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November 01, 2012


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"Mickey Spillane wasn't particularly good at playing Mike Hammer; RZA, you don't have to do everything, you know?"
Glenn, you hit the nail on the head. This is why I love your reviews.

Brian Z

Toots of cocaine is a glorious phrase.


How many white women does Denzel bang in this?

Denzel is god so he gets a "fuck all the white women" pass, unlike some rapper banging white/blondeness, which sets me and all white guys off into a rage, see also the ENTIRE CINEMA OF JAMES TOBACK.

But doesn't the black female D-fanbase hate when he does interracial? Remember those stories of riots in black theaters where he tagged Milla Jovohotness in HE GOT GAME?

How come I can't ever get a white white WHITE woman? I drink at least as much as Denzel's character, and mostly I just end up watching YouTube.

Glenn Kenny

Lex, if you count Hispanic as white, two. Although you don't actually see him engaging in coitus with the attractive flight attendant, so for all we know they just got high and naked and the cocaine acted as a performance inhibitor.

I answer the question because it gives me the opportunity to point out that in 1993, when Washington co-starred with Julia Roberts in "The Pelican Brief," their characters were forbidden from so much as making eyes at each other, despite there having been a romance between them in the Grisham book. So that "fuck all the white women" pass, if you wanna call it that, is a sign of social progress. Right fuckin' on.


On that tip, don't forget about when Chow Yun-Fat was lucky to receive a chaste kiss from Mira Sorvino at the end of THE REPLACEMENT KILLERS.

Not David Bordwell

Okay, two things: I have been laboring under the delusion, perhaps, for many years that it was a stipulation of Denzel or his "people" that he would not "do" white women in his films. In my dim college-era memories, I seem to recall reading that Denzel as EZ Rollins would not be having sex with Jennifer Beals in the adaptation of Devil in a Blue Dress, and that Wesley Snipes had stepped into the role in Jungle Fever when Denzel turned it down. Am I just flat-out wrong about this?

Also, FUCK Replacement Killers. What a waste of talent all the way around, especially the criminal underuse of Til Schweiger. Thank God Tarantino rectified that. I can't watch anything Fuqua does after that.

That Fuzzy Bastard

I remember well how weird the lack of a sex scene was in THE PELICAN BRIEF. Up to then, it had been a completely conventional thriller, and every genre expectation led to the hero and the girl having sex before the final crisis. And then, nothing. It was like seeing a Western where the hero just forgets to fire a gun. Among the many things I love about FULL FRONTAL was Julia Roberts' willingness to be in a scene that openly called that out.


Don't forget 'The Bone Collector', wrong on so many levels, in which interracial chastity is ensured by nothing less than quadriplegia.


Kelly Lynch touched on this when she discussed working with Denzel on VIRTUOSITY:


David Ehrenstein

"Flight" is a gussied-up "Afterschool Special" for rehab addicts -- of the sort who go to phony joints like "Promises" to score drugs and hooch (quite easily done there.)

Denzel's character is such a moral monster I lost interest long before the totally fake "redemption" climax.

As for the white women, they're seen with him post-coital. Big deal.

Tom Block

>the totally fake "redemption" climax

Oh no, for real? (I'd love some spoilers--I'm never gonna see it.)

That Fuzzy Bastard

Thanks for that link, WG---that's really interesting. Part of what's always made Washington compelling as a movie star is that he's so very guarded and mistrustful--most actors make money off of their openness, but Washington's persona is all about the feeling that he can't reveal anything lest he be destroyed. My favorite performance of his remains HE GOT GAME, where he gets to be physically and verbally looser than usual (that moment where he opens and closes the SRO door!), though with the exacting beat choreography that characterizes all his work. But even there, playing a felon pushed around (like most of Lee's heroes) by powers beyond his control, he radiates watchful paranoia and desperate manipulativeness.

David Ehrenstein

He's "guarded and mistrustful" because he's a creep!

Not David Bordwell

Kelly Lynch really clarified that for me. See, my wife can't get into him because she thinks he's racist because of his "no banging the white chicks" thing. So even if it's not an official "position," it sounds like he has either a serious hangup or he's totally weird about managing his persona.

What do you mean by "creep," David Ehrenstein? Is this a semi-open secret like Spike Lee being gay, or a persistent, Travolta-like rumor? What's he into? Dish!

David Ehrenstein

It's not "dish" or "rumor." He's a prima donna disliked by a great many worker bees.

Dan Coyle

Well, for the first time in my life, I agree completely with David Ehrenstein: Whip Whitaker is an asshole and by the 500th relapse scene I was well beyond giving a shit what happened to him. I think this makes Flight one of the worst films of the year, just for making me agree with David.

Oh, even if David loved it, it STILL would have been one of the worst films of the year. Excepting Washington's performance, the script is atrocious and Zemeckis' directing is lazy as hell. Please, for the love of god, stop this man before he makes another film with a soundtrack by K-Tel.

Dan Coyle

ISTR Washington also turned down Love Field, which would have had him in a romantic scene with Michelle Pfeiffer, because he was uncomfortable with that. Of course, given how that film was barely a blip, maybe he just read the script.

Back to Flight for a second, I did like Washington's performance a whole lot, even if it's very much a Denzel Washington performance. I think he understood more than the filmmakers did that Whip Whitaker was not a good guy.

Gordon Cameron

>Whip Whitaker is an asshole

Whip Whitaker is an alcoholic which makes him behave at times like an asshole... I think that distinction is at the core of this whole genre of substance-abuse redemption movies.

David Ehrenstein

Not all alcoholics are assholes.

The best film about alcoholism I've ever seen is Claude Chabrol's "Betty" with the great Stephane Audran and the beautiful doomed Marie Tringtignant.

The second-best film about alcoholism I've ever seen is "Place Vendome" with Catherine Deneuve.


FLIGHT opens the same weekend here in Denver as SMASHED - I call this new trend 'AA Cinema'. Add CLEAN & SOBER and 28 DAYS in there and we are moving towards a new sub-genre. Like product placements, does Al-Anon offer $ & tips to the filmmakers?

One complaint about both drinking films? Neither shows the main characters dealing with DTs like Yves Montand did in LE CERCLE ROUGE. Both are just covered in an ellipsis. Weak.


All due respect, but CLEAN & SOBER came out in 1988, and 28 DAYS in 2000. Not to get all David Poland, but that's hardly a "trend".

David Ehrenstein

Realizing I'm always right is a painful but necessary step in cinematic maturity, Dan.

Not David Bordwell

Denzel didn't sleep with Jennifer Beals OR Mila Hotness in The Book of Eli, either. I guess Beals has a higher tolerance for the Denzel dis than Kelly Lynch does!

Eddie Carmel

*Warning: Slight Spoilers Ahead (Not Too Much)*

Just got back from a FLIGHT screening: thought it way, way overrated. Extremely on-the-nose musical choices (most obvious use of "Sweet Jane," "Gimme Shelter," "Ain't No Sunshine," etc.) and particularly egregious handling of extras in crowd scenes- dig how all the passengers go "WHOA!" in virtual unison when the plane encounters turbulence and the cascade of laughter in the first AA meeting: a lot of the film is like this, in that it seems completely divorced from non-movie character human behavior. Also, has anyone mentioned the total cartoon-y strangeness that is the Brian Geraghty-wife-Jesus-freak character? The ending (here be the spoilers) completely reduced the Cheadle/Greenwood characters to goofball stock movie types...which is all too bad because there was a good story mixed with the typical Bob Zemeckis missteps here, along with some above-average acting (the cancer patient was a nice touch.) I would call it a C minus.

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