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DANE YOUSSEF

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DANE YOUSSEF


Boyish, slender and overly-energenic, Dane Youssef is an odd, "colorful" type. The sort of entertainer that never picks a major. He enjoys versatility. Acting, singing, writing, drawing, filmmaking and others. He is apparently mulit-talented.


Apparently, but that's a simple misconception. Actually, he's just equally mediocre and pedestrian at different endeavors. And he has absolutely no attention span, so he is unable to focus on a single trade. He is an outwardly spoken autistic--- a victim of Tourette Syndrome, Attention Deficit Disorder and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. That last one, his superiors say, comes in very handy for perfectionism in the field.


Dane himself says "is all about basically talents--performing talents--of all shapes and sizes coming together to create something special. Stand-up, singing, music, dance--anything that works onstage, That's what PREACH is all about. Finding fresh raw talent right off the streets and bringing it into the public eye and making their dreams to life."


Dane goes on to say, "What we at PREACH are really trying to market and perform is our vision. A dream. One we all share---fresh, off-beat people who march to the beat of their own drummer. Who come together and want to build this future in the entertainment industry. PREACH is about being constantly innovative. Experimenting and building, coming up with new ideas and trying them out.


Not just trying to be new and shocking. Novelty wears off, you know. Shock-'artists' like Tom Green and others do stuff that's just gross and provokative... and that's interesting for a few moments. It's like a car crash, morbid fascination. But it wears off. After a while you eventually realize, what you see is what you get.


And you wants so much more. It's only human nature. To hold onto the penis and shit jokes is to cease to grow. To cease to evolve. To cease to improve. And we at PREACH are trying to get a little farther away from that.


True art always stands the test of time. We just want to see what we can do. And do it. Someone's got to change the whole world and the effects of history. I'm proud to be a part of all this."


Dane goes on a lot more, but we wisely tuned it out. I mean, really, who honestly cares?


His hobbies are his very life, so his life is his hobby. He takes classical and modern ballet, bike-riding, exploring, learning money management. He helps out at home, walking the dog and finding all these ways to make his cat happy and screwing around on the internet.


He also occassionally writes celebrity bios and movie reviews. He's a Virgo.


Guess what that stands for? No one's surprised.

Occupation: Various

Single

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All reviews - Movies (38) - TV Shows (5) - DVDs (95)

Suicide Kings review

Posted : 8 months, 2 weeks ago on 2 January 2014 12:21 (A review of Suicide Kings)

"The Best--Or Worst Way To Kill Yourself?"

by Dane Youssef


"Tarantinoesque (adj) – referring to or reminiscent of the work of the American film-maker and actor Quentin Tarantino (born 1963), known for the violence and wit of his films." --Collins English Dictionary


Tarantino never set foot in a film school. He might not even have taken TV Media in high school. But... he started writing, directing and acting--and he still changed the genre. With "Reservoir Dogs," he was established. Paticularly in the U.K. (he was chased like The Beatles). With "Pulp Fiction," he was God.


Hollywood is like high school. When one does something that really gets popular, it sparks... the trend. And all the others follow suit--following the leader like cult lemmings. And in film, influence can be essential. Or just sad and embarrassing. Tarantino inspired many--a lot of particular imitators. Some good. And... as for this one?


"SUICIDE KINGS" dares to spin a yarn of a quartet of wealthy privileged youngsters who dream up... and then try the most desperate and daring of schemes--they abduct an ex-Wiseguy.


The reformed mobster is on his way home one night after an invigorating evening out. There's an ambush, he's attacked. He comes to... only to find himself bound-and-gagged in a chair somewhere. What the hell's going on?


A hostage film. A mob-crime flick. And also eventually... kind of mystery "whodunnit?" thriller, the plot twists and turns--especially in the last quarter of the picture.


Just a bunch of boys having fun. Bein' boys--not unlike "Reservoir Dogs", "Pulp Fiction" and "Django Unchained."


"The Godfather in question" finds in a cabin somewhere surrounded by rich collegiate in nice suits who seem to fancy themselves their own independent Mafioso. He sees red--on someone's shirt, as it's covered in the Goodfella's blood. The whole plan goes as wrong as we'd expect and the spoiler richies panic--and then these dumb rich silver spoons all turn on each other.


There's a bit where they cut off the mobster's finger (remember the cop's ear in "Reservoir Dogs"?) The mob is infamous for this. There's a moment where two henchman talks about his shoes--White Nikes, Bruno Mackie's and Stingray Boots, (the discussion of Big Macs and McDonald's in Holland vs. America), these kidnappers are all in fine suits (Tarantino's henchman always were too).


The standard big-heist/kidnapping/robbery/caper genre picture has been a staple of cinema since before movies could speak. And in the '30's, the genre reached its zenith.


"SUICIDE KINGS" boasts one of those casts that we'd expect from the latest Tarantino picture. Christopher Walken, Laura Harris, Jeremy Sisto, Brad Garrett, Jay Mohr, Johnny Galecki, Sean Patrick Flanery, Henry Thomas, Laura San Giacomo and Dennis Leary.


OK, not quite the highest-of-profile names for the most part. But still, everyone does a worthwhile job. Only Walken, Leary and Galecki only really stand-out.


Christopher Walken confirms the belief that any scene he's in--just flat-out works. Even when the screenplay gives him the most ludicrous insights: "But I come from out there, and everybody out there knows, everybody lies: cops lie, newspapers lie, parent's lyin'. The one thing you can count on - word on the street... yeah, that's solid." Uh-huh. That's why so many schoolyard and water-cooler rumors are considered holy fact.


Denis Leary has the most fun in his role doing what I suppose can best be described as "the quintessential Denis Leary role." He's "Denis Leary in the mob." Ranting about his wife and his expensive footwear. Doing a good deed and then bring down his usual Biblical wrath.


Galecki is kind of fun as the rich worrywart nebbish whose family owns the place and seems a lot more concerned with mud being tracked on the floor, what happening to his father's favorite chair than the fact that a mobster is bound and he know everyone's name...


All the other actors--they get a passing grade, but they don't quite stand out. And at times, "SUICIDE KINGS" is like that--hit-and-miss.


The whole abduction is so badly planned out--the movie itself even takes notice of this. At one point in the movie, Walken's character says to his captors: "You guys didn't think this through too good, did you?" Anyone with a handful of working brain cells will be thinking the same thing. I kind of wanted to ask the filmmakers this. The amount of obvious mistakes these guys make. Oh, they're clearly not professionals.


These guys kidnap a man with mob connections. They let him know who they are. They introduce themselves to him at the beginning. Really get to know each other. Of course they have to get to know each other, take their walls down and open up... it's integrate to films like these for male bonding--or rather, character development.


You'd think they would have blindfolded him, or be masked themselves. They drop their names. Surely they don't honestly believe they're going to get away with this. And then, is there really a possibility that... how Walken attempts to get out of this... or they do. Even in a god-dammed movie....


The movie's screenwriters Josh McKinney, Gina Goldman and Wayne Allen Rice take Don Stanford's original short story "The Hostage" from and heavily "Quentin Tarantino-ize it." Some thought they paid homage real proper. Some thought all this seems like something at best he might have in the bottom of his drawer--and forgot about forever. The scribes here don't seem to have quite that golden ear. It's not quite tin....


Director Peter O' Fallon has real flair and style. He certainly films this thing with a lot of energy to spare. The kind we've seen best in... well, you know where.


Heist/kidnapping movies that deal with "inside jobs" just gotta have that moment where the ship's going down in flame and the rats all turn on each other.


There's even the plot development where they all turn on each other, trying to find out who the traitor is, the mole feeding the cops the info is--remember the last act of "Reservoir Dogs"? Where all of the criminals go nuts, pull out their guns and...


"SUICIDE KINGS" is nice, fun and disposable. The most memorable thing about it is Walken taped down in a chair. And that's only of the best ways to get Waken. The filmmakers know that.


In the end, most of it is forgettable. Kind of fun (especially the comic stuff), but no, really nothing especially special. No must-see classic. Well, what do you expect from a designer imposter Tarantino?


I agree--a little too much (and I mean from beginning to end) is recycled from Tarantino. Except I don't think Q.T. himself ever rotoscoped.


And Tarantino himself admits to being a big-time movie imitator--one of the very best there ever was. But when he plagiarizes, he knows damn well how to make it feel fresh. He steals from the best of the old school. But he has that golden ear, that Beethoven savant.


"SUICIDE KINGS" is still worth a look for a slow night. Better than a lot of the merde being shit out of Hollywood's big uncreative anus. "Suicide Kings" doesn't beat the house and take the pot, but like poker, it's not a bad way to spend a slow night with your friends.


Oh come on, people. It's obvious why they're trying to make designer-imposter Quentin Tarantino. Hollywood is like high school. Show them something most'll get into and watch the trend spark. Before you know


Audiences are just like that--more of the same until they get really sick of it. Couldn't the real criminals here--the culpable screenwriters Josh McKinney, Gina Goldman and Wayne Allan Rice have maybe given this just one more re-write? Or honestly, maybe a few. Should've gotten an expert team of script doctors. Quentin got his personal style by stealing from a lot of different sources. The mistake here--they're just taking directly from Quentin.


But director O' Fallon gives a lot of wild-child style and so does everyone else involved.


I have to say... it is fun. It is a lot a fun. But it is kind of disposable. Better than the average throwaway movie you watch to fill or kill the time on a slow Tuesday night for a buck from Redbox. The picture does have a nice mood and atmosphere--Designer Imposter Tarantino or not.


And in the end... Well... Yeah, it's true. This is all pretty unbelievable. The ending however, is inevitable. And makes all the sense in the world.


It's funny how this movie bombed when it first came out. Maybe cause 1997 was the year of "Titanic," "L.A. Confidential," "Good Will Hunting" and "The Ice Storm." And a real Tarantino film--"Jackie Brown."


From "Reservoir Dogs" to "Pulp Fiction." Hey, if the writers and director had waited a little later, they could have pilfered a little from Quentin's "Jackie Brown" which came out later that year around Christmas. It is a real Hell of a wild ride, Tarantino-esque or not. Like Doug Liman's "Go."


See, for me--The Suicide Kings seems more like Jon Favreau's "Swingers" than the Reservoir Dogs. Hey, maybe that was another source of inspiration!


Walken sees how nervous they all are (who wouldn't be?) and attempts to get them to turn on each other. Seeing as it's a typical hostage situation with the victim being tied to a chair--he tries the usual of divide-and-conquer. "There's an inside guy. A mole," he tells them. "But who?" When they do finally start playing poker, Walken reads them easily.


You might have to see it more than once to really get it all straight. Take notes, if you have to.


Not to give anything away at all, but just to close it all on this one poetic line: "Sometimes the ends really do justify the means. Or at least define the meaning of the words 'karma' and 'justice'."


--Having Really Enjoyed It, Dane Youssef

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"A DISAPOINTING, BUT STILL MOVING LOVE LETTER"

Posted : 2 years, 6 months ago on 29 February 2012 12:03 (A review of Bobby )

by Dane Youssef


Emilio Esztevez's "Bobby" celebrates not only one of the greatest political icons to die before his time, before he had the opportunity to live up to even a fraction of his potential, but a seven-year effort to get it on the big screen.


Esztevez is not as renown in the business as his father and brother are. Nor does he have such a sparkling track-record. Let's be honest. Most of the man's movies (paticularly those made after "The Mighty Ducks") borderline on unwatchable. But hey, what about "Rated X"? I heard good things. Somewhere. I don't remember where exactly...


But just because a man has a few "Battlefield Earth" and "Catwoman"-like stinkers on his resume doesn't mean he's totally incapable of putting out anything at all decent. I know we love to skewer a star when they're down. But let's give a poor guy an even shake...


Because of Estevez's experience in the biz, as well as his family's, "Bobby" is chock-full of big-name walk-ons. Yes, it's good to be able to employ the best and biggest names in the business, but I don't know if it nessicarily works here. There are so many familiar faces that pop up like a Jack-In-The-Box and then disapear just as quickly, that it's kind of distracting.


They're all not on camera long enough so that we see the characters, not actors playing a role. We keep getting the feeling that all we're looking at is super-star after supers-star just here to do some temp work, have fun, do a favor and pay respect to a great political icon.

There are so many storylines buzzing in and out in such a condensed amount of time that so many of them feel under-developed (and even pointless at times).


There are some really intriguing ones, yes, but there's also too much that just feels like filler. They're not around longe enough to make us really think or care about them.


There is no accomplished actor in the plum role of Robert Kennedy (a wise desicion on Esztevez' part)--Kennedy appears as himself in archive footage; newsreels and voice-overs. There is an enourmously talented and renown cast for "Bobby," but no real head-liner.


This is an ensemble vehicle, in the tradition of the late Robert Altman's films. Like every ensemble vehicle, the star is the subject matter--RFK himself.

The lives he touched, the inpact he made, many of the goings-on during the time... that appears here. But too briefly. Like an extra that just blends into a massive crowd or a beige wall. Where are they? You want them to stand out, you want more.


As for it's much-touted heavy-hitter cast: Joshua Jackson (who worked with Esztevez in "The Mighty Ducks" films) isn't really given much of anything to do as as Kennedy's campaign manager.


Christian Slater is one of the best working actors out there today, but any schmuck standing in line at "Hot Dog On A Stick" could have done as good a job as he's allowed to do there. Hey, maybe some of that trademark reptillian-like demeanor of his might have helped. He's a racist, but he's as interesting as plain white-bread. Heather Graham is equally ineffective (has she ever given a really great performance or does she just seem to be phoning it all in, no matter what the Hell she's in?)


Ashton Kutcher thankfully sheds his tired "Kelso" scthick as a spiritual drug dealer who introduces to LSD. He wears glasses, has long mop-like hair and a scruffy beard. This is good. We're looking at the character, not Kutcher. Lately, Kutcher has been trying to evolve past the dim-witted prett-boy roles in stupid throw-away rom-comedies. He seems to be in very serious danger of becoming just another flavor-of-the-month like so, so many, many other before him (and after him). With roles in movies like "The Butterfly Effect" and now "Bobby," there may be hope for him after all.


William H. Macy and Starone Stone are some of the best out there. Here they play a married couple who have a rather ugly secret, but the whole thing is under-written. Esztevez' should have kept working on this. It's a nice sub-plot, but their story is thinner than two-ply toilet paper. And we want more.


Lawrence Fishburne almost steals the movie as a veteran cook who works at the Ambassador. He has a deep philiosophical mind and some theories on the way the world is... and how to survive in it. How to make it yours. He sounds so insightful, like an older, seasoned veteran not miles away from Kennedy himself. He talks about how anger is toxic and his admiration and love for Dr. King and how it hurt when King was gunned down.


Legendary Oscar-winner Anthony Hopkins appears as the elderly doorman who won't just flat-out retire because the boredom and feeling of uselessness gets to him. His role is pretty unremarkable, although he brings the same grace and dignity he does to pretty much any role he's in. It's nice to see him away from his "Hannibal Lecter" repitore. And "Bobby" is a vast improvement over Ron Howard's putrid steaming green Christmas diarrea log, "The Grinch."


Director Esztevez and Demi Moore appear together as a couple for the first time in Esztevez' nearly unwatchable "Wisdom," which contained none of what was promised. Or anything else worth seeing. They have some worthwhile moments as a showbusiness couple, especially Moore is what's some of the better work she's done in a while. And it's one of the few sub-plots that work.


The only true stand-outs here are Lawrence Fishburne, Sharon Stone, Martin Sheen, Lindsay Lohan, Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore. Everyone else seems is just coasting. Because they're all just distinguished veterans, we want them to make an enourmous impact. The kind where the scene and line becomes a legendary
moment and is quoted ad nauseum. But each shot just shows big-name marquee headers doing what just about anyone could have done. Maybe the fact that all these big names are dropped will draw them in.


I do applaud Esztevez for not just hiring some celebrity impressionist to play Bobby--like De Vito did for his "Hoffa." No two-bit actor can ever forge the man. So Kennedy actually appears at himself technically the whole time throughout (except of a few scenes where Bobby's right there with the actors, but we never get a good look, of course. That feels... respectful.


But does it work? The most crippling flaw in "Bobby" is that because of the contemporary faces and their underdevloped characters and underwritten scenes, we're never convinced we're back there during that fatal day. And when RFK walks through the door, onto the stage... we're never really convinced that he's in that room at this moment. RFK and the little people never seem to exist within the same time and reality.


Throughout the whole film, I was aware that they were just using old footage of Bob and the entire cast--er, members of the Ambassador were cheering facing a camera crew.


There are some moments that alone make Bobby worth seeing: A scene where a deception is going on and is revealed--we see the victim's tears and pain, a converstaion that takes place in a kitchen that really stays with you, two suited buttoned-down campaign volunteers who volunteer to embrace something more have than Kennedy, the reporter dying to see the senator in the flesh. All storylines that could have really packed a wallop if they're were written a little more. Was Esztevez on a schedule?


But there are a few too many which are just limp which leave you feeling Esztevez should have pumped them up or simply scrapped them altogether. Maybe leaving them in the bottom drawer and hauling them out the next time he wants to make a movie. As it is, this proudly stands as the best film Esztevez has come out with in over a decade. And it is a sometimes really touching tribute to a man who deseves it. For whatever reason you want to check it out, watch it, afterwards light a candle for Good ol' Bob.


In the end, what truly makes this a movie to see is the passion. The passion that Esztevez has for Bobby and has had ever since dear Emilio actually came in contact with him when he was but five years old.


"Bobby"'s finale (yes, that is the correct phrase) comes to no surprise, but what is so astonishing is how much such an act can still touch us as if we are actually there and then. It helps give the film more of an impact than everything leading up to it did.


What matters really is not when or how Kennedy left, but that he was there. Now that he's gone, it's sad how much it says about us how much we need him now...


NOTE: This review is dedicated in loving memory for Robert Francis Kennedy, the man who at the time was America's last chance after his brother and Dr. King went the same way. Despite this film's shortcomings, I still believe it succeeds as the ultimate swan song FOR BOBBY... FOR RFK... FOR ONE LAST CHANCE... FOR THIS COUNTRY...


--For Bobby Forever, Dane Youssef


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"EXPLOITATION IN THE FORM OF ART AND INDIE FILM"

Posted : 2 years, 9 months ago on 16 December 2011 08:55 (A review of Vulgar (Rated))

by Dane Youssef


Bryan Johnson shows amazing talent and depth as a first-time greenhorn filmmaker. There's more than just one worthwhile film here. There's two.


"Vulgar" plays out like a scrappy, slapped-together little campy comedy and then shifts wildly into much darker territory. And then back again. And back...


Johnson seems to have a natural wild indie touch and while it has touches of some of the darkest nature ever uncovered on the screen, it also has some nice Jersey-blue collar comedy.


Now here's a movie Tarantino would enjoy. It's kinda like a soup. It plays out like a stew of movies, styles and ideas. European avant-garde cinema, indie film and campy, low-budget comedy. It's a shame this movie didn't play in Europe and France. Or college kids. This is the kind of thing they all gobble up.


I'm glad I bought a copy. It gives me hope as an aspiring filmmaker... and joy and thrills as a movie-lover who loves off-kilter stuff.


Brian O' Halloran is touchingly determined and vulnerable as the clown. He scrapes out a meager existence as a "party whore" and lives in his hovel of a home, living on s*** wages, barely making ends meet. His landlord is understanding and sympathetic and lets him "mow the lawn or do some maintenance" and knocks off a few.


Ethan Suplee and Matt Mawer are effective and creepy as his inbred and mentally-retarded sons who seem to have been phoned right out of "Deliverence."


Jerry Lewkowitz is just plain frightening and disturbing as Ed Fanelli. With his portly beer-belly, bug-eyes, raspy voice and bad wig that looks like that of a little boy's hairstyle. I heard that the inspiration for this character was Dennis Hopper in "Blue Velvet." He's one of the scariest villains (or any kind of characters) to pop up on any kind of cinema in history.


The rape sequence with Will is just horrifying. It outdoes the whole scene in "Blue Velvet" and literally makes you BELIEVE and FEEL what this poor guy who just wants to entertain little kids is feeling.


The morning after where he has his emotional breakdown is just as strong. Will confides in Syd about the whole evening and Syd begs him to go to the cops, but Will swears him to secrecy. These scenes all shows strength, talent and feeling with both O' Halloran's acting and Johnson's directing.


Johnson himself, like Tarantino and producer Kevin Smith, once jockeyed in a video store. He gives the movie the flavor of a lot of low-budget films and masters past. He gives some "Kevin Smith" flavor in the dialouge and the juice of other great filmmakers', but he also gives it his own signature style. You'd have to see it to know what I mean.


Johnson has never been within 200 miles of a film school, so he seems to have gotten all of whatever film education and knowledge from Smith and Mosier.


You can tell Johnson is emulating Smith as a filmmaker, like the film's dialouge has an overwritten, over-articulate Kevin Smith-ness to it. Not to mention Smith's one-shot camera set-up. Still, there are moments that generate pain beyond words and conversation that Smith has never shown us.


And anyway, this is NOT a Kevin Smith film. I love the man, but this is another cup of tea altogether. Many will see because of the "Kevin Smith" name on the marquee. Which means they;ll be in for some serious shock and disappointment.


Johnson's only real mistake, in my opinion (and this is one that hurts the movie more than anything else) is his decision to act in it as the clown's only friend. You see why Smith only gave him bit-parts as Steve-Dave. He's no actor. He tends to mumble a lot of the time.


Look, read the other "user reviews" on IMDb about Johnson's "Vulgar." Listen to them describe it. YOU know if it's the movie for you. It all depends on your taste. Go to the site's OFFICIAL WEB PAGE and read the interview with Johnson. After hearing him, does it sound like your type of movie?


All in all, this is a hell of a debut. I liked Johnson's different stories and juggling them all at once. Comedy, drama, horror, working-class stories...


And at the center of it all, View Askew's poster boy--Flappy the Clown.


Have you ever wondered the real story about that clown? Here it is...


Now dear readers, I am not recommending this movie as "fun for the whole family." I do not recommend this as a movie to see with your drinking acquaintances. No, this a movie for a specific audience with a very acquired palate--darker, daring, low-budget, creepy, campy, gross and funny all at once.


Don't see this because Kevin Smith produced it. See it because this is your taste. Read the reviews. Does this sound like your brand of poison?


You know who you are.


--Loving "The Vulgar," Dane Youssef



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The Twilight Zone review

Posted : 3 years, 9 months ago on 15 December 2010 05:31 (A review of The Twilight Zone)

THE TWILIGHT ZONE

"The Masks"


"What Do You See When You Look At Me?"


"The Twilight Zone" was a turning point in television because of its entirely human characters, its situations, its usage of the supernatural and the astronomical and it's perplexing surprise endings which were a study in divine poetic karma. Back when the pop-culture geek fad of choice was pulp fiction magazines which contained short stories dealing with fantasy, science-fiction, horror and macabre... it was "Twilight" that started the great practice of putting them on the small screen. And with an urgent moral commentary about humanity overall no less.


But what's really made so much of this series stand the test of time and the measuring stick for what the quality of "quality programming" is measured by the fact that the show was a lot like a fairy tale. Or the Bible, or any religious tome.


This time, the "Zone" shines it's twilight on an elderly wealthy man on his last gasp. His doctor tells him how critical his situation at this point. He may not have years or even months... he may not even have more than days or minutes.


This particular rich elder still has a few more tasks and loose ends to tie up before he shuffles off this mortal coil. One final task. The family is coming into town... for Mardi Gras. But Mr. Foster is not fortunate enough to be embraced by the bosom of a warm embrace full clan when he makes his way down the stairs. His kin is not there to spend the holiday of Mardi Gras with someone they care for deeply in his last few moments. They are only there to assure they will inherit everything of value once Jason passes. He is not entirely pleased to see them. He knows why they are all there.


The family are the type who have not only character faults, they wear them quite prominently. The family almost seem to be living embodiments of the seven deadly sins. But they all withhold two precise to heart--greed and selfishness, if not outright absolute evil.


After a magnificent meal, he tells everyone he has a surprise for the whole family. He presents a collection of masks hand-made by an old Cajun. He informs the family that a custom of Mardi Gras is to wear masks that are the exact opposite of a one's true self. Thereupon, he says sarcastically that these masks are just that. The family refuses. He threatens to disinherit them all but completely if they do not humor this little eccentric, dying, senile old man... Funny thing, the masks almost seem inspired by the seven deadly sins. When the family's little no-tech masquerade ball itself ends, and the masks themselves are to be removed...


This is one of Serling's most famous episodes. And with good reason. There isn't a lot of action and topical subjects such as the Cold War and conformity to be had here. It deals with a timeless subjects such as family and love.


Actors are all fine here, they all seems big as life. Flesh-and-Blood. But much of this show belongs to one Robert Keith who plays the terminal Jason Foster.


But of course, the real star of this one is, as always the teleplay of one Rodman Edward Serling. The man not only penned the bulk of what was seen on "The Twilight Zone," he raised the bar for what was seen on the tube and what "well written" really meant. He took home six Emmys, more than anyone had in history back then. After him, scripture for television became a respectable pursuit.


NOTE: This review is dedicated to Edward Rodman Serling, a man who not only fought to protect our country and our way of life in WWII and took a fair amount of injury for it. But also fought the censors on TV twice as hard to make sure his vision was seen and heard. When TV was about shows like "Leave it to Beaver" and "Donna Reed," here was a man who wanted to use the box to illuminate serious problems like the cold war, racism, anti-society, paranoia and other destructive elements that come from within us. He was buried with military honors. I hope television honors as well. All he wanted was to remembered as a writer. Well.... I remember....


--Holy Worship for Rod Almighty, Dane Youssef




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"ONE OF THE BEST OF 2004. IT SPARKLES AND BEAMS."

Posted : 3 years, 9 months ago on 9 December 2010 04:07 (A review of P.S.)

by Dane Youssef


“P.S.” is one of those rare movies that tells a story which feels too good to be true--the kind that’s escapist-fantasy and only seems to happen in movies and in our most desperate dreams.


But then again, sometimes we see and here that it does happen in real life. Once in a blue moon. It’s every great success story. Like movie-star Lana Turner getting discovered when working in a pharmacy or Muhammad Ali’s almost inhumanly-impossible success with his career in the ring, who talked like a professional wrestler.


“P.S.” is a movie like that. It tells a story as sweet as a fairy tale, that maybe could happen in life. Where a woman feels like when she loses someone, she loses her chance in life. But then something else comes along that is so incredible, it feels like the divine hand. Is God giving her a do-over? And not being so subtle about it?


Laura Linney continues her streak of must-see movies and Oscar-caliber performances here as Louise, a middle-aged admissions director who’s been through a real losing streak throughout her life.


She’s recently divorced from her husband, a compulsive sex-addict who’s diddled anyone who’s set toe in his class. Her best friend seduced away her boyfriend in high school and is now married in an upper-middle class suburb to a man she threatens to cheat on if he doesn’t fulfill his “husbandly duties.” She’s living the kind of life every woman wants to in her most cynical, vengeful, self-absorbed fantasies.


Laura’s getting older, life’s getting harder (and it hasn't been very charmed to begin with). She begins to see all her hopes and dreams fading fast. And things get even more interesting when she has a private one-on-one interview with a potential art student.


This guy is just her type. Not only, but… he bears an uncanny resemblance to her late college boyfriend, an art major with a passion that matched hers. This guy doesn’t just look--he sounds, acts, behaves and his art is even similar. Louise is in shock.


What is this? Coincidence? Incidental? Has she been working herself too hard? Stress? Reincarnation? An escapist-fantasy movie-plot? Whatever it is, Louise is rubbing here eyes while warming up to this guy. Getting to know him… finds herself feeling something…. While trying to keep her feelings at bay. She’s a skeptic. She’s got one heck a heck of a track record.


One of the most refreshing things about the actress Laura Linney is that she's not just another manufactured beauty from off the assembly line. She's not just another actress. She's not "one of a million." She's just so real. She's not movie-star-ish.


She doesn’t wear designer clothes wherever she goes, live in a six-story mansion of Mulholland Dr, smoke cigarettes from a long black holder and have a private trophy room for all her honors. When she acts, it doesn't feel like acting. You feel you know her. She's a real person.


The same hold true for Topher Grace, which explains his success as an actor. He seems so adult, so grown-up for his age. Grace is charismatic and seems smart, his gift and his power on-screen doesn't come from a natural Brando-like acting talent, but his face, his body, his voice, his personality. Somehow, everything he says sounds like he means it. He's so square, so on-the-level. All he has to do is speak to convince you that he's legit.


As an actor, Grace has a style all his own which may or may not be intentional. He has an Anti-Brando method. He never changes his appearance or voice at all in his roles, but he has an earnest, open-faced, true-to-life and genuinely human way in every movie he so much as touches. Which explains why Hollywood keeps throwing mountains of scripts his way and why every movie he’s in, he’s given a nomination for something.


This is some of the best acting either Linney or Grace has ever done so far, pure and simple.


Gabriel Bryne, one of the finest actors in the world brings his trade-mark debonair and charisma in the role of Peter Harrington, Louise’s ex-husband who’s nasty habit primarily caused their divorce. There scenes that poke fun and make light of his “fucking” habit are almost worth the rental price.


Which is why he takes home award after award for nearly every movie he does, because something about his whole appearance and personality makes it come across like he's just himself being himself, not an actor.


While "P.S." may just come across as a woman's picture (and it may well be), this isn't just a moody, sensitive, overly-emotional "chick-flick" to be seen on a "woman's day." This is a movie about some people who are seriously dealing with the trials of life at a turning point of age.


Paul Rudd, who been the key performance in some damn good movies, has basically just a little cameo, but as the estranged brother, he gives us further magnified scope into Louise’s little life. He’s a reformed junkie with a condescending, sadistic streak towards his big sis.


The movie has a deep, human, true-to-life atmosphere all throughout. There’s nary a moment that is written or executed in a way that feels contrived. Nothing in “P.S.” needs willing suspension of disbelief. Everything feels so beautiful and natural as the falling of the rain.


I’ve read an endless number of reviews for this movie which charge Dylan Kidd with making a picture less impressive than his previous effort. Ah, the sophomore jinx. I didn’t see his freshman effort, “Roger Dodger,” so I’m not particularly biased. And anyway, shouldn’t a film be judged solely on its own merits? Even Steven Spielberg made “Always,” “Hook” and “1941.”


Listen folks, seriously, so many filmmakers are accused being cursed with the dreaded “sophomore jinx” because when it comes to art, there are people who rate novelty above all else.


Movies like “Birth and “Return To Me” have tackled this subject before, but here it feels so legitimate. Like “Rocky,” this one makes us believe clichés can happen… and make us care.


--P.S, Dane Youssef



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"A quirky, re-inventive entertaining romp!"

Posted : 3 years, 10 months ago on 19 November 2010 09:58 (A review of Giving It Up)

by Dane Youssef


Writer/director Christopher Kublan's independent romantic comedy (a rariety in the indie field) "Giving It Up" is a movie which is scarce in the indie field. A romantic comedy, rumored to be the worst, sloppiest, unentertaining and most formulaic of the entire genre.


Originally titled "Casanova Falling" before it's DVD release, it was later re-christened "Giving It Up" when it was released in 2003, I'm not sure why. Because that's the name of the song that plays it one scene. I assume the distributors thought it made for a more alluring title.


But very surprisingly, "Giving It Up" is a smarter, more-thinking person's romantic comedy. A movie that seems to have filtered out the obnoxious slapstick, trite plot points, dumb characters, monotone dialouge and Julia Roberts and Meg Ryan's routines.


Oh, there are quite a few clichés' in this movie, all right. The playboy who's tired of the game and wants to settle down and develop as a person, the bookish love interest who has no patience for his antics, the sexist supporting characters, the geeky best friend, the unobtainable finally obtained... only to realize that...


And although it sounds like the storyline from "What Women Want" (which also featured Feuerstein), no two movies could possibly be more polar opposite.


But "Giving It Up" is more than that. It doesn't rely entirely on that as so many other rom-coms do.


"GIU" is a well-played, thoughtfully-written, smartly conceived look at men, women and their views on sex and relationships.


In "Giving It Up," a New York advertising executive who specializes in selling sex to sell products is living the "almost ideal existence." He has devoted his life to attracting the opposite sex.


And it seems to be working. He has a new stranger in his bed every night. He's making fat cheddar. His hard-nosed, sexist boss (Dabney Coleman "9 to 5," "Tootsie," "Recess: School's Out" and "You've Got Mail") loves him. His apartment is lavish and full of cosmetics to polish his vessel and keep it clean. And his superhuman libido fuels his creative fires.


Enter his new boss, Elizabeth, who has heard of him and his reputation. She's smart and genuinely attractive. And quite down to earth. Ralph (Mark Feuerstein "Woman on Top" and "What Women Want"), the playboy in question is instantly smitten with her. But she's heard the word on the street and smiles, giving him the brush off.


Ralph is obsessed. He wants her. He can have every woman except the one he truly wants. Ain't it always the way? Ralph's less-lucky-in-love buddy, Peter (Ben Weber--"Twister" and TV's "Sex in the City") asks Ralph why? Why does he want to give up the life? Apparently, Ralphie boy feels empty. He decides to "give it all up."


He's the falling Casanova. He tries to go celibate. He meets up with Elizabeth and informs her of his newfound desire to live a life with something besides sex and even tries to win her over with his outside sex-interests. Like his joy for Billy Wilder's Cary Grant-Audrey Hepburn classic "Love in the Afternoon."


Kublan's script is smart in a "Sex in the City"-type of way. Full of realistic conversations between men and women about dating, relationships, sex and their own views and look at it all.


The cast is particularly strong for an independent film. Feuerstein is a real charmer, Weber and James Lesure (From "For Your Love") are convincing and likable as his best friends. Ari Larter as the foul and lecherous super-supermodel Amber is also good for a few laughs. Amy Redford is really 100% believable as a smart, intelligent, confident (and beautiful) businesswoman who hates her self a bit for falling for this falling Casanova.


See it alone for the near Oscar-worthy performance of the magnificent Dabney Coleman, more hard-nosed, sexist and snarling than ever.


It's worth falling for....


--Keeping It All Up, Dane Youssef



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SOMETHING DIFFERENT FROM VIEW ASKEW. GLAD I SAW IT

Posted : 3 years, 10 months ago on 19 November 2010 03:39 (A review of Vulgar)

by Dane Youssef


Bryan Johnson shows amazing talent and depth as a first-time greenhorn filmmaker. There's more than just one worthwhile film here. There's two.


"Vulgar" plays out like a scrappy, slapped-together little campy comedy and then shifts wildly into much darker territory. And then back again. And back...


Johnson seems to have a natural wild indie touch and while it has touches of some of the darkest nature ever uncovered on the screen, it also has some nice Jersey-blue collar comedy.


Now here's a movie Tarantino would enjoy. It's kinda like a soup. It plays out like a stew of movies, styles and ideas. European avant-garde cinema, indie film and campy, low-budget comedy. It's a shame this movie didn't play in Europe and France. Or college kids. This is the kind of thing they all gobble up.


I'm glad I bought a copy. It gives me hope as an aspiring filmmaker... and joy and thrills as a movie-lover who loves off-kilter stuff.


Brian O' Halloran is touchingly determined and vulnerable as the clown. He scrapes out a meager existence as a "party whore" and lives in his hovel of a home, living on s*** wages, barely making ends meet. His landlord is understanding and sympathetic and lets him "mow the lawn or do some maintenance" and knocks off a few.


Ethan Suplee and Matt Mawer are effective and creepy as his inbred and mentally-retarded sons who seem to have been phoned right out of "Deliverence."


Jerry Lewkowitz is just plain frightening and disturbing as Ed Fanelli. With his portly beer-belly, bug-eyes, raspy voice and bad wig that looks like a little boy's hair. I heard that the inspiration for this character was Dennis Hopper in "Blue Velvet." He's one of the scariest villains (or any kind of characters) to pop up on any kind of cinema in history.


The rape sequence with Will is just horrifying. It outdoes the whole scene in "Blue Velvet" and literally makes you BELIEVE and FEEL what this poor guy who just wants to entertain little kids is feeling.


The morning after where he has his emotional breakdown is just as strong. Will confides in Syd about the whole evening and Syd begs him to go to the cops, but Will swears him to secrecy. These scenes all shows strength, talent and feeling with both O' Halloran's acting and Johnson's directing.


Johnson himself, like Tarantino and producer Kevin Smith, once jockeyed in a video store. He gives the movie the flavor of a lot of low-budget films and masters past. He gives some "Kevin Smith" flavor in the dialouge and the juice of other great filmmakers', but he also gives it his own signature style. You'd have to see it to know what I mean.


Johnson has never been within 200 miles of a film school, so he seems to have gotten all of whatever film education and knowledge from Smith and Mosier.


You can tell Johnson is emulating Smith as a filmmaker, like the film's dialouge has an overwritten, over-articulate Kevin Smith-ness to it. Not to mention Smith's one-shot camera set-up. Still, there are moments that generate pain beyond words and conversation that Smith has never shown us.


And anyway, this is NOT a Kevin Smith film. I love the man, but this is another cup of tea altogether. Many will see because of the "Kevin Smith" name on the marquee. Which means they;ll be in for some serious shock and disappointment.


Johnson's only real mistake, in my opinion (and this is one that hurts the movie more than anything else) is his decision to act in it as the clown's only friend. You see why Smith only gave him bit-parts as Steve-Dave. He's no actor. He tends to mumble a lot of the time.


Look, read the other "user reviews" on IMDb about Johnson's "Vulgar." Listen to them describe it. YOU know if it's the movie for you. It all depends on your taste. Go to the site's OFFICIAL WEB PAGE and read the interview with Johnson. After hearing him, does it sound like your type of movie?


All in all, this is a hell of a debut. I liked Johnson's different stories and juggling them all at once. Comedy, drama, horror, working-class stories...


And at the center of it all, View Askew's poster boy--Flappy the Clown.


Have you ever wondered the real story about that clown? Here it is...


Now dear readers, I am not recommending this movie as "fun for the whole family." I do not recommend this as a movie to see with your drinking acquaintances. No, this a movie for a specific audience with a very acquired palate--darker, daring, low-budget, creepy, campy, gross and funny all at once.


Don't see this because Kevin Smith produced it. See it because this is your taste. Read the reviews. Does this sound like your brand of poison?


You know who you are.


--Loving "The Vulgar," Dane Youssef


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"AMERICA'S HOLLYWOOD SCHLOCK"

Posted : 4 years ago on 17 September 2010 12:48 (A review of America's Sweethearts)

by Dane Youssef


"Tired of brainless, star vehicle, rom-com candy-coated Hollywood crap? So am I! And here's why!"


The premise of "America's Sweethearts" sets us up for an inspired, lacerating, in-your-face send-up of Hollywood and silly rom-com star vehicles. Then it turns into one of them. Like a young mind full of bright ideas, originality and vision, it sells out and becomes the very type of evil it was speaking out against.


Although John Cusack isn't as great as he certainly used to be, you could always count on him to sign up for only the highest-caliber projects. But this shows strong signs of a dry spell. I'm guessing the flowing river of scripts sent to him is beginning to run dry.


Ever since Lloyd Dobbler in "Say Anything," Cusack has pretty much been type-casted into playing the same role: The smart, calculated, neurotic and love-sick guy who has just been dumped by the love of his life (Better Off Dead, Being John Malkovich, High Fidelity), and seems too smart and adult for his age). Cusack has always seemed so advanced for his age, but now he seems to have grown into his age and now, he's just another routine pedestrian actor.


Now I enjoy Crystal in his movies (although his steady-fire Jewish borscht-belt shtick is wearing thin). And here he does his usual bit here as a fluent veteran cock-and-bull, scam artist, fast-talking PR agent. This is the role Crystal was born to play. And he's been playing it since he was born.


But the movie (which was co-written and co-produced by Crystal) has to make Crystal into a sweetheart. Billy Crystal has always been more of a Borscht-Belt comedian than an actor, which is why he always plays himself in any movie he does, and here he does his usual Oscar-night banter as the PR Lee Phillips who flashes a showbiz smile and orchestrates at lot of routine Hollywood BS and cover-ups.


Catherine Zeta-Jones does a good job doing a stereotype caricature of a rich, spoiled, over-rated, over-egotistical mega-movie-star bitch who's obviously supposed to remind us of Julia Roberts. Reportedly, the Gwen Harrison role was offered to Julia Roberts, but she turned it down out of fear that people would think that was the real Julia Roberts.


Hmmmmm.....


Yes, you have to admit--people are very gullible and easily leaden. They need to believe that this unnaturally perfect life exists. Otherwise, what would their escape from the dreary and depressing, soul-and-bone crushing society be? If anyone ever believe Roberts to be a over-egotistical-pumped-up monster like Gwen in this movie.... her fan-base would dry-up and so would her career.


With all the flavor-of-the-month celebrities out there, Roberts is one of the few, precious to have any real staying power. Don't rock the boat, Jules. The only actress I could imagine could pull the villainous heartless Queen-Bee-yotch movie-starlet off as good as Roberts would be Amanda Peet, who's sort of become a staple of weird, bizarre, off-kilter romantic comedies ("The Whole Nine Yards," "Saving Silverman" and "Whipped"). Maybe she would have been better than Zeta-Jones. Perhaps it would have been best to not sign Roberts up, as she seems unbelievable as a wall-flower-turned-blossomed rose.


But there is an entire mainstream religion of mindless moronic lemmings who would leap off a cliff onto jagged rocks down below if anyone like Roberts had a life that was anything but wine and roses... and red-carpet Oscar-night bliss. Christopher Walken can always, always take a nothing movie... and suddenly make it all seem worth-while. And he actually manages to nearly resurrect this thing back from the dead as the Oscar-winning borderline psychotic-director Hal Weidmann (who seems to echo Kubrick).


Seth Green, usually a fiery actor, like everyone else, is completely extinguished here. I remember thinking how much better this damn movie would be if lived up to all to the foreplay. The flick opens brilliantly. We're promised a satirical anti-dote to the brainless, bland, formulaic crapola that Hollywood is dispensing. And they give us more of it. Practically, a love letter to it. We get screwed. We feel more cheated than Eddie.


We're expecting some clever, well-written, merciless biting satire against Hollywood, mindless rom-coms with big-name stars in them, the film critics and journalists, and the fans who watch this garbage... And what do we get? Not an assault on the idiocy, but more of the idiocy itself. A golf ball hitting someone in the head, someone jamming a phone into a chair, a dog sniffing at someone's crotch, a guy falling onto a cactus crotch-first, fat people, etc.


Cheap sit-com crap you can see on the ABC Wedensday night family line-up or on any other sitcom on regular network television anytime. I kept asking myself: How could such talented people with such an inspired, brilliant premise be so bad... and boring? I went to "box office & business" on IMDb and got my answer: The film's budget was an estimated $48,000,000. It grossed a whopping $93,607,673, and that's just in the US. Is it just me, or is everyone is this cast wearing a leather jacket? Actually, Zeta-Jones wears leather pants in one scene and so does Billy. Was there some kind of dress code on the set? How many cows were slain for this? How much time, talent and resource was wasted?


SPECIAL NOTE: This death-threat of a review has more interesting writing than anything that occurred in "America's Sweethearts."


--Hating Stupid Scripted Hollywood On-Screen Romances, Dane Youssef


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YOU CAN MAKE A LOT OF MONEY IN THE STRIPPING GAME

Posted : 4 years ago on 14 September 2010 05:58 (A review of The Players Club)

by Dane Youssef


And in the film industry. But the movies about the stripping game don't seem to. They never seem to be well-made, or even much fun. Why not? What's going on here? The characters and plot are so non-existent, they fall under the category of pornos without sex.


And who wants to see that?


Such cinema on the art form as "Showgirls" and "Striptease" made one wish the makers had followed pornography by example and not tried to have a plot. Multi-Razzie-winning schlockola only to be enjoyed only on the late-night UHF channel 93 super-cheese corn Ed Wood, Jr. level.


Good readers, take a deeeeep breath of relief that "The Players Club" has a slightly higher-quality of strip than glitzy dives like "Showgirls" and "Striptease." Not quite the British Oscar contender level of "The Full Monty," but not quite a "Striptease."


Written and directed by old-school rap superstar Ice Cube, "The Players Club" is a posh, yet harsh feature dealing with women needing big money really fast and undergo a whole lifestyle change in order to get it. Stripping changes who they are all over.


But hey--everybody needs money. Everyone wants to make more. That's the point of money. Even if you're Donald Trump, every single dollar there is... just isn't enough. We've all heard of the girl who turns trick in order as a last resort.


There are women who get into stripping 'cause they want the worship, the adoration. To control every man in the room--and her career.


But there are those who just need to make a lot of money really, really fast. When we meet Diana (LisaRaye), she's just had a fight with her father over which college she should go to. He throws her out. She leans on a guy for support. He gives her more than that. He gives her a child. Then he leaves with nothing.


A single black woman raising a baby on her own with no means. Such a sad, familiar story. So familiar, it makes it all the sadder.


To make ends meet, she gets a job at a thrift shoe-shop. Some strippers come in and tell her there are ways of making more money--much, much more. And in high demand. You're in charge of your career, your clientele, yourself. Diana is suddenly in charge of her own life--and may have all the means she needs.


The club that comes recommended by the strippers is "The Players Club," a ritzy posh gentleman's club it Atlanta, run by a pimp daddy named Dollar Bill. The place is always hopping like a hornytoad on hop with the kind of people you would like to get to know.


"Players" has a lot of the same gimmicks as "Striptease." One can only wonder... did The Ice Man see that movie... just before he wrote up this?


Big black contenders, buddies of the Iceman pop up. The reliable likes of Bernie Mac, Jamie Foxx, John Amos, Fazion Love, A.J. Johnson, Terrence Howard, Big Boy, Tommy 'Tiny' Lister and Michael Clark Duncan.


A lot of this is pretty warmed-over. But despite the blaxploitation roots and intentions, "Players Club" boasts and A-list cast and production values, thanks to the powerful status name of The Ice Cube and New Line Cinema.


LisaRaye gets a C-plus in her lead debut. Cube is quoted as saying he hired some fresh-face newbie actress so as his debut as filmmaker would be the important part, not a big name star-vehicle where the star names get all the notice.


Also green is Chrystale Wilson, making an ideal villainess as Ronnie. In scene after scene, she defines the "dominatrix." And as it goes without saying, the dominatrix dominates her every scene. Now THIS is blaxploitation.


Ronnie is another grand larceny scene-stealer that falls under the old movie saying of "the villains have the most fun--and ARE the most fun."


Bernie Mac takes this comic relief and makes it a plum. In the rich role of Dollar Bill, here is a man who is a club owner dressed like a pimp Don King (which is redundant), speaking like with a lot of philosophical wisdom that one picks up on the street, from the school of hard knocks. Business-wise, deep, yet ghetto.


Oscar-winner Jamie Foxx of "Ray" fame got his start in the biz as a stand-up comic and here as the solid supporting man love interest, the club's DJ Blue, it might've served him (and the freakin' movie) had he had dug up some of his archive bits from his "Def Jam" days.


You wouldn't think the DJ at a strip club would be especially important (Bill even tells Blue that to his face at one point), but he proves to be the very thing that Diana needs--even pulling it all together in the final act.


John Amos and Faizon Love are a buddy cop-pair have that Mutt-and-Jeff shtick going with Amos playing it straight and Love going for laughs. Amos as the ultimate hard cop, never coming close to smiling.


I really did enjoy this more than the last two "Friday" movies and Cube's "All About The Benjamins."


The Iceman himself has a running bit part as Reggie, a one of the regulars at "The Player's Club"--a hired thug and dabbles in some recreational crime for his own sake, like soliciting sex. He's friends with Clyde and Ronnie's brother, Junior.


Though there are times when Cube's stuff feels tired, his stuff underdeveloped. He's credited also as executive producer, which I think means he green-lit his own project. Sometimes, it pays to have an objective eye. Couldn't Cube's old director from "Boyz 'N' The Hood" John Singelton have come on down to give his former "Doughboy" some sage filmmaking advice?


The best thing "The Players Club" does is make a lot of its characters colorful and eccentric while keeping a lot of them fairly human. Cube tries to juggle, not making it a specific genre--but a "life film." His movie is comedy, drama, thriller, and action flick...


"Players" has Mr. Ice donning the solo hat here--as screenwriter, executive producer, director and supporting actor. The likes of Charles Chaplin, Orson Welles, Robert Rodriguez, Quentin Tarantino and David Lynch did all this. What made them so special? They could.


No classic, no picture belonging on the AFI's 100 Best, no one's absolute favorite of all time. But still worth seeing.


If no else, after seeing this one, you're sure of two things: stripping is a profession that pays big for a reason--there are rites of passage and perils.


You may never think the same again when you hit the strip joints, offer up that dollar you're waving into the air... and just who it goes to.


Despite it's blaxploitation roots, "Player's Club" mostly tries to sidestep a lot of opportunities to exploit or go for the really campy crap that helped earlier "white-stripper" movies get some viewers. But there's some camp here and there--all unintentional, I'm sure. The Cube ain't Spike Lee.


I wish Cube's partner-in-crime Chris Tucker from "Friday" would've popped-up at some point. Tucker is on par with Eddie Murphy and Martin Lawrence as a comic presence.


He's such talent, he's can bring even the deadest scene to life. Ol' Smokey nearly made "Friday" a must-see, he could've made this all the better.


There are times when Cube doesn't capture the energy he needs to. As director, he sometimes seems to be just recording. The camera is on auto-pilot rather than capturing a mood.


And blaxploitation is still alive, still thriving...


--A Believer in Big, Bad Black Cinema, Dane Youssef




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"WATCHING A BORING BUNCH OF FOOLS"

Posted : 4 years ago on 5 September 2010 03:28 (A review of Kissing a Fool)

by Dane Youssef


Now here is a movie that wants to be something successful by combining everything successful.


"Kissing A Fool" wants to be too many things. Can you mix successful ingredients and get the best of every world? "Kissing..." tries to be a '40's-style romantic comedy, a modern sex comedy and a sit-com at the same time.


Co-writer/Director Doug Ellin is a friend of Schwimmer's and Schwimmer has gone on and on about exactly how great it feels to shed his Ross-image and play the complete anti-Ross.


Jason Lee stars as Jay Murphy, a sensitive nice guy who's a romance novelist and is recovering from his latest breakup with a model named Natasha (played by TV's "Weird Science" Vanessa Angel). He has a sweet boy-next-door demeanor about him and his real problem is he's too nice and sensitive for his own good.


The worst part about being sensitive is that the world is so full of
s--t and garbage, people are such assholes that your feelings get hurt too often, too easy, too much. Better to be as cruel as the world or even more so and give worse than you get.


Believe me, I know of what I speak of.


David Schwimmer co-stars as Jay's best friend Max Abbitt, a sportscaster who's a womanizer who plays the field more than the teams reports on. A total creep and always with a dumb expression of his face, a self-satisfied drawl and his own cool-guy salutation: "What' up?" Always a toothpick and a "too cool" drawl dangling from his lip.


Mili Avital is unfortunately given the second-to-weakest developed character in the whole film. She's sweet, perky and photogenic... but nothing else, really. She and Lee could have some great chemistry if only the film allowed it. But this movie is written in a way that's so made-to-order, it's embarrassing.


Bonnie Hunt plays the narrator that is publishing Lee's book. She's also the narrator. Why does this movie need a narrator? The narration actually manages to make the movie even less suspenseful, if that's possible.


And Vanessa Angel, who broke through in TV's "Weird Science" and almost stole "Kingpin," is given the least interesting character. She plays a model and Jay's heartless ex-girlfriend who has dumped him and left him a pathetic neurotic mess. Hers is not a character, but a plot device. The heartless bitch who is so cruel and horrible to the sweet-hearted hero so more of our sympathy goes to him. I groaned at her scenes.


The movie's dialouge is not always plot-driven or cutesy-poo, like most romantic comedies are (although there are sometimes when it is).


Most of the script is written in an observational sit-com kind of way. Like "Seinfeld" or "Mad About You" (or yes, even "Friends"). But the dramatic/romantic scenes are embarrassingly maudlin.


Is it just me or has the entire cast of "Friends" been in movies that were all trying to mimic Kevin Smith's highmark rom-com "Chasing Amy?"


* The Object of My Affection

* Kissing A Fool

* Three To Tango


Smith's groundbreaking romantic comedy "Chasing Amy" was revolutionary, insightful... and made big waves for Ben Affleck, Joey Lauren Adams, Lee and Smith himself. A romantic comedy, a sex comedy and a relationship story. Not merely a love story, but a life story.


Lately, Hollywood has been trying to make Smith-like slick Hollywood movies. So far, they failed terribly. Smith's movies are great because they are daring and avoid formulas. And they master the art of sparkling conversation. This film does neither. Nor did any of the other Kevin Smith-wannabes.


Lee's character has been through the ringer and things are looking bleaker. I really liked him here and felt for him. And identified with him more than I wanted to.


I knew guys like Max in high school, but in the outside world? Who knows? I was kind of like the Lee character myself. In a way, I still am. Too sensitive. Too easily vulnerable. Such a whipping boy. I did understand what Jay meant when he said, "You know, I wish I had your heart. Then I wouldn't have spent so many sleepless nights...."


The plot seems cruel and creepy, yet too sit-com-like at the same time. "Test my fiancée's fidelity?" Almost seems like a sick ploy to throw Jay & Samantha together, doesn't it?


Oh wait, it is...


Anyone who has ever seen a movie will know what the ending will be. It's almost like waiting for the coyote to fall off the cliff.


Schwimmer's Max Abbit character seems to dumb and dull and annoying to be interesting. He must be sick of playing the same type ("The Pallbearer," "Six Days, Seven Nights" and TV's "Friends"), but this movie will do nothing for him. Still, at least he tried.


I kept (back in 1999 when I first saw this movie) seeing a mad Ross trying to be bad whenever I looked at him, but now looking back on it and putting Ross out of my head (I really dislike the show anyway), Schwimmer does an effective job... however he doesn't really have dimensions and depth.


He's just not an interesting womanizer. Apparently, a lot of Schwimmer fans felt confused by his role here.


It feels like Schwimmer wants to play someone completely different without risking losing his hard-core audience.


Schwimmer does do a much better job breaking typecasting in the forgettable "Since You've Been Gone" and the memorable "Band of Brothers."


MEMO TO Hollywood: If you're gonna keep making bad Kevin Smith-knockoffs, at lest quit putting "Friends" actors in them.


--Forget This Pathetic Attempt At Romance and Comedy, Dane Youssef




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DANE YOUSSEF posted a comment on this image

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Now here is a movie that wants to be something successful by combining everything successful.

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4 years ago
DANE YOUSSEF posted a review of Kissing a Fool

"WATCHING A BORING BUNCH OF FOOLS"

“by Dane Youssef

Now here is a movie that wants to be something successful by combining everything successful.

"Kissing A Fool" wants to be too many things. Can you mix successful ingredients and get the best of every world? "Kissing..." tries to be a '40's-style romantic comedy” read more

4 years ago
DANE YOUSSEF posted a review of Kissing a Fool

"WATCHING A BORING BUNCH OF FOOLS"

“by Dane Youssef

Now here is a movie that wants to be something successful by combining everything successful.

"Kissing A Fool" wants to be too many things. Can you mix successful ingredients and get the best of every world? "Kissing..." tries to be a '40's-style romantic comedy” read more

4 years ago
DANE YOUSSEF posted a review of Kissing a Fool

"WATCHING A BORING BUNCH OF FOOLS"

“by Dane Youssef

Now here is a movie that wants to be something successful by combining everything successful.

"Kissing A Fool" wants to be too many things. Can you mix successful ingredients and get the best of every world? "Kissing..." tries to be a '40's-style romantic comedy” read more

4 years ago
DANE YOUSSEF posted a review of Kissing a Fool

"WATCHING A BORING BUNCH OF FOOLS"

“by Dane Youssef

Now here is a movie that wants to be something successful by combining everything successful.

"Kissing A Fool" wants to be too many things. Can you mix successful ingredients and get the best of every world? "Kissing..." tries to be a '40's-style romantic comedy” read more

4 years ago
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"WATCHING A BORING BUNCH OF FOOLS"

“by Dane Youssef

Now here is a movie that wants to be something successful by combining everything successful.

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