A RAPPER, A HOMOSEXUAL, & A SERIAL KILLER

Sounds like the set-up to a joke, doesn’t it? “A rapper, a homosexual, & a serial killer walk into a bar…”

But, no, it’s just some brief spoiler-ific reviews of 3 movies I’ve recently seen.

Much like the Late Tupac, with whom he is forever linked, I wasn’t particularly a fan of Notorious B.I.G. when he was alive, though I liked a few songs that I’d heard. After his death, I bought his 2nd album, and liked many of the songs. Though I still don’t think he was as good as some rap critics claim. Certainly, the label “The Greatest Rapper of All Time” is absurd. I wouldn’t even put him in the Top 10. He was good, but he only released two albums. For all we know, if he’d lived, he may eventually flamed out either critically (like 50 Cent) or commercially (like DMX) & be thought of as a has-been by now (like far too many rappers to name).

Nevertheless, I was interested in seeing this movie. And found it enjoyable, just from the viewpoint of learning more about him. However, what we learn about him isn’t all good. He doesn’t come off as particularly sympathetic. In one of his first rap songs he talks about selling drugs so he could feed his daughter. However, in this film he was selling drugs while still in school before he even had a child. And his motivation was simply because he wanted to buy nice clothes, like the older drug dealers in his neighborhood. And, even after going to jail, we never actually see him express any regret for his actions. He only stops doing it when he gets a record deal.

His treatment of women isn’t much better. He stops seeing his baby mama with no explanation. He begins a sexual relationship with the woman who later becomes known as rapper Lil Kim. Then abruptly drops her after he marries singer Faith Evens a week after they met. Then he gets caught cheating on his wife with some random groupie soon after that.

The movie does at least go out of it’s way to portray him as completely innocent in the East Coast/West Coast rap feud that was instigated by Death Row Records, and in the first shooting of Tupac, which Tupac blamed him for.

The always incredible Angela Basset stands out for her portrayal of B.I.G.’s mother. And Jamal Woolard does a very good job playing Biggie. If you’re a hip-hop fan I’d recommend seeing this film. If not, then this probably isn’t for you.

Harvey Milk. One of the first, if not the first, openly-gay elected officials in America. Murdered after serving 11 months as a San Francisco County Supervisor. Sean Penn was excellent in this role. The man has come a long way since he played a stoner surfer in Fast Times At Ridgmont Hight. Josh Brolin was also great as the murderer.

But what really struck me after watching this film was thinking about how relatively little things have changed in the 30 years since Milk was killed. Yes, homosexuals are much more visible & accepted in society now, but an anti-gay marriage proposition passed (barely, but still passed) in California a few months ago, just like similar bills have passed in other States. A few days after the bill passed, I got into a ridiculous flame-war on a message board with some old man who argued that the government shouldn’t “promote the gay lifestyle” by endorsing gay marriage, because then more children will grow up and “choose” to be gay, and then most of them will die of AIDS.

I mean, really, 40 years after the so-called sexual revolution of the 1960’s, and there are still people in this country who believe that it’s okay to discriminate against gays, because if the gays don’t want to be discriminated against, then they should simply just, y’know, STOP BEING GAY, and everything will be fine. 

Sorry, but I just don’t get the anti-gay sentiment. I really couldn’t care less. It’s stupid. Grow up, people. They’re here, they’re queer, get used to it.

Contrary to what you may have heard, this is actually not a remake of the first “Friday The 13th” movie. It’s a new first sequel to the first “Friday The 13th” movie. Or, to put it another way, it’s a remake of “Friday The 13th parts 2 & 3.”

That was an interesting choice to make, on the part of the film-makers. As all true horror fans know, Jason Voorhees was not the killer in the first film, his mother was. And Jason didn’t get his iconic hockey mask until the middle of the 3rd film. And that’s the Jason that everyone expects to see in these films today, so this film figured out a way to just get to it, without too much backstory.

So far, most of the dedicated FT13 fans that I’ve spoken to who have seen this liked it, with a few notable exceptions. While I respect everyone’s opinions, I can’t help but think that most of the criticisms that I’ve heard about it are just nitpicking. One reviewer complained about some of Jason’s actions, wondering how he could see well enough to shoot a bow & arrow with his deformed eyes. I guess I can kinda understand that, since this Jason was just a crazy retarded man, not the walking zombie of the later film. In that case it was easier to accept his abilities, like his knack for always being able to find someone who was hiding, because he was a supernatural being.

Another reviewer complained that most of the kids were so unlikable, that you ended up rooting for them to be killed, which made Jason the “hero,” of the film. That completely missed the point, in my opinion. OF COURSE we watch these movies because we want to see Jason kill everyone! That’s the fun part.

Truthfully, I have my nitpicks, too. I didn’t like the Token Black Guy or the Token Asian Guy. And I like gratuitous female nudity as much as the next man, but I thought the topless water-skiing was unnecessary. At the least in the 2 sex scenes the boobies made sense (especially loved the boobies in the 2nd scene).

It’s also interesting to note how the changing technology & times affects some of the standard horror-film conventions. Like the electricity going out & the phone not working. That happens in this film, too. But, these days, everyone has a cellphone. Well, just by coincidence, for some reason no one’s cellphone can get a signal out in the woods. I guess none of them have the Verizon Wireless plan.

Also, there’s a gun in the house, which one kid grabs. We almost never see guns being used in these films, everyone’s always fighting back with various tools or knives & whatnot. Of course, the kid ends up dropping & losing the gun before he gets a chance to use it against Jason, which is also awfully convenient.

Jason’s final “jump” at the end was also too cliche. It didn’t work because we expected it. Of course, we want to be left open for a sequel, but they could’ve done that better. But the bottom line is, I enjoyed it. After paying (for 3 people) to see it in the theater, I’ve watched it again online. And will probably watch it again when it comes out on DVD. I hope they make another couple of sequels, and then give the series a real decent proper ending.

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  6 comments for “A RAPPER, A HOMOSEXUAL, & A SERIAL KILLER

  1. February 21, 2009 at 7:30 PM

    J.R. you nearly scared the heck out of me. I hoped u weren’t talking about Biggie being a rapper,homo, and a serial killer.

    i saw the first two movies and loved them both. I love ny rappers–i guess it has a lot to do with their swagger and the fact that i lived on the east coast for half of my life. I loved Milk because I saw a documentary on Harvey Milk when I was a little girl and couldn’t wait to visit SF.

    thanks for sharing.
    ilh

    Like

  2. February 22, 2009 at 3:46 PM

    @ India’s-World: Someone one my blogspot page said that the title of this blog made him think I was talking about one person: a gay rapper who kills people. I thought that was pretty funny.

    Like

  3. KMP
    February 24, 2009 at 8:49 PM

    The acting in MILK is stellar across the board, not just from Brolin or Penn. And while the focus is light on character development, I saw this as an issue piece as opposed to dealing with the specific man. As in he symbolizes the push for equality. Not every bio-pic will be as inventive as Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters but in terms of sheer narrative presentation, I felt Sant told the story effectively. It recieves an 8/10 from me.

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  4. February 26, 2009 at 6:50 AM

    Milk’s the only one of those three films that I plan on seeing (if I ever get around to it). I totally agree with you regarding the gay rights issue. I can never understand how anybody can care that much about what other people do in bed. I might just be pathologically self-obsessed, but I just am not that interested in what other people are up to!

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  5. February 26, 2009 at 10:53 PM

    Exactly! It’s none of my business whom anyone else sleeps with.

    Like

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