Monday, September 20, 2021

JACOB'S LADDER (1990)

Vietnam, 1971. American soldier Tim Robbins is not having a good time.  Fast-forward to New York City, 1975 and Robbins is now working for the Post Office and has a pretty dope life: nice apartment, kind neighbors, beautiful girlfriend who likes him, cool books to read.  The only negative thing is he occasionally sees mutated humanoid demons who want to kidnap him and stick a large needle in his skull.

JACOB'S LADDER was better back in 1990.  I remember enjoying it back then and being freaked out by it.  Watching it now, it's way too light-weight.  Tim Robbins' life is definitely fucked up, but sadly, I'd trade places with him in a second.  His anxiety-filled, demon-haunted, nightmare hellscape life is better than my life.  Way better.  It's hard to feel empathy towards a protagonist in a horror movie when their nightmare existence is an improvement over your daily life.

Medium pace that slows down toward the end, random body parts laying around, "The Stranger" by Albert Camus, freaky demons, at least one tentacle, very little blood, zero gore, impressive cast, interesting photography.  JACOB'S LADDER is a good movie (and influential in its day), but it's just not hardcore or fucked up enough to still be shocking.

Remake - Jacob's Ladder (2019)

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

BOYZ N THE HOOD (1991)

"They want us to kill ourselves."

1984. Ten-year-old Tre Styles lives with his single mother (Angela Bassett) n Los Angeles.  She can't handle his shit and sends him to live with his father, Jason "Furious" Styles (Laurence Fishburne) n the hood. Some STAND BY ME shit happens and suddenly it's 1991 and 17-year-old Tre is now 23-year-old Cuba Gooding Jr. who looks like he's 30 and hasn't slept n 4 days.  He also has a shirt with two random dots on it. N order to show off his shirt, he goes to a neighborhood BBQ party where we're introduced to the important characters n the film.  Namely, half-brothers Darren 'Doughboy' Baker (Ice Cube) and Ricky Baker (Morris Chestnut).  Doughboy and Ricky might be brothers, but they are very different.  Ricky is a football start who hopes to get a football scholarship while Doughboy is a drug dealing gang member.

What can I say about BOYZ N THE HOOD that hasn't already been said a billion times by people who actually get paid to write about such things?  Probably nothing. It's definitely a product of it's time and dated as fook, but it's still a great film and historically important.  It's also unfair to carelessly lump BOYZ N THE HOOD nto the "hood film" genre thinking that it's nothing but endless drive-bys and people randomly yelling "motherfucker", because BNTH is more of coming-of-age than anything else.  It just happens to take place n the hood.

Good pace, hit or miss acting, less violence than some might expect, Duck Hunt, awesome early 1990's Los Angeles scenery, uneven direction (that kinda adds to the film n a weird way), dude getting hit with a garbage can, so many loose ends n the script that is seems like the movie is more a fable than an actual story, multiple now iconic scenes and characters, actors that all (distractingly) look 5 years older than their characters (example: 22-year-old high school footballer applying for college), badass dated fashions, vintage cars, a Freddy Krueger reference, director cameo (Mailman), an Eazy-E dis, dated slang that I still use, male dominate story, interesting soundtrack that features everything from 2 Live Crew to The Five Stairsteps.

BOYZ N THE HOOD is mandatory viewing for anybody interesting n American Cinema or just good films n general, but for me personally the single greatest thing about BNTH isn't anything to do with the film itself, but instead its obvious influence on one of my absolute favorite films of all time: the 91-minute cut of 1995's FRIDAY.  [I'll save my 200,000 word love letter to FRIDAY for my review of the film.]  Watch them back-to-back and you'll see what I'm talking about.  Hell...Cube's even wearing the same exact clothes n the opening scene of FRIDAY that he was wearing n the last scene of BOYZ N THE HOOD!  Half-dead motherfucker. Come on, sister!

If you need me, I'll be outside raking leaves n a yard with no trees.

[Fun fact: I remember going to Wal-Mart after this film came out (and before I saw it) and being confused as to why so many people were walking around with baby pacifiers n their mouths.]