REVIEW: HIGH FIDELITY (2000)

Starring

John Cusack (The Butler)
Iben Hjejle (Defiance)
Jack Black (Goosebumps)
Todd Louiso (Snakes on a Plane)
Catherine Zeta-Jones (The Mask of Zorro)
Lisa Bonet (Biker Boyz)
Sara Gilbert (The Big Bang Theory)
Lili Taylor (The Conjuring)
Joan Cusack (Addams Family Values)
Tim Robbins (Howard The Duck)
Joelle Carter (justified)
Natasha Gregson Wagner (Buffy: TVS)
Drake Bell (American Satan)
Alex Désert (The Flash)
Beverly D’Angelo (Shooter)

Rob & Laura

Rob Gordon is a music-loving man with a poor understanding of women. After being dumped by his long-term girlfriend, Laura, he tries to understand how he failed in his relationships by seeking out his old partners. By day, he works at his record store, Championship Vinyl, where customers drift through. He and his employees Dick and Barry, armed with an encyclopedic knowledge of all things musical, compile “Top 5” lists for every conceivable occasion, openly mock the tastes of their customers, and sell a few records.Barry, Dick, Rob & MarieTwo shoplifting, skateboarding teenagers, Vince and Justin, are an annoyance to them until Rob listens to a recording that they made as The Kinky Wizards. He offers them a record deal, the first under his own label, Top 5 Records. During his off-hours, he pines for Laura and tries to win her back. Laura’s father, who liked Rob, dies. Rob attends his funeral with Laura. Shortly after the reception, Rob realizes he has always had one foot out of the door and never committed to her — and in doing so, neglected his own future. They resume living together. He meets a music columnist and develops a crush, but wonders while making a mixtape for her if he would always be jumping from rock to rock.John Cusack stars as Rob GordonRob tells Laura that other men and women are just fantasies, Laura is reality, and he never tires of her. He proposes marriage; she thanks him for asking. She arranges for him to revisit his former love of dee-jaying. At the celebration of the newly released single by Vince and Justin, where Barry’s band Sonic Death Monkey plays “Let’s Get It On”, Rob is surprised that Barry’s band is not a disaster. Rob makes a mixtape for Laura and feels he has finally learned how to make her happy.John Cusack, Jack Black, and Todd Louiso in High Fidelity (2000)As with Grosse Point Blank, another Cusack/Pink production, sound tracking is everything, and naturally given the setting of the story there is an abundance of classic tunes to delight in. All told it’s a special movie, for all sexes and for all music lovers, but especially for anyone who has had relationship problems.

REVIEW: NEW GIRL – SEASON 4

 

Starring

Zooey Deschanel (Bridge to Terabithia)
Jake Johnson (Jurrasic World)
Max Greenfield (Veronica Mars)
Lamorne Morris (Game Night)
Hannah Simone (Oldboy)
Damon Wayans Jr. (Let’s Be Cops)

Jessica Biel and Zooey Deschanel in New Girl (2011)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Jessica Biel (Next)
Reid Scott (The Big C)
Hina Abdullah (Margaret)
Ciara Hanna (Power Rangers Megaforce)
Chasty Ballesteros (The Internship)
Kaitlin Olson (Finding Dory)
Michaela Watkins (Wanderlust)
Rob Reiner (ED:TV)
Alan Ritchson (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
Julian Morris (Pretty Little Liars)
Erinn Hayes (The Watch)
Curtis Armstrong (American Dad)
Angela Kinsey (The Office)
Brian Posehn (The Big Bang Theory)
Cleo King (Mike & Molly)
Michael Stahl-David (Cloverfield)
Alexandra Daddario (Texas Chainsaw)
Amber Stevens West (22 Jump Street)
Lisa Bonet (Angel Heart)
Greta Lee (Money Monster)
Rebecca Reid (I Live With Models)
Billy Eichner (The Angry Birds Movie)
Barry Bostwick (Spy Hard)
Nasim Pedrad (Scream Queens)
Medalion Rahimi (The Catch)
Zoe Lister-Jones (Band Aid)
Sarah Burns (Life As We Know It)
Ben Falcone (Tammy)
Jamie Lee Curtis (Halloween)
Justin Long (Jeepers Creepers)
Meaghan Rath (Being Human)
Josh Gad (Frozen)
Jimmy O. Yang (Fantasy Island)
Nora Dunn (Bones)
Kiersey Clemons (Dope)
Artemis Pebdani (Son of Zorn)
Jack McBrayer (30 Rock)

Max Greenfield, Damon Wayans Jr., Hannah Simone, Lamorne Morris, and Jake Johnson in New Girl (2011)Romantic relationships remain the primary concerns of Jess, her four dude roommates, and her best friend Cece (Hannah Simone). In season three, Jess and her cute slacker roomie Nick (Jake Johnson) made good on the will-they-or-won’t-they? dynamic teased in the previous seasons and are already peaceably broken up at this point. (The episode “Goldmine” nicely addresses the difficulty of getting people not to bail on dates with each of them after learning that they live in the same apartment as their ex.) At work, Jess has made it up the ranks from schoolteacher to vice principal, which is all well and good until she gets a crush on a new British teacher (Pretty Little Liars’ Julian Morris) with the saucy name Ryan Geauxinue (pronounced “Goes-In-You”); unfortunately for Jess, administrator-teacher couplings are a no-no, so she tries to ignore the hunk. (That doesn’t happen.) Nick finds Kai (Greta Lee), a lady who likes to lay about the apartment as much as himself; rookie cop Winston (Lamorne Morris) “investigates” her behavior for his roommate and decides she must be homeless. (She’s not.)Zooey Deschanel in New Girl (2011)The show’s other key couple, former-model-turned-inept-bartender Cece (Hannah Simone) and metrosexual would-be player Schmidt (Max Greenfield), continue their pas de deux; Schmidt starts off the season overwhelmingly obsessed with Cece while she just wants to move on. As the season continues, Schmidt cools it a bit and finds a way to be Cece’s friend… which, of course, just makes her remember why she liked him in the first place. Unfortunately, by this point, Schmidt has started up with manipulative, career-driven city councilwoman Fawn Moscato (Zoe Lister-Jones). Fawn’s power excites Schmidty, but is this duo built to last?Zooey Deschanel in New Girl (2011)Wayans was a “recurring” cast member in season 3, but he’s a full-fledged co-star in season four. His presence in the show — besides demonstrating that non-“niche” sitcom ensembles can have more than one black dude in them — is wonderfully layered with jock-y braggadocio, hidden tenderness, and amiable goofiness. Coach also reacts to relationship strife in the most entertaining ways possible, whether it’s emotionally breaking down as he tries to describe fertilization in a health class he’s teaching or attracting a bar full of ladies to grind up against him to the strains of Alannah Myles’s “Black Velvet.”Zooey Deschanel in New Girl (2011)That just leaves Winston, who occasionally takes a break from studying for his police exam and from being in love with his cat to try to woo a human lady. I have to admit that Winston’s decision to become a cop just keeps reminding me of the later seasons of That ’70s Show, where Kelso’s decision to join the police academy also felt fairly arbitrary and strange. This is addressed in a subplot in the episode “Par 5,” which was actually co-written by Lamorne Morris, in which the character feels forced to hide his profession when he starts dating a woman who actively protests the LAPD. This episode tries to add a little nuance and depth to Winston’s choice to be a policeman.Zooey Deschanel in New Girl (2011)For a show with so many semi-arrested characters, gaining maturity and finding worthwhile career paths are unsurprisingly also an ongoing component of the show. Jess and Winston, of course, seem like they’re right where they want to be career-wise with the vice principal and police gigs respectively. Nick continues to flounder professionally, but eventually teams up with Schmidt to start their own entrepreneurial concern, and while their first concept — a suit made out of sweatsuit material — is a dud, the show seems optimistic about them finding fulfillment in working together. Cece finally goes to college, with some financial help from Coach and Winston, who consider it an investment that they expect to see repaid. When they find out Cece uses the opportunity to take somewhat esoteric liberal arts courses, the fellas are duly perturbed.Zooey Deschanel and Julian Morris in New Girl (2011)Once again, the show opens its doors to a number of excellent guest stars, including It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia’s Kaitlin Olson as Jess’s former classmate and potential stepmom (Rob Reiner and Jamie Lee Curtis return as Jess’s divorced parents), Jessica Biel as a romantic rival for Jess, Billy Eichner as a stressed-out, catty airport employee on Christmas, Childrens Hospital’s Erinn Hayes as a promiscuous school nurse, Lisa Bonet as the touchy-feely leader of a teachers conference, Nora Dunn as Schmidt’s overbearing mother, and on and on. Justin Long. Josh Gad. Michaela Watkins. Barry Bostwick. Sarah Burns. Kurt Braunohler. Regis Philbin. Funny people! The ensemble cast truly shines in this newest season of New Girl. Some episodes come in a little below expectations, but overall the season offers some interesting developments for the characters and oodles of great jokes. If you like the show, keep liking the show.

REVIEW: BIKER BOYZ

CAST

Laurence Fishburne (Man of Steel)
Derek Luke (Self/Less)
Orlando Jones (Sleepy Hollow)
Djimon Hounsou (Guardians of The Galaxy)
Lisa Bonet (Road to Paloma)
Brendan Fehr (Bones)
Larenz Tate (Crash)
Terrence Howard (Iron Man)
Rick Gonzalez (Arrow)
Meagan Good (D.E.B.S.)
Kid Rock (Joe Dirt)
Salli Richardson (I Am Legend)
Vanessa Bell Calloway (Lakeview Terrace)
Kadeem Hardison (Showtime)
Eriq La Salle (A Gifted Man)
Titus Welliver (Argo)

In the world of underground motorcycle drag racing, the undefeated racer known as Smoke (Laurence Fishburne) is the undisputed “King of Cali.” But Smoke’s dominance of the set is about to be threatened by a young motorcycle racing prodigy called Kid (Derek Luke), who is determined to win Smoke’s crown and earn the coveted title. Kid says that the difference between men and boys are the lessons they learn – and that his father, Slick Will, taught him plenty.The film starts with Kid, a novice rider and motorcycle club “prospect,” assisting his father, Slick Will, as they prepare Smoke’s bike for the evening’s drag races. A biker issues a challenge to Smoke, who accepts, and the race begins. In the midst of the race, the other biker suffers a hydraulics malfunction and spins out of control, sending his bike flying from under him into a row of parked bikes, one of which heads right into Slick Will, throwing him through a store window and killing him instantly. At the funeral, dozens of bikers from the “Black Knights” (to whom Slick Will was the mechanic) show up with Smoke, who drops a rose and a signed Black Knights flag into his grave.Six months later, Kid is now a familiar racer with his custom-powered bike, and he shows up at the events. His first “race” was when he interfered with Stuntman’s race with Donny. As he interrupts the race, he pulls off several stunts, notably standing on top of the motorcycle while it is still moving. He wins the race and the crowd seem to like his stunts, much to the dissatisfaction of Smoke. Kid demands to race with Smoke but Smoke says he is too inexperienced and should get experience first.Kid then goes to a diner where he meets Stuntman, and it is revealed that the two were hustling in the previous race. Fellow biker Primo tells them to create a bike club; after a bit of persuasion they agree, and Kid goes to the biker jury consisting of 8 leaders of the most powerful biker gangs, where Smoke is the chairman. He apologizes for his disrespect towards Smoke and they all agree to verify the club, calling themselves the “Biker Boyz.” Kid is set to race Motherland to prove himself to Smoke. However he has showed up late to “make an entrance” after Smoke has already beaten his long-time rival Dogg, who is continually after Smoke’s helmet. Kid is arrested when racing Motherland, and the rest of the bikers manage to escape. Anita confronts Kid, saying that if he ever races again, she will kick him out of the house.One night at a Black Knights dance, Kid is challenged to race Dogg and accepts in a fit of rage. Having overheard, Anita finds Smoke before the race, and demands that he stop the race. Angry, Smoke confronts her and demands a reason, and she tells him that Kid is actually his son, not Slick Will’s. Smoke successfully stops the race by punching out Kid and stealing his keys, but this only leads to a fight between the two, from which Kid comes off considerably worse than Smoke. Smoke then tells him that he is his son, to which Kid angrily goes home and confronts Anita, who confesses that it’s the truth. In a rage, he leaves home and moves in with his girlfriend Tina.Kid decides to turn renegade and after gaining quite a few more followers for his club, announces that “we’re gonna win more lids than any crew on the set and we’re gonna out hustle every crew off the set” and indicates that from that point on, “Biker Boyz set their own rules.” The Biker Boyz get their own hangout and begin hustling several races, but when Stuntman successfully hustles the nephew of a dangerous biker, he and Primo are ambushed at a party. Kid comes to the rescue but is quickly overpowered as the leader of the other club pulls a gun on him; Smoke and some of the other Black Knights intervene and convince the other bikers to stand down. Smoke takes Kid inside and sits down to give him a stern talking-to, but Kid shrugs it off angrily. Aggravated, Smoke finally agrees to race Kid, under the condition that whoever loses will never race again. But first Kid has to race Dogg – this time, at the track.On the race track, everybody shows up, including the Black Knights. At the race, Dogg and Kid race down, and Kid is going to win, but Dogg plays dirty and causes him to crash; although Kid survives, his bike is wrecked. Later that day, Smoke talks to Kid, and informs him that the authorities are going to close the track, due to many crashes, but he managed to rent a local farm outside of town to race on it. Kid agrees to arrive the next day. Later that night, Kid, Primo, and Stuntman are trying unsuccessfully to fix Kid’s bike until Dogg’s crew arrives to confront them, but Dogg’s mechanic admits that the damage is too severe to be fixed in time for the race. Dogg informs Kid; “There are only 2 bikes as strong and fast as Smoke’s: yours, and mine.” As a peace offering, Dogg offers to lend Kid his bike, but only if Kid promises him that he will beat Smoke tomorrow.On the day of the race, both the crew of the Black Knights and the Biker Boyz arrive. Smoke wants it to be a fair race, with no N20 system, and Kid wants Tina to start the race. Smoke and Kid are racing on a farm with open fields. With the finish line in sight, it is obvious that Smoke will win – however, filled with emotions, he decides to slow down and let his son win the race, becoming the new “King of Cali.” Kid tells Smoke to hang onto his crown for a while, and that he’ll come and get it someday. Kid rides off, repeating his sentiment that the difference between men and boys are the lessons they learn, and that his father taught him plenty.It’s not a good movie, but it makes an effort to be one, which counts for something. For all it’s lack of realism, it gets points for not having the absurd stunts that Torque did, like flipping a huge street bike mid air, and riding on top and through the passenger sections of moving trains. Biker Boyz isn’t good by any means, but it’s not quite that bad.

REVIEW: ROAD TO PALOMA

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CAST

Jason Momoa (Justice League)
Sarah Shahi (Bullet To The Head)
Lisa Bonet (The Cosby Show)
Michael Raymond-James (Black Snake Moan)
Wes Studi (Mystery Men)
Jill Wagner (Blade: The Series)
Timothy V. Murphy (MacGruber)
Chris Browning (Supergirl)
Lance Henriksen (The Terminator)

This is a great film for those who honor the journey. With a beautiful display of desert landscapes, this movie let’s you feel the freedom of living life moment to moment. I don’t think that the point of the story was to examine morality in any great way; aside from the pain of suffering loss and the injustice that often prevails. The film does a good job of contrasting the shortcomings of western culture with the simplicity of a more ancient one. As a result, you get a story of blended and contrasting themes, filled with the tension of an impending doom.I enjoyed the characters as well. Jason Momoa created a lovable hero that is easy to empathize with. His friends and family all admire the depth of his character, drawing the viewer into their world. It helps that he’s a good looking dude, with all of the swagger you could ask of a mystery rogue biker. It’s hard to imagine a woman who would say no.
This movie won’t rock your world or change your stance on anything. It’s simply a great indie flick into a world that most of us will never see, with freedom that we will never experience. It will leave you with lingering images of endless highways cut through a land that would rather forget about us.