I stare at the Pandora’s Box that is Prometheus, struggling to look away as its lid gradually opens wider and wider with each subsequent trailer. However, it’s hard to resist temptation when the forbidden fruit looks so sweet. With the international launch trailer, Ridley Scott continues to tip his hand without throwing the game.
Sunday, April 29, 2012
America has never met a capitalist it didn’t love, or an underdog it wasn’t willing to cheer on. Hollywood has been catering to such sentiments for ages, churning out movies that portray criminals as self-made, if extremely violent, men. Though gangster and crime films don’t put asses in seats like they used to, a decent one will almost always find an audience. The latest of these blood soaked fables, Lawless, comes courtesy of The Weinstein Company.
Friday, April 27, 2012
The past two weeks have been an extended holiday for Nas fans, and the gifts just keep coming. “The Don,” now has visual accompaniment courtesy of director Aristotle. It’s a veritable NYC travelogue, opening with a nice wide shot of the Staten Island Ferry en route to Manhattan. It’s the first image in cool opening credits sequence that reminds me of the one from David Fincher’s Panic Room. Cormega should be delighted to see Nas in yet another pink suit like the one from the “Street Dreams” video. I guess Nas won’t let snaps or insults dictate his fashion choices. The theme seems to tie in with album title. Life is indeed good. A seemingly more mature Nas is shown balling out in a relatively refined manner. After enjoying a fine meal, Nas gets chauffeured around NYC while sporting a bow tie. For some reason, the bassline feels even more imposing when playing underneath these visuals. That’s interesting seeing as how nothing in the first half of the video looks or feels particularly threatening.
Two cartoons in the 1980’s introduced me to the wonderful world of anime. One was Voltron, the other was Robotech. Robotech was actually made up of three different mecha anime series edited together into one giant story arc for American syndication. The most notable of the three series was The Super Dimension Fortress Macross, which celebrates its 30th anniversary this year.
‘There and Back Again’ is a series of articles in which I reflect on my upbringing in Lithonia, Georgia and my eventual return to New York in the mid-1990’s. Much of it relates to Hip-Hop, and how I truly discovered a culture that would eventually define my outlook on life. This was my world from childhood to adolescence. This series began as an ongoing column on Planet Ill. It now makes it official debut on ‘Scottscope’ with this piece, written in memory of the 1992 Los Angeles Uprising.
Despite all of the trailers, viral videos, and various other marketing materials, the mystery of Prometheus somehow remains intact. As much as I’ve seen, I don’t feel like I have a real idea of what the movie is about. Punches are clearly being pulled, but the jabs still have me stumbling around the ring. The latest blow from the 20th Century Fox marketing flurry comes in the form of a featurette released just yesterday. The clip is little more than ninety seconds long, consisting mostly of testimonials by the cast and Ridley Scott himself. It also bears quite a bit of new footage. Like just about everything that has been revealed of this film, it raises just as many questions as answers.
Some pictures don’t need captions. If you were born in the late 1970’s and had HBO during the late 1980’s, this image will make your heart sing. These actors ushered in an era where might made right. The screen was littered with bursting squibs and muzzle flashes. The soundtrack roared with automatic gunfire, shattering glass, colliding cars, and explosions. Every now and then, all of those visual and sonic elements actually accompanied a good movie. All of the stars in the above picture were at the center of a quality production or two during their prime. Now all are well past their heyday, but they refuse to leave without a fight. They are shown here standing side by side and laying down the law in a new image from The Expendables 2.
L.A. Confidential: An Interview with Retired LAPD Detective Greg Kading, Author of ‘Murder Rap’ Part 2
In part two of Scottscope's interview with retired LAPD detective Greg Kading (Click here to read part 1 if you haven't already), Mr. Kading talks about being taken off the Biggie and Tupac murder investigations before his team was able to make a single arrest. He also delves a bit deeper into the criminal ties of Marion "Suge" Knight and Sean "P. Diddy" Combs.
Thursday, April 26, 2012
Nas steps into daddy mode for “Daughters,” the latest offering from his upcoming album Life Is Good. As the title clearly and simply explains, “Daughters” focuses on that most precious of bonds, the one between daddies and their little girls. It’s something of a confessional, with Nas reflecting on his own shortcomings as a father. To ensure that he bears his sole in the proper manner, Mr. Escobar has enlisted the help of Chicago’s No I.D.
Django Unchained is Quentin Tarantino’s highly anticipated take on spaghetti westerns. It centers on the exploits of the title character (Jamie Foxx), a freed slave making his way across the American frontier with German dentist and Bounty Hunter Dr. King Schultz (Christopher Waltz) in tow. The pair face down plantation owner Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio), who has Django’s wife Broomhilda (Kerry Washington) in his slimy clutches. A couple of newly released images offer the first real glimpse of the heroes and the villains as they will appear in the finished film.
Wednesday, April 25, 2012
Emma (Rosie Fellner) and Megan (Gillian MacGregor) are two peas in a pod. They share a flat in London and do almost everything together. They also happen to be deadly assassins. The impetuous Emma has been “grounded” by her more forceful partner for mixing business with pleasure, often with disastrous results. Already seething from having been punished for her transgressions, Emma goes nuclear when she sees Meagan not following her own advice. Her meltdown culminates in an unsanctioned kill, and the two then have to dispose of the body. Both women are obviously masters at their craft, but can they stop bickering with each other long enough to take care of business?
Tuesday, April 24, 2012
The most memorable single moment from Ridley Scott’s sci-fi/horror masterpiece Alien is the infamous chestburster scene, and justifiably so. It’s one of the most shocking gross-out moments in film history. So effective was the xenomorph’s onscreen birth that it actually overshadowed an equally shocking scene that occurred much later in the film. I’m referring, of course, to the reveal of Ash as an android. As an adult, I find that moment, as well as the ones that directly precede and follow it, to be most unsettling. Dare I say I find it scarier than the chestburster, due to its underlying themes and the way those themes are handled.
Sunday, April 22, 2012
The Wild Bunch didn’t quite seem like a game changer when it was released in 1969. The film was met with mixed reviews and mediocre box office. Despite stumbling out of the proverbial gate, Sam Peckinpah’s western became one of the most influential films of all time. Surely among its earliest admirers were filmmakers Walter Hill and John Milius. Hill collaborated with Peckinpah three years later on the Steve McQueen vehicle The Getaway, which became Peckinpah’s biggest hit. Indeed, Hill’s own approach to filmmaking owed much to that of Peckinpah. Nearly 20 years after the release of The Wild Bunch, Hill decided to pay proper tribute to his deceased colleague John Milius’s help. Their efforts yielded the aptly titled Extreme Prejudice.
Saturday, April 21, 2012
A young Black child in a white hoodie offers a policeman some of his Sweeties candy. The officer, who is wearing a Ku Klux Klan hood along with his uniform, points his police issue semi-automatic Glock pistol at the child’s head. They both stand in front of an American flag, the center of which has been torn away to reveal the confederate battle flag underneath.
|Michael D'Antuono's "A Tale of Two Hoodies"|
Friday, April 20, 2012
Five college kids head to a cabin located deep in the woods. Their plans for a hedonistic vacation come to an abrupt halt when strange goings on put a damper on the party. Unbeknownst to them, the quintet are actually pawns in a much bigger game. The men behind the curtain struggle to keep their prey both captive and ignorant to their Machiavellian scheme. As the rats in the maze get closer to the truth, that truth proves to be more ghastly than anything in their wildest nightmares.
Thursday, April 19, 2012
Though I sometimes heard good things about them, I never paid much attention to any of the Batman cartoons that came after Batman: The Animated Series. Bruce Timm’s take on the Caped Crusader left me quite satisfied, as it provided a library of fully realized adventures to rival those in any of the live action films. That being said, the plethora of great superhero animation that has been released in recent years has opened up my mind a bit. Batman has never been given the full on CG treatment (at least not to my admittedly limited knowledge). DC Nation and Cartoon Network seek the remedy that with Beware the Batman, a new computer animated series set to debut later this year.
While it certainly wasn’t as in-depth as more knowledgeable fans would have hoped for, Behind The Music: Nas offered a serviceable cliff notes version of his career up to the present day. Many milestones and events were touched on. It was nice to see both Primo and Extra P appear as talking heads on a VH1 documentary program. The early meeting between Rakim and his heir apparent was a nice little gem that I hadn’t any prior knowledge of. Such moments made the broadcast well worth the watch.
Wednesday, April 18, 2012
I’ve always found Rihanna’s personality a bit unappealing. She emanates a “damaged goods” vibe that can be sensed miles away by any man who has ever dealt with that type. She also seems full of herself. That being said, her sex appeal is undeniable. Her lack of curves notwithstanding, Ms. Fenty has clearly got that thing that all the boys like. More importantly, she knows that any heterosexual male with a pulse loves to see her flaunt it shamelessly, which she seems to do every chance she gets.
The android characters of the first two films in the Alien franchise are perhaps its most intriguing. The first was a cold hearted company man, the second a gentle yet brave scientist. On the surface, they were deceptively human. A closer look revealed that something was clearly missing. The first Alien visualized this revelation with perhaps one of the most shocking and icky plot twists in science fiction history. The upcoming Prometheus plans not only to explore the origins of the deadly xenomorph, but of the artificial people that have played such a major role in the Alien mythology. The latest viral video gives us a glimpse into Weyland industries greatest triumph.
And the hits just keep on coming. With the release date for The Avengers a little more than two weeks away, the hype machine is going full bore. One clip after another has been popping up on just about every fansite imaginable. Remarkably, each one has been more entertaining than the last. Many have offered brief glimpses of the action (Which I’m still praying does not spoil any of the film’s major set pieces). The last featured two Avengers fighting side by side. This new one features two Avengers fighting each other.
Tuesday, April 17, 2012
Nas is one of the most gifted rappers of all time. VH1 certainly seems to think so, as they have bestowed upon him their greatest honor. Mr. Jones will be the focus of a brand new Behind the Music episode, the opening ten minutes of which have been posted on VH1’s website. It promises to touch on many of the highlights of his 21 year long career.
Monday, April 16, 2012
Last night at Coachella Fest, Dre and Snoop had a special treat for those in attendance. Before anyone asks, no, they didn’t finally announce a release date for Detox. The surprise they had in store was something much more ethereal. None other than Tupac Amuru Shakur showed up to perform onstage with his former label mates. Well, it wasn't really Tupac, as the fallen Icon has been dead for some time. Instead, a holographic image of the most revered rapper of all time was projected onstage. After performing "Hail Mary" for the astonished crowd, it joined Snoop Dogg for a rendition of their duet "2 of Amerikaz Most Wanted."
Saturday, April 14, 2012
I never would’ve thought that The Avengers would’ve won me over so completely in the last few weeks. I’ve been sold on just about everything I’ve seen from it since the two Superbowl trailers, particularly the Hulks rampages. Though the scale still looks smaller than expected for a film of such scope, everything still looks suitably superheroic. The costumes are hokey and the action is over the top. In the wake of Christopher Nolan’s “ultrarealistic” approach, it’s easy to forget that traditional superhero storytelling isn’t anything to be ashamed of. An exclusive clip from the upcoming film entitled “Another Bout,” celebrates all that is marvelous about men in brightly colored tights saving the day.
Thursday, April 12, 2012
Depictions of severe eye trauma in movies really creeps me out, whether it’s the grueling close-up of a splinter impaling an eyeball in Zombi 2 or the underground eye replacement surgery in Minority Report. I’d quite frankly rather watch someone’s head explode in slow motion. I suspect I’m not alone in feeling that way. I also suspect that director Ridley Scott realizes just how many people absolutely hate the idea of anything foreign going into, or coming out, of their eyes.
Wednesday, April 11, 2012
L.A. Confidential: An Interview with Retired LAPD Detective Greg Kading, Author of ‘Murder Rap’ Part 1
The murders of Tupac Shakur and the Notorious B.I.G continue to cast a dark and suffocating shadow over Hip-Hop culture. Some would say that rap music has been in a state of stunted growth since their untimely passing, unable to grow or evolve. Indeed, rap fans that grew up during that era have a hard time letting go of its two biggest icons. For us, September 13th, 1996 and March 9th, 1997 remain two of the darkest days in Hip-Hop’s 39 year history. The only way this perpetual mourning period will ever truly be over is if someone at long last uncovers and releases the truth.
|Photo by David E. West|
Monday, April 9, 2012
1600 feet beneath the surface of the Nevada desert, “Project Yellow Sphere” is nearing completion. This top secret undertaking is so massive that the government funded Maze Compound has had to deplete the surrounding areas of electricity to keep functioning. No one quite knows the nature of these experiments or to what end they are being conducted. Rumors of weapons technology and artificial intelligence abound. When a skeptical colonel is granted access, what he sees blows his mind, and quells any doubts he has.
Sunday, April 8, 2012
Like many others, the Trayvon Martin case has me longing for a time when Hip-Hop really was the “CNN of Black America.” In fact, the case often has me thinking back a couple of decades, when another incident of racial violence divided the country. The incident in question was caught on tape, and though the perpetrators were brought to justice, they were ultimately acquitted of all charges. Los Angeles was nearly razed to the ground in the trails immediate aftermath. The entire nation froze, wondering if and when the violence would cease. Anyone who’d been listening to rap music for the few years prior to events understood just what was happening and why.
Saturday, April 7, 2012
It may not seem like it now, but there was a time when Oliver Stone was among our most important and visionary filmmakers. He made morally challenging and sociologically complex films that could be discussed and dissected infinitely. At the turn of the century, Stone seemed to lose his mojo. As of late, he’s been turning out marginal works such as W. and the Ill-advised sequel Wall Street 2: Money Never Sleeps. His latest offering looks like a return to form, or least to the days just prior to his fall from grace.
Nine years ago, Ang Lee’s vision of The Hulk left audiences wanting for something less abstract and more action packed. The Incredible Hulk delivered just that, albeit to a surprisingly muted response. Given those prior missteps (though I maintain that Ang’s film is a misunderstood gem) the Green Goliath’s inclusion in The Avengers is, by all accounts, being met with great enthusiasm. I think this lends credence to the theory that the character works better as part of an ensemble than he does as a solo act, at least from a cinematic point of view.
Deep in the heart of Jakarta, a small but brave band of cops stage a predawn raid on an apartment building which is also headquarters to the powerful crime lord Tama Riyandi (Ray Sahetapy). The team has only to ascend to the fifteenth floor to apprehend Him. While that task may sound simple in theory, the reality proves anything but. The other fourteen floors of the complex are under 24 hour surveillance by way of closed circuit cameras. The domiciles themselves are inhabited by residents who are fiercely loyal to Riyandi. Upon his command, they relentlessly pounce on the intruders. Armed with every weapon imaginable, they turn the building into Hell on earth. As the police find themselves being assailed at every turn, the young rookie Rama (Iko Uwais) receives a trial by fire.
Tuesday, April 3, 2012
David Banner can always be counted on to speak his mind on any subject near and dear to his heart, consequences be damned. Trayvon Martin’s murder is no exception. While other more “relevant” rappers remain silent, Banner is making his stance widely (and loudly) known. He recently sat down with Black Enterprise Magazine to put things in perspective as only he can. The video of his statements surfaced on YouTube yesterday.
Monday, April 2, 2012
There used to be a time when rappers had no qualms about speaking out against injustice. A recent essay from a brother who calls himself Gat Turner makes me long for those days. Turner’s essay, You’re Not the Boss of Me: An Open Letter toRick Ross & all of the so-called “Bosses” of Hip Hop indicts rappers who remain relatively silent on the Trayvon Martin murder. It takes particular issue with Rick Ross, a Floridian and self-proclaimed “Boss” of Hip-Hop. While many may dismiss it as bitter hating and/or golden era idealism, it makes a very valid and obvious point: Today’s rap stars are nothing more than narcissistic cowards.
Sunday, April 1, 2012
The original Total Recall was one of Arnie’s very best. I cringed at the prospect of a remake. The first leaked shots of vehicles and storm troopers did little to ease my fears. Despite my misgivings, I am aware that Total Recall is hardly a sacred work of art. Its basic concept all but begs to re-imagined in modern terms. Just a little while ago, the world was given its first look at the new Total Recall. It is at once completely foreign, but at the same time vaguely familiar.