FilmJerk Favorites

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

||| Norman Jewison |||
Norman Jewison

Yes, he directed “Moonstruck” and two unforgettable musicals, but Jewison is also responsible for a trilogy of films focusing on racial-injustice, a whacky Cold War comedy and a signature film of Steve McQueen’s showing that he is one of the most versatile directors since Robert Wise.

This blueprint for good investigation dramas tells the story of a black Philadelphia detective investigating a murder in Mississippi who matches wits with a redneck sheriff. Groundbreaking for it’s time, this Oscar winning film is still relevant today and offers a gripping mystery with terrific dramatic performances by a complete cast of fully realized characters.

This is an amazingly funny and entertaining irreverent "Cold War" comedy about a Russian submarine stranded outside an isolated New England town, which throws the locals into a panic. Jewison does a delightful job of utilizing his all-star cast to their fullest, deftly mixing Capra-esq characters with Mel Brooks’s type situations (and vise-versa).

A bored millionaire (Steve McQueen in his prime) masterminds a flawless bank job as Faye Dunaway (an insurance investigator out to get him) identifies him as the mastermind and falls in love along the way. This is the original and the best, with all the arch stylized movie techniques of the ‘60s (including split-screen and fuzzy shallow focus) and the most erotic chess game ever captured on screen.

Recommended by CarrieSpecht

Advertisement

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