Da 5 Bloods
On the Record
I May Destroy You
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After enjoying Back to the Future more than I had expected, I decided to watch another 80s blockbuster, and oh my Lord did Aliens blow me away. Unlike Alien, an isolated, monster pick-off cast one-by-one set in space, Aliens ups the action, ups the effects, and ups the thrills. I always appreciated the series' vision — not steampunk, not quite cyber-punk, and not 2001: A Space Odyssey-like where everything is efficient and sheen, Aliens has a gritty feel while including the technological and scientific advancements of a space-set movie. 57 years after the first film, we find our heroine, Ellen Ripley (Sigourney Weaver), in stasis, i.e. asleep in pod where she doesn't age, with her orange cat, Jonesy! (100%, 10/10, 100 gold stars for him.) Somehow, Ellen's lawyer (Paul Reiser), who is also a rep for the corp she works for (?), convinces her to go to an isolated colony to investigate their lack of communication. To be honest, this was the weakest part of the movie, as there really was no reason for Ellen to go on this mission, but hey, it puts our badass protag back into conflict. Accompanied by a team of meathead Marines, Private Hudson (Bill Paxton) delivering the famous, cracking "That's game over, man! It's game over!" line, the team starts on a rescue mission, which quickly becomes an alien-killing mission. Corporate greed, grief, the loyalty of artificial intelligence, and motherhood all intertwine the plot beautifully. But what so many came to see were right there in the title: The aliens, dammit. I always loved their hellish design and here we get a lot of them. Their ability to basically unfurl from the wall, scale the ceiling, their acid-blood, spear-whip tails, and, of course, those Russian-doll mouths make them delightfully terrifying and a formidable opponent. This movie is a practical effects junkie's wet dream. Those last 20–30 minutes, full of fire, alarms, explosions, and the "Queen" are to die for. I mean, it's just prime action-movie watching. The practical effects during scenes with the Queen, from her laying eggs to tearing apart Bishop (Lance Henriksen), are incredible. But most noteworthy, what probably comes to mind while discussing this series the most (only after the famous "chestplosion" of Alien), is the melee between Big Momma and Ripley in the loader suit. "Get away from her, you bitch!" is such a good line to ring the bell. While I could've gone for a maneuver other than "space ejection," as it was the tactic used in the first film, I think it served the plot best by showing Bishop, an android, saving Newt (Carrie Henn) from being shot into space. Ripley questions Bishop's allegiance to humanity early on, and it is further questioned when he is missing at the pick-up point. But even severed in half — his white innards dangling on the ground — he manages to be a hero. This franchise gave us one of the first female, sci-fi heroes and is a pillar of the genre. While James Cameron has become somewhat of a punchline with his many… many Avatar sequel updates, Aliens is a reminder of what the man is capable of.
A solid-75, Primary Colors feels like an exaggerated snapshot of the early 1990s when 24/7 media was at the forefront politics, but the internet was still far on the horizon. The Stantons (John Travolta as Jack and Emma Thompson as Susan) are a fictionalized version of the Clintons during the Democratic Primary leading up to the General Election. However, we view the duo — and their grassroots team — from the perspective of Henry (Adrian Lester), a young black man and grandson of a civil rights activist who's hesitant to join Stanton's campaign. At first, believing he is only be used for his name and for a white southerner to have a black man running his campaign, Henry eventually falls for Stanton's charm and joins the action. One scene, Stanton is engaged in a group hug with illiterate adults and the next he's buttoning his shirt while a female union staffer is sneaking out of his bedroom or he's chucking his cellphone out the car window in a rage. Despite Jack's faults, which Travolta plays really well, Henry sees a leader in the man, even oogling in admiration after Stanton delivers a speech to a fisherman's union in New England. This movie would not be made in 2020 for several reasons, the first being they would never have the same guy, Richard (Billy Bob Thorton), expose himself to a female staffer in broad daylight and tell a black man that "I'm blacker than you are" while remaining an otherwise intelligent and likable character. But what really didn't age well was the fact that besides the rampant cheating, the ethical standard in which the campaign holds itself to when they uncover information that would decimate their opponent. Kathy Bates as Libby is in perfect form as the fast talkin', no-nonsense idealist is the beacon that holds the campaign to this standard and suffers because of it. However, in 2020, that standard is comical. The realpolitik ending was refreshing. Overall, Primary Colors is an enjoyable political drama that scratches that 90s-nostalgia itch we can't seem to quit.
I've been a critic recently of unnecessary romance subplots, but here it's done well. Palm Springs is meta ("ya know, like one of those time loop things" (para)) and full of laugh-out-loud funny moments that culminate into a nice love story. Nyles (Andy Samberg) has been stuck at his fiancée's, best friend's wedding in Palm Springs, California, reliving the day for an unknown amount of time. Sarah (Cristin Milioti) unfortunately joins him in the loop after following him into a supernatural cave. I have a soft-spot for Milioti after HIMYM and that episode of Black Mirror, and really hope to see her in more leading roles after the critical success of Palm Springs. Her and Samberg's chemistry makes the meat of the movie — that part after denial and before making the big break — very enjoyable. J.K. Simmons as Roy, an unintentional looper who takes pleasure in inflicting as much pain on Nyles as possible, does play a solid role and also provides us with a satisfying ending. Only noted criticism are the dinosaurs. What did they mean?! The screenrant "answer" is very unsatisfying, so if anyone else has better theories (despite the fact the actors and writer gave us that one), feel free to share. Nevertheless, I enjoyed Palm Springs much more than I had imagined, and really just threw it on to watch something from 2020 (God knows The Hunt didn't do it any favors), but it turned out being a lovely Saturday night movie.
Virgil Tibbs (Sidney Poitier) — remember the name — is a black homicide detective from Philly who unfortunately finds himself in a one-horse town in rural Mississippi… in the 1960s… The overt racism begins with him being arrested for the murder of a white man because he's black — your standard redneck racism (rebel yells from cars with confederate flag plates popping into his bumper to run him off the road, not being served in a diner, not wanted in the same room, etc. etc.) and for some reason, Virgil argues with police chief Gillespie (Rod Steiger, who won an Oscar for his performance) to stay in the town to help solve the murder. The dead man is a businessman who was setting up a factory in the small town and may have made a few enemies. Or, maybe he was the victim of a senseless crime?! Honestly, it doesn't really matter because the crime and its resolution aren't very interesting. Instead, In the Heat of the Night merits a view for the acting — the scene with Virgil, Gillespie, Purdy (James Patterson) and Delores (Quentin Dean), is phenomenal — the thrills of watching Virgil escape the roving rednecks, and the friendship forged between the Philadelphian and the Mississippi police chief. I mean, the film did win Best Picture at the 40th Academy Awards, although, The Graduate is definitely the better film. Also, Poitier gets to slap a racist white man… in Mississippi… in the 1960s, which was yuge — the slap-back heard round the world. And, of course, can't leave out the famous "They call me Mister Tibbs!" ranked 16th on AFI's 100 Years…100 Movie Quotes list.