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Good Dynamite Citizen Abiding Revanche Hunger

By Genevieve Burgess | DVD Releases | February 16, 2010 |

By Genevieve Burgess | DVD Releases | February 16, 2010 |

Law Abiding Citizen: “Law Abiding Citizen is a terrible movie, but it didn’t have to be. I suppose you could say that about a lot of films, but this one in particular dabbled in a few ideas that were above its pay grade, so to speak. It hinted at being a film about our judicial system, about exposing its flaws, about breaking them open and revealing the sometimes ethically and morally insidious nature of the law, and the way efficiency often trumps justice. But it never digs into those ideas, instead devolving into a clunky and ham-fisted action-thriller that eschews logic in favor of hollow sentiment and a body count.” - Dustin Rowles

Good Hair: “If there has to be a voice for black culture, you could do worse than Chris Rock. In answering an innocent inquiry from his four-year-old daughter about her hair, Rock finds answers that are beautiful, touching, hilarious, and scathing. Like the biting commentary on his HBO show, Good Hair flourishes with Rock’s acerbic but never condescending humor. It’s a startling and enlightening look at the enterprise and culture of black hair, and, at the same time, it manages to be prideful while shaking its head in disbelief; mocking without ever being an indictment or an admonishment. Rock uses his influence to interview major black figures, from dignified statesmen to rappers to actresses to comedians. When you are able to include Maya Angelou next to Paul Mooney, Reverend Al Sharpton next to KRS-One, you know you’re doing something right. If there is a flaw, it’s when Rock tries to pull Michael Moore/Sasha Baron Cohen-esque stunts to push a point. But most of the time, he and co-writer/director Jeff Stilson are savvy enough to take the quest for good hair seriously, letting the ridiculousness come out in the wash. And the result is pretty damn flashy. ” - Brian Prisco

Black Dynamite: “Spoof comedies stopped being funny after Mel Brooks lost his groove. Most of them are just recycled “I Love The ’80s” jokes clumped together like the genital warts around … see, I can’t even finish the punchline without stooping to their fucking level. What most writers fail to realize is that to really savage something, you need to have a begrudging respect for it. Black Dynamite is the real deal. It easily could have been 80 minutes of lazy stoned frat boys checklisting afros, ho-jokes, and kung fu into a Blaxploitation Mad Lib. Instead, the filmmakers lovingly crafted an homage that hits all the bad points, like Quentin Taratino thought he was doing with Grindhouse. It’s incredibly stupid and cheesy in an amazingly deft and intelligent way. Every line flub, scenery-chewing moment, shaky cut, and song parody is done in a precise and careful way. It’s not just a Blunchblack of Blotre Blame pun stretched out to sell DVDs, but a serious effort, and it’s gut-bustingly, ass-stompingly hilarious. Even when it reaches over the top in the mildly shaky third act, Black Dynamite stays true to its soul and devastates the competition. Forget Zombieland. Fuck The Hangover. This is the single most thigh-slapping, belly-guffawing, rip-fucking-snorting good time you will have in the theatre this year. Unless you’re some kind of honky no-joke-getting retard.” - Brian Prisco

Hunger: “Ostensibly concerning the 1981 hunger strike of IRA prisoners in Maze Prison, Belfast, Hunger is connected to real events by an occasionally tenuous thread — specificities that could impair McQueen’s attempts to construct a metaphor. McQueen can’t possibly give us the entirely of Anglo-Irish relations, or even a summary of “The Troubles” which directly inform the events of the film, and he doesn’t try to. We see the conflict in the microcosm of Maze. Early on, Margaret Thatcher’s voice can be heard, railing: “There is no such thing as political murder, political bombing, and political violence — there is only criminal murder, criminal bombing, and criminal violence,” and while that isn’t very far from the other condescending and asinine statements the old monster was fond of making (she also famously insisted there was no such thing as “society”), this was one of the gestures of parochial militancy that sparked the events herein. The British government’s denial of political status to IRA prisoners would spark a new wave of violence and protest, especially among the prisoners at Maze who fight their captors with utter savagery, refusing to wear prison uniforms or clean themselves, smearing the walls with shit, damming their cells with rotten food in order to flood the corridors with the contents of their chamber pots, and then being trussed, beaten, and humiliated by guards just as intent on bitterness. If such embittered actions were lost on Thatcher as those of mere criminality, it sure as hell isn’t lost on us.” - Phillip Stephens

Revanche: “The plot collision here stacks up a bit too neatly, but Spielmann seems entirely conscious of his film’s genre qualities. What really interests him in Revanche are the metaphors and implications; the film is too slow to be a crime thriller and too fast to be The Postman Always Rings Twice, it occupies a strange liminal space both taut and obtuse, something like an art noir - an appropriate setting considering its subject of capitalist subversion and the nature of revenge. Alex wants or needs retribution against Robert for derailing his lucky break, but how he gets it reveals Spielmann’s desire to construct a disturbing modern allegory of power relations. Revanche is a quietly gripping effort from a cautious director intent on whetting our senses with thrills, but then leaving us with more than we wanted to think about.” - Phillip Stephens

Genevieve Burgess is a Features Contributor for Pajiba. You can follow Genevieve Burgess on Twitter.

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