Thursday, September 29, 2011

Short Film Review: Naruto Shippuden: Dreamers Fight -- Part One

As the sun shines brightly over the village of Konohagakure, Rock Lee (Brendon Huor) trains tirelessly.  By sunset he is physically spent, having endured a full day of rigorous activity.  As he settles into an all too brief resting period, he is startled by a sudden noise deep in the woods.  He rushes to investigate only to find Naruto (Donald Mills) splayed out on a patch of grass.  The newly anointed “Hero of the Hidden Leaf” has opted to train instead of basking in his newfound glory.  Such dedication is an inspiration to Rock Lee, who now finds his own daily training regimen woefully insufficient.  Fearing that his abilities are stagnating, Rock boldly Challenges Naruto to a duel. Naruto heartily accepts.  At noon the next day, the two meet up at a neutral location so as not to inflict damage on the village.  As the duel gets under way, the intensity of it surpasses that of a mere sparring match.       

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Surviving the Game: An Interview with Michael “Mick-Man” Gourdine A.K.A Candy Man, Author of 'Chili Pimping in Atlantic City: The Memoir of a Small-Time Pimp and Hustler' (Part 1)

For squares, the pimp game has long held a certain mystique.  Men of leisure have always operated behind a shroud of mystery.  Their trade is practiced in the shadows.  Supposedly, the game is to be sold, not told.  Never the less, countless books and documentaries have claimed to give an insider’s view of the sporting life.  Many of them simply recycle and reinforce any number of clichés popularized by Blaxploitation films and the like.  Since it’s impossible for civilians to separate fact from fiction, many of these myths are accepted as truth by the general populace

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Here We Go Yo: 'The Low End Theory' Turns 20

By the fall of 1991, rap music had a considerable number of classic albums under its belt.  Classic in the sense that said albums yielded multiple hits and contained far more good songs than bad.  Yet, the relatively young musical genre didn’t yet have anything in the way of a definitive long player, something that was an unmitigated, cohesive masterpiece from start to finish.  An album that perfectly fused two seemingly disparate forms of music together without sacrificing the core fundamentals of the younger and lesser regarded one.  One might’ve thought that such an innovation would come by way of Hip-Hop’s heavy hitters of the day.  Instead, it would come to being as a sophomore effort from relative second stringers.     

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Cool Characters: Tony Montana

Some characters embody the absolute worst in human nature.  They represent the most repugnant qualities in all of us.  Sometimes, they do their job a bit too well and bring us face to face with things we’d rather not confront.  These characters, and the films they inhabit, are often dismissed as dangerous and without a shred of socially redeeming value. On December 9th, 1983, one such character was born.  He is a bit of an odd duck in the history of motion pictures, equal parts grim reality and bloated fantasy.  He would come to be as the main character in a big budget remake of the classic Howard Hawks gangster film Scarface

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Happy Birthday Nino Brown: 'New Jack City' Turns 20

The crack epidemic of the 1980’s proved to be a boon for drug dealers, law makers, and the American media alike.  By the latter half of the decade, it had permeated the American consciousness via endless news coverage and fear mongering.  Strangely, it had yet to receive a crime film that purported to put the phenomenon in perspective.  Scarface had mythologized the “Cocaine Cowboys” era of Miami in way that still resonates today.  The gangster films released by Warner Brothers pictures during the 1930’s paid tribute to the kingpins and vices of that particular era, to the delight of that days movie audiences.  Was crack cocaine not worthy of similar honors?  Again, Warner Brothers pictures sought to properly dramatize the prevailing criminal trends of the era and reap the financial rewards.  On March 8th 1991, American moviegoers were given a guided tour of New Jack City.  

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Movie Review: Never Back Down 2

Four college age kids from different walks of life enter an underground mixed martial arts tournament known as “The Beatdown.”  In order to prepare themselves, they train under a mysterious loner known as Case.  The wisdom he imparts on his pupils proves useful both inside and outside the octagon.  On the eve of the event, an altercation with some crooked cops puts his freedom in jeopardy.   His students rush to his aid, and prepare to root out the traitor that hides within their ranks.  

Movie Review: Drive

A mysterious young man (Bryan Gosling) spends his days acting as a full time auto mechanic and a part time stunt driver.  By night, he’s a wheel man for armed robbers.  No matter the job, he remains the consummate professional and has resigned himself to a strict routine.  Shannon (Bryan Cranston), his friend and mentor, hopes to one day put the young man’s uncanny driving abilities to more lucrative use.   To accomplish this, he turns to small time mobsters Bernie (Albert Brooks) and Nino (Ron Perlman) for financial assistance.  Meanwhile, Shannon’s star driver befriends Irene (Carey Mulligan), a waitress who struggles to raise her young son Benecio (Kaden Leos) alone.  When Irene’s husband Standard (Oscar Issac) returns home from jail, he is immediately recruited to participate in an armed robbery.   Shannon’s protégé step s in to help, only to find himself embroiled in a violent double cross.           

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Music Video: David Banner – Swag

There was a time when rappers were shockingly candid and outspoken, regularly incurring the wrath of politicians and right wingers on a regular basis.  By contrast, today’s rap stars avoid politically charged content like the plague.  Controversy may sell, but any artist that pushes the envelope too far risks forfeiting all that they have worked for.  In such a climate, the presence of an artist like David Banner is refreshing.  I’ve always respected his candor and passion.  That being said, I’ve never much cared for his musical output save for a few songs.  It is for that very reason that I find his new song and video “Swag” to be a shockingly pleasant surprise.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Mario Finally Refuses to Cape Up For Princess Peach in ‘Brotherly Love’

YouTube has become a veritable haven for the dregs of the stand-up comedy circuit.  Painfully unfunny stand-up routines that might have been relegated to BET’s ComicView back in the day have been converted into equally unfunny web content in the modern era.  However, a genuine talent can sometimes rise through the muck to offer something truly off beat and special.  Earlier this morning, a friend sent me a YouTube video titled Brotherly Love by Maurice Kain Carter.  It started off as the typical comedic webcam rant.  Somewhere along the way, things took a detour into the Twilight Zone.  5 minutes after clicking play, I emerged from the rather bizarre ride in a state of bemusement.

Monday, September 12, 2011

The Spiritual Boxer: An Interview with 52 Hand Blocks Specialist Kawaun Adon Akhenoten 7 (Part 2)

In part 2 of ‘The Spiritual Boxer: An Interview with 52 Hand Blocks Specialist Kawaun Adon Akhenoten 7(Click here to read part 1)’, Kuwaun shows that he’s much more than a pugilist.  He laments the cultural decline of New York City, discusses Brooklyn Hip-Hop’s West Indian roots, and describes the goals of a movement known as Constellation.

Kawaun Adon Akhenoten 7 (Left) and Daniel Marks (Right).

Amazing Artwork: Shawn Alleyne Pays Loving Tribute to H.E.R

While wandering around the Jacob K. Javitz Convention Center on the third and final day of the 2009 New York Comic-Con, I had finally exhausted all of the main attractions.  I decided to give some of the independent creators a chance.  I happened upon a table where artist Shawn Alleyne and Writer Koran Curtis were promoting a comic they’d created called A Hero’s Diary.  They were selling posters, stickers, and a sketchbook.  Shawn’s amazing artwork immediately piqued my interest, so I decided to show my support by purchasing one of each.  I don’t know what ultimately became of A Hero’s Diary, but I still have that sketchbook.  I soon sent Shawn a friend request on Facebook.  Today he posted something that reminded me just how wise a decision that was.

WARNING: The following image contains nudity.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Movie Review: Warrior

Paddy Colon (Nick Nolte) returns home one night to find the brooding Tommy Riordan (Tom Hardy) nursing a drink on the front steps of his house.  Paddy’s estranged son soon sets his sights on competing in an MMA tournament.  He enlists his father’s help to train for the event, as it offers a multimillion dollar purse to the winner.  Meanwhile, Paddy’s other estranged son Brendan (Joel Edgerton) begins participating in MMA smokers to supplement his income.  He also decides to enter the tournament, as the winnings would go a long way in getting him out of the hole.  Old wounds are reopened as the Conlon men are suddenly thrust back into each other’s lives.  In the end, their differences will be settled in the octagon.  

Friday, September 9, 2011

On the Front Lines: An Interview With Writer Douglas Century (Part 2)

In part two of ‘On the Front Lines: An Interview With Writer Douglas Century’ (Click here to read part one), Douglas discusses the validity of the 52 Hand Blocks as a fighting system. 

Movie Trailer: The Raid

Action films often play like a parade of clichés.  Surprises are few and far between, as even the best genre offerings contain relatively few of them.  After all, how many ways can one present a shootout, car chase, or fist fight?  If Welsh filmmaker Gareth Evans has anything to say about it, the variations on such genre staples are endless.  While other filmmakers keep the volume at a moderate level during their jam sessions, Evans prefers turning it up until the knob twists off the receiver.  How do I know this?  I just watched the insane trailer for his new film The Raid, which is playing at the Toronto international Film Festival this year.  The images I saw make me fearful to view the film in its entirety.  The sheer action junkie nirvana it induces might be too much for my nervous system to handle. 

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Nike Goes Back To The Future With The Air Mag

One of the coolest movie moments of the 80’s was when Marty McFly strapped on a pair of self-lacing Nikes in Back to the Future Part II.  The futuristic Hi-Tops were a far cry from the Air Jordan IV’s that “Buggin Out” was rocking in Do The Right Thing.  Had Nike actually decided to put out a line of “Marty McFly’s 22 years ago, they would have surely been the hottest footwear on the planet.  Alas, self-lacing tennis shoes were still the stuff of science fiction films back in 1989.  Aliens fans were indeed lucky.  The Reebok “Alien Stompers” that Ellen Ripley sported were actually available to the general public (albeit in limited quantities) back in 1987.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

More Than Meets The Eye: An Interview With Keani Cochelle

True physical beauty can be both a blessing and curse for those who possess it, especially if they possess a unique form of it.  A beautiful face and a shapely body can be valuable assets, but they can also serve as a distraction from the real person.  Attractive people are often defined by their looks, and aren’t afforded the luxury of people expressing genuine interest in them.  In such a case, it’s good to be well grounded and have a sense of humor.  You may not be able to change how the world reacts to you, but you can always alter how you react to the world.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Television Series Review: ‘Thundercats’ Episode 7 - “Legacy”

While studying the book of Omens, Lion-O is suddenly transported back in time.  He witnesses key historical events through the eyes of his ancestor Leo, whose body he inhabits.  In the distant past, the Thundercats served as Mumm-Ra’s army, and Leo as his second in command.  Leo intends to overthrow his master and liberate his people.  To do so, he plans to intercept the coveted “warstone”, an item that is to be delivered to Mumm-Ra upon its recovery.  Once the stone is in his possession, Leo will confront Mumm-Ra and inspire the other species under his rule to rise up against him.  Thus begins the Thundercats existence on Third Earth.         

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Spiritual Boxer: An Interview With 52 Hand Blocks Specialist Kawaun Adon Akhenoten 7 (Part 1)

Douglas Century’s Street Kingdom: Five Years Inside the Franklin Avenue Posse introduced readers to the world of Big K, a member of Brooklyn’s notorious Franklin Avenue Posse.  Throughout the 1980’s, the F.A.P established itself as a crew not to be trifled with.  Big K counted himself among their ranks, selling wholesale weight up and down the eastern seaboard.  During the 1990’s, K flexed muscles of a different sort by trying his hand in the rap industry.  This meant leaving his old ways behind, something that was much easier said than done.  Douglas Century’s book documented that difficult transition in vivid detail.