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Boat Trip

DVD Topless Women a Sign of Things To Come
When I saw the surgically modified nude women from the waist up on the menu, I immediately got the DVD out to make sure Netflix hadn't sent me a cheesy porno by mistake. But, the label said Boat Trip. Against my better judgment, I put the disc back in to watch the movie. The gags and jokes were universally unfunny. The gay stereotypes weren't even charming. The actors, such as Maurice Godin as Hector, didn't believe in their characters enough to sell them. The acting was so stiff and unnatural, I felt like the cast was in on a joke they weren't sharing with the audience. I'm just glad to know that Roselyn Sanchez who played Gabriella has gone on to better things on "Without a Trace". I got the impression that the cast had a lot of fun making the movie. Too bad they couldn't transfer that vibe to the audience.

Divas Live: An Honors Concert for VH1 Save the Music

Worth Watching for the Last Two Numbers
Over the years, I kept hearing people talk about how Aretha Franklin's performance on the first VH1 Divas show brought the house down, so of course I had to see it for myself.

People were not joking. She was at least a step ahead of the other singers in terms of singing power and ability to command a house. The only singer who had the confidence to hold a candle to Aretha was Celine Dion. I was really impressed how she stepped up and held her own during the last gospel number. It was really entertaining to see the contrast of Celine and Aretha's body types and singing styles hollering at each other. I wish I was there to hoot them on.

The second to last song, A Natural Woman, was so amazing, I had to watch it again. Even though Aretha was commanding, I really enjoyed the blending of the different singers' styles and voices. Gloria Estafan and Shania Twain were a little washed out, but Maria Carey and Celine Dion brought it. I've been a Carole King fan for a long time, so it was wonderful to see her get her props as a songwriter and entertainer.

Too bad Whitney Houston and Mary J. Blige weren't on this year instead of the following year.


Positivity in the Middle of Turmoil
An enlightening view into a dance movement that was born out of pain and turmoil. I like how they tied in the influence of the Rodney King beating and the African dancing. I was pleasantly surprised by how much cultural roots still show up in Black American culture hundreds of years later. The rawness of the energy and the stories of everyone involved reminded me about Hip Hop, west coast style, in the days before Ice-T and NWA made gangsta rap popular. I loved Ms. Prissy. Even though it seemed like her life was incompatible with the ballet, church dancing and krumping, she was hard core, beautiful and made it work. I'm glad they included the part about Tommy the Clown's house getting jacked. Just in case people thought they were watching some kind of fake Hollywood story. In reality, everything doesn't have a happy ending, no matter how deserving people are. Sometimes good works and positiveness is punished by jealous people.

The two things I missed were 1) something about Crip Walking (C-Walking) and 2) seeing the Asian American kids battle. Crip Walking is another popular dance out of the same communities that was also popular in the 1990's and 2000s. I didn't get why the Asian American crew wasn't invited to battle or to the Tommy's Acadamy. Is there something going on that we weren't told about? Are there any Latino crews doing this kind of dance? There are more Latinos and Asian's in southern California than Black people. I only ask because the movie kept making the point everyone was invited to participate.

The Apple

Imbecilic characters & recycled story lines.
I found out about this movie because I heard that Nigel Lythgoe, executive producer of "So You Think You Can Dance" worked on the film as a choreographer. I couldn't find Nigel's name in the credits, but for a behind the scenes role like choreographer in a 1980 movie, shouldn't be too surprising. Unless you are a glutton for punishment or a big time dance fan like me, then you can probably skip it. The movie was like a mishmash of Xanadu, Grease, The Wiz and The Rocky Horror Picture Show but without any of the charm or fun of any of those. The choreography was no All That Jazz, but it was no better or worse than other movies of it's time (late 70s, early 80s). The dancing and costumes were a combination of aerobics and disco.

The story sucked rocks and the main characters were all imbeciles, especially the Olivia Newton-John wannabe, Bibi. I'm insulted that they thought everyone would be wearing silver lame and tons of glittery make-up in 1994. The main part of the film I got a kick out of was when George Gilmour's character, Alphie, first met the hippies in the park. Those kids were so shiny clean, with such beautiful, expensive looking clothes, it took me a while to catch on that they were supposed to hippies.

Shaolin Ulysses: Kungfu Monks in America

I saw them in SF
I saw the Shaolin Monks performing group during one of their performances in San Francisco in the late 90's. This movie gives a back story to some of the individual "performers". I did not realize that disciples of the original Temple had been dispersed around the globe as sort of Shaolin Kung Fu missionaries. To spread the gospel of Kung Fu.

I like how the film emphasized the individuality between the monks. Some were more focused on the spiritual aspect of Kung Fu, some on the mechanical kung fu aspect. Some socialized and mixed with diverse Americans and some stuck to the Chinese American population. Some trained only men, some trained women and girls too.

I really liked the scenes with Peng Zhang Li's family in China. Those bumps on the nephews heads were frightening to look at, but luckily they didn't seem to hurt. Apparently kids grow out of them since none of the grown men had them. I assume they went through the same training. I felt sorry for Peng Li's sister. Her life seemed to be on hold. Even though she did well in competitions and she had requests, she couldn't go teach tai chi because the family was waiting for Peng Li to return. But Peng has a wife and child in America, so I can't see him in a big rush to go back home. Seeing the World Trade Center towers still standing in the background of Peng's demonstrations was trippy too.

Sistas 'N the City

Sex from a Different Point of View
A bunch of animated shorts that leave you wanting more. Just when you feel like you're getting to know the ladies, it's over. The films cover more than sex and includes other issues relevant to young black middle-class urban single women. If you are a woman of any race, you'll probably see yourself and a few of your girlfriends in the stories.

The round table interview was entertaining too. One of the round table participants is Hazelle Goodman who played Luther Mahoney's sister Georgia Rae Mahoney in "Homicide: Life on the Street". It's cool to see her as herself with her true life personality instead of the witch on wheels she played on Homicide.

Shaka Zulu

View into 1800s South African Culture
Although the first few episodes on the first disc were slow as molasses, I liked the middle disks. It was an interesting view into what life was like for Africans in that part of the world around 1800. The hypocrisy of the British and Dutch made me want to puke. (For instance, traveling over 6,000 miles to another continent to defeat the "savages" who were threatening the European way of life.) Even though the movie focused on African royalty and warrior culture, it would be interesting to see this time period from other points of view, like women or children. The movie covered a range of human stories: love, betrayal, jealousy, military, politics, culture, religion and triumph. There was even a good villainess. The movie tone could have been tongue in cheek or slapstick, but instead Shaka Zulu was treated with dignity, regardless of what side of history you are on. Makes you realize what a joke most movies are that supposedly show Africans before they adopted Western culture. The most annoying thing was the too loud, fake African chorus that kept intruding into the movie. It sounded like the Mormon Tabernacle choir.

You Got Served

It Is What It Is
This movie has awesome, creative, high energy dancing. The flexibility and inventiveness of the dance moves will take your breath away. I love how women were part of the battle crews and not video hos or hoochie mamas. It's been too long since we've seen Jackée Harry, so she was a nice surprise. Lil Kim held her own too.

To appreciate how far the Hip Hop dancing culture has evolved, check out the moves Special K, Ozone and Turbo do in Breakin' from 1984. This movie has a lot of the same moves, taken to the next level.

If you want more out of this movie than to see some impressive dancing, then you should check out another movie. I plan to buy this DVD and You Got Served: Take it to the Streets for the dance scenes.

21 Grams

Tedious and Predictable
Even though this movie was tedious (I could swear I was in the theatre 3 years) and predictable there were a couple of shining lights. Melissa Leo as Marianne Jordan was the biggest stand out of the film. Whenever she came on screen it would just grab my attention (and wake me up). I've known "Marianne Jordans" in my life. Melissa gave so much depth to the character that her And I'm not just saying that because I loved her Sgt. Kay Howard on the Homicide series.

The other character I loved and perked up when he came on screen was Eddie Marsan playing Reverand John. It was criminal that they didn't use him more and give him more screen time. It would have been easy to play Reverand John as a stereotypical benevolent outsider paying for his sins by running a church in a tough neighborhood. Instead you got the impression that Reverand John went through the same trials and tribulations as his flock. He was one of them instead of above them.

Even by the end of the movie when all the strings tied up, I didn't give a fig about any of the main characters (Christine, Paul, Jack), their motivations or what would happen to them. They were unappealing and without depth. The hyper-realistic photography didn't help. I felt like I was watching the movie through a 3x magnifying mirror without enough light. Benicio Del Toro drew me in to watch the movie, but he wasn't the best thing in it.

Ellen DeGeneres: Here and Now

Laughed until I Couldn't Breathe
This recording of the latest Ellen Degeneres comedy tour was sooooooooooooooooo funny! If you like comedy where you are laughing so hard you can't catch your breath, this is the ticket. Her observations of everyday stuff is so right on and her delivery makes it even more ithilarious. Near the end, she quotes Salt-N-Pepa's Shoop for a "things that make you go hmmmm" moment. The only warning is that women may get more of a kick out of the show then men.

The Man Who Laughs

Overlooked Classic
I read the Victor Hugo story a few years ago and this movie version did not ruin the overall feel of the book. In fact, it was a pretty good Cliff Notes version of the book. I only noticed 3 major points where the movie took liberties. 1) A typical Hollywood Happy Ending, 2) time squeeze for some events and 3) the events of Gwynplaine's appearance in the House of Lords. All of the political content is gone.

I thought it was interesting to learn the influence of the expressionistic movement on this movie and Conrad Veidt's career. Movie buffs may recognize him as the "zombie" in Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. The woman who plays the Duchess, Olga Baclanova, was also the acrobat who gets her just desserts in Tod Browning's Freaks.

Guilty by Association

Morgan Freeman Fans Take a Pass
I picked this movie up at the video store because of Morgan's prominant picture on the cover. If he was in this movie more than 5 minutes total, I'll eat my dog's dog food. What a disappointment. I'm willing to sit through sub-par acting to watch Morgan Freeman flare across the screen like a shooting star, but he didn't get enough time to do anything.

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen

Fun Summer Popcorn Movie
This was everything you want in a summer popcorn movie. So what if it has some logic holes. Over all, it's loud, lots of colors and special effects and most important has characters you can root for and against. As a bonus you get literary allusions throughout. I thought the biggest negative was the intense action scene cutting that didn't give you a chance to absorb what you were seeing before switching to something else. Several times it left me quesy.

Yong zhe wu ju

Hokey but Cool
Even though the movie had stereotype characters like the cross-eye goofy cop or the bad guy with the facial flaw, Dreadnaught also had some way cool scenes. If you can bear sitting through the slow, run of the mill parts, you'll be rewarded with 3 major scenes [in order of awesomeness]: 1) the fighting Dragons 2) the opera theatre fight and 3) the tailor. It's a slapstick comedy too, so you'll have a few laughs, too. I just don't get the title.

Blast-Off Girls

Colonel Sanders Cameo
If you are going to waste 2-3 hours of your life watching these movies, might as well check out Blast-Off Girls for the Colonel Sanders (yes, THAT Colonel Sanders) cameo. You can actually hear him talk.

Other than that, these movies are almost interchangeable. In fact, at first I thought I was accidently restarting the same movie twice.

La leggenda del pianista sull'oceano

Jazz Fan Delight
If you are a fan of early 20th Century jazz, the duel scene alone is worth the price of admission. The period costumes and sets are wonderful. The movie also highlighted the class differences from that time. Without the exaggeration of movies such as Titanic. Great cast of characters. Pop culture trivia lovers delight, you'll recognize plenty of folks from other movies and TV shows.

She Freak

Overall, this movie was dumb. I gave it a 2.

To me the most interesting things were Jade's accent and the late 60s fashions.

The make-up looked about high school play level.

Moulin Rouge!

Wonderful Costumes and Sets but.....
I gave this movie a 4 out of 10. It would have been lower, but the fantastic colors costumes, sets and animation saved Moulin Rouge from being a total loss. The leads were definitely eye candy, but I didn't find them appealing beyond that. The "modern" music tended to be jarring and killed the mood the dialog built up. I thought the parts between the musical numbers tended to interrupt the flow, too.

On the DVD, I the writers and other crew were more interesting to me than most of the main characters.

I'd only recommend this movie if either like "vanity" movies (there was a lot of specialized lighting for the actors faces) or if you love excellent period costumes and set designs.

The Texas Chain Saw Massacre

The Screaming and Stupidity Too Much
Sorry to interrupt the love fest, but I thought the incessant screaming detracted from the whole movie. I was so distracted by the "victim's" non-stop screaming, that it took the edge off the movie and made me cheer for the baddies to get her. Then maybe she'd shut up.

Also, what stupid-ass runs away from someone in the dark and repeatedly screams to make sure the bad guy doesn't loose them.

Anyway, besides that, I thought the props and look and feel of the movie was excellent. Plus the soundtrack was very unique. A nice signature to the film.

Dancehall Queen

Accents Hard to Understand but Good Story and Acting
I often found the accents hard to understand. I could understand the "educated" daughter better than the street vendor mother. But the expressiveness and good acting of the star helped me out. I also enjoyed seeing a view onto a culture I wasn't familiar with. Funny how some things are universal, though. (Shady men taking advantage of poor women)

The ending was poetic justice.

Meet the Parents

Uneven Movie, Unlikeable Characters
OK, I fell for the hype about how funny this was and my friend's recommendation. Since I had a little time, I went to check this out. I honestly laughed more and harder during the trailer for "Emperor's New Groove".

The only fun or interesting characters were DeNiro, Blythe Danner and Ben Stiller. Almost everyone else was a major irritation. Especially, Teri Polo's character, Pam. She turned me off from the second she took the cell phone call over the guy on his knee saying he loved her.

There were so many long, painful periods between the few laughs, I felt in agony.

Anyway, if you insist on seeing this, I recommend waiting til it's in the bargain area of the video store.

The Original Kings of Comedy

2 Out of 4 Ain't Bad
I thought Steve Harvey and Cedric the Entertainer were laugh your butt off funny. I'd love to hang out with them any day of the week. Unfortunately, having them on there showed what light-weights the other two guys are. D.L. Hughley is not in their league, but he's a "name" so I understand why he was on there. The fourth guy (I don't even remember his name) was so bad, I kept hoping Steve Harvey would come on stage and interrupt. So much for wishful thinking.

The movie would have been much better if it was just Steve Harvey and Cedric the Entertainer doing their thing.

Double Platinum

Too Much Weeping for Me
Overall, it was a well told story. True, it's been done before (what story hasn't), but I still liked this spin on it. As Diana Ross wanted, we could all see she still looks wonderful, even though she has 5 grown kids. I had to laugh at the artfully placed ferns in the shower scene, though. The biggest negative was that Brandy was crying her eyes out every other scene. I felt like it detracted from the story by the end of the movie.

Wild Women Don't Have the Blues

Women's History of Blues
If you love any kind of American pop music, you MUST see this movie. It gives the real deal story from the people who lived it. About how blues evolved from the work songs slaves sang to be the dominant popular music during the 20s and 30s.

You also find out who the main players were at every major step in the evolution to how the Blues and Jazz went on to influence other genres. While you're doing all this learning, you'll also get a kick out of the different personalities and song lyrics.


This is one of those movies that will be viewed and interpreted on different levels depending on who you are. I enjoyed this movie as much as I enjoyed Rush Hour, just in different ways. The movie is not easily accessible and in your face like most American popular movies. If Oprah's name wasn't attached, Beloved would probably show on the art house circuit. It's more challenging than most movies that play at your local multi-plex.

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