It’s Tuesday which can only mean one thing and that is that it is time for Based on a Truesday Story. Based on a Truesday Story is a segment I did on my other blog where we watch films that are based on a true story and for today we are doing American Gangster. Frank Lucas (Denzel Washington) is an African American drug lord from Harlem, New York who decides that the best way to take over the competition is to fly directly to the source in Vietnam. He quickly becomes the drug kingpin of New York, but that attracts the wrong kind of attention. Richie Roberts (Russell Crowe) is an honest cop who gets put on the case to track down Frank Lucas and shut him down completely and anyone else corrupt as well. The film also stars Chiwetelu Ejiofor (12 Years A Slave) as Huey Lucas, Josh Brolin (The Goonies) as Trupo, Lymari Nadal (The Blackout) as Eva, Ted Levine (The Silence Of The Lambs) as Lou Toback, Roger Guenveur Smith (He Got Game) as Nate, John Hawkes (Lincoln) as Freddie, RZA (The Man With The Iron Fists) as Moses Jones, Carla Gugino (Watchmen) as Laurie, Idris Elba (Thor) as Tango, Common (Selma) as Turner Lucas, TI (Ant-Man) as Stevie Lucas, Armand Assante (Judge Dredd) as Dominic Cattano, and the film was directed by Ridley Scott (Alien).
What happens when you put Denzel Washington in a leading role of a film? Well, I hope that you are preparing yourself for one hell of a performance because that is exactly what you are getting with this film. The thing I loved about this film is that you sort of get two stories in one where you have one guy who wants to make his teacher and his family proud by being at the top of his game while you have another who feels that honesty is the best policy and it will lead him over the dirty cops. I have to be honest in saying that if I found a million dollars as a cop, I may skim a few off the top of it. It’s kind of the story of the two roads with the one less traveled and you can guess who took which road in this film. There are so many actors that appeared in this film that I couldn’t fit above that deserved honorable mention like Cuba Gooding Jr., Ruby Dee, Jon Polito, John Ortiz, and many more who do a terrific job in the film. Now we all know that Hollywood takes some civil liberties with their films, but this one seems to have a lot according to an article on historyvshollywood.com. One story is that Frank says in the film that he drove for Bumpy for 15 years. Reports indictate that Bumpy was released from prison in 1963 and he died in 1968 leaving only a five year window. Check out more of the facts vs fiction in that article that I provided. The film is excellent with a very good story, amazing cinematography, and it’s the kind of gangster movies we love here in the states. So, what more could you possibly ask for? I am going to give the film an A- for a final grade.
Believe it or not, I was never a huge fan of science fiction films growing up as a kid and in fact I preferred horror movies over them. With all the talk of a new Alien film, I figured what better time than now to see all the films in the franchise and start with the film Alien. A space merchant vessel known as the Nostromo is heading back to Earth after a routine pick up of whatever the cargo is. The crew is nice and asleep in their pods during the long and strenuous travel when they are awoken by MOTHER which is the ships computer. They discover that there is a distress signal from somewhere in space and protocol says that they have to investigate. After investigating the call, one of the crew members is attacked by something and they bring aboard a master alien specie that is takes no prisoners. The crew has to figure out a way to get safely home and away from the alien before it’s too late. The film stars Tom Skerritt (Top Gun) as Dallas, Sigourney Weaver (1492: Conquest Of Paradise) as Ripley, Veronica Cartwright (The Witches Of Eastwick) as Lambert, Harry Dean Stanton (The Green Mile) as Brett, John Hurt (Hellboy) as Kane, Ian Holm (The Fifth Element) as Ash, Yaphet Kotto (The Running Man) as Parker, Bolaji Badejo as the Alien, and the film was directed by Ridley Scott (Blade Runner).
So, I am happy to say that I was pleasantly surprised with how much I really liked the film. One thing I noticed about spaceships in space carrying humans and that is all of them are run by a computer that malfunctions. For example in 2001: A Space Odyssey, Hal 9000 runs the ship and basically kills everyone while MOTHER runs the ship in Alien and she’s not very helpful. Humans will never learn throughout time that we should never trust a computer. Nevertheless, the computer in this film is obviously the least of their troubles as they are being chased around and killed by an amazing H.R. Giger designed Alien. Now that is a pretty scary scenario if you ask me, but the beauty of the film wasn’t how much you saw the alien, it was where the hell was he. The film gave you that Jaws effect where you are wondering where on this creepy ship is that scary alien. When it’s time to go, they give you the alien on the ship. The film contained a small cast, but this cast is as brilliant as it gets with the likes of John Hurt, Harry Dean Stanton, etc. As I said above, I was never a huge fan of Sci-Fi films so I avoided watching these, but I am glad that I started because it has a brilliant story and sets. The cinematography and the editing of the film is also a strong point for the film. That is why I am going to give the film an A for a final grade.
I am about to go on a Oscar Isaac binge and for good reason I might add. He is an incredible actor who is slowly becoming one of my favs after roles as Poe Dameron in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Nathan in Ex Machina, Blue in Sucker Punch, and he is about to be Apocalypse in X-Men: Apocalypse. In today’s film, Robin Hood, he plays King John in this origin story about Robin Longstride (Russell Crowe). King Richard (Danny Huston) was killed in battle and it’s up to his most trusted friend to return the crown. The only problem is that he is killed in an ambush and Robin agrees to bring his sword back to his father. Once Robin returns the sword to Sir Walter Loxley (Max Von Sydow), he is asked to pretend to be his son while England boils away in turmoil due to a traitor to the crown. The film also stars stars Mark Strong (Kingsman: The Secret Service) as Godfrey, Cate Blanchett (The Monuments Men) as Marion Loxley, William Hurt (The Incredible Hulk) as William Marshal, Mark Addy (The Full Monty) as Friar Tuck, Matthew Macfadyen (Frost/Nixon) as Sheriff Of Nottingham, Kevin Durand (X-Men Origins: Wolverine) as Little John, Scott Grimes (American Dad!) as Will Scarlet, Alan Doyle (State Of Play) as Allan A’Dayle, and the film was directed by Ridley Scott (Gladiator).
You should know going into a film like this that you can guarantee that it’s going to be well made when it’s Ridley Scott and Russell Crowe. A team that looked to repeat the success of Gladiator some ten years or so before it. As I said above, this is the origin story so it’s pre-steal from the rich and give to the poor Robin Hood. It explains how he became who he would eventually become in the story we loved as children. One of my favorite things about period pieces like this (because it is after all) are the sets, costumes, and the cinematography. You know that the costumes are going be done very well leading you to believe that you are in the 14th century or whenever this takes place. The sets are going to be showing you a time you were like where are the streets, Chipotle, and the shopping malls? Oh yeah because this takes place in the medieval times so those didn’t exist yet and not for a heck of a long time. The cinematography was absolutely amazing showing you the lush green of England and some of the shots of the ocean when the French are coming. Oh yeah, then there’s that thing called acting and it’s pretty phenomenal in this film especially Oscar Isaac as the mad and immature King John. The film may not be as amazing as Gladiator, but it’s hard to repeat the exact magic of a film and so there is no point in fretting over it and just watch the film. I am going to give Robin Hood, an A for a final grade.