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.

Recommended by CarrieSpecht

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State Property II

By EdwardHavens

April 13th, 2005

"State Property II" isn't so much a movie as it is a ninety-four minute commercial for all of actor/writer/director/hip-hop mogul Damon Dash's various entrepreneurial enterprises. One could probably count on one hand the number of shots that do not feature a character framed to lovingly show off a piece of clothing from Dash's Rocawear or (hey hey now!) State Property clothing lines. Those interested in annoying things like plot or plausibility are best off steering clear of this inane celebration of all things thug.


If, like myself, you never saw, or (more likely) heard, of "State Property," Dash is kind enough to give a quick recap of the first film during the opening credits... not that the summary makes much sense, fighting for attention with the bombastic soundtrack and the busy, 1980's-era "Yo! MTV Raps" title sequence. I think it might have had something to do with a guy who calls himself Beans (Beanie Sigel) who tries to make himself the big man in Philly's drug scene but fall short of toppling the main crew in town. Regardless, Beans is now doing time in the pokey, and helpless to act as he watches his once-mighty empire fall to pieces as his inept lieutenants screw up deal after deal. Looking for a way to get back into the game, Beans hooks up with a fellow inmate, Pollo Loco (Victor 'N.O.R.E.' Santeago), to get out of prison and take over the Philly drug scene once and for all from Dame (Dash).

Or at least that's the excuse of a story. Most of all, this is a home movie shot on digital video, with a bunch of friends and acquaintances doing the modern urban version of that old Mickey Rooney "Come on, let's put on a show" zeal. You know you're in trouble when there is a reliance on narration to move the story forward. But unlike "Sin City," there is nothing of interest here to keep viewers motivated. Music fans will no doubt be playing Magic Mirror for most of the film ("I see Mariah Carey and Ol' Dirty Bastard... oh, there's Cam'ron and Kayne West"), but that's not enough to sustain an entire film.

If Mr. Dash is serious about being a filmmaker, by all means, I hope he does the right thing in the future and spends the time to learn how to tell a real story, because product placement, pretty women, fly rides and lots of guns going off can only take a movie so far. But then, I suspect this film wasn't really made for a thirtysomething white guy who drink tequila and enjoy Fellini movies.

My rating: D