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The End of the Road

Hey, guys.

I just wanted to let you know that I am very grateful for the friends, contacts and opportunities that have come my way over the past three years of this blog.

I have come to the decision that I am going to stop the blog. I have lot the passion of film that I once had. It’s not that I am burned out like I thought that I was. It’s dead as a door nail.

I love you guys very much for supporting and establishing a rapport with my throughput this journey. It’s time to move on. To what? I don’t know, but it was fun while it lasted.

This is not goodbye. Think of it as a “see you later.”

Much love, Branden

Punks (2000)

You have no idea how long I have waited to see Patrick -Ian Polk’s first film, Punks. I have heard about this movie from a gay rag a decade ago that is now defunct. When Noah’s Arc was on air, people were wondering when will Punks come out on DVD, including myself. Apparently there was a problem with the distribution of the movie that halted the release of the film until it premiered on Logo this past weekend. Was it worth the wait? Yes.

The film follows a quartet of gay friends in West Hollywood. There is a celebration of  Hill’s (Dwight Ewell) 30th birthday, which is more poignant that he has HIV. Hill’s best friend, our protagonist, the hopeless romantic, sexually prudish photographer, Marcus (Seth Gilliam) catches Hill’s boyfriend of a year, Gilbert (Rudolf Martin) making out with another guy. Upset Hill breaks up the celebration and breaks up with Gilbert.

He moves in with Marcus. The other two friends, Chris (Jazzmun), the transgendered performer for their favorite hangout, Miss Smokie’s and the spoiled rich brat, Dante (Renoly Santiago) try to cheer up his spirits. Things become more murky when a fine black adonis moves into the house next door. The gang goes gaga over Darby (Rockmond Dunbar). Who shouldn’t they? He is easy on the eyes and has he shirt off, glistening muscles as he moves his boxes. The friends forcibly invited themselves over for dinner at Darby’s house.

During dinner, everybody was fawning over Darby, except for Marcus. Darby casually let it slip that he has a girlfriend in New York City. Their interest dashed they scatter like cockroaches in the light. Not Marcus. He is not like his friends. His friends could be a whores, but he is looking for love. Marcus is completely frigid about sex. He is paranoid about catching the HIV.

Darby and Marcus begins to form a solid friendship when they hang out at Darby’s studio. Darby is a record producer. Marcus wants Darby to be his next model for his photographs. during their time together, Marcus begins to form deeper feelings for Darby, but thins get more complicated when Darby’s girlfriend, Jennifer (Vanessa Williams) comes into town.

This was probably the first movie that have portrayed gay brown men that they do exist. They are not on the down low, which was very taboo and a dirty little secret back then. These four people are unapologetic about who they are as gay men.

I’m gonna go into a bit of a tangent about censorship. The movie premiered on Logo and I was shocked that certain words were bleeped. I understand that swear words would be bleeped out. That is understandable. I was surprised that the words “penis”, “anal”, “suck” were bleeped out, but “handjob” was perfectly fine. That really pissed me off. I’m done.

Judgment: I hope that they show this movie more to show that it’s okay to be a gay man of color.

Rating: 7.5/10

Field of Dreams (1989)

If you build it, he will come.

– The Voice

This is the last movie that I saw before my burnout happened over two months, the guy tear-jerker Field of Dreams. There is an unwritten rule that if you are a man and you don’t cry at the end of, you have no soul. That is true. Every boy wants to have one game of catch with their fathers once in their lifetime. Based on the novel, “Shoeless Joe”, it was nominated for three Oscars including Best Picture, Adapted Screenplay and Original Score.

A farmer from Iowa named Ray Kinsella (Kevin Costner) is walking through his field when he hears a disembodied saying, “If you built it, he will come.” He hears the same phrase repeatedly, but he is the only one that hears it. He confesses to his wife, Annie (Amy Madigan) about the phrase that he keeps on hearing. She thinks that maybe it was God talking to him or maybe he is going off the deep end.

Ray randomly questions the townspeople about the meaning of the phrase until he realizes that he has to build a baseball diamond in his cornfield. He thinks that this action would bring a childhood hero, Shoeless Joe Jackson, back so he could play one last game. Ray thinks that he is turning into his father (Dwier Brown), a man who played it safe during his life and never took chances.

Ray decided to plow him field, much to the chagrin of the people in the town who think that Ray is bonkers  and would lose his farm. He spends his life savings building the diamond, waiting for something to happen. Months go by with no response until there is a man walking in the diamond. It is Shoeless Joe Jackson (Ray Liotta). They play a mini game of baseball. When they are done playing, Ray and Joe realize that Joe cannot step foot outside of the diamond. Joe disappears into the cornfield.

Ray’s brother, Mark (Timothy Busfield) thinks that Ray is crazy to think that he could afford the farm when he wiped out most of his crop. The bank is threatening to take away the home. The NY Yankees team from the 1919 World Series come to play ball in the field. Ray, Annie and their daughter, Karin (Gaby Hoffmann) can see them, but Mark cannot.

Ray has enough to deal with when the voice tells him to “ease his pain”. He thought he meant the radical novelist turned social recluse, Terrance Mann (James Earl Jones). He tries to kidnap him to take him to a ball game where he didn’t have the opportunity to do when his father.

I might have remembered the movie differently, because I didn’t get the same feeling with movie like I did when I was younger. I bawled at the end of the movie, but I had a heartwarming feeling by this last viewing. Hmm… I guess, the magic of the film is gone.

Judgment: It’s still a fun ride, but its lost its luster.

Rating: 7/10

Nobody Knows (2004)

Wow! This review is two months overdue. I was burned out by watching crappy movies and having to writer about them. It was exhausting. I am slowly getting back to the swing of things. I read an article about 10 Criminally Overlooked Movies You Should See Now from Anomalous Material at the end of May. There were some movies that I have seen and watch they would watch more. I heard about Nobody Knows when I listened to the Cinebanter podcast about it. Hearing Castor’s recommendation, I wanted to check it out from the library. I’m glad I did.

Yûya Yagira was the youngest actor to win the Best Actor prize at the Cannes Film Festival for his portrayal of Akira Fukushima. He is the eldest of four siblings when his mother, Keiko (You) has to move to a new apartment. The catch is that she has to pretend that she has one child. So, the two have to smuggle Yuki (Momoko Shimizu) and Shigeru (Hiei Kimura) in suitcases into the apartment and have another sibling, Kyoko (Ayu Kitaura) come in by train.

When the family is all together, Keiko has to explain to the little ones that they cannot leave the apartment or make any noises to expose them. None of the kids go to school, so that would not be a problem. Akira looks after his siblings like the father figure. He buys the groceries for his family so they could eat something.

One day, Keiko leaves a note for Akira saying that she had to leave to work in another town, but has left plenty for the kids to live off for a while. Akira does visit his father, but he has another life that is separate from theirs. He cannot help them. Keiko is gone for a month before she returns before Christmas with presents for everyone. The reunion doesn’t last long when Keiko leaves again with no explanation.

The kids think that their mother is coming back. When the weeks turn into months, they realize that their mother is not coming back to them. They have to survive on their own. Akira is left being the primary caregiver to his little brother and sisters. This is a heavy burden for Akira. When he meets a neighborhood girl named Saki (Hanae Kan), things becomes even more complicated.

I was glad that I saw this movie, because this shows a side of life that is rarely seen or portrayed onscreen. I read that this movie is based on true life events. The depths of despair that these kids have to go through is unbearable. How could a mother be so thoughtless and uncaring over her own children? It makes you question how come people would walk away from their responsibility as a parent? It boggles the mind. I don’t have children. There are plenty of couples out there who want children and not being able to have them and people would have them and they throw them away like trash.

Judgment: This movie made me question would you do in the same situation.

Rating: 8.5/10

Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986)

Hey, Cameron. You realize if we played by the rules right now we’d be in gym?

– Ferris

I have to say that I am surprised that it has taking me this long to write this review on John Hughes’ Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. I watched the film almost a month ago and now I have to chance to write about it. Weird. I must admit that I have not seen this movie in its entirety. People regard that this movie is his masterpiece. I would beg to differ.

A smart-alecky Chicago teen named Ferris Bueller (Matthew Broderick) pretends to be sick so that he would miss a test that he did not study for. His parents, Tom and Katie (Lyman Ward, Cindy Pickett) buy into his fake illness, but his sister Jeanie (Jennifer Grey) can see through his bullshit. She tries to rat him out, but the parental units do not want to hear it.

When everybody leaves the house, Ferris basks in his day of leisure by addressing the camera to talk about his master plan of spending his free day. His best friend, Cameron (Alan Ruck) is actually at home sick in his home. Without having a car of his own, Ferris calls Cameron to ask to borrow the classic of Cameron’s dad. Ferris also wants to have his girlfriend, Sloan (Mia Sara) in on the action, by pretending that her grandmother had died to get her out of school.

They think that they get off scott free, but the Dean of Students, Ed Rooney (Jeffrey Jones) knows that Ferris is faking being sick. Ferris has been absent eight earlier times during the school year. Rooney tries to find a way to catch Bueller in the act so he could humiliate him.

I am not the first person or the last person to skip school. Almost every teenager does it at some point in their lives. Some get caught and others not. I thought that nobody could do all of things in a span of a couple of hours. How the hell can you go to a baseball game and be in a parade? Really?

Judgment: I know that this is a movie, but it seems a little far-fetched to me. Ferris is slick, but he is not an evil genius by any means.

Rating: 6/10

American Gangster (2007)

 The man I worked for had one of the biggest companies in New York City. He didn’t own his own company. White man owned it, so they owned him. Nobody owns me, though.

– Frank Lucas

I have previously watched American Gangster when an aunt loaned me the DVD of the movie. I watched a third of the movie when I stopped, because it was too long for me to pay any attention to it. I knew that the movie was nominated for two Oscars including a Best Supporting Actress nom for Ruby Dee for her five-minute role and for Best Art Direction. Watching the movie against almost made root for the bad guy… almost.

Harlem 1968. Frank Lucas (Denzel Washington) mourns the death of Bumpy Johnson (Clarence Williams III) who was a surrogate father to him. Bumpy was Frank’s teacher for dealing with the gangster life, especially for a black man in those times. Frank wants to take over in Bumpy’s place, but do things a little better. He wants to get the best product, which was cocaine to give to the people of Harlem. He wants to show his dominance with the other gangsters of the neighborhood like Tango (Idris Elba) who treats Frank like a servant and Nicky Barnes (Cuba Gooding, Jr.) who is all talk and no bit.

At the same time, an undercover cop, Richie Roberts (Russell Crowe) tries to be on the straight and narrow in a sea of corruption in the police department. Richie’s partner, Javier Rivera (John Ortiz) discovered a car that had almost a million dollars in it. John wants to keep some of the money, but Richie wants to do the right thing and turn them all in. he Richie is not the most popular cop in the precinct. He is going to night school to get his law degree and having to pay child support to his ex-wife, Laurie (Carla Cugino).

There is a crooked cop, Detective Trupo (Josh Brolin) who confiscated drugs from busts, water them down and sell them back to the bad guys for a profit. He wants to get some hush-hush money from Frank, but Frank doesn’t want to be another police lackey.

Opium and heroin are on the rise during this time and about goes to Bangkok to get the purest heroin that he could find. He finds it and sells it on the street as “Blue Magic” for dirt cheap. With the money from selling the 100 kilos of heroin, he buys a home for his Mama (Ruby Dee) and the rest of his family. Frank decides to expand his business and include his brothers in the process.

Meanwhile, Richie is hand selected to lead a special group of DEA agents to help bring down the drug trafficking ring. their first target is Frank Lucas.

The movie came with the theatrical version and the unrated version. I wanted to see the theatrical version, because it was short. The movie is 2:45 at least. That is a lot of movie about a bad guy selling drugs to his own people. The unrated version would make it three hours. No thanks. I was able to take the movie. there were some good moments in the movie that was bogged down by filler scene that I could do without.

Judgment: It’s interesting to see a movie about a black gangster, but I wish that it was a tighter story.

Rating: 7/10

Born on the Fourth of July (1989)

 People say that if you don’t love America, then get the hell out. Well, I love America.

– Ron Kovic

Memorial Day was a while ago and I wanted to see the picture that nabbed Tom Cruise his first Oscar nomination for Best Actor, Born on the Fourth of July. I saw this a while ago, but I haven’t had the chance to write the review until now. The movie did win Oliver Stone the Best Director Oscar.

Based on the true story of Ron Kovic (Cruise), a man who comes from an extremely religious background, was a wrestler in high school and wanted to be part of something greater than himself. When a Marine Corps recruiter shows up at the school, Ron almost jumps at the chance of signing up and going to fight in Vietnam.

The action cut to Ron’s second tour when his platoon shot up a Vietcong village, but they accidentally killed women and children. They realize that it was ruse for the Vietcong to have the opening salvo on the Americans. During the confusion of sand and bullets, Ron ends up shooting one of his fellow soldiers, PFC Wilson (Michael Compotaro). Ron tries to confess what happened, but his superiors brush the incident under the rug.

In another altercation, Ron is shot in the foot and then in the upper chest, paralyzing him from the mid-chest down. He resides in a VA hospital in the Bronx that looks like a slum then a place for veterans. When he returns to his childhood home, he becomes angry that people are indifferent about the war and what it represents to the country.

The main reason for this review is for the next LAMB Acting School 101, Willem Dafoe. Willem has a small part as a confidant of Ron, Charlie, when Ron lives in Villa Dulce, Mexico. A place where disabled veterans stays, get drunk and have sex with hookers. Charlie questions Ron about what really happened to him in the war and questions everything that Ron believed in.

I was expected to be blown away with Tom Cruise’s performance. I saw glimpses of it, but not that much to keep me interested in it. I have seen a lot of Vietnam movies. It’s like all of them are blurring into one. This particular story is not that intriguing to me and I found myself bored with it. It seems shallow and it doesn’t explore what happens to a person when they come back from the war.

Judgment: I wish I had some glowing words to say about this movie, but I don’t.

Rating: 6.5/10

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