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Wednesday, 19 June 2019

Mini Retro Review: Out Of Sync (1995) #badmovies

Out of Sync
1995
Genre: Crime Drama




Shot in under 1 month for around $1.5 million, Out Of Sync tries to be a nitty-gritty, urban crime thriller, but with its straight to video values and barebones plot, with more effort put in, this would have been a certified cult hit. An ex-drug addict now DJ (played by LL Cool J) is forced to work undercover for a cop to get info on a drug pusher - only to fall for the pusher's girlfriend. After years behind the camera with the Fame TV series and The Cosby Show spin-off, A Different world, choreographer/actress/director Debbie Allen's feature film debut seeks to tell the story competently, but, even with the odd sex scenes, it still has a makeshift TV episode feel and with that, Out of Sync lacks any sense of style and excitement to ramp up interest. Allen, herself, also makes a short appearance as a manicurist, her husband Norm Nixon as a basketball player, as is Gene Anthony Ray, who co-starred with Debbie Allen on the TV show, Fame as one of the thugs with Sister Sister's Tim Reid as a cop. It's too lightweight, lacking in punch with action scenes few and far between and as much as it tries to be a serious drama, is just not convincing enough. 



Is It Worth Watching?

If you are into movies like this, possibly but I found this one to be dry


Overall:

Wednesday, 12 June 2019

Retro Review: In Too Deep (1999)

In Too Deep
1999
Cast: Omar Epps, L.L Cool J, Nia Long, Stanley Tucci, Pam Grier, Hill Harper
Genre: Crime Thriller
U.S Box Office Gross: over $14 million

Plot: An ambitious young police academy graduate undertakes an undercover mission as a drug dealer so he can infiltrate the organisation of a leading drug dealer in Cincinnati 





'Doesn't Go Deep Enough'


A young undercover cop, Jeff, who is a recent police graduate, is chosen to infiltrate a narcotics ring and to help bring down a charismatic drug lord by the name of 'God'. But soon he finds his loyalties are divided and thus, he is torn between protecting and serving and upholding the law and the police and being a friend to the drug lord. 

Despite 2 somewhat violent scenes (one involving the use of a pool cue), In Too Deep is struck down by an anaemic script that doesn't make full potential of both Epps' Jeff and LL Cool J's antagonist character, God and in developing the drama and nasty side of his ego to its fullest. It is a crime drama that becomes a downtrodden and hollow viewing B/C-movie Donnie Brasco and Martin Scorcese's The Departed, with In Too Deep never managing to go much further than it should and ought to have done. 

The situations themselves are both disingenuous but these are also conceived in a way that, to be frank, I didn't fully buy into. Lead Omar Epps is okay but he lacks screen and leading man presence to carry it off; that, and it was difficult for me to feel anything towards Jeff, and as the movie fails to dig deep into his behaviours, situations, feelings and why he does the things he does. LL Cool J sheds his usual good guy image by playing the big guy baddie, God. However, as much as he tries to inject a heavy and fierce presence and fieriness to his character, in a less than typecast role and one where it is rare to see him as the villain, it doesn't quite come off as well. 

Pam Grier is terribly underutilised and as one of the fellow cops, I wondered exactly why the writers didn't have her play a more integral role in the film and have her coming to the aid of her partner. Though to have In Too Deep waste the talents of Grier and Stanley Tucci- both established actors by relegating them to supporting roles wherein they could have easily elevated the movie further, is a poor move by the director and casting director in charge. Seeing as they also bring some quality presence, despite their (woefully) underwritten roles. The needless onscreen romance between Epps and Nia Long further impedes the pacing of the film. Also featured in the film are then '90s hip hop and R&B stars, rapper, Nas and singer, Mya. 

Funnily enough, the opening credits declare that ''this is based on a true story'', but Australian director Michael Rymer is unable to rouse any real or believable grit, hostility, tension and believability and with a poorly underdeveloped and flatlined script, it can be argued that none of the cast makes the grade with their performances.

This is a run-of-the-mill, watered down New Jack City/Donnie Brasco/The Departed, lacking in depth when it comes to action, suspense, intrigue, thrills and characterisation that it can't escape from its B-movie/direct to video/DVD status values.

The good guy, who is torn between right and wrong and who has split allegiances with both parties, has been done to death before and after In Too Deep, and done far better in most instances. For a crime movie of this type, it plays out as a tired, repetitive offering that never really finds its rhythm, nor doesn't do much of anything that is good to surprise or entertain, whatsoever. 



 


Final Verdict:

In Too Deep paints a sloppily bland and far from compelling picture of the (un)loyal cop that contrary to the main title stays within its confines and doesn't try to be bold and adventurous. By trading in good old-fashioned gunplay and decent action for an underwritten story and with little to no genuine traits found in crime and cop-based dramas, this becomes a run-of-the-mill and also weak crime movie.


And one that is easily forgettable. 



Overall:

Tuesday, 4 June 2019

Retro Review: Barbershop 2: Back In Business (2004)

Barbershop 2: Back In Business
2004
Cast: Ice Cube, Cedric The Entertainer, Eve, Michael Ealy, Troy Garity, Kenan Thompson, Queen Latifah, Garcelle Beauvais-Nilon
Genre: Comedy
Worldwide Box Office Gross: over $65 million

Plot: The owner of a historic South Side Chicago barbershop is pressured into selling out to a land developer, but must face the impact this would have on his close-knit community






'Not A ''Cut'' Above, Rather Much On Par With The First Movie'

Barbershop 2 was the follow-up to the first film, which became a box office sleeper hit, starring Ice Cube, Cedric The Entertainer, rapper Eve and Sean Patrick Thomas leading the ensemble and much like the first movie, it's more of a sitcom, rather than an out and out comedy movie set in a barbershop.

Calvin's barbershop, which has been a mainstay in the Chicago African American community for many years, has a new rival on the block in Nappy Cutz that is more high-end and state-of-the-art and is opening just opposite the road from each other, as part of a redevelopment plan.

One of the flaws of the second film is that its runtime is almost 2 hours long, it feels awfully padded with the subplots feeling less consequential than the last and plus, it has none of the spunk and spontaneity of Barbershop 1.  

Kenan Thompson's character was unnecessary, Cedric the Entertainer is less effective here than he was in the first film as he rambles on and on incessantly, whilst the subplot of him falling for Garcelle Beauvais's Loretta doesn't really fit into the plot, nor fully ties in around the other supporting characters. And the love triangle, again, isn't necessary. The characters are again an interesting and diverse bunch, personality-ish wise, but the way they are developed and written doesn't leave a discernable impression and there isn't one standout or star performance, whatsoever. Cedric mumbles and almost 90% of the time, it was so inaudible I couldn't make out what he was saying. Queen Latifah's character as Gina (Calvin's ex-girlfriend), and in a role that is far too brief, serves more as a supporting role, which in itself becomes an extension in the spin-off, Beautyshop, which was subsequently released in the same year as this movie. The movie is at most, passable and the interactions are playful.




It's fair to say that again, Barbershop 2 plays things a tad safe in terms of its direction; having said that, it did have 2, 3 moments and situations that made this instalment a little-and not as greater as the first Barbershop film. As most of it treads on the same path and rather than reinvent the wheel of Barbershop, the sequel sticks to the same narrative beats and is a rerun of that movie. Which is a little disappointing for me; it needed more anarchy, riotous laughs and better comedy. Instead, it is too earnest for its own good. 

The flashback scenes and transitions involving young Eddie are not as well assimilated into the film & nor are they as smooth, resulting in a feel that is muddled and this provided a disjointed flow within the story. 

I think when the sequel tries to be overambitious to the prequel and attempts to outdo it, whilst it doesn't find ways to be different and entertaining, it loses a little bit of its heart - and that is what succumbs Barbershop 2. It just doesn't pop when you expect it to. The rivalry between Calvin and Nappy Cutz and the threat the latter tries to pose against the barbershop is executed in an all-too obsolete fashion.

In fact, I'd say I prefer Beautyshop, the female spin-off over this one. 





Final Verdict:

Granted, the little scenes such as Cedric facing off against Queen Latifah were all right, but the subplots were not written as well as I'd hoped, the film is too static for words and the Cedric and Loretta storyline was blandly conceived. Though still okay, Barbershop 2 is hackneyed in places and is, like I said, on par with Barbershop that doesn't truly do enough as a film sequel to differentiate itself from, as well as go one better than its predecessor.


Overall:


Monday, 3 June 2019

Mini Retro Review: Paul Blart: Mall Cop (2008) #badmovies

Paul Blart: Mall Cop
2008
Genre: Comedy




If you have a comedy film that barely makes you chuckle within 90 minutes, then that is a sign it is not going to be good. The story takes ages for it to get going and I couldn't believe how bored I was during the 45 + mins of it. It fails to elicit laugh out loud humour on practically every level and the lack of laughs and comedy made this a sheer chore. Not one joke landed. Paul Mart: Mall Cop was an attempt of Kevin James's of making a name for himself as a comedy movie star, but low- par efforts such as this just show why he hasn't been able to establish himself as the next best comedy and stand-up performer to successfully transition onto feature films. House's Jennifer Morrison is in this one and her talents are put to waste in a forgettable support role that in one scene has her blurting out F-words: she must have wanted to erase this out of her memory. The fat jokes and pratfalls eventually wane as the film goes on, the swearing feels out of place in certain scenes and it seems like the writers thought that making homophobic references and spewing F-words constitute as funny. Mall Cop has nothing else left that could have made it better and funnier. Costing $26 million to produce, this is yet another one of the worst comedies to come out of the 2000s. I've seen bad comedies but even some of the ones that have garnered a negative reception made me laugh hard in places. Paul Mart: Mall Cop, on the other hand, is not one of them. This is almost an embarrassment for all those involved. 



Is It Worth Watching?

Not unless you are a massive Kevin James fan 


Overall:

Monday, 20 May 2019

Workplace Gossip: How To Deal With It & The People Who Engage In It

In any workplace environment, there will be instances where people will speculate on and secretly converse & confine in small groups about other co-workers. But when that conversation becomes gossip, this can put a strain on and is detrimental to not only people's careers and reputations but can also ruin friendships and any trust that the person they are speculating about towards the accused party. To find out that fellow colleagues are gossipmongers and thus forth, talking behind your back is a horrible feeling. 

It can also affect morale, productivity and team relations.  

Elliot Lasson, executive director of Joblink states, ''gossip may be in fact a form of verbal harassment''

I understand that whilst it is not always possible to be friends, at least we should be civil, understanding and respectful towards one another as work colleagues. & if you have nothing nice to say, much like the Ronan Keating song, 'you say it best when you say nothing at all'. Only when one says it best when they have nothing good or positive to say to not say it at all. 


Here are a few things to consider and look out for at work:





  • Do not actively engage in gossip or elevate it further; by doing so you are encouraging it, - instead, change the subject and try to make it more positive and deflect the negative gossip, even if they try and keep dwelling on the negatives and badmouthing him/her/you. Distance yourself from toxic behaviour and negativity by invariably thinking positive thoughts about yourself & try to steer clear from him/her/them. Be an example by being assertive and the stronger person. Toxic coworkers have this work mentality whereby their selfishness and trash-talking disrupts and unsettles the wellbeing, harmony, happiness and success of their target, of whom they see as either weak or successful. They thrive on negativity


  • Gossip is a substitute to fill one's needs of connection and to draw attention without having to face the other person, by doing so one fails to take responsibility for his/her feelings 
  • Negative gossiping is a form of indirect, passive power play behaviour wherein the target is not usually included indirectly and is not present 
  • People gossip to connect, but when it becomes at the expense of someone else and thus ends up hurting their feelings, that is when s/he has crossed the line. It is shallow, it is a sign that they must or might hold a grudge against that person and plus, it also reveals their true colours
  • Negativity is contagious, do not pass it on - it is also the #1 sign to look out for in a toxic individual 
  • Keep your distance from, or limit your distance and interactions and conversations from these people to only when necessary; i.e. carrying out a task and they need assistance so it can be completed
  • Those who are bullied and feel they are being talked about should confide in and seek solace in someone so that they can gain support and confidence from yourself and to lessen the sense of isolation 
  • Do not quit your day job - you did nothing wrong and you shouldn't be made to leave over something that isn't your fault 
  • You go to work to earn a living, to do your best in your job and to go home with a happy look on your face - you DON'T go to work to become unhappy, to endure humiliation, intimidation, badmouthing and nasty rumours made about you by colleagues, members of staff and members of the public 
  • Show yourself up to be the bigger person but not by lowering yourself to their standards. Appreciate and acknowledge your strengths and what you have and can offer to the company by focusing on working hard. You are of so much more worth than them 



                 

Tuesday, 14 May 2019

What Is It Like Working At Costco?: My Experience So Far




By Waiching Liu

I think what landed me the job at Costco Wholesale last year in September (yes, we have Costco in the UK) was during the first and second stages of the interview process, I mentioned that I was flexible and highly motivated and I am a very hands-on person. Since then, I've demonstrated on several occasions that I can not only do the job but to do it well, knowing what my responsibilities and duties are and to carry out my tasks with minimal supervision. Originally, I applied for a position as a merchandising/stock assistant; but the early mornings and not being able to keep track of a record of the details of the stock coming into the store took a toll on my performance. As part of the hiring process, all applicants must also take a mandatory drug test: some may find this unfair and unreasonable, but me personally, I think it is the right step to take. 

So, a month later, I got transferred to the food court and to work as an assistant. It is considered by many as the worst job out of all the departments and positions in the store and during my time so far I have seen people come and go in the food court and either they transferred to other departments or towards other Costco stores. They initially offered the role to 2 other people: yet one person quit after one day and the other didn't show up, so when they offered the food court assistant job to me, I didn't hesitate in accepting it. 

As a food court assistant, I have to prepare and sell food products, clean and sanitise tables, the kitchen utensils, pots, work surfaces and areas and replenish the condiment sections, including the plastic cutlery and sauce dispensers, change the syrups for the soda machine, sweep the floor and empty the bins. In terms of the level of work I was doing, it is pretty much straightforward and thus, I didn't need to be reminded or told what to do all of the time, when I see something that doesn't look right and straight away I amend or fix that issue. It's the type of job I turned down when I was in my teens and one wherein I've never had any previous catering or food service experience but undertaking it today, I realise now how much effort and hard work people who work in food retail put in. On weekends especially, it is an incredibly busy department and is non-stop until closing time.


The turnover rates are low and as a company, Costco rarely sacks and make people redundant, unless you do something terrible like stealing, resort to physical or verbal abuse, vandalise property to name. & finding loose change on the floor and not handing it into your supervisor is considered stealing and is, therefore, a 'sackable' offence. But as workplaces go, if you are committed and do well in your role, Costco will keep you on; that, and as well as the pay and benefits (including paid holidays and extra pay for working on Sundays and public holidays) and guaranteed job security means one is set for life. In December 2018, I passed my three-month probation period & I signed a permanent contract and all was well and I was happy. For a food court worker, given the amount of grief & crap we had to endure from some/most members (i.e. leaving their rubbish and not clearing their tables, asking us to wipe the tables, making a mess of the area, lack of manners), the pay all makes up for it. Like with Costco itself, you get the bull**** in bulk. I personally believe and this is my own personal opinion and one I've stated to my colleagues that us food court workers are one of the hardest working departments in the entire warehouse. 

Though it isn't as big and widely known as it is in its native U.S here in the UK, Costco is, much like its U.S counterpart, one of the best and fewest employees who offers good competitive pay, even for part-timers, which also increases, and the benefits are as good as full-timers, - and there is a reason why that is the case: they expect you to be fully committed, to work hard and as the workload is and can be excessive and taxing, and for you to put in a considerable amount of effort.

And if you don't do well, or struggle, you're out of here. 


It is pretty much a better-paid standard McDonalds/KFC fast food job and there isn't much difference in terms of the work in Costco as it is in those places. I spend the majority of my time cleaning the tables, clearing the bins, tidying the floor, but I do it speedily and as efficiently too. I also help out in the kitchen area too whenever possible, because I don't just want to be cleaning tables all of the time. Of course, one isn't going to be an overnight success  and there are still things I need to learn and barriers to overcome and I'm open to embracing new ideas and ways of doing things, but over time, once you settle into the role and understand the general routine and you keep doing it all the time, the easier it becomes. For example, I had a nightmare changing the sauce dispensers for say the first 6 months, but I got there in the end. & when I did, the feeling was one where I wanted to jump in the air. Yeah, it's silly, but to accomplish something on your 10th attempt or whatever, is just a great feeling.

Many, or be it most - though not all- of the co-workers at my Costco are great company to work and be around with and whilst one isn't destined to make friends, it's nice that I am able to get along with pretty much everyone, kind of, & converse with them and to develop and forge good working relationships with them. The dress code is very lax and there is no such thing as a company uniform policy but for name tag badges, & but for the supervisors who don red waistcoats. Whereas there are many who see employees dressed casually in their trainers/sneakers as a problem, I'm not fussed that I don't wear a proper uniform, but for when I work in the kitchen in the food court with a white coat, hairnet and gloves. 

Ideally, if you want to be respected more and you are prepared to work hard for your money, my advice would be to get a position outside of front end, such as bakery, cafe/food court, deli, a stocker, then work your way up after a couple of years into a supervisory role. Unless you want to work elsewhere: I am not much of a till person and the idea of standing around, punching in numbers and scanning items on the cash register doesn't challenge me (oh and they don't have seats at the tills so the cashiers stand around, instead of sitting). I am what one might call a 'mover and shaker' and like to be able to move around freely and do a variety of tasks and be more physical and active and hands-on. It is said if you work in any food department, it is difficult to get out of them, but I've seen people come and go. There are and were times & occasions where I said to myself, ''I've had enough'' and ''I don't want to work here, anymore''. Yet the next day isn't as strenuous and hectic as it was before. It varies from day to day. That being said, it is hard work, it is an extremely demanding role but it is something I enjoy doing a good deal that not also helps to pay the bills but it is equally challenging, and I take the rough with the smooth. 

You have your bad days, & also good days and encounter the odd negative remarks, criticism from one or two supervisors, managers, co-workers & members that is, unfortunately, part and parcel of working in retail. And Costco, but for being a wholesale business, is no different to working elsewhere. Expect and anticipate the unexpected, and yet be prepared when things go awry or go wrong. If you have a bad day, move on and look forward to the next day. Just do your job well and you'll be rewarded for it. 


The hours can be long, but they do fly by if you are given so much to do and you do it, yet you don't think about the time. You also need to demonstrate your flexibility, so when you tell them at the interview you are flexible, it truly means you are flexible for Costco and to make it work around them and your supervisors, - as opposed to it being tailored around you. That is also why there is no such thing as a good life-work balance at Costco; the work at Costco is shift-based with 2 to 3 days off on a part-time basis, meaning in some instances, you have little time for a family and social life and your weekly rotas change each week (with that no week is the same as the last) and hours can range from say, 4 hours minimum to 8.5 hours maximum a day. Though if you need more hours and want more money and the supervisor offers it to you, take it. 

It isn't perfect in all areas, but Costco is an ideal starting place for people to land their first job working in retail and so if you are thinking of doing work in this field, there are very few places where they could make it happen for you, but here - I wished it was around when I was 16- as all the positions require very little to no previous work experience and are entry-level based, which is perfect for teenagers and school-leavers. As entry-level jobs go, Costco is especially good. 

Just avoid causing rifts and conflicts with members and colleagues and steer clear of and try not to get involved in any personal drama. If a colleague constantly moans and whines, especially towards you, it's best to ignore them and their tantrums and to just do your job. Avoid late nights out and don't expect to make many friends with your colleagues (I go there to work and earn a living and socialise less, because some of the people can be dodgy and whose personalities don't gel with me), knuckle down and do well and you'll be fine. Believe me, nearly almost a year at Costco, there are pros and cons in every job, and with this company, it's been a huge eye-opener in more ways than one, and most of it has been worthwhile & rewarding. Come to think of it, I just don't see myself working anywhere else and looking for work elsewhere when in my forties, is just not an option. 


That, and I get to work with some amazing and great people. I am ever so grateful for them for giving me the opportunity to work for Costco and alongside my great co-workers, which is one of my favourite things about the job, besides the money and bonuses. 

Wednesday, 8 May 2019

B-Movie Actress Feature Spotlight: Lucy Liu

Celebrity Net Worth: $16 million


Born in Queens, New York on December 2, 1968, Lucy Liu, with the Chinese name of Liu Yuling, is an actress, director and actress whose famous role is Ling Woo in Ally McBeal and Joan Watson in Elementary. In high school, she adapted 'Alexis' as her middle name and is the youngest of three kids, whose parents met each other in the U.S from Taiwan. Growing up in a diverse neighbourhood of Jackson Heights, she learnt to speak Mandarin at home and studied English at the age of 5. Liu graduated in 1986. After transferring to the University of Michigan from New York University, Liu developed an interest in performing arts through dancing and acting, whilst also undertaking fine arts and voice classes.

After moving to Los Angeles, Liu landed brief stints on various TV shows such as Home Improvement, Hercules, The X -Files and Beverly Hills 90210 and made her onscreen debut in 1993 in an episode of legal drama, L.A Law as a Chinese widow.

Her performance on the medical drama, ER where she played the mother whose son is suffering from AIDS, helped her land her first actual TV role and in the main cast in the 1996 CBS sitcom, Pearl alongside Cheers' Rhea Perlman and Malcolm McDowell as Amy Li. Whilst the show received positive reviews, it ran only for one season and 22 episodes in total.

Right after Pearl ended, came further movie appearances on the shelved indie flick, Bang (1995), Payback as a BDSM prostitute, boxing drama Play It To The Bone & Cameron Crowe's Jerry Maguire opposite Tom Cruise and Renee Zellweger. Following on from that Liu was cast in legal comedy, Ally McBeal as the ill-tempered and acid-tongued lawyer, Ling Woo in 1998. Woo was initially a temporary role, but high viewing figures of Ally McBeal meant Liu was promoted as a series regular. Her performances garnered her a Primetime Emmy Award nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series and a Screen Actor's Guild Nomination.

Ally McBeal's run and its enormous worldwide success went into overdrive as Lucy Liu's stardom and appeal skyrocketed to widespread recognition and it was the platform that transformed her from obscurity to commercial success, with mainstream offerings in Kill Bill, Shanghai Noon and Charlie's Angels boosting her career.


    


After several seasons, Liu left Ally McBeal to focus and turn her attention to films; however, 2002's releases, Ballistic: Ecks vs Sever (cited by many as the film that ended her and Antonio Banderas's Hollywood movie careers) and Cypher received negative reviews, whilst lukewarm fare in crime thriller, Lucky Number Slevin, fantasy martial arts actioner The Man With The Iron Fists, and the much-maligned comedy, Code Name: The Cleaner starring Cedric The Entertainer, and a film wherein Liu acted as executive producer, all bombed at the box office.

''No, it's amazing to have somebody on your side doing things you don't even know you can do. & it just shows persistence pays off. You do have to really push hard in order to get anywhere. & you have to continue to push.'' - Lucy Liu 

Seen by many as the Asian trailblazer for Asian American actresses and celebrities in Hollywood, Lucy Liu has stood out as the most prominent Chinese-American female performer on the big and small screens of the 21st century. Between the periods of Ally McBeal and Charlie's Angels, Liu was at the forefront as leading Asian American onscreen representation and who was on a roll and things were looking up. Having said that, for someone who many have cited as being as the Asian American actress with the biggest potential and hype, with her relatively short movie career in mostly so-so B-movies and not so many bigger box office films, one may argue that Liu hasn't had a single substantial major role but for Ling on Ally McBeal. As Asian American actresses go in terms of popularity and familiarity status, to me she was the Asian American equivalent of Julia Roberts - if not as hugely successful as her. Any or every time people are asked the question of name an Asian American movie star or actress, pretty much 9 times out of 10 Lucy's name is mentioned. & I sort of expected her film career to go a little further. Lucy Liu did, however, auditioned for the role of Elektra in 2003's eventual comic book flop, Daredevil, but she lost out to Jennifer Garner. 

To some, Ling broke stereotypes of Asians and Asian-Americans, but also to others that character reinforced a whole load of others: dragon lady, being a lawyer, hardworking, dominant. Liu's marketability as a movie star was never really tapped into, although with Asian American representation at a stage in the early 2000s wherein major roles were still few and far between, thanks to Charlie's Angels, Shanghai Noon, Liu was still carrying the torch for Asian and Asian American cinema.

Liu seemed to make better progress in TV roles and thus, yet she hasn't had much luck and success in finding and securing work as a leading actress in feature-length commercial hit films and transitioning from TV to film. She is an actress who waited far too long for a meaty & challenging role on the big screen, and even to this day, reflecting back on her previous roles and characters, with Alex and Charlie's Angels, that truly ought to have been that one film that should have amounted to even far greater latter success on the Hollywood movie front. The world of TV and voiceover casting, however, offered her more opportunities that she took on, and in Elementary as Joan Watson, she triumphed and she had found her footing on the smaller screen.


In 2019, Liu finally secured her Hollywood Walk of Fame star and she became the second Asian American female actress to do so, following on from Anna May Wong.

Whilst her movie career could have been far more prolific, all in spite of dedicating most of her time to promoting her fine artwork and being a mother to her son, Rockwell, there is little doubt that Lucy Liu is a multi-talented performer who has let nothing and no one stand in her way in achieving and accomplishing success on the small and big screen, and giving Asian Americans and people of East Asian descent hope and the realisation that anything is possible, if you work hard to pursue your goals and break down stereotypes. 

Because Asians and Asian Americans and people of Asian descent aren't just good at maths, play the piano, good at basketball, but we excel in other areas too.... especially ones society doesn't expect us to fulfil and go into. 

And Lucy is living proof of that


Notable Favourites:


Kung Fu Panda, Charlie's Angels, Kill Bill, Ally McBeal, Jerry Maguire, Set It Up, Cypher


Notable Non-Favourites

Mulan II, Ballistic Ecks vs Sever, Hotel, Molly, Shanghai Noon, Futureworld, The Cleaner


Sources:

Lucy Liu - Wikipedia


Lucy Liu Biography and Life Story - Aces Showbiz 

Tuesday, 7 May 2019

Mini Retro Review: Ballistic: Ecks Vs Server (2002) #badmovies

Ballistic: Ecks Vs Server
2002 
Action



An utterly dreary and easily forgotten action flick, which unfortunately doomed Antonio Banderas and Lucy Liu's major film careers, Ballistic is 1 hr, over 30 mins worth of minuscule and bland and routine action one would find in a straight- to- DVD action flick, that wouldn't bowl avid action fans over. Liu fires several shots wearing a Black trenchcoat and a fetching pair of sunglasses, a stubbled-looking Banderas coasts through the incomprehensible material with both of their characters failing to make the grade for us to care. What should have been a mindless fun little action romp turns out to be an overwrought, tedious mess. Turned this off after 30 mins. This was so boring. Ballistic? More like b******s.


Is It Worth Watching?

Avoid at all costs


Overall:

Thursday, 2 May 2019

Retro Review: Blades Of Glory (2007)

Blades Of Glory
2007
Cast: Will Ferrell, Jon Heder, Will Arnett, Amy Poehler, William Fichtner, Jenna Fischer, Craig T. Nelson
Genre: Comedy
Worldwide Box Office Gross: over $145 million 

Plot: In 2002, two rival Olympic ice skaters were stripped of their gold medals and permanently banned from men's singles competition. Presently, however, they found a loophole that will allow them to qualify as a pairs team





'Ice, Ice Skating, Baby!'

Blades of Glory descended on the cinema and theater-going public over 10 years ago and thus garnered favourable reviews and recouped nearly $150 million, worldwide. An affectionate parody on the sport known as ice skating, this is a traditional underdog tale where the hero triumphs against all the odds. There was something that struck me about Blades of Glory, but what really impressed me was how watchable it became, thanks to the physical slapstick, visual wit, the amusing one-liners, an arch nemesis duo for the guys to contend with, and how the story managed to hold up all the way through.  

The film surprisingly has multiple writers on board, Craig Cox, Jeff Cox, John Altschuler, David Krinsky: usually, this spells trouble and quite often, this can result in scattered and underdeveloped characters and story. Yet surprise surprise, their efforts have turned out to be one that is one of the best comedies of 2007, alongside Edgar Wright's Hot Fuzz. 

Chazz Michael Michaels is a ladies man (in an odd way) and sex-o-holic figure skater who is a rival to Jimmy MacElroy, whose life is run by his controlling father, Darren. After Chazz and Jimmy brawl on the podium during the world championship, they are each stripped of the gold medal and winnings and get thrown out of the competition for good. Chazz becomes a boozy, overweight guy and who doesn't give a damn, anymore. 3 and a half years later, Jimmy's stalker tries to find a way to get him back on the ice: it appears that there is a loophole whereby Chazz and Jimmy can compete in the contest -, providing they enter as a pairing. With the help of Jimmy's old coach, the two begrudgingly team up and train and prepare for their showdown with their new rivals, Stranz and Fairchild Van Waldenberg.  

Figure skating as a subject and theme is one of the easiest and simplest concepts ripe for a comedy, or be it a film around; it all boils down to the execution and whether or not it touches on the tropes, conventions and the things associated with it, and it does so in a pleasing and entertaining fashion. Well, Blades of Glory succeeded and whilst this is wittier and funny and not ha-ha-ha funny, the slapstick and pratfalls, which ranged from amusing to almost raucously hilarious, helped the film a great deal.

There was a tad more slapstick here than in Anchorman, which was a huge sigh of relief and was something I demanded and expected more out of a Will Ferrell comedy. And in Chazz Michael Michaels, was a Will Ferrell character that displayed far more range, gusto and bravado and physical comedy than I have seen him put out. It may not be and is not is his best role; that it is another 'jerk'-like character.... yet humour-wise and in terms of the funny, this is (probably) his funniest I have seen of his, so far. Looking like he was having a hoot here and several times, he displayed the bonkers side of Ferrell, as well as Michaels's clueless, oafishness and manly-ness. Usually, his characters are abrasive, loud and can come across as overconfident -, but here with Chazz, there is a certain likability and charm that Ferrell exudes. He makes him likeable, but also a bit of a moron, but a moron who is appealing and a character we can root for.  

That and seeing Will Ferrell strutting and skating around on thin ice in an undersized and fetching red and snazzy leotard and with a bad- looking '80s style hairdo is an image that will be ingrained in my mind. 




Opposite Ferrell was Napoleon Dynamite's Jon Heder's prissy, nice guy image as Jimmy and the two polar opposites make for a curious comedy double act. Heder makes for a surprisingly good foil for Ferrell's larger- than- life onscreen persona and seeing this pairing break out into silly- looking poses and over-the-top flips and twists (courtesy of CGI) made me smile from ear to ear. The snarky brother and sister incestuous villains played by Will Arnett and Amy Poehler get in on the act, as they try to beat them at their own dastardly game. They could have been written in a way that they are throwaway and downright irritating to the core, but thankfully, Arnett and Poehler's turns are entertaining, despite their one-note characterisations. 

With the acerbic ness of Anchorman and its parody on figure skating, this is another good addition to Will Ferrell's filmography; its tone is akin to The Incredible Burt Wonderstone and its satirical take on magicians and acts of illusionary. The comedy garners considerable laughs and the broad feel and approach Blades of Glory opts for, makes it more entertaining than I'd expected. One scene has Chazz being chased by Stranz and when Stranz fires what looks like a harpoon gun, it hits the mascot, and he dies! Thusforth, there is a refreshing wittiness and zip to this comedy with almost every scene as it successfully pokes fun at the sport. It avoids going down the 'gross-out' route and continuously resorting to tasteless gags on bodily parts and functions and present things in a whimsical way too. Blades of Glory is also no stranger to cameos from figure skating greats that include Nancy Kerrigan. 

This is exactly how I wanted Anchorman to be like, as well as Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Bobby Ricky. Blades of Glory is not usually the type of comedy one would associate Ferrell with, but here he shows that he can cut it in the slapstick and conventionalist comedy stakes, and not just deliver in surrealist comedy. Ferrell steals the limelight, pulling out all the stops and is comedy gold, as he and the film embrace the silliness of it all and playing it all for laughs and doing it well, whilst treading on Zoolander's waters. 





Final Verdict: 

A sports flick that doesn't take itself too seriously, but at the same time embracing its traditions and roots of figure skating, whilst it is by no means groundbreaking and the second to third act becomes a tad mundane, Blades of Glory is most cases, a glorious and spontaneous display of this winter-based sport & the best film on ice skating that I've seen that basks under the light with good skating action, amusing comedy to delight and tickle viewers with and all along with an engaging and flashy turn by Will Ferrell.

And just as importantly for a comedy, it is a heap of fun.


Overall: 



Wednesday, 1 May 2019

Retro Review: Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy (2004)

Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy
2004
Cast: Will Ferrell, Cristina Applegate, Paul Rudd, Steve Carell, David Koechner, Fred Willard, Vince Vaughn
Genre: Comedy
Worldwide Box Office Gross: over $90 million

Plot: Ron Burgundy is San Diego's top rated newsman in the male-dominated broadcasting of the 1970s, but that's all about to change for Ron & his cronies when an ambitious woman is hired as a new anchor 





'Patchy Comedy, But Still Held Together By Ferrell'

When it comes to comedy movie stars, it seems as though each decade, there has been one performer who has dominated the Hollywood movie scene with a string of frequent hits: the 1980s belonged to Eddie Murphy in Beverly Hills Cop, Trading Places, Coming To America, 48 Hrs and in the 1990s arguably, and for me anyway, it was Robin Williams who struck gold with a string of comedies Mrs Doubtfire, The Birdcage, a comedic turn as the Genie in Aladdin, alongside his Oscar-winning dramatic turn in Good Will Hunting. & the 2000s saw the breakthrough of Saturday Night Live's Will Ferrell: the Irvine-born comic and actor came on the scene via Old School, Elf, Blades of Steel. But it was the success of The Legend of Ron Burgundy that truly put Ferrell on the comedy movie map, and for a while, he was huge and on a good run of form;  alas, his career was surging after this effort. 

Some of the misogyny in this film was a little disappointing to witness, which unfortunately became a norm from the early 2000s onwards in many comedies, whilst the comedy by Will Ferrell and courtesy of Judd Apatow is a lot less conventional and in the vein of the tomfoolery and broad farce of that of Robin Williams and Jim Carrey, but it is also witty in places from an entertainment point of view. In essence, it is a smarter and wittier version of the Farrelly Brothers humour and is far less malicious and mean-spirited in contrast. 

As a broad spoof on the 1970s and television news, it mocks these subjects rather well, without dumbing down too much. The characters are affectionate parodies of newscasters, with Ron who, despite his perverse attractions, is kind of charming too. Even if his character is a bit of misogynist. Will Ferrell is Will Ferrell who is less loud, but still, he is just as amusing in his own way, relying on the low brow antics and whilst this is his movie, his performance doesn't overshadow the remaining cast members. Ferrell, who also acts as a co-writer of Anchorman, plays Ron: a successful news anchorman who has a thing for Veronica: a female reporter who was hired by the station manager to increase and boost diversity, - but also, she is the same person targeted by Ron's colleagues to stop her from reigning in on their all-boys club parade. Tensions arise and it isn't long until the feuds and the in-fighting affect pretty much everyone involved. It is up to Ron to fix things and put them right. 

The support in Cristina Applegate, Steve Carell and Ant-Man's Paul Rudd hold their own opposite Ferrell. There are also cameos from Vince Vaughn, Luke Wilson, Ben Stiller, Jack Black, of whom is in one scene where he dropkicks a fake dog towards the end (!), and an uncredited Tim Robbins, who was in his first big notable movie, since, well 1994's The Shawshank Redemption. 

Despite her attractive looks, Veronica is no ditzy blonde, nor pushover who gives the guys a run for her money and Applegate infuses the character confidence and a strong female presence, as well as giving the film another angle in which to work with. Some of the humour that works well occurs when Veronica is having to contend with Ron and his buddies incessant sexist behaviour and she tries to put them in their place. 

Comedy-wise, it is very sly, scattering and patchy, and not laugh-out-loud funny; however, when it and the gags hit the target, they land more than they miss, which is a good sign. As mentioned, The Legend of Ron Burgandy lampoons the world of broadcast television news and to an extent the 1970s era, effectively. As the film went on, I realised this is mainly comprised of mini SNL sketch pieces that are stretched out and follow one after the after. This made the viewing experience a tad cumbersome.

Personally, it's not bad and it is thanks to star man Ferrell, who makes Anchorman work but he needed to bring out more of the funny, which this film could have done more with. It is a comedy where it could have been a whole lot better, although some people may find his rambling as Ron tiresome, this has some mildly amusing one-liners and one or two light-hearted scenes. If you are not a fan of comedy films in general, then most likely, you will not be into this movie, nor enjoy it as much, as the humour is not reliant on pumping out jokes, gags and slapstick every 10 to 15 mins. Which, for this film, it would have helped if it had far more consistent and better slapstick and comedy. The improv is okay, but again, it needed that for me to laugh out a lot more, which it didn't do; plus Judd Apatow's films don't do it for me. 

By today's standards in the post-2010s, Anchorman just doesn't have that commercial mainstream accessibility, I tried to see its appeal from that train of thought, but the humour, which was and is a key component in many of these comedies that I watch, was lacking. This is just me, but having grown up with Eddie Murphy, Robin Williams, Leslie Nielsen and Jim Carrey in the 1980s and 1990s back in the day, I'm so used to their own brands of comedy that are also accessible to general audiences; nevertheless, Anchorman most definitely stands as a certifiable cult comedy and the Judd Apatow style has its share of fans and admirers.






Final Verdict

When I tune into a Will Ferrell film, I expect considerable laughs, as well as partially stupid and silly humour, - and this wasn't as hilarious as I anticipated. Anchorman's own strength is finding satire in the exploration of news media, yet its weakness is that the comedy aspect just wasn't there in abundance, pretty much most of the time. As comedies go that is so gag-based, ultimately it depends on whether it works for you and you find it amusing enough. Comedy is a subjective experience; with film, it's not so much about whether one is in on the joke, but that it makes you laugh a lot. 

Unfortunately, Anchorman's big laughs just didn't materialise and absurdist humour doesn't equate to hilarity. Dumb can be funny, being dumb can lead to all manner of fun situations, but it felt like here as if it was being dumb and silly, without the funniness to back it up.  

Still, when Will Ferrell is onscreen, Anchorman becomes a tad amusing, as opposed to funny and he carries the movie with aplomb and considerable ease.  


Overall: 


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