FilmJerk Favorites

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

||| Frank Capra |||
Frank Capra

It goes without saying that Capra is one of the greatest and most beloved directors of all time, especially renowned for his madcap romantic comedies. He is one of the few directors who ever managed to balance whimsy with meaningfulness without loosing the ability to entertain.

Only Frank Capra, with his light hand and good sense of allowing the actors to be their roles, could carry off this tale of a naive average American used by an unscrupulous politician through a nationwide goodwill drive. No one was ever better at having strong yet vulnerable women not only aid, but often come to the rescue, of the leading man.

Frank Capra's final film is a hilarious translation of a Damon Runyon tale set in 1930s New York, as gangster Glenn Ford repays street peddler Bette Davis for her "good luck" apples by passing her off as a well-to-do society lady for her visiting daughter (Ann-Margret in her film debut). This excellent and thoroughly enjoyable remake of his own 1933 "Lady for a Day" is a beautiful swan song to a master storyteller. Widescreen!

In this black comedy about two sweet old ladies whose basement holds a murderously funny secret, Capra utilizes star Cary Grant to his zany, patented “double take” best. Capra’s brilliance in comic casting is demonstrated with such reliable character actors as Raymond Massey, Peter Lorre and Jack Carson who manage to play their parts to the hilt without chewing up the scenery.

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