FilmJerk Favorites

A group of unique directors and the essential works that you've got to see.

||| David Lean |||
David Lean

Honored with the American Film Institute Life Achievement Award in 1990, Lean’s body of work (ranging from the intimate film to the grandiose epic) demonstrates an obsessive cultivation of craft and a fastidious concern with detail that has become the very definition of quality British cinema.

Adapted from Noel Coward’s one-act play, Lean takes a potentially boring story of middle-age flirtation and tenderly creates one of the most enduring and poignant romance films ever made. Brilliantly underplayed, two happily married strangers meet by chance in a railway station and fall desperately in love, but never physically express the undercurrent of passion that exists between them, even during their final gut wrenching separation – if your heart doesn’t ache, you’re just not human!

Demonstrating moments of intimacy through gigantic display, Lean sets up the greatness of Pip’s expectations with the magnitude of his frightful encounters; one with an escaped convict, whose emerge into the frame reminds us what it’s like to be a child in a world of oversized, menacing adults, and another with the meeting of mad Miss Havisham, in all her gothic splendor.

Peter O'Toole made an enigmatic and lasting impression in his debut role as British officer T.E. Lawrence, who helped Arab rebels fight the Turks in WWI, and Omar Sharif has perhaps the greatest cinematic intro of all time as he magically appears through the ghostly waves of the desert heat, achieving Lean’s compulsive drive to create the perfectly composed shot. Alec Guinness, Anthony Quinn, Jose Ferrer, and Claude Rains round out this incredibly talented and magnetically charged cast.

Recommended by CarrieSpecht

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You Got Served

By BrianOrndorf

January 30th, 2004

The hip-hop dance sequences in “You Got Served,” the new urban dance drama are thumping, exciting, and fun to watch. Too bad the rest of the film is positively hip-hopeless.


There’s a tradition in the dance films of the 80s and 90s, in that for every interesting scene of booty shaking, there must be at least twice as much clichéd and painful screenwriting to support it. With “Flashdance,” “Footloose,” and the two “Breakin’” films, the formula thrived to decent box office, and occasionally became cinema legend.

The tradition continues in the new decade with “You Got Served,” a highly energetic dance drama about covert dance competitions that sinks to mind-boggling depths of awfulness when the characters feel compelled to speak. Much like its cousin, the recent Jessica Alba misfire “Honey,” “Served” has this outlandish notion that the story is the real glue to the film’s success. Writer/director Christopher Stokes has plenty of great dance footage to work with, and, unlike “Honey,” the filmmaker seems to enjoy the rumbling thunder of the underground hip-hop nation of dance-offs, often letting the “crews” just do their thing without much obstruction. The movie does present an overtly urban storyline that is about as fictional as the dancing world depicted, including stogie-suckling crime lords, “big momma” type grandmothers, and the thematically desperate shooting of a 9 year-old to get the film to a climax. Oh, and the two leads of the film are well meaning DRUG COURIERS. Clearly, there’s not a lot to root for.

Whenever the film finds itself in a hole, Stokes cuts back to the dance footage, making the picture seem like a less depressing venture than it was before. The tightly choreographed routines are fun to watch, and they’re backed with a booming soundtrack that helps these propulsive sequences out immensely. It’s a wonder why Stokes just didn’t cut out the Ebonics-heavy dialog (which actress Jennifer Freeman has a hard time with, much to the delight of the audience I attended the screening with) and afterschool special material that clogs up the momentum of his film, and just showcase the dances on their own. But I guess I shouldn’t expect the director of “House Party 4” to have that kind of foresight.

“You Got Served” is borderline racist (all the Caucasian characters are designated as pure evil right away), the acting atrocious (by such “thespians” as Raz B, Lil’ Fizz, and J-Boog), and Stokes has a borderline grip on what making a movie is all about. But all that is silenced once the dancing begins, and it’s hard to deny a mighty power like that.

My rating: C