Register  |   Log In  |  
Sign up to our weekly newsletter    
Search   
Empire Magazine and iPad
Follow Me on Pinterest YouTube Tumblr
Empire
Trending On Empire
Star Wars: The Force Awakens Teaser Trailer
The Farewell To Middle-earth Issue
Review Of The Year 2014
Subscribe: Get 12 Issues For £25
Buy the perfect Christmas present this year
Farewell To Middle-earth
Full details of our Peter Jackson-edited issue


Back to Words From The Wise homepage

Karlovy Vary: Second Report
Posted on Tuesday July 7, 2009, 14:27 by Damon Wise

Karlovy Vary is a great place to catch up with movies from the festival circuit, and there's usually a fair few from Sundance. They're usually pretty good, too, which is why I was surprised by Everything Strange And New, a rather dull, digital-shot indie about an ordinary man struggling to get by in credit-crunch America. If there was humour there, it was so dry it must have flaked away from the screen as soon as it started. My viewing companions and I were not impressed and made our excuses to an already half-empty cinema. Enough of that, however, because there were two truly great American indies playing here, both of which scored deserved raves in Sundance.

I'll start with Black Dynamite, a fast, funny, funky homage to blaxploitation cinema, because that's the easiest. I wasn't quite sure how it would play here, to be honest, because the likes of Shaft, let alone Avenging Disco Godfather, aren't likely to have been big hits in the former Czechoslovakia in the 70s. I also wondered how director Scott Sanders would sustain the joke over nearly 90 minutes. Well, the crowd enjoyed it, even though the references often left them more be-mused than a-mused, but it does an amazing job of sustaining a thin premise, largely thanks to a brilliant, po-faced turn by Michael Jai White, a black belt karate expert whose abs, mad 'fro and permanent bad-ass mofo grimace really carry the movie.

Blaxploitation has been tackled before, most notably in the sloppy comedy I'm Gonna Git You, Sucka and the creaky crime thriller Original Gangsters, but neither of those films really worked. In the first case, it was because blaxploitation was just a coathanger for some very pedestrian, Airplane!-style zingers, most of which had nothing to do with blaxploitation cinema at all. Original Gangstas, however, was a little too reverential, and the likes of Jim Brown, Pam Grier and Fred Williamson (there are no such 'names' here) seemed so intent on celebrating their pasts, they forgot to have any fun doing so. Black Dynamite, though, gets the balance just right. Its attention to detail is both surprising and hilarious, using its low-budget to fantastic effect, with stock footage, awful continuity and shoddy camerawork that bring to mind the full QT/RR cut of Grindhouse.

The plot, such as it is, starts with the murder of a gang member, who not only turns out to be an undercover informant but the brother of Black Dynamite (White), a former pimp turned CIA agent, now retired. Black Dynamite immediately sets out to find his brother's killer, and accidentally uncovers a plot to flood America's orphanages with heroin – news that outrages our civic-minded hero (“I used to be an orphan,” he laments). From here, the story turns on a dime every ten minutes or so, having so much fun with blaxploitation cliches it's sometimes hard to keep up. My personal favourite scene is the same car crash that appears twice, but I also like the pimps' union, who dress fabulously and say great things like, “He ain't no pimp, he's just a valet for ho's,”  and... no, I won't go there: the less said about Kung Fu Island is definitely the better. It's out in the UK early next year, which is a big wait, I know, but this crazy-ass movie is definitely worth seeing.

The other film, Cary Fukunaga's Sin Nombre, is out much sooner (August 14) and very, very different. Set in Central America, it follows the lives of two Honduran youngsters – El Caspar (Edgar Flores) and Sayra (Paulina Gaitan) – who are trying to get across the border into North America. El Caspar is a gangster on the run from his old crew (it would be a spoiler to reveal why) and Sayra is hopping trains with her father to find her family in New Jersey, and the railroad is where the two meet. It's kind of a Romeo And Juliet story in many ways; there's also lot of body art that brings Once Were Warriors to mind, and the resemblance to City Of God in its shooting style might make it seem less original than it actually is. For a first feature, Sin Nombre is pretty amazing, and I can imagine Fukunaga being approached for a Bond movie – he has the right eye for location and extras, plus a kind of harsh romanticism that would sit well with the Daniel Craig-era Bond. If you see Barbara Broccoli, tell her to look out for this guy, and I promise I won't ever claim my 12 per cent finder's fee.

Login or register to comment.


Advertisement

Currently No Comments


Log in below, or register to post comments
Username:
Password:
Remember Me:

RECENT POSTS

London Film Festival 2014: Fury And Difret
By Phil de Semlyen

London Film Festival 2014: Mommy, Song of the Sea, A Little Chaos
By Helen O'Hara

London Film Festival: Whiplash, Son Of A Gun, Foxcatcher
By Helen O'Hara

London Film Festival 2014: Testament of Youth, Ping Pong Summer, The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Them
By Helen O'Hara

London Film Festival: The Duke Of Burgundy, Gente De Bien, Love Is Strange
By Helen O'Hara


RECENT COMMENTS

London Film Festival: Wild, Salvation, Leviathan
"That's interesting, because I noticed The Salvation had one of the buzziest audience reactions out o"  jencat
Read comment

Christoph Waltz will win an Oscar
"although its old now :(, of course he was gonna win it :), one of the many idols of why i wanna be a"  SONYA ALALIBO
Read comment

Basterds Blog
"I know this is old as hell now, but I wanted to mention on here how great this is. I've read this ar"  seventhrib
Read comment

Sundance Part Six: In The Loop
"Hello, everybody, the good shoping place, the new season approaching, click in. Let¡¯s<"  aassdd
Read comment

Venice 09: The Bad Lieutenant!
"Just watched the film and thought it was great. Did not expect that ending that made the film so muc"  Zimbo
Read comment


POPULAR POSTS

Sundance Part Six: In The Loop
13 comments

The Times BFI London Film Festival Preview
9 comments

Basterds Blog
9 comments

Chris Hewitt Of The Year Award!!!!
7 comments

The Wrestler
6 comments



Back | Print This Page | Email This Page | Back To Top

Get 12 issues of Empire for just £25!
Get exclusive subscriber-only covers each month Subscribe today!
Empire's Film Studies 101 Series
Everything you ever wanted to know about filmmaking but were afraid to ask...
The Empire iPad Edition
With exclusive extras, interactive features, trailers and much more! Download now
Home  |  News  |  Blogs  |  Reviews  |  Future Films  |  Features  |  Interviews  |  Images  |  Competitions  |  Forum  |  iPad  |  Podcast  |  Magazine Contact Us  |  Empire FAQ  |  Subscribe To Empire  |  Register
© Bauer Consumer Media Ltd  |  Legal Info  |  Editorial Complaints  |  Privacy Policy  |  Bauer Entertainment Network
Bauer Consumer Media Ltd (company number 01176085 and registered address 1 Lincoln Court, Lincoln Road, Peterborough, England PE1 2RF)