FilmJerk Favorites

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

||| Sergio Leone |||
Sergio Leone

Leone’s career is remarkable in its unrelenting attention to both American culture and the American genre film, exploring the mythic America he created with each successive film examining the established characters in greater depth.

Only his second feature (a remake of Kurosawa’s Yojimbo), Leone's landmark "spaghetti western" caused a revolution and features Clint Eastwood in his breakthrough role as "The Man With No Name". This classic brutal drama of feuding families wasn’t the first spaghetti Western, but it was far and away the most successful up to that time.

Plot is of minimal interest, but character is everything to Leone, who places immense meaning in the slightest flick of an eyelid, extensively using the extreme close-up on the eyes to reveal any feeling, as demonstrated by Clint, who squints his way through this slam-bang sequel to A Fistful of Dollars as a wandering gunslinger that must combine forces with his nemesis to track down a wanted killer.

The final chapter in the groundbreaking trilogy follows Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef, and Eli Wallach as they form an uneasy alliance to find a stash of hidden gold. Leone focuses on his central theme as they find themselves facing greed, treachery, and murder, showing that the desire for wealth and power turns men into ruthless creatures who violate land and family and believe that a man’s death is less important than how he faces it.

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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