It’s been over a decade since we’ve taken a trip to Calvin’s barber shop, on the Southside of Chicago. The shop has evolved as the neighbourhood has evolved; but the bitter pill of change can be hard to swallow. Recently, Chicago has made international headlines, as high-profile murders plague the city. Gang warfare threatens the residents of the impoverished Southside, catching innocent victims in the crossfire. Fed up with the lack of progress by local police The Mayor’s Office proposes a plan to wall off the neighbourhood, with Calvin’s shop in the center. Fearful of the Mayor’s proposal, escalating violence and the impact on his impressionable, teenage son; Calvin secretly weighs his options: Move the shop to the preppy Northside, or stay the course and inspire a positive change in the neighbourhood (somehow). Continue reading “Review – Barbershop: The Next Cut”
Last time on 21 Jump Street:
Captain Dickson: Enough, already. Enough. New assignment. Since you two cowboys love to drink booze, smoke weed with kids and f**k anything with a big ass in jeans with low self-esteem, I’m a send you to a place where all that s**t is allowed.
Jenko: Oh, I love Disneyland.
Captain Dickson: You two sons of bitches are goin’ to college!
I wanted to believe that ending to 21 Jump Street would be good open ending to one of the biggest surprises of 2012. Two years later, Schmidt and Jenko are back in 22 Jump Street. Equally surprising is the sequel being as good as the original. The Phil Lord and Christopher Miller film has the same quick wit, bromantic tendencies and over the top ridiculousness as the first. Even Deputy Chief Hardy (Nick Offerman) is pretty clear when he says with a deadpan delivery: “You’re doing the same thing. The thing you did the first time; you’re doing it again, because it was successful”. There are a few moments like that where the cast doesn’t tear down the 4th wall, but they do give it a swift knock. Poignantly self-aware, even mocking its very existence; 22 Jump Street is smart, crude, crass, raunchy and as surprisingly good as the first.
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Films about corrupt policemen are almost always going to be compared to a striking 1992 film by Abel Ferrara called Bad Lieutenant, which stars Harvey Keitel in one of the landmark performances of his storied career. In it, he portrays a cop who’s gone beyond “off the deep end”; he’s a crack-smoking, drug-dealing gambler whose family life harshly contradicts that of the one he lives behind his badge. In Rampart, Woody Harrelson steps into a Keitel-like role with sly, snakelike aplomb as he carries the entire movie on his shoulders. People will call it his greatest role since Mickey Knox in Natural Born Killers; they’d be right, as Harrelson is great in this film. The rest of it… well, there’s the rub.
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Rampart is familiar territory for novelist/screenwriter James Ellroy, whose version of Los Angeles has seen its share of corrupt cops (Street Kings, Dark Blue and L.A. Confidential). Director and co-writer Oren Moverman takes a surprisingly subtle tack in conveying the ugliness of the material, which ostensibly concerns the police brutality scandal plaguing the city’s Rampart precinct in the late ’90s. But as an intense character study, the film focuses almost entirely on Dave Brown (Woody Harrelson), a corrupt LAPD veteran who seems to be caught in a destructive, self-fulfilling prophecy. The story works, most of the time.
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Over the last decade there have been a lot of stories told about the police officers of the Los Angeles Police Department in film and television. A lot of times the story tellers are trying show an in depth or humanized side of the men and women that worked there in the 80s and 90s. Named after the police division Rampart is another one of these types of films. A character study of a hard to find redeemable police officer in the late 90s the film tries to show a fully realized portrait of middle age man as he starting to unravel as times change.
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