Annie and Lynda (Jamie Lee Curtis, Nancy Kyles and P.J. Soles) go to high school and hang out with their friends. It is Laurie who first senses all is not right near them, but her friends turn her gut feelings into a joke. She catches a glimpse of Myers a few times, but he disappears as fast as she shows up. Meanwhile, Dr. Loomis goes on a desperate search to find Myers, whom he considers an unredeemable monster. Then Halloween night decends on the town, and the true terror begins.

I like that this film did not rely a lot on gore. In fact, there is very little blood shown. The scares and shocks come out of shadows, darkness and quiet moments. Halloween is credited with starting off the "slasher" genre, which still continues to this day, but this film was way better than the ones of the same type that followed it. Like most popular horror stories, the film generated several sequels, none of which were as good as the first. The third installment, Halloween III: The Season Of The Witch, had nothing to do with the films that came before or after it, having to do with a plot to kill thousands of kids on Halloween via cursed masks and a TV broadcast.

Jamie Lee Curtis is the daughter of actors Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh. She has the nickname of "The Body" because of her curvy figure. She has appeared in several films including, Trading Spaces and A Fish Called Wanda. The late Donald Pleasance appeared in several films including Fantasic Voyage, and one of the James Bond films, You Only Live Twice. P.J. Soles was one of the mean kids in Carrie and in the cult classic Rock N' Roll High School.

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Wild In The Streets (1968)

This used to be shown on TV quite a lot, but I haven't seen this up-with-youth-fantasy in years. Through a series of convoluted events, a rock star/drug dealer named Max Frost (Christopher Jones) is elected President of the United States after the voting age is lowered to fourteen. Instead of fostering love, peace, and understanding, Frost declares that anyone thirty years of age and older should be put away. Full of counter-culture, psychedelic sights and sounds, the plot is crazy and campy at the same time.

Hal Holbrook plays a politican who initially backs Frost, then comes to regret his decision. The late Shelley Winters plays Frost's high strung mom, and late comic genius Richard Pryor appears as a drummer in Frost's band.

There was a minor pop/rock hit from this movie that made the charts, called "Nothing Can Change The Shape Of Things To Come". I've heard it used in TV ads for Target.

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"Starsky & Hutch" (1975-1979)

Volatile Dave Starsky (Paul Michael Glaser) and pensive Ken Hutchinson (David Soul) were tough L.A. police detectives. They had no problem with handing out beat downs and busting bullets in criminals. The guys were intense about tracking down bad guys, often butting heads with their superior, Captain Harold Dobey (Bernie Hamilton). Huggy Bear (Antonio Fargas) was a street hustler--who later owned a bar during the series' run--from whom Starsky and Hutch would get tips on occassion to help solve crimes.

The series started out as a highly rated made-for-TV-movie. The show was rather violent. Fist fights, car chases, gun battles, spectacular falls, etc. Criticism against the violent content rose steadily throughout the series' run. During the final season, the action was toned down, and the ratings dropped.

The glue that kept the show together was the relationship between Starsky and Hutch, two guys who were opposites, but had a common ground in their pursuit of justice. I remember somebody wrote in an article that was published while the series was on that theirs was a homosexual relationship without the sex and romance.

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Friday, March 03, 2006

"Amen" (1986-1991)

Sherman Hemsley ("The Jeffersons") scored another hit with this sitcom about the members of a Philadelphia church produced by Johnny Carson's production company. Hemsley was Ernest Frye, a lawyer who was also a deacon of his church. Frye was also a widower who had single-handedly raised his prim and proper daughter Thelma (Anna Marie Horsford). Frye's dad had founded the church, so Frye felt he had a right to control it. His attitude clashed with Reuben Gregory (Clifton Davis), who was the pastor. Chatty sisters Casietta and Arnelia (Barbara Montgomery and Roz Ryan) were members of the church board, and Rolly (Jester Hairston) was another member who didn't hesitate to speak his mind.

Frye's pushiness kept him in trouble with everybody, but he appeared to seldom learn lessons from his antics. His attitude was evident in the opening credits, which saw a sign above Frye's parking space that read, "Don't even think of parking here!" Romance challenged Thelma and Rev. Gregory slowly fell in love, and eventually married.

Clifton Davis is a Seventh-Day Adventist pastor is real life. He also wrote the song "Never Can Say Goodbye" which was a big hit for the Jackson Five back in 1971. Jester Hairston was no slouch in the music department himself, having wrote many sacred hymns.

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