Musical styles fade in and out of vogue: jazz, big bands of the 30’s and 40’s, rock and roll, rap, hip- hop. Electronics has changed the temperament of contemporary music. “A Tribe Called Quest” is an intriguing and in depth documentary by Michael Rapaport concentrating on the twenty year run of the ground breaking musical skills of Phife Dawg, Ali Shaheed, Q-Tip, Jarobi White. Phife and Q-Tip were childhood friends born with an affinity to rhyme, jive and spew forth astonishing, pulsating, mind-bending lyrics. At times challenging to decipher but always electrically energizing; understanding why it would be impossible to remain immobile during their concerts.
Unfortunately, there were not enough performance numbers, and an over abundance of time spent on their 1998 breakup revolving around the egos of Phife and Q-Tip; resulting in too much talking and not enough jiving.
Human frailties notwithstanding, this is a group that is worthy of their hard earned fame; their faith in each other resulted in raising the hip- hop genre into a stratosphere of such uniqueness that it resides comfortably, in the laurels of musical history, at the platinum level.
SNOW FLOWER AND THE SECRET FAN
If you read and liked Lisa See’s novel do not bother with this saccharine, excessively manipulative, predictable film (better sobriquet “Slow Flower and Should be Canned”). A touch harsh but a disappointing production of a love between friends crossing many generations; Snow Flower/Sophia (Gianna Jun) and Nina/Lily (Li Bingbing) are “laotong” or “old same” , bound together as soul mates echoing the provincial Chinese custom of foot-binding and today’s sexually progressive milieu. Both women are beautiful and passably proficient in their roles; the eroticism between the two is titillating and subtle.
Foot -binding commenced in the Southern Tang dynasty (937-975) inspired by court dancers; eventually practiced by the wealthy as a bargaining ploy, a marketing tool for capturing a rich husband. This torturous, crippling, barbaric practice was not banned until 1912; this is one scenario where the poor and under classes were blessed. Woman of substance were maimed for life, confined to servicing their husbands , staff – instruction and writing “nu shu” a secret language on their fans.
This “yawner” of a flick earns:
CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER
Growing up in a household where comic books were forbidden, the recent films revolving around these fantastic characters, are refreshing, engrossing and amazingly fun.
The movie, primarily set in 1942, involving mad scientists hired by the Hitler regime to manufacture powerful body and mind altering drugs. Chris Evans is marvelously cast as Steve Rogers, the wee boy from Brooklyn who is transformed into the hunky, husky Captain America by the genius of German expat, Dr. Abraham Erskine (Stanley Tucci gives an academy award performance, deserving more screen time). Non stop action, glorious sets, pivotal actors (Tommy Lee Jones, Hugo Weaving, Hayley Atwell) virtuously directed by Joe Johnston is a moveable, breathless feat.
The most innovative weapon of mass destruction, a shield, bearing the US star and strips is wielded Frisbee -like by Captain America, obliterating the nefarious forces of evil in a single swipe; thrilling to watch, galvanizing, convinced that goodness will triumph as will the entertainment factor of “Captain America”.
THREE STARS!!! (Out of Five)