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Friday, January 28, 2005

The Return of Terrill Lankford (sounds like a western, doesn it?)


The last time I blogged here I confessed to a terrible track record of reading (or lack of) in 2004. My movie viewing habits weren't much better. I probably hit the theaters less than ten times last year, so once again it would be ridiculous for me to have compiled a top ten list of the great movies of '04. In December I did go on a major DVD blitz, taking advantage of BLOCKBUSTER's "all you can view" service, trying to catch up on movies I had missed. Not much impressed me until a few days ago when I watched the DVD of Mario Van Peeples' BAADASSSSS. If I had seen ten great movies last year I think this would have still topped my list. It is a one-of-a-kind experience. A movie about the making of SWEET SWEETBACK'S BAADASSSSS SONG thirty years ago, by the son of the man who made SWEETBACK (an independent film that would usher in the era of "Blaxploitation" films. Now some of you may wonder if that's a good thing. But without Blaxploitation you don't get a lot of today's cinema, including, obviously, most of Tarantino's work), a son who was made to "perform" in every way imaginable in said movie as a teenager. This is probably the best movie about making movies that has ever been made. It shrieks of authenticity. And the similarities between the shooting of BAADASSSSS and SWEETBACK are too numerous to mention. See it for yourself. And do yourself a favor and watch all the extras on the disc and listen to the commentary track which features Mario and Melvin. It's rich with historical importance and telling father/son dynamics.

Yesterday, coincidentally, the movie that inspired BAADASSSSS was on cable, so I just had to give SWEET SWEETBACK'S BAADASSSSS SONG a look. Part social commentary. Part soft core porn. Part action film. Part horror film. 100 per cent rebellion. This movie was the cinematic equivilant of refusing to move to the back of the bus when it was released in 1971. It's a crude exercise, but a powerful one when put in proper context. Watching it after viewing BAADASSSSS achieves that goal. SWEETBACK is a raw piece of work, but it took a certain kind of madman to see it through to the end. BAADASSSSS pays tribute to that madman. And to all the dreamers who do whatever it takes to make their vision a reality against all odds.


Long ago I was involved with a movie entitled SUNSET HEAT which stars Michael Pare, Dennis Hopper, Adam Ant (!) and Little Richard (!!!!!). I don't want to get too deep into the sordid history of this flick at this time, but if you catch this cinematic lark and notice a passing resemblance to my book SHOOTERS you will note that my attorneys did as well. I had sold the screenplay to SHOOTERS (way before it was published as a book) to the producers of SUNSET HEAT. When I caught them doing some things that were outside the scope of my contract, I pulled the project away from them (at a financial cost to me that today makes me question my sanity at that time). Undaunted, they carried on without me and came up with a remarkably similar project to satisfy the people who were actually putting up the money for the movie. Attorneys were activated. Shots were fired. And when the smoke cleared we were all fairly happy (which is not how these stories typically end). I receive a "Creative Consultant" credit somewhere after the honey wagon is listed in the end titles of SUNSET HEAT. I also received a check which kept us all out of the courtroom. I would prefer that the movie remained a fading memory in my life, but technology doesn't allow us to get away from our sins that easily. As I clicked around the cable channels yesterday I stumbled upon one of its many airings. This is not a movie I would watch all the way through in one sitting, but it is enough of a curiosity that I usually watch a scene or two when I trip over it. This time I happened to catch it moments before Little Richard showed up for what was basically an extended cameo. The funny thing is, during his scene he managed to ad lib one of his favorite lines, "Honey, you make my big toe shoot up into my boot!" A few hours later, I'm watching the Craig Ferguson version of the Late Late Show (bring back Kilborn!) and the second guest is - Little Richard. Here he was 13 years later and he blasted out the same line about the toe and the boot!

Hey, if it ain't broke.......


One last note before I check out for another few weeks: The biggest problem I have with the recent Academy Award nominations is the fact that Jamie Foxx got nominated for Best Supporting Actor in COLLATERAL. As anyone who has seen that film will attest, he is the lead in the picture. Or at the very least, the co-lead. Cruise may be the bigger name (temporarily), but the story is told, primarily, from the point of view of Foxx's character. He also has more screen time than Cruise (or anyone else) does. And he's the HERO of the piece. He shouldn't have even been qualified for this award. I know this is "The Year of Jamie Foxx," but did they have to take a slot from some deserving character actor and give it to a lead performance in the supporting category? Is this a way to give Clint the faux "Lifetime Oscar" for his performance in MILLION $ BABY and still reward Foxx for RAY, for which he has also been nominated as Best Actor? I hope not. But the damage has already been done. Someone is missing their rightful nomination as Best Supporting Actor. And I can think of someone from the very same movie that did "Best Supporting Actor" caliber work and could easily have been acknowledged here instead of Foxx: Mark Ruffalo as the ill-fated narc. Ruffalo is the best thing in that movie. His few scenes in the film provide a realistic counterpoint to the over-the-top main storyline between Foxx and Cruise that give the whole movie a level of credibility that it wouldn't achieve otherwise. That's what a supporting role is. Not the guy with the lead role in the film and the equal billing with Tom Cruise.

Personally, I would have really liked to have seen David Carradine acknowledged for his work in KILL BILL 2. That was a career best performance for him, and even though his character's name is in the title, he truly was a supporting character in the movie. (And how many more shots does a 67 year old actor have at an Academy Award?) I think it's a real shame that Carradine or Ruffalo or some other deserving actor has been denied a slot because of Foxx Fever. But hey, they still haven't given me the keys to this town, so don't blame me if it doesn't run right.

See you...whenever.



Blogger Vince said...


You're right about BAADASSSSS. A terrifically entertaining movie. At least the Independent Spirit Awards showed it some love, nominating it for best picture and a slew of other honors. It certainly deserves the prize for best use of Adam West.

You're also right about Jamie Foxx's supporting actor nomination for COLLATERAL. He's great in the film. It doesn't work without him. But that's because he's in every scene. I'd much rather have seen the slot go to Ruffalo, or Carradine, or Peter Sarsgaard from KINSEY.

As for SUNSET HEAT ... I got nothing.

January 28, 2005 at 5:31 PM  
Blogger Terrill Lankford said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

January 28, 2005 at 10:43 PM  
Blogger Terrill Lankford said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

January 28, 2005 at 10:46 PM  
Blogger Terrill Lankford said...

Vince, that's just slightly less than what I got on the picture.

BTW - If any of the timing of this post seems odd, it's because I first wrote the majority of it (everything above the Academy Award rant) back on Jan. 12 and thought I had sent it to Ed, but I had the wrong e-dress. I had written a couple of lines at the beginning of the post that were supposed to explain the gaffe, but Ed probably thought that it was a message for his eyes only and cut it out. Obviously, Little Richard has not been on the Ferguson show for a few weeks now and I think they have stopped running SWEETBACK on IFC (or wherever I saw it) for the time being.

January 28, 2005 at 10:58 PM  
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November 22, 2005 at 2:28 PM  

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