BLU-RAY Movie of the Day : Antoine Fuqua’s EQUALIZER

“Progress. Not perfection.”

The Equalizer Movie Poster

I know in this day of streaming it’s all the rage to herald the death of physical media.

Allow me to be the voice of dissent.

Streaming is fine for sampling things, and trying things, but for things you love, and intend to watch again, revisit again, give me that feature rich DVD or BLU-RAY any-day, and twice on Sunday.

I love film. And I love cast and Director’s commentary. For films I love, after I consume the film, I like to go back and hear about the process, the experience of making the film.

For a beloved film, it just adds to the enjoyment.

And for cinephiles or hopefuls one day looking to work in some capacity crafting these once celluloid marvels, a commentary by Michael Mann or Ridley Scott or the late great Tony Scott is like being part of the best film school in the world.  It’s enjoyable AND informative.

My favorite movies I might get introduced to on streaming, but providing they have that commentary and special features, I will always buy in Blu-ray/DVD format.

The Equalizer Movie Poster

Antoine Fuqua’s THE EQUALIZER is one of those movies. First the Blu-Ray picture and sound quality is stellar. No buffering issues, or making sure you haven’t gone over broadband quota issues, or weather related or ‘time of day’ issues that can all affect your enjoyment with streaming. No the Blu-Ray, as long as you have your player and power, will be there for you, in the same spectacular quality.

Now moving on to the film itself, while I liked the TV show well enough, I too was incredulous when i heard about a remake. Add to that the odd choice of Denzel Washington to helm a big screen version of a mid-tier show, best known for the Britishness of its protagonist.

But I’m happy to say AntoinE Fuqua and the writers and Denzel Washington do the impossible in making this 80s small screen show, into galvanizing big screen entertainment. From the first frame the story is told, of a man of regimented routine, of  necessary order. Peace, found in the adherence to the space between seconds. A dragon allowed to sleep. Until one day something shatters that routine, that peace, and the dragon must wake.

Fuqua is a director, whose first couple of efforts left me cold, but I have to say he has grown into a great Director. There is such a beautiful patience in this film, that it makes the action scenes when they come, so much more devastating. And a large part of that is Denzel Washington, he brings a laconic, measured weight to the doors he steps through, a gravitas, that really sells the moments he must… wake.

Coming out the same time frame as JOHN WICK, both films share a common theme of men of extreme skillsets being forced back into using those skills. It’s lovely how the same theme of vengeance can be handled so differently, and so well in those differences.

JOHN WICK is a balls to the wall, action extravaganza,  EQUALIZER offers a bit more measured approach, but somehow manages to make every person’s fall more personal for that measured response. Fuqua’s EQUALIZER takes the time to watch the light go out of a man’s eyes. And there is something sobering and frightening about that. I love JOHN WICK, and looking forward to JOHN WICK II, but I love EQUALIZER just as much. The only misstep to EQUALIZER is the poor choice of a rap song for the closing credits, but other than that a home-run of a film.

It is a phenomenal film. Made even more so by the VENGEANCE MODE that the Blu-Ray offers. All in all a grade ‘A’ film, well deserving of owning in Blu-Ray.

 

Get your copy at the link below:

The Equalizer [Blu-ray]

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What I’m Watching : SUPERMAN RETURNS (2006) Revisited after 10+ years!

Dracula Movie Poster

Recalling this is Frank Langella’s Birthday and how much I’m enamored of his performances (particularly his DRACULA I think is hypnotic and astounding), I went looking for films courtesy of streaming/VOD and I came across SUPERMAN RETURNS.

 

Superman Returns Movie Poster

Unlike the vocal few, I’ve always liked Bryan Singer’s SUPERMAN RETURNS. It is not perfect but its weaknesses are minor, and its strengths… deserving of praise.

Watching it today, over 10 years after its release, the film holds up. It is visually stunning to look at, gorgeously filmed and sumptuously framed, outright beautiful. Going for and achieving that feeling of awe, that particularly the first Richard Donner Superman was able to achieve, And it has that romanticized feel, and familial pacing, and doe-eyed optimism that both of the first two Donner Superman movies were able to achieve. But all of this lensed through Bryan Singers unique and ambitious take, his more otherworldly, take on the Man of Steel.

Where some people only saw ‘stalker’ Superman, those of us acquainted with reason, saw an obvious moral quandary tackled head-on. You want a being that can hear you when you call? The price and burden of this means he is always listening and always watching. So the film plays wonderfully with this idea of mensh unt Ubermensh. Of Man and Superman, and the burdens and trials of both.

The film does lose itself toward the end, but not enough to keep the journey from being rewarding, and memorable and fun.

This film falling in solid Bronze medal contention as one of the best Superman Movies of all time, beat out only by those two films that it is a natural sequel and follow-up to, Richard Donner’s SUPERMAN and SUPERMAN II.

MAN OF STEEL, as well as the other post Donner Christopher Reeves films are all left far in this films wake.

My grade after revisiting SUPERMAN RETURNS after 10+ years?

Well, Great Bryan Singer Direction, excellent visuals, stunning production design by Guy Hendrix Dyas, great performances by Brandon Routh and Kevin Spacey and Tristan Lake Leabu as Lois’s son.  Also the flying scenes (all of them but particularly, That flight with Lois, a definite homage to the iconic scene in the first film, and I think it’s great),the plane scene, the yacht saving scene,the Daily Planet globe scene, the eye scene, the car scene that is a homage to a classic comic book cover, the mensh unt ubermensh overtones, and just the sheer fun of it, all of that is a solid A.

If you watch those scenes and don’t feel a sense of awe, possibly you shouldn’t be watching a film called SUPERMAN or there may be something fundamentally broken in you. 🙂

Now in the minus column you have that the Lois Lane performance sometimes grates and the general denouement/climatic battle/wrapup didn’t quite work for me (through I appreciate it more on re-watching then when I initially saw it in the theaters), those are a C- at best.

So averaged together the film as a whole is still a solid B+.

[possible spoilers]Too bad Bryan Singer didn’t get to follow this up, as I would have liked him exploring the dynamics of a SUPERMAN with a family, and a kryptonian impervious to kryptonite, and just some of the other ingenious ideas touched on in this film.[spoilers done]

Revisit it yourself on Netflix or better yet get the Blu-ray with Directors Commentary. The film will stand the test of time against the cynics, romance always does. STRONGLY RECOMMENDED.

 

 

Superman: The Movie / Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut / Superman Returns [Blu-ray]

Superman Returns (Two-Disc Special Edition)

Drácula (Blu-Ray) (Import Movie) (European Format – Zone B2) (2013) Frank Langella; Laurence Olivier; Donald P

TV REVIEW : Netflix’s LUKE CAGE Season 1 Episode 1-13 by Cheo Hodari Coker

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Well I’ve just finished watching the 13th episode of Netflix/Marvel Studios LUKE CAGE, and I have to say… I loved it. Full stop. Show runner Cheo Hodari Coker manages to in many ways do the impossible, and take a character already spotlighted in the JESSICA JONES series, and whose origins are the milieu of the Black Action or Black Agency film of the late 60s and 70s (mislabeled under the derogatory misnomer of Blaxploitation) and with him tell a rich, evocative, exciting, deeply layered cultural and historical and prescient love letter, to a place, Harlem, New York, and to an idea of local determination, and local agency, and self love, and colored love, and Black love in the age of Ferguson.

 

 

Or you can just look at it as a great action/drama series, set in the wonderfully expansive universe of Marvel shared superhero universe. :).

 

 

But what has exemplified the Netflix/Marvel collaborations to date is how grounded they are in a world not so dissimilar from our own. The gritty street level nature of DAREDEVIL’s 1st season, and ground breaking fight choreography, and fantastic writing made for a justifiably lauded 13 hours of television. (lost a bit in its less cohesive and interesting 2nd season)

 

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LUKE CAGE takes that to another level, in being a show that is as much about cultural signposts and idioms that define us, as it is the ‘A’ story of conflict and resolution. The literary and historical and musical references are not just littered throughout the story, they help define the scope of the character and the scope of the neighborhood that this story takes place in. A man is the things he loves, the things he reads, the things he listens to, the heroes that inspired, the places that mattered, and immediately in one episode Coker defines LUKE CAGE the character and the series in broad strokes, that for me reverberate deeply.

 

 

The first two episodes floored me in how good and rich and beautiful, they are. Coker here hitting, for me, the conversations I have in my soul and my head, Chester Himes, Walter Mosley, Denis LeHane, George Pelecanos, Donald Goines??? Come’ on Son!!! Kenyatta??? Those few strokes and I knew this was a writer with a deep love and understanding of genre fiction, and those who make it.

 

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But it’s more than name dropping, our influences define us, and define our world, and define who we care for, so immediately they make us part and parcel of this story that Coker and his team of writers tell. It’s a beautifully structured 13 hours of television, in that the first 6 episodes are very much their own chapter. You could bundle those 6 episodes up and have a great season.

 

Episode 7 feels like a swerve, very much like a start over, so if you rush into it, not recognizing that peak at the end of 6, that culmination, it’s going to feel stretched out. One of the possible dangers of binge TV… you have to pace yourself.

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Take a break after episode 6, let that sink in. It is very much, in comic book terms, the end of the first trade paperback or story arc. Episode 7 begins the 2nd story arc, so you have to go into it not rushing to a conclusion, but gearing up for the start, because start it does. As everything from the first arc gets turned on its head, and new major players break on the scene. It’s a jarring ride, but once it hits episode 9 its has picked up steam and by 10 is on a full sprint to the finish. Episodes 11, 12 and 13 are Brilliant.

 

There is a saying out there that ‘it’s not how you begin, but how you end that matters’; that saying is wrong. All of it matters. It is about how you begin, how you endure, and how you end. Cheo Hodari Coker’s LUKE CAGE does the extremely unlikely, in doing all three exceptionally well.

 

 

I want a Blu-Ray of this show, complete with Director’s and cast commentary, like yesterday. It is that good, and replete with episodes you want to go back to and know more about.

 

 

And I have to say it’s wonderful to see here in 2016, that TV is making great strides to not be exploitative, and to have shows where you can have more than a token number of characters of color.

 

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One thing I love about LUKE CAGE, particularly about the 2nd half (I love the first half as well) is it is so wonderful to see 6 beautiful women of color in major speaking parts, taking center stage in moments of strength and weakness, and owning the stage. It’s so rare to see a three shot of powerful, beautiful Black women in uplifting, exciting, dramatic, heroic material. It’s non-existent in Hollywood but thankfully, through great show-runners of color, and the success of shows such as BEING MARY JANE and EMPIRE is becoming finally available on the small screen. And the same love extends to being able to see multiple men of color in powerful, uplifting, heroic roles.

 

 

And the appearance of Method Man, and that song… Amazing. This series in addition to a DVD/Blu-Ray, must release a sound track, because in addition to the songs, the score for some of the episodes… is stunning.

 

 

I’ve recently become addicted to listening and purchasing scores, and LUKE CAGE has a world class score.

 

 

Now, is the series perfect ? No. I thought episode 3, they had a real opportunity to do an action sequence as talked about as DAREDEVIL’s hallway fight, but the director/fight coordinator wasn’t up to it. You’ll know the scene when you see it, it’s perfectly fine, but never rises above fine, when it should have been spectacular. And it’s a different show from DAREDEVIL , so the action will be different, I get that, but you can still do different and STUNNING.

 

Also, my problem with a character like Luke Cage, is the same one I have with a character like Wolverine, just because you can stand there and take being shot by a hail of bullets, doesn’t mean you want to or have to.

 

 

Luke Cage’s character (minor spoiler ahead) is revealed as a former police officer, former Recon soldier, former Prison MMA Fighting champ, former Boxer, all this to say… HE CAN FIGHT. So speed the dude up! Rather than standing there and waiting for someone to unload a clip on you, he should be disarming them and wrapping the gun around their necks before they can get off a shot. Especially since ricochets can kill just as well as any other bullet. I understand visually it’s an exciting thing to depict, but it should be the exception for talented filmmakers, not the rule. When he is shielding people from gunfire, sure… let the bullets fly. But in combat mode he should be disarming these guys before they get a shot off. Particularly later in the season that attitude would have made for exciting sequences.

 

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So that was another issue I had. However, the sequences do improve as the series progresses. Plus it’s not a show that is about fisticuffs like DAREDEVIL, as much as it is about the fight for a soul of a neighborhood. And that tale it tells expertly.

 

 

It is a superlative 13 hours of television, and all involved should take a bow. Cheo Hodari Coker has made not just a great Netflix series, but a great television show, and the one to beat as my favorite show of 2016.

 

Marvel's Luke Cage

Marvel’s Luke Cage

And among the Netflix shows so far where do I rank it? It’s much better than DAREDEVIL Season 2, which was good, but not great, it edges out JESSICA JONES, which was great, and it battles it out with DAREDEVIL Season 1 for the top spot. DAREDEVIL Season 1 which was clearly the best show of 2015, outdoes it in terms of action, a definite A of a show.

 

 

However I have minor quibbles with it, like I didn’t like the loss of Ben Urich, I found the character of Karen page annoying through most of it, the character of Matt Murdock was a bit unlikable, and the last episode it failed to stick the landing with an unimpressive looking costume, and just a bit of a dour ending. So those nitpicks, are the reason LUKE CAGE edges it out, and gets a big A+ grade from me. It possesses a story and characters that I want to revisit… often.

 

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Final Verdict: Seminal, Must Watch TV! Will appeal to fans of mystery novels, especially fans of Chester Himes or Walter Mosley, or fans of movies such as TROUBLE MAN.

 

If you are not a fan or are made uncomfortable or nervous or have unexamined issues with women of color, you probably will have an issue with the later episodes.

 

‘The fault lies not in our stars, but in ourselves.’ Brother, it always does. :).

 

But for the rest of us who watch the series, LUKE CAGE is phenomenal television at its best.

 

Currently Listening to : Nate Parker’s THE BIRTH OF A NATION (2016) The Inspired by Album

This is a really odd post, it starts as a nice, fluffy love letter to an album I’m completely loving, and at the end goes completely off the rails and becomes a tirade.

I would say, read the warm, fluffy part, and leave the tirade alone. Especially if you know nothing about the Nate Parker controversy, or better yet care nothing for it.

I’ll give you ample warning when to stop reading.

Not sure where it came from, but it came.

My ire, and disgust with the media.

But it came.

And I thought it was honest, not necessarily right, but it was honest and deserved its say. So I left it.

You have been warned.

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I think what Nate Parker is doing with BIRTH OF A NATION, a hundred years after DW Griffith’s love song to racism by the same title, is nothing short of inspired. The audacity of it, the brilliance, the balls of it, Something Percival Everett does wonderfully in literature, overturning assumptions, and re-appropriating those parts of our shared consciousness, our story, that we have relegated too long… to the worst angels of our nature.

I can’t wait to see the movie when it breaks on wide release. It sounds completely on my page. However I haven’t seen the movie so the jury’s out, but I have listened to the soundtrack, and… I LOVE IT!!!!

LOVE IT!!!

To listen to this one album was reason enough to sign up for Spotify.

And speaking of Spotify, how did I get involved with it?

Well I’m not at all a social media type. But I like things that enrich us and after a month of using Spotify I have to say… I’m feeling enriched.

This is going to sound hyperbolic. And maybe it is. I’m too close, I can’t say. I can only say I’m listening to THE BIRTH OF A NATION as I write this and I’m feeling… thankful.

I think as we get older, and side-tracked by adult concerns, one thing that falls by the wayside, is our time to enjoy and follow and discover music. And I think that moving away from that discovery of new sounds, new voices, new visions, new wonders to buoy our souls, is when we begin to die,

I know, extreme.

But bear with me.

What if the world began with a song, and will end with one.

What if all we are is notes, in some unfathomable composition.

That would mean that what we feed on more than food is music. And it would mean what we starve for lack of, more than food, is music.

The lack of it, the relinquishing of it, perhaps just a little death.

A little death we let wedge its tip into our hearts.

And widen, till everything we are… escapes.

So I’m finding SPOTIFY, with its easy ability to allow me to find and listen to this music I would otherwise not find or find time for…I’m finding it, in my emotional state of listening to THE BIRTH OF A NATION, I’m finding it… of great value.

That said MP3 is great for sampling music, and SPOTIFY is great for introducing me to music, but great music deserves to be listened to on the highest quality CD you can find. I’ve spent a month on SPOTIFY and I have bought easily a couple hundred dollars in CDs.

I’d like to buy BIRTH OF A NATION but unfortunately it is not yet available on CD. But when it is, it’s going on constant rotation in my portable cd player.

It is that good.

 

 

“When they say make America great again, they mean make us all slaves again.”— WAR Nas

“No matter if you’re red, white, black, if you want freedom, then we’re all like Nat!”— WAR Nas

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OKAY STOP READING HERE!!!! Beyond this place, like the old maps once said… “There be Dragons!” I’m bat guano ranting in the next section, and it goes strange quickly, so if strange is not your friend, stop reading NOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

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Oh and if you have a problem with Nate Parker, and are part of this new spate of using the media to lynch Black Men before trial, be it Bill Cosby or Nate Parker, or really going back 20 years to OJ Simpson, eff you and the horse you rode in on.

“Oh, but they are guilty, they did this, they did that.”

Then let a court prove it. Not the news, not talk shows, not soap boxes.

I don’t stand with lynch mobs, whether you wear a white hood and a shotgun, or a TV camera and a microphone.

Because for a lynch mob it’s never about innocence or guilt, it’s about creating an atmosphere of fear and horror and distrust, so they can sell a message, usually to keep a certain demographic in line.

Me, I’m not the message buying type. In a Nation where less than a hundred years ago, thousands of Black men (many of them war heroes) were lynched by ‘god fearing’ ‘people’ I’ll side with Black ‘villains’ before I side with a biased lynch mob media, everyday of the week, and twice on Sunday.

If they are guilty try them in the courts. Do not effing try them on your TV program, or radio show, or ‘news’ show, or at the water cooler, or on your lynching scaffold.

Until you’ve done the good of a Bill Cosby, or a Nate Parker, or even an OJ Simpson; don’t presume to judge their evil. That’s for a court room… your soul is not sinless enough for the task.

I say again…

Your soul… Christian, or Muslim, or Jew, or Hindu… is not sinless enough for the task.

I think any Presidential candidate you can name has done more evil than all three of those men combined. The pursuit of power is a bloody road, and the achieving of it even more so.

You kill one person (allegedly) they call you what, OJ? 🙂 You kill thousands of people, they call you Reagan or Bush.

Save your hate for mass murderers, but for other flawed men, and for yourself, pray to be better.

That is the justice of honest men, who are wise enough to know, there… but for the grace of God… go I.

 

Woah… that came out of nowhere.

But hey, that’s what you can expect in a nation that is honestly considering Trump for the highest office in the land. Derision. :).

God keep you all from rage, and keep you all from harm, and most of all god keep you from the folly of thinking you are bloody better than the poor slobs the media chooses to lynch today.

Amen.

If you like this crazy post, or just like the blog, support by checking out and purchasing the following cool and recommended items!

Sylvania SDVD7029 7″ Portable DVD Player-Swivel Screen (Certified Refurbished)
Kids these days, in this age of MP3s and Itunes and Spotify have no idea what CDs are, or how good they can sound. For $40 you can give them the gift of not only a portable CD player, but a portable DVD player.

But it’s as the former, a portable CD player, that currently interests us. In addition to the portable player you want to get them a couple CDs to play on it, and I recommend the following two:

It Follows (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) I really enjoyed IT FOLLOWS and the soundtrack on CD is equally brilliant, and stands on its own as just engaging and creepy and addictive listening experience.At once an influenced work, yet highly original in its own right, and sure to be influential. Disasterpeace hits a homerun with this score. Nice use of stereo imaging. Highly Recommended.

Sinister (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) – I’m not a wimp, and am a huge fan of a variety of scores, especially the dark, strange ones, but I have to say this Christopher Young score is on a level all its own. I find it truly disturbing, and yes… scary. A huge achievement, and essential listening!

Azend Group Corp BDP-M1061 Maxmade Portable 10-Inch Blu-Ray DISC/DVD Player (Black)

Sony S1500RF Multi System Region Free Blu-Ray Disc DVD Player

Best Movies & Shows on AMAZON PRIME! Week 38 of 2016!

Amazon has all four of Amando de Ossorio’s little seen but well regarded quartet of Blind Dead films, courtesy of Amazon Prime, so you can try before you buy.

They are:

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La Noche Del Terror Ciego (1971) – THE NIGHT OF THE BLIND TERROR renamed for North America to the surprisingly brilliant title, (and the title that has defined the series) THE TOMBS OF THE BLIND DEAD, was an international success and put its director Amando de Ossorio and Spanish Horror on the map.

The titular protagonists were so haunting, the character design so inventive, that it spawned three equally well regarded sequels.

Finally watched I can see why this film series, closing in on its 5th decade, is well regarded. Given the time period and obvious limitations of budget, the director, Amando de Ossorio manages to create a wonderful atmosphere, iconic villains, and intriguing characters and story, imbuing a new intriguing twist, onto the well trod myth of the living dead.

The three sequels are:

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THE RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD 1973 ( The original Spanish title, ATTACK OF THE BLIND DEAD being superior to the American title)

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THE GHOST GALLEON  1974 ( Known in its original title, EL BUQUE MALDITO, as THE DAMNED SHIP)

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and finally NIGHT OF THE SEAGULLS 1975 (The only movie in the series, translated literally from the Spanish).

 

Now you can see all 4 films on Amazon Prime. Now be careful, there are multiple copies of these films on Amazon, most of them have a cost to them, however do a search and find the movies without a poster image and those will be the free ones.

Then watch all four and enjoy and if as impressed as I am, and ready to own the DVDs with special features, then go here:

 
The Blind Dead Collection (Tombs of the Blind Dead / Return of the Evil Dead / The Ghost Galleon / Night of the Seagulls / Amando De Ossorio- Director)
Enjoy!!

 

 

 

 

 

Amazon Prime Movie of the Day : DJANGO, PREPARE A COFFIN

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‘Its hard to find a good ” Django” film after Sergio Corbuccis original, even though, after its success, there were hundreds of films which boasted themselves with the title “Django”. Sadly most of these films used the name as a marketing strategy to boost ticket sales. The main characters often had nothing to do with the Django that Corbucci established, sometimes they didn’t even have his name attached to them.
“Django, Prepare a Coffin” is one of those rare films that use the existing character, with all its quirks, and is able to bring him to life in a new scenario with a new actor.’

—Nolden  of LETTERBOXD

Really enjoyed this 1968 Spaghetti Western, ably directed by Ferdinando Baldi (TEXAS ADIOS, BLIND MAN). Originally written for Franco Nero (the star  of the original DJANGO), when he was unavailable they offered the role to Terence Hill (born Mario Girotti) because of his striking resemblance to the popular Nero.

But Terence Hill proves himself in this movie a capable leading man of his own, with a more easy and affable screen presence than the talented but oft explosive and hyperbolic Franco Nero. Hill’s more subdued take is perfect for this imaginative story of double and triple crosses.