HURLY-BURLY (1998)

Directed By: Anthony Drazan
Written By: David Rabe (Screenplay/play)
Cinematography: Changwei Gu
Editor: Dylan Tichenor 

Cast: Sean Penn, Kevin Spacey, Robin Wright, Meg Ryan, Garry Shandling, Anna Paquin, Chazz Palminteri 

Hollywood movers and shakers dissect their own personal lives when everything seems to clash together.


Based on a play this film feels very theatrical. Though it never comes alive or feels vivid it more feels like everyone is going through the motions. 

Even as it shows the dark side of Hollywood as the characters aren’t likable at all. They never exactly redeem themselves. We just keep watching them torture themselves and others in this kind of well dressed he’ll

As the lead character of Eddie seems to be the only character who realizes that he should loath his actions and character 

While the trailer makes the film Look exciting and alive. Watching it feels drab and almost colorless. Strangely it feels like while there is a great cast most of them feel miscast. 

Again though originally a play. Being set in Los Angeles it feels like the movie should feel more open. The film sometimes leaves the apartment that is shared by the two main characters but not enough. As Los Angeles is a place where your home is kind of your sanctuary but it is also Hollywood and the characters are all involved in that life. Which requires being more social and going places 

It’s not a total loss as the cast are all serviceable in their roles. Most seem to try so hard to be out of their usual roles and onscreen personae they are known for. 

Sean Penn brings his usual immersion to the role and feels electrifying no one else feels that way except maybe Garry Shandling, that is more him playing a producer creep that feels inside of his wheelhouse.

Kevin Spacey is fine in his role but his dyed blonde hair is distracting. Meg Ryan is good in her role and quite natural but it also feels like stunt casting 

None of these characters would you like or want to really spend any amount of time with. Though they complain quite a bit. These are characters who work for a theatrical price because you stay for the acting and character more than the story and are more trapped with them in play form. If only for the amount you paid to see it and made an investment and are not going to walk out as easily. When it comes to film you care about acting and characters, but an audience usually mostly is interested in where the story is going and plot and if it doesn’t move it feels stuck 

Maybe if director Anthony Drazan wouldn’t direct it as he is more a theater director and he can refine the performances and lock but a different director might have tried to make it more visual and open the movie up even though admittedly as a theatrical piece the strength is in the script, performances, and dialogue. The film called for more of a director with flair visually. 

So this feels like an all-star cast wasted not on a project not worth their time but one that doesn’t live up to its pedigree.

Grade: C+

BLUES BROTHERS 2000 (1998)

Directed By: John Landis
Written By: John Landis and Dan Aykroyd 
Cinematography: David Herrington 
Editor: Dale Beldin

Cast: Dan Aykroyd, John Goodman, Joe Morton, Nia Peeples, J Evan Bonifant, Frank Oz, Darrell Hammond, B.B. King, Junior Wells, Aretha Franklin, Matt Murphy, Erykah Badu, Johnny Lang, Eddie Floyd, Wilson Pickett, Eric Clapton, Steve Lawrence, John Popper, Sam Moore, Paul Shaffer, Clarence Clemmons, Issac Hayes, Bo Diddley

Elwood, the now lone “Blues Brother” finally released from prison, is once again enlisted by Sister Mary Stigmata in her latest crusade to raise funds for a children’s hospital. Once again hitting the road to re-unite the band and win the big prize at the New Orleans Battle of the Bands, Elwood is pursued cross-country by the cops, led by Cabel the Curtis’ son (and Elwood’s step-brother), the Russian Mafia, and a militia group. On his new “mission from God” Elwood enlists the help of a young orphan, and a strip club bartender.


I remember when I went to a screening of THE BLUES BROTHERS for a yearly Special festival that played at RADIO CITY MUSIC HALL. That was part of the movie street festival in years past. Where they would screen classic films as a double feature for one week. They showed a special message from Dan Aykroyd on this film’s set and to be prepared for another classic.

I was excited when the Film came out. It, unfortunately, fell Very short.

Watching a documentary on the artists or their performances would be more entertaining than unfortunately watching this film. 

How the mighty have fallen, this film feels strictly like a cash-in on the original and franchise.

All the things the first film does brilliantly. This film either repeats badly or just doesn’t know what to do with it. Even more disappointing is that the original film’s director came back to direct the film. Director John Landis 

This is why the films only have good scenes other than the Musical performances. Are the car chase scenes and even there the film seems to go over the top and ruins a good thing 

As the story is very thin and badly put together to the point it drags along and comes across as an afterthought.

Dan Aykroyd’s Character is just so unresponsive to most things. It doesn’t make his character interesting or entertaining and desperately needs to bounce off of someone. Even when there are two others who try. Leaving the audience just witnessing acts with no rhyme Or reason. Things just seem to happen and characters just seem to change magically all of a sudden. 

Joe Morton’s character for instance and John Goodman go through a total character change due to wardrobe changes. 

John Goodman is wasted as he has very little reason to be there and is given very little to actually do.

Truly the performance scenes Are the film’s only Saving grace. This is why most of the cast is made up of them performing and relegated to cameos.

Some are returning from the first film and others seem more who were more popular at the time and maybe missed being in the first film. As this film is mainly mostly a retread of the first film.

The film is way too long, and the jokes don’t work and never would. Unlike the musical scenes, the humor seems odd to base, like it was hilarious when conceiving but didn’t play well at all. 

If you must watch it. This is the Rare film where I say feel free to fast forward to the performances. If anything it reminds you of how good the original film was and how this film deserves its Legacy.

It is one of those projects that was good in theory but should have been shelved. It comes across as an almost kid-friendly Version of the first film.

Grade: D

THE MAN IN THE IRON MASK (1998)

Written & Directed by: Randall Wallace 
Based On The Novels “Vingt Ans Apres” & “La Victome De Bragalonne” By: Alexander Dumas 
Cinematography: Peter Suschitzky
Editor: William Hoy

Cast: Leonardo DiCaprio, Gabriel Byrne, Jeremy Irons, John Malkovich, Gerard Depardieu, Judith Godreche, Anne Parillaud, Peter Sarsgaard, Edward Atterton, Hugh Laurie, Laura Fraser, Leonor Varela 

Paris is starving, but the King of France is more interested in money and bedding women. When a young soldier dies for the sake of a shag, Aramis, Athos, and Porthos band together with a plan to replace the king. Unknown to many, there is a 2nd king, a twin, hidden at birth, then imprisoned for 6 years behind an iron mask. All that remains now is D’Artagnan, will he stand against his long-time friends, or do what is best for his country?


I remember being excited to see this in theaters with such a distinguished cast playing the musketeers and Leonardo DiCaprio’s first film right after TITANIC. Filmed before that film I believe but released relatively soon after. While I wasn’t a particular fan of that movie. I was a fan of DiCaprio. Who at that point. Had been gaining a lot of buzzes.

I really didn’t like the film as I watched it in theaters I remember being heavily disappointed and downright bored. It had its highlights but there were relatively few of them. Watching the film years later I have to say it is still disappointing.

It didn’t help that this movie was advertised as having more action than it ended up having. Watching it now even the action scenes aren’t very inspired or all that vivid. They lack any skill or any finesse and look like they are running and wrestling one another.

In fact, the only thing the film has going for it is the cast. Leonardo DiCaprio playing dual roles keeps your attention and shows here that he is much better in villainous roles. As he was on his way up to stardom and making quite a male for himself. This role showed he was more about the craft somewhat than the box office. 

Other than him the actors playing the musketeers are so loved and fun you almost want a separate film all about them. As they bring life to the film and their scenes. Putting a spin on each of their characters. So that they show charisma and can be both funny and captivating often in the same sentence.

The film feels like a movie made to be watched in English classes teaching the book to make the material more vivid for the kids. As everything looks like a set and bland in the background. As the film never displays any real passion or energy. So that it almost feels like reading the book. Which I never have. It comes off as a throwback to classic studio adaptations, Where they just throw stars at the material and hope it sticks in with a certain audience.

The female lead, Judith Godreche really has little to do. She just seems to be a pretty face here. Her character is more put there to be a means to an end. The curse of her character is her beauty which sets everything in motion. As she comes across as a plot convenience and somewhat eye candy. So later the fate of her character never even feels that shocking or dramatic. 

In the end, it feels almost like a school production only with a budget. The film at times tries but misses the target. 

Grade: D+

THE PRINCE OF EGYPT (1998)

Directed By: Brenda Chapman, Steve Hickner & Simon Wells

Written By: Philip LaZebnik

Cast: (Voices) Val Kilmer, Ralph Fiennes, Michelle Pfeiffer, Sandra Bullock, Jeff Goldblum, Danny Glover, Patrick Stewart, Steve Martin, Martin Short, Helen Mirren, James Avery, Eden Reigel 

Egyptian Prince Moses learns of his identity as a Hebrew and his destiny to become the chosen deliverer of his people.


This movie really takes me back as I remember it being a big release at the time and a big holiday one at that. I was working at a movie theater at the time of my first job and remember the shows staying packed for weeks full. Almost every show. 

I also remember how messy yet warm and sweet-smelling the theaters would be afterward. Not only that but constantly hear the duet by Whitney Houston & Mariah Carey on the song BELIEVE.

This embezzled that song into my head and anytime I hear it now it reminds of this movie and takes me to a happy place. 

Shocked, it took me so long to see this last film. As one never watched it in theaters and can tell that was a lost opportunity. As this definitely works best on a big screen. As the story is epic, so is the film. Even for an animated movie, it feels majestic. 

It tells such a grand story in a short amount of time with plenty of impacts. 

Not usually a fan of biblical films but this doesn’t feel preachy. It just feels like a story from history with some supernatural elements. Though still is a story about the strength of character and faith.

Watching the film you might prefer fewer songs that make it feel more like a musical without song and dance numbers but montages and memories instead. 

Which also helps counter and explain its darkness in the second half. 

It allows for more stories to be told in a shorter time. As well as showcase their emotions in the moment and at the time of course most family animated films do have songs to keep kids and some adults from feeling restless though for this film. Not to mention it helps embed the movie into memories through those sing-along songs. This is impressive all-around yet more for adults, there could have been less. 

The animation is impressive and has stood the test of time. 

Even in one of the action scenes such as the final battle scenes and the sandstorm sequences and the miracles/plagues.

Grade: B+

ANTZ (1998)

Directed By: Eric Darnell & Tim Johnson 
Written By: Chris Weitz, Paul Weitz & Todd Alcott 
Editor: Stan Webb

Cast: (voices) Woody Allen, Sharon Stone, Gene Hackman, Sylvester Stallone, Jennifer Lopez, Christopher Walken, Dan Aykroyd, Jane Curtain, Anne Bancroft, Danny Glover, John Mahoney, Paul Mazursky, Grant Shaud, Jim Cummings 

Z, the worker-ant strives to reconcile his own individuality with the communal work ethic of the ant colony. Falling in love with the ant-Princess Bala, Z strives to make social inroads, and then ultimately must save the ant colony from the treacherous schemings of the evil General Mandible that threaten to wipe out the entire worker population. Themes of individuality run rampant.


This was one of the first animated films to really have an all-star cast of voices and really put the film out like a blockbuster with real stars. It is a hit most studios thought that that formula would work. It worked for a short period of time until the audience realized the story matters too. 

While the ensemble all-star cast is here some are odd casting choices that reek of Stunt casting at times and are More like picking actors who would never co-star together regularly.

One of the reasons now anytime an animated film comes out that it is successful for the most part is more than it seems as there are no purely live-action kids films. Animated is usually the only form of children’s entertainment that is coming out unless you count fantasy films though those are aimed at the whole family.

Woody Allen perfectly cast this as his comedy film with broad humor and from an outsider viewpoint amongst his peers, again an unbelievably gorgeous female lead he gets to romance. Though essentially it also feels like a Woody Allen Movie. Only with more action and outside of New York and of course for a younger audience. 

This film came out against the similarly themed A BUGS LIFE life from Pixar.  which I will admit is more impressive visually, but I find this film to be more all-around enjoyable. This is more pedestrian and not as impressive in the animation. This is kind of basic. Not made to be so special. Full of more enjoyment.

A BUG’S LIFE seemed to think visuals first story second believing the audience to be so enraptured by the animation they won’t care about the other details as much. The same type of thinking that reminds me of the film AVATAR

Grade: C+

ANTZ (1998)

Directed By: Eric Darnell & Tim Johnson Written By: Chris Weitz, Paul Weitz & Todd Alcott

Editor: Stan Webb

Cast: (voices) Woody Allen, Sharon Stone, Gene Hackman, Sylvester Stallone, Jennifer Lopez, Christopher Walken, Dan Aykroyd, Jane Curtain, Anne Bancroft, Danny Glover, John Mahoney, Paul Mazursky, Grant Shaud, Jim Cummings 

Z, the worker-ant strives to reconcile his own individuality with the communal work ethic of the ant colony. Falling in love with the ant-Princess Bala, Z strives to make social inroads, and then ultimately must save the ant colony from the treacherous schemings of the evil General Mandible that threaten to wipe out the entire worker population. Themes of individuality run rampant.


This was one of the first animated films to really have an all-star cast of voices and really put the film out like a blockbuster with real stars. It is a hit most studios thought that that formula would work. It worked for a short period of time until the audience realized the story matters too. 

While the ensemble all-star cast is here some are odd casting choices that reek of Stunt casting at times and are More like picking actors who would never co-star together regularly.

One of the reasons now anytime an animated film comes out that it is successful for the most part is more than it seems as there are no purely live-action kids films. Animated is usually the only form of children’s entertainment that is coming out unless you count fantasy films though those are aimed at the whole family.

Woody Allen perfectly cast this as his comedy film with broad humor and from an outsider viewpoint amongst his peers, again an unbelievably gorgeous female lead he gets to romance. Though essentially it also feels like a Woody Allen Movie. Only with more action and outside of New York and of course for a younger audience. 

This film came out against the similarly themed A BUGS LIFE life from Pixar.  which I will admit is more impressive visually, but I find this film to be more all-around enjoyable. This is more pedestrian and not as impressive in the animation. This is kind of basic. Not made to be so special. Full of more enjoyment.

A BUG’S LIFE seemed to think visuals first story second believing the audience to be so enraptured by the animation they won’t care about the other details as much. The same type of thinking that reminds me of the film AVATAR

Grade: C+

BABYMOTHER (1998)

Directed By: Julian Henriques 
Written By: Julian Henriques & Vivienne Howard 
Cinematography: Peter Middleton 
Editor: Jason Canovas 

Cast: Anjela Lauren Smith, Wil Johnson, Caroline Chickezie, Jocelyn Jee Eisen, Don Warrington, Tameka Empson, Diane Bailey, Vas Blackwood 

A single mother determined to make it as a singer puts together an all-girl reggae group named Neeta, Sweeta, & Nastie with her friends. Living in a housing project with little support, the odds are obviously against her. Emotionally she struggles too as she learns at her mother’s death that her actual mother is the woman she had thought was her older sister. With the help of a female agent, the group starts to get some exposure and rises above their setting.


This is a film I have heard about over the years. Especially in my teenage years and unfortunately forgot about it and then suddenly found it and jumped at the chance to finally watch it. 

The film is certainly eye-catching if even just for the colorful outrageous outfits worn by the cast.   

The film starts off with inventive credits that also help explain who the characters are and how they are intertwined.

For some, this film can be seen as an introduction to dancehall culture before it became popular and mainstream. So that the film Offers a look at characters of Caribbean descent and their culture as they make their way in London. Though at least they are more in their element. As though there are no other races on screen. 

The film is essentially about a woman finding independence and at times romance. While trying to better herself for her children/family. Despite problems with her sister and boyfriend. We see a lot of her and others’ domestic life.

The film might feel a bit familiar. As it comes off as feeling like a Sunday movie. This means something simple, inoffensive that offers something more lightweight and leaves you with a smile on your face. As it affects you like easy listening music and stays smooth, feeling like you are floating for the rest of the day.

The film resolves itself really easily and is not too hard-hitting at all, but why not. It’s nice to see a film that Involves African American characters that isn’t necessarily heavy or traumatic. As most of the characters are likable and the film really doesn’t have any villains. 

Would have been nice if the film delved into other characters’ moves. A bit more as well as their domestic problems. As the film stays with the protagonist mainly Throughout her adventures and challenges. 

The film also has a catchy soundtrack throughout. That would have been nice if performed more with dancing and show-stopping numbers. 

Grade: B-

EDGE OF SEVENTEEN (1998)

Directed By: David Moreton Written By: Todd Stephens  Cinematography: Gina Degirolamo Editor: Tal Bel-David 

Cast: Chris Stafford, Tina Holmes, Lea DeLaria, Andersen Gabrych, Stephenie McVay

A gay teen finds out who he is and what he wants, who his friends are, and who loves him, in this autobiographical tale set in middle America in the 1980s. Growing up, learning about life, love, sex, friends, and lovers.


This is a coming-of-age story only about a gay teen. What is remarkable is not only when it was made making it an early LGBTQ film but the fact that it is a throwback where the movie takes place in 1984. As it marks the film both nostalgic and kind of fun.

It also feels may be more personal or a testament to that time period. Culture, style, and fashion.

The film feels with some material that might be different for coming of age tales like being introduced to certain sexual acts. Though it does allow for a fresh spin for lifestyles that Have been missing g from these sorts of films or been more relegated to side characters where we never get to see their exploration.

This is definitely an independent movie as the production does offer a smaller story and a tight budget. That leaves some details to be vague.

Unfortunately, the film also leaves some characters or relationships between the characters to be that way also at certain points, but it also helps drive home a certain reality for the film and its characters.

In truth, this is a film all about the lead. So while there is the heartbreaking relationship/friendship between the lead and his girl/friend where the film gives her point of view not too much but enough to understand her confusion and pain. Where the relationship at a certain point remains ambiguous. Though it shows deep emotions. The same can be said of his relationship with his mother who reacts honestly and not necessarily cookie-cutter good or evil. In many ways, her character is the heart of the film. 

It’s also nice to see Lea Delaria in an early role. Where it seems like she is just being herself, but also a guide for the main character.

It also presents what seems like it will be first love but more one-sided. As one seems like it’s love and the other looking for a seduction and hook up but not necessarily wanting all the responsibilities of a relationship. This is a story that mostly involves youth.

One of the film’s major strengths is that It’s not a movie where once he comes out he is persecuted nor is he celebrated. It deals with the complications of coming out with some good things and some bad, but a general sense that it will be ok for the character.

Grade: B-

BELLY (1998)

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Written & Directed By: Hype Williams 
Story By: Nas, Hype Williams & Anthony Bodden 
Director Of Photography: Malik Hassan Sayeed 
Edited By: David Leonard 

Cast: Nas, DMX, T-Boz, Method Man, Power, Tyrin Turner, Taral Hicks, Frank Vincent, Kurt Loder


Tommy Brown and his friend Sincere are gangsters who have learned how to make a good living by dealing drugs and pulling armed robberies. Tommy and Sincere have been able to move out of the ghetto in Queens where they were raised and relocate to an upscale section of Manhattan; they would seem to have it made, but both realize that their lives are headed toward a dead end. Sincere begins getting in touch with his African roots and tries to convince his girlfriend Tionne that they should emigrate to the Motherland, while Tommy has a religious awakening and joins the Nation of Islam. 

The film seems to have a grand vision, but a small story and limited budget. The film feels like essentially a ninety-minute rap music video. A bad one. This might have been the film that started the saying “all style no substance”. Whereas there is no denying hype Williams has tremendous talent as a director. He has unbelievably rich saturated visuals inventive angles and shots. but as a writer, he leaves a lot to be desired. 

If that wasn’t bad enough it is hard to believe it took three people to come up with the barely-there story line. Were they just sitting around playing video games together and in between the levels they wrote down a idea. After three days this is what they came up with. After all, while watching this film I got confused by the plot, some characters, and their motivations that just either disappear or make no sense at all. Like a pop-art film or a 90’s version of an Andy Warhol film. It looks beautiful the visuals are rich and eye-popping, but everything else is bad. It’s like a supermodel great to look at, but not very deep or much to say. 

The film seems to glamorize all things notorious If this film is remembered at all is that it is a nostalgic look at a time in hip hop. One of the few that actually made it into theaters. It involves many popular rappers at the time starring in the film together. It can be seen as a 90’s blaxploitation hood movie as it more exploits stereotypes, violence, and the nihilism of the street-life. While at the end tries to go out on a redemptive positive note. This film is just depressing to experience no real positivity at all when there is some or at least some type of message. It is soon given short shrift and forgotten by the next scene. 

You can see the director’s ideas but while having crystal clear clarity with his visuals. He seems not to know entirely how to express his thoughts in the story. The most inventive thing in this movie was having frank Vincent. a man who usually plays mobsters or villains here is playing a government agent his appearance in this film is always incomprehensible. You never get a good look at him but you recognize the voice. So you know he is there. While director Hype Williams lives up to his first name with this film proves to be a visual stylist coming from the music video world he seems to need to learn how a story works for longer than five minutes and maintain themes, motivation, and story. He is a director I would have liked to see given another chance make a film all the wiser and see the results as I believe he could do it. There are rich colors off-kilter but defining looks and styles for each character. The ever-present fish-eyed lens camera shots a favorite of the director. 

The plot is two friends who are drug dealers come up with a major supplier but they trespass on another dealer’s property. DMX Then has to do an assassination for the supplier, for his protection. But the man DMX kills is a protected made man. So they come after all of them. Their supplier is killed first in a scene ripped off from most rappers’ favorite film: Scarface. DMX makes a deal with the government to stay out of jail and to protect him. But he must kill a powerful black minister. Meanwhile, Nas tries to survive the streets while planning to run away with his share of the money to the safe motherland that is modern-day Africa. Exactly!!! 

DMX plays his role believably so much that he got more acting work after this. He stays memorable in the role. He truly inhabits his character with a menacing viciousness. While Nas gives a horrible performance. He seems not to be able to really act. It seems that the same thing that works for Nas as a rapper. His image as a thug prophet works with his monotone delivery showing no emotion because nothing can affect him works against him as an actor. When everything is about emotion and reaction. 

The actresses in this film are integral to the story but are barely given any real characters to play or many scenes to be in. Along the way, there is one subject that is touched upon that I found interesting. DMX’s girlfriend is a gold-digger who he openly cheats on but she is happy as long as she has the finer things in life. Then the cops raid the place she lives while hiding the drugs at her place. So she gets locked up for possession and doesn’t rat on him taking the rap for her man. Who she knows doesn’t love her nor makes any attempt to get her out. Maybe if that was explored a little more it could have been interesting. Then a little less of the gun battles and flossing of expensive things. This film would have been better more intriguing than a wannabe gangster epic of minuscule proportions which if they would have done their homework they would have noticed do have gun battles and flashy things but are also well-plotted and very dialogue-driven things again this movie seriously lacks. 

At the very least. we could have seen Nas in Africa (Which is an interesting movie title) so we can see Mr. Williams illuminate it. I have to say the acting runs from horrible to passable no good or outstanding performances. 

The ladies can act, so can method man DMX is sort of playing a version of himself and Nas just looks like he couldn’t have been bothered to put up an effort. to show the logic of this film. In one scene a guy from the criminal crew is beaten by DMX and he swears his revenge on Nas. Even though he had nothing to do with him being beat. 

GRADE: D+

HE GOT GAME (1998)

Written & Directed By: Spike Lee
Cinematography: Ellen Kuras & Malik Hassan Sayeed 
Editor: Barry Alexander Brown 

Cast: Ray Allen, Denzel Washington, Milla Jovovich, Bill Nunn, Rosario Dawson, Ned Beatty, Hill Harper, Rick Fox, John Turturro, Zelda Harris, Thomas Jefferson Byrd, Roger Guenveir Smith, Lonette McKee, Arthur J. Nescarella, Jim Brown, Jennifer Esposito, Saul Stein, Ron Cephas Jones, Jamie Hector, Kim Director, Heather Hunter, Jill Kelly 

Jake Shuttlesworth is in prison serving time for killing his wife in a violent family feud. He is released on parole, but with one condition – he must persuade his son, genius basketball player Jesus to sign with the governor’s alma mater university, Big State. And Jake only has a week to do it.


At first, glance didn’t really like the film. A few scenes fascinated me but ultimately just thought it was ok. Though over subsequent years and rewatching really got into the film and enjoyed it. As there is more than meets the eye. Plus as getting older can fully grasp many scenes and subjects brought up. 

This film is surprisingly strong as a drama. That at first one thinks it will be a sports movie about corruption and recruiting. While it does involve those the film actually has a compelling story and a kind of community commentary of the times.

No one is truly innocent in the film including the basketball prospect played by Ray Allen. As everyone wants something from him. We see how some of his decisions directly affect them also.

Ray Allen’s character is more innocent though he is guilty of certain things as a young man given a certain level of celebrity character or popularity and power for the first time he is weak when it comes to indulgence as that is what various people are using to seduce him to sign and commit to them. Even his girlfriend to a degree. Ray Allen gives a convincing performance 

As the film shows characters who supposedly love and care about the basketball phenom but seem more interested in trying to become invested in his fame.

The film shows How his family even uses him or considers that love and blood an investment. Leaving only his younger sister as truly the only innocent one who asks nothing of him 

Other than noticing her performance in KIDS this was the next first noteworthy role of Rosario Dawson where she plays a damaged vixen. Ray Allen’s onscreen girlfriend and maybe a kind of gold digger. He has multiple levels throughout. 

Denzel Washington plays his role strongly and this is one of his first more dislikable characters on screen. Even as he is more the protagonist of the film. At least the film gives him a three-dimensional role to play.

His character is still never a hero or a saint. He has made mistakes that he will pay for, for the rest of his life. Still, he loves his son and wants what is best. The least he can do and kind of finds his soul in the process. 

There are some sex scenes but one, in particular, that seems more a pornographic fantasy seems to be the one scene where sex is used as part of the recruitment. The roles of the vixens played by actual porno actresses of the time 

While at first, it seems unnecessary or even like baggage. One can see why Milla Jovovich’s character and scenes are here to humanize Denzel’s character and show he can be decent and nice but this isn’t a love story or a fairy tale. As he is no white knight. If anything this movie is all about harsh reality and showcases broken promises. 

The film gives commentary on how the community is Being sunken in a speech by a drug dealer who does profit from it but has seen the best and worst of people and riches and gives Allen’s character a sermon and warnings to protect him. Even if it just seems written to give one of spike Lee’s regular actors Roger Guenveir Smith a role and an impressive one.

Basketball is spike Lee’s passion other then filmmaking a die hard new yours Knicks fan and he introduced Basketball icon Michael Jordan into sneaker marketing

There are so many subjects going on in spike lee films that some are explored mroe and others more in the background or left on the side.

This Movie involves at the time more the controversial route of paying ir bribing players for Recruitment to head a college Team to win championships less about the education. Only A few years later it would be deciding whether to go professional Straight from high school or play for College .

The film works as a wondering showdown that we know will eventually have to happen between the main two characters and we know the set-up.

Showcasing the beauty of the game in Slow motion action of a pickup game along with classic classical music on the soundtrack. Showing the players as almost modern-day warriors with their strengths and physicality. The art of physical perfectionism. This is the closest we come to seeing director Spike Lee’s well-known love of the game.

Throughout the film, it seems like regular old cast members of most of his films stop by for what amount to almost guest star roles. Though important ones as different guides for Allen to pick a side.

At first, the film feels more contemporary for its time, maybe more mainstream but as it goes along it reveals more and more depth. As it tackles a bunch of subjects that are revolving its Main characters. Showing them and commenting on them while keeping the focus on the main characters. 

Though it can be accused of being melodramatic at times, understandable (selling devotion and renting your soul but then have more stakes in you from others)

The film Acknowledges the commercialization and business aspect that the game has taken but also tries to sell the art of it.

In the end, you come into the film expecting one thing and it eventually reveals itself to be so much more and ends up being one of Spike Lee’s stronger movies.

Grade: B