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

The Day Of The Triffids – A Gig Theatre Adventure In Sound and Music

Searching for something different for the weekend, I glanced through the event listings at our local Arts Centre, The Lighthouse Poole. Scrolling down the page I spotted that fantastic word, Triffids!. It couldn’t be anything else could it? It had to be those pesky carnivorous human-eating plant-life! Excitedly I read the tagline…

ATTENTION EARTH-PEOPLE Platform 4 Presents… A gig theatre adventure in sound and music. An inspired take on John Wyndham’s The Day Of The Triffids.”

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Dark British TV Thrillers Opening Themes That Were Freaky As F…

It’s no wonder Generation X is so messed up. TV broadcasts for our growing years consisted of experimental science fiction thrillers and pitch black dramas. Some directly aimed at the teenager, others not. However there was nothing else on the three channels of choice so we sat there in our youth having our minds freaked out. And of course we loved it. It wasn’t just the dark content to the shows or the music that got under your skin. They also specialised with inventive twisted intro sequences. Here’s a few picks.

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Wolfies Top Ten British TV Show Themes From His Youth

Why do I do it to myself! Ok here goes my favourite, impossible to do, top ten British TV show themes from my youth. Made easier for the fact that I’m not including children’s shows. Might do a separate one for that if I’m stupid enough to try and tackle that task.

I do like a good theme soundtrack and I’m fond of a list but rounding them up into order of which one is best, is nuts to me. Made even harder for the fact that these are beloved to me TV shows. So ten to two are randomly placed but number one is my favorite, for sure. So lets start.

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Fragment of Fear (1970) David Hemmings Freaks To The Johnny Harris Funky As Hell Soundtrack

Fragment of Fear (1970) David Hemmings Gayle Hunnicutt poster cover dvd columbia pictures horror mystery

Tim Brett (David Hemmings) has a wildly funky soundtrack following him around. Maybe it was all the heroin he’d injected in his veins? Maybe all the acid trips he’d dropped. You’d of thought now he was a recovering drug addict, chilling out in sunny Italy, he’d of cleared his mind of that intoxicating driving beat! His sweet Aunt Lucy (Flora Robson) visits him and congratulates him on his success. The flute goes off his mind. You see his eyes twitch. Aunt Lucy wants to help people. His foot taps to the beat. She looks away, calls the waiter. An involuntary spasm! Arms and legs going ecstatic to all the instruments. A peculiar sight to see. Like he was trying to play every instrument at once. He was unprepared for such an outbreak. He manages to control it. It was now contained. Aunt Lucy hadn’t seen his freak-out. He feared opening his month just in case that frantic flute fanfare blasted out, straight into her innocent face. Oh his beloved Aunt. Continue reading