Gridlock’d (1997) Tupac Shakur And Tim Roth Are Spoken Word Jazz Band Dope Fiends

When a film opens with a conversation about penis implants and, later, a N word discussion, you can’t help but think the scriptwriters were trying to channel some Quentin Tarantino vibes. Furthermore, when one of the characters feels like Pumpkin from Pulp Fiction (1994) had dumped his crazy girlfriend, Honey Bunny, and ran off to join a jazz band, you can’t help but smile. However, Gridlock’d, really is it’s own movie. It’s shot very stylish, has a frantic paced script, features a deep strong message and best of all, you get a wonderful chemistry between it’s two leads. It might slip off the rails into slap stick territory in the last quarter but it’s hard not to like it for it. It’s a quirky buddy movie. So what’s it about?

It’s New Years Eve in Detroit. Three close friends shoot the shit, heroin, jokes and their love together in their apartment. They are a trio. A spoken word jazz band called Eight Mile Road on the verge of getting picked up. On vocals is the svelte Cookie (Thandiwe Newton). On bass and back up vocals is the cool Spoon (Tupac Shakur) leaving stoned Stretch (Tim Roth) on keys. They’d just finished a gig. It had gone well. A music executive had shown a great deal of promise. Cookie was excited. She’d been slipped a bag of powder, she’d managed to keep off it whilst her two friends were constantly wasted. It was time to celebrate, she wanted to try the high… It doesn’t go well…

Cookie OD’s! Distraught and stoned out of their minds, Spoon and Stretch frantically try to get their beloved friend to the hospital. It’s Detroit, it’s New Years Eve. No one will help, no taxi will stop, they can’t call an ambulance, they don’t have health insurance, the system is broke. Eventually they make it, with everything against them. Will she live or die? No one knows…

Gridlock’d‘s fundamental message is the contemptuous government bureaucracy and mockery of a broken health care system. Based on writer and director Vondie Curtis-Hall own, early life, experiences. Being young in a band surrounded by people doing drugs, getting the idea that your creativity will become enhanced. Before you know it, you become dependent and caught in a vicious circle. “We went to try and get into rehab. Ended up wandering around from place to place, no one giving us any help. I remembered that when it came to writing my first movie.“. This is the premise of the film.

Tagline –Life is a traffic jam!

With the trauma and drama of the night before, Spoon has a moment of epiphany. He has to get clean, get off the smack and sort his life out. Stretch on the other hand is happy getting smashed. His moment of realisation hadn’t come to him yet. However, Spoon was his brother, they were tight. He’d do anything to help his friend out, even if it meant going through the pain of detox. Gridlock’d follows these two friends struggle to get that so needed help. A rehabilitation program, get help with Medicare, be given methadone, desperately any help to kick the life destructive habit. We follow their odyssey, travelling to one place to another. Met with disappointment and despair. Whilst on this arduous mission they encounter countless run-ins with the law, the homeless, other drug addicts, dealers and dope fiends. To make matters worse, they happen to upset a local hood gangster. with the cool, scary name of D Reper. Played by the director, Vondie Curtis-Hall himself. D Reper and his henchman (Tom Towles) add to the comic side of the film along with a recurring character, a blind man (Howard Hesseman) and his rottweiler dog.

It’s a great film. I really enjoyed it. We all know Tim Roth is an amazing actor but apart from Juice (1992) I’d never seen Tupac act. It’s really sad to see just how good and likable he is in this film. At the ridiculously young age of 25 he would soon be gunned down and pronounced dead on September 13, 1996. Gridlock’d would be released posthumously with the end credit dedication “For Tupac “One Love” R.I.P.

Flash backs to the three friends are filtered through the film with negative exposure fading back into colour. These give background to Eight Mile Road and I have to admit I laughed out loud seeing Tim Roth with his shades in jazz piano mode. You also get more Cookie moments with the slender Thandiwe Newton walking around in her tighty whities and showing rather more than expected. I’m a big fan of Westworld so I’ve seen it all and more, before. Hehe…

What makes this movie is the buddy angle. On paper there’s no way you can imagine Tupac and Tim Roth together. Probably the reason I never watched it at the time. But you couldn’t be more wrong, these two have such a rapport. Their relationship is rock solid, brothers. They’ve got each others backs. Getting wasted together, sat for hours sleeping and waiting in chairs, queuing forever, walking from one disappointment to the next. Even under gun fire and dodging police. They smoke a hundred cigarettes and even sword fight sharing the toilet. These two are tight. Their close frendship solidifies the movie.

Wolfman Rating 7.5/10 IMDB Rating 6.9/10

Feel free to let me know if you’ve seen this one, got recommendations or factoids or just want to say hello… 

Big love and keep watching those square shaped screens…. Mikey Wolfman

Cohen and Tate (1988) The Hit-Man, The Psycho And The Kid Go For A Drive

OK! I know I’ve been missing in action for what seems like eon’s to me. I’ve been desperately struggling to clamber my way back to do this amazing hobby I so love. Promised myself I wouldn’t keep apologising and say sorry for being away all the time, so, sorry. Doh! “Dabnamit Wolfboy! hold it together man!“. I’m just dipping my filthy big clawed foot back into the paddling pool to see if I can find a way to scribble smaller, maybe quicker reviews. Before, I tentatively look back at the drafts and try tackle the backlog of half written film articles I’d started months back.

So here we go. Following on from my last post, Blue Thunder, starring Roy Scheider you might be thinking that ole wolfy just been lazy and looked down Roy’s filmography and went, lets watch that one. In fact, I’ll have you know, I searched up great thrillers you’ve probably not heard of or something along those lines. And halfway down the list, there it was, Cohen and Tate. The article got two things right, I’d never heard of it and secondly, it was a pretty decent thriller. Me, being me, didn’t read the basic premise and jumped straight in. Those two good guys on the poster where gonna save the day in a thrilling but ultimately sweet buddy road movie kinda way, right? DOH! once again…

How wrong was I? These two are murderously despicable. Two hit-men employed by some unseen, unnamed Mafia honcho for a touch of clean up work. Waste some witnesses with a shotgun full of slugs and a massacre of bloody rain followed by a spot of kidnapping.

Roy Scheider plays Cohen, a trench coat wearing older guy, lets say seasoned. He’s a wiry assassin for hire. His sidekick, Tate, is played by Adam Baldwin. A wild, deranged and unpredictable, Terminator-esque leather bond psychopath. There’s no love lost between these two. Cohen’s been lumbered with Tate and he’s not to best pleased. Maybe it’s the professional in him or the fact if the job goes sideways his life is on the line. The job was simple. Get to the safe house, grab the kid, Travis Knight (Harley Cross), and drive across the country to the drop off point. There the kid would be interrogated and they’d get paid.

Cohen summons all his strength to tolerate the angry, messed up Tate. They don’t get along at all. His straight down the line sense of professionalism has his nerves tested with this unhinged, maniac he’d annoyingly been saddled with. Keep calm, keep your head down and get the job done Cohen, must of been flicking through his mind..

Tate –How about this? We pull to the side of the road, and I’ll do it with my bare hands. Let’s give his head a little twist, just a little pop to hear how it sounds. We dump the body and we blow out of here, hey!
Cohen –I’m not gonna warn you again. Let’s all just try to make it back to Houston in one piece. Because the way things are going, one of us won’t.

The poor kid, Travis, is obviously broken and distraught. He’s beside himself with fear. Gun shots and death had filled his ears and before he knew it, he was all alone Thrown in the back of car. Any noise he made the demented Tate shoved a shotgun barrel in his face and spat and screamed at him. He cried, he sobbed, then somehow comes to terms with his situation. For a young kid he sure has some balls on him. Slowly he ties to escape in anyway he can. He starts to feel out his abductors, little digs here and there, just enough to keep them on their toes. It’s a long journey, it wasn’t going to end well? What did he have to lose?

Cohen and Tate was a good watch. Roy pretty much walks it but is cold enough to give him a sinister edge. Roy is his usual solid stoic self compared to Adam Baldwin’s, no stranger to playing crazy and unhinged. He plays his part over the top, nutty as a fruitcake and brings his best maniacal lunatic to almost comically extreme levels. Which brings us to young Travis who was excellent as he tries one thing after another to mess with these two killer jerks. The Old MacDonald, sleepy time bit was fun and notable. Considering it’s just three actors in a car for most of the movie it’s great that the script and interactions keep your attention glued to the screen.

Tate –Hey what’s the last thing that goes through a bug’s mind when it hits a windshield?“…. “IT’S ASS!

I’m a big fan of both the two main leads. Roy Scheider, of course, is best known for Jaws (1975) and Jaws 2 (1978). Also brilliant in The French Connection (1971) and Klute (1971) and one of my first movie reviews The Seven-Ups (1973). I haven’t seen many of his 80s or 90s films so please give me a nudge if there’s any of note? Plus I adored watching him play Captain Nathan Bridger the science fiction series SeaQuest 2032 (1993/95). Ok it was cheesy and had a talking dolphin but I enjoyed myself.

Now on to Adam Baldwin (not directly related to the Baldwin Brothers I read but connected through some ancient Baldwin ancestry apparently). Animal Mother from Full Metal Jacket (1987) was my first introduction to him. Then probably saw him next in Predator 2 (1990) But it would be TV series that I’d come to love him in most, there was The X-Files but then Jayne Cobb in Firefly (2002/03) and the follow up film Serenity (2005) were big favorites. And, quite possibly, I may of been the last man on Earth, hehe, to have stayed right til the end of The Last Ship (2014-18) where he played XO Mike Slattery. It was good switch the old brain down nonsense but I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Cohen and Tate was written and directed by Eric Red who’d written the screenplay for the Rutger Hauer thriller classic The Hitcher (1986) and also penned the vampire horror Near Dark (1987) with Kathryn Bigelow.

Wolfman’s rating – 7/10 IMDB Rating6.3/10

YEAH I did it!“. Feel free to let me know if you’ve seen this one, got recommendations or factoids or just want to have a go at me for disappearing for so long. 🙂

Big love and keep watching those screens…. Mikey Wolfman

No Orchids for Miss Blandish (1948) Let’s Meet The Cast That Put The Censor’s Knickers In A Twist

Miss Blandish is far removed from bland, she is a total knockout. A beauty that has all men weak at the knees. Her good looks isn’t all her good fortune, you see her father is one of the wealthiest men in the city. Worth a cool 100 million dollars. Of course, her father keeps a watchful eye on his precious daughters socialising and organised the right suitor for his treasure. Young Miss Blandish is set up with boring, older gentlemen that dote on her and promise the world. She on the other hand was cold and aloof. She desired something wild, someone rugged, maybe dangerous. As the heiress to incredible amounts of money she was bound to turn heads. Soon her life would be caught up with petty criminals, thugs and gangsters.. Lets meet them…

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Ladybug Ladybug (1963) Cold War Nuclear Missile Threat From Frank and Eleanor Perry

A nice quiet rural elementary school on the outskirts of the countryside was busy just having a normal day. At the back of the Principal’s sat a device. It featured four different alphabet codes. One had suddenly lit-up and started emitted a dreadful high-pitched tone. Soon the Principal is calmly trying to decipher the code. Three teachers look on. “What does the Y symbol mean Mr Calkins?” one asked as he skimmed through the manual. With a slight baffled break in his voice he calmly says “Nuclear missile attack in one hour!“.

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Rebel Without a Cause (1955) Confession, Preconception And My Punishment.

Here’s some random waffle from your friendly movie blog host Mikey Wolfman and a review, of sorts, for Rebel Without a Cause. I do hope you are sitting down, not because the length of the upcoming ramblings but for the shock horror factor that this here “movie fan” had never seen it! Insert blood curdling death scream here. Then, if I may, I’ll try and explain my unforgivable sins and let you decide my fate. Feel free to pick one.

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The Big Caper (1957) Let’s Meet The Bank Heist Gang.

A cool million dollars with a whole stack of change was sat waiting within the bank vault. The California Bank, in the small town of San Felipe, would hold the hefty payload over the weekend, ready for the payroll for every single Monday. It was too much to think even about. Sat there smiling, ready for the taking. Too tempting not to. What was needed for The Big Caper was an expert gang with a perfect plan. Lets meet them…

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Cast a Dark Shadow (1955) Sly Dirk Bogarde Just Loves Those Older Ladies

Edward “Teddy” Bare (Dirk Bogarde) looked well shifty. There was something about him. His handsome good looks were a facade that hid a sinister charm. You see, Edward had a thing for older ladies. Putty in his hands they would become. It wasn’t a fetish for cougars or a domineering mature mother figure that he needed. No, there was a criteria that had to be fulfilled if he was to spend his time dating an older lady. You guess it, money, they had to be rich. He had caught one too. A sweet older lady called Monica (Mona Washbourne). In whirlwind romance they were married.

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