Pootie Tang (2001)

Pootie_Tang_posterThank God for Louis C.K. When he directed the 2001 film “Pootie Tang,” he was still an aspiring comedian, writer and director, not yet a household name, and certainly not the innovator on stage or behind the camera that we’re accustomed to today. Let’s just say no one was calling him a genius yet.

Chris Rock however imagined that C.K. one day could be a genius. C.K. wrote and directed on “The Chris Rock Show” and with Conan O’Brien on “Late Night,” and it was Rock who encouraged C.K. to start developing ideas for himself. But not before C.K. was tasked to adapt a successful sketch and character on “The Chris Rock Show” into a feature length film that would turn out to be the biggest failure of C.K.’s career: “Pootie Tang.”

The sketch is little more than Rock conducting an interview with a jive-talking pop star, and the film (barely qualifying as one at just 81 minutes) isn’t about much more. In fact, it’s a mess. “Pootie Tang” was such a disaster in 2001 that Roger Ebert wondered in his Half-Star review if it was even finished, imagining how such a wild mish-mash of a film could’ve possibly been made and released in this state. “Pootie Tang” is not bad so much as inexplicable,” he wrote. “How was this movie assembled out of such ill-fitting pieces?”

And yet if it weren’t for C.K.’s rise as a director, would anyone have given “Pootie Tang,” truly a cult classic that just had its 15th anniversary, the second look it deserves? Continue reading “Pootie Tang (2001)”

Top Five

“Top Five” is Chris Rock’s passion project, written, directed and starred in by the comedian.

For all of the surrealism and cinematic wizardry to be found in this year’s “Birdman”, the film was above all the story of a man grappling with fame and reality. He put on a play to be taken seriously while battling the demons of his past life as a superhero star as well as his press and his peers all out to destroy him.

Chris Rock’s “Top Five” is the more grounded version of this struggle, a less symbolic and more searing industry critique of celebrity, race dynamics and the press in a modern world. And while Michael Keaton has been stealing headlines for “Birdman’s” narrative similarities, Rock’s story is the truly meta portrait, a film he wrote, directed and starred in standing in for his own stand-up routine and opinions. Continue reading “Top Five”

2012 Oscars Recap

Image courtesy of guardian.co.uk and Getty Images

We love the movies. That’s why we watch the Oscars.

Did I mention that we love the movies? And did I mention that Billy Crystal loves the movies? Oh yeah, we love the movies, the old classic ones that aren’t all really classics, but some new ones too that definitely aren’t classics but people might actually recognize.

But rather than show you how much we love the movies with actual funny jokes or parodies, we’ll just tell you how much we love the movies and play it real safe all night. That way you’ll watch next year so long as you didn’t completely hate us, right? And how could you hate us when we all love the movies so much?

Sunday night’s Oscars were eye-rollingly mediocre, and part of the reason for that was an adamant position on not doing anything that might be too risky, too offensive or even too gaudily awful of a joke or skit that might alienate people from changing the channel. Continue reading “2012 Oscars Recap”