Monday, August 23, 2021

COLORS (1988)

"Fucking vato psycho loco, homes."

Los Angeles, California. A newer cop (Sean Penn) is teamed up with a veteran cop (Robert Duvall).  Together they protect the citizens of Los Angeles by breaking all kinds of laws and doing pretty much anything they want.  Including spray painting a teenager in the face and watching an unarmed (naked) man get shot in the back.  By time the film was over I wasn't sure if they had actually done anything productive or were just another participant in the gang war.  Maybe that was the point of the story.

As far as older police/street gang movies go, COLORS is extremely dated...but honestly, it was dated the day it came out.  I don't think Damon Wayans A capella rapping "checkin' out slobs / that is our job...G ridin in the van / with my main man" could've ever be taken seriously.  Dated or not, COLORS is still an entertaining watch for fans of 1980's crime films.

Medium pace, uneven direction (by Dennis Hopper of all people), tons of familiar faces, lots of cool Los Angeles locations (including the rebel hideout from V: THE FINAL BATTLE and a bad ass movie theater showing AMERICAN NINJA 2: THE CONFRONTATION, DIRTY WAR and STREET SMART!), zero big awesome action scenes, vintage cars, vintage clothes, solid acting, interesting variety of music (including Los Lobos, War, Ice-T, Eric B & Rakim, Big Daddy Kane and others), a few quick drive-bys, Damon Wayans air humping a large stuffed rabbit doll, unsatisfying ending, multiple continuity errors, quick nudity, a brief Candyman sighting and some truly thought-provoking dialogue.  Including this memorable exchange...

Gang member: "Well, fuck you man.  I don't wanna stop nothing!"
Cop: "Hey, fuck you.  You little stupid fucking asshole."
Gang member: "Well, fuck you back man!"

That's a fucking Hallmark moment right there.  Or maybe I should quote the guy from I'M GONNA GIT YOU SUCKA: "The man's a Shakespeare!" Anyway, COLORS. Good movie and kind of original for its time, but it doesn't hold up to some of the street gang classics that would come just a few years later.

[Update 08/31/2021: Watching 1973's ROBIN HOOD on Disney+ as I edit older reviews and the Sheriff of Nottingham just sang the line "They call me a slob, but I do my job."  That's very similar to the line Damon Wayans rapped in this film.  Guess it's a small world after all.]

Tuesday, August 17, 2021


"...the pain that cuts a straight line down through the heart. We call it love."

Raised in East Germany during the Cold War, a young Hansel Schmidt found mental escape and inspiration from listening to glam rockers like Lou Reed, Iggy Pop and David Bowie. He then found actual real life escape by marrying an American soldier and moving to America. Unfortunately, in order to pass the physical to get married, he underwent a botched reassignment surgery that left her with a one inch lump of skin where his ping-ding used to be.  Once in America, the marriage (built on such a strong foundation) fails and Hansel (now Hedwig) starts performing original songs in whatever small venue will have her.  That is where our tale begins.

I absolutely love HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH...all the way up until the Tommy Gnosis character shows up. I felt that way two decades ago when I first saw this film and I've felt it the dozen or so times I've watched it again over the years.  It starts out so strong and just gets better and better!  One great song after another, each presented in such imaginative ways that effortlessly pushes the story forward.  Then Tommy Gnosis shows up and the movie putters to an unsatisfactory end.  It's disappointing.  Still, I love the character of Hedwig.  And her band (even though they aren't the focus of the film) are all so unique and likable.  Another positive thing is I cannot even decide which song I love the most.  They're all so great!  Wig in a Box, Angry Inch, Tear Me Down, Sugar Daddy, The Origin of Love, Wicked Little Town, Midnight Radio, In Your Arms Tonight, Exquisite Corpse...I mean, goddamn, how can one musical have so many awesome songs?!  If I had to pick just one performance from the film, I'd have to say Sugar Daddy.  The song with it's Country twang is great and the performance in the film is beyond charming and funny.  I smile my handsome smile the entire time.  "It's a car wash, ladies and gentlemen."  Holy shit, that scene is perfect.

Long story, short: HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH is a great film and 100% mandatory for anybody who loves glam musicals.  I personally find the last act to be disappointing, but who knows, maybe you'll love it. Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go spend the rest of the day singing the soundtrack to my cat, Susie. "I put on some make-up..."

[I just wanted to add that Michael Pitt does a fine job in his portrayal of the Tommy Gnosis character, I just straight-up didn't think the character needed to be in the film at all.  Hedwig's personal journey was already enough material for a film.]