directed by Joseph B. Vasquez.
Joseph B. Vasquez was a Latino/Black filmmaker from The Bronx.
This 1991 film travels similar ground as Diner, Swingers, American Graffiti and maybe even Cooley High. It didn't make as big of a cultural (or financial??) splash as any of those movies did but it did feature some actors who would later become relatively well known and in Leguizamo's case arguably a star. It details the adventures of four black and brown New York men in their late teens/early twenties, who on a Friday night like any other go hangout together as they normally do. They're just looking to have some fun, enjoy each other's company and perhaps meet some interesting people of the opposite gender. However this night is for some reason different. Change is upon the young men though not all of them realize it. Just about everything that can go wrong does go wrong on this night.
All four men are either versions of Vasquez at some point in his life, interpretations of Vasquez as other people saw him or based in part on Vasquez's close friends. It's amazing rewatching this movie to realize how young these actors were at the time and how old I am now. Time flies. It's also a shame that Vasquez died of AIDS from drug addiction a few years after this film was released. Black and Hispanic American film would have been much richer had he survived. His death was also bitterly ironic as both of his parents were drug addicts who met in recovery programs.
In some aspects this film has a very theater like or stage feel as the four men get close to 90% of the film lines and the camera stays very tight on them throughout the movie. They are quite well developed characters. All four of them are different people but with enough complementary similarities to hang out together at least once a week. But their friendships undergo some strains and by the end of the movie at least two of the men are entering new stages of life.
The men are:
|So what are we doing tonight?|
|Willie tries to run game|
|Heyyyy, it's Vinny!!!|
|My car, my rules fellas!|
This film has some comedic moments (Willie's idea of a pickup line is to tell a woman she's perpetrating a racial fraud, Vinny runs away from anything even hinting at critical thinking, Johnny and surprisingly Tom each discover they know less about women than they think) but comedy is not necessarily the main focus of this movie. It's really just a slice of life coming of age drama about four men from the South Bronx looking for some fun and either trying to ignore or forget about their current circumstances. There aren't really what I would consider hamfisted messages here. A few sneak through near the end but as mentioned it's unclear as to whether all of the men will make changes. There's no great reveals. Nobody gets shot though there are a few tense confrontations and fights. I think the title really didn't do this movie justice. I didn't quite love this movie but I certainly liked it a lot. You might as well. If you are familiar with NY or remember it before the Disneyfication of much of Manhattan, you might enjoy the scenery.
Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels
directed by Guy Ritchie
I don't want to talk too much in detail about what actually happens in this movie except for some very broad outlines. There are a lot of twists, some of which a viewer might see coming, some of which he wouldn't. If you haven't seen this film I think you ought to do so. Although this was hardly the first British crime movie of which I was aware it was something that opened my eyes to the fact that crime and caper movies didn't necessarily have to come in an American flavor, with Italian-American, African-American or Hispanic-American styles. The world was full of crime stories. Some of these stories came complete with British accents. This is a classic film. Although comparisons to Tarantino and Scorsese are obvious, what with the voiceovers, freeze-frames, and heroes of dubious moralities, this 1998 film managed to stand on its own two feet and ought to be enjoyed in its own right. It is a film which combines organized crime, street hoodlums and a bit of comedy into a pretty satisfying story. It also introduced the actors Vinnie Jones and Jason Statham (actually childhood buddies) to the world.
Four small time criminals, wait criminal might be too harsh of a word although it's technically correct, let's say hustlers, decide to pool their mostly ill gotten revenues together in order to get one of them, Eddy (Nick Moran) into a card game run by the fearsome crime lord Harry The Hatchet (P.H. Moriarty). Harry runs just about all of the local gambling, extortion, porn, prostitution etc. The game buy in is 100,000 pounds. But Bacon (Jason Statham), Soap (Dexter Fletcher), and Tom (Jason Flemyng) are all relatively confident because Eddy is the best card shark that ever lived. I say "relatively confident" because Soap tends to be a worrywart.
|Desperation is not pretty|
|Do I look like I give a f***?|
Anyway there's history between Harry and Eddy's family. Eddy's father JD (Sting) is either a former gangster with bad blood towards Harry or a straight and narrow citizen who's not afraid of Harry. Either way he has a bar that Harry wants. JD bought it with money he won off Harry years ago. If JD will turn over the bar then his son will not be harmed or killed. Unfortunately for Eddy, his father takes the view that Eddy's problems aren't his problems. Eddy's grown.
|Don't let the smooth taste fool you.|
|Do I need to start taking fingers? Eh???|
I really enjoyed the dialogue in this movie. Literally EVERYONE gets a snappy one liner or in some cases, several. Often times the characters don't know something that the viewer knows all along while occasionally the characters know something the viewer didn't realize until later. The film occasionally jumps back in forth in time to mess with your expectations. Again, the writing and dialogue in this movie is just so much fun. Whether it's Rory informing someone that no he will not turn the television down or Soap musing that guns are for show but knives are for pros or Barry telling someone that if he doesn't want to be counting the fingers he doesn't have he had better do what Barry says or Bacon explaining to his friends that Harry once beat a man to death with the first object he could find, which happened to be a woman's sex toy, the wordplay in this movie is a lot of fun.
TRAILER Do you Understand?