Sunday, August 21, 2005

Misrepresentation of Detroit in film and a damn Top 20 list...'s been a pretty uneventful week.

Work is shit. Total shit. I won't go into details, but let's just say that it would be more fun to be sodomized by a narwhal tusk right about now...
At least the boss will be out of town for 2-3 weeks. That will be sweet relief indeed, but it won't make things much less sucky.

Can't wait for Switzerland!!!

I went with friends to see a movie today. By process of elimination we went to see Four Brothers. Definitely not my first choice (I wanted to see Broken Flowers or The 40 Year Old Virgin), but it was better than some of the other options. It was okay. It wasn't great by any means, but it was okay. Not John Singleton's best effort. It was entertaining at best, but predictable. This is another one of those movies that is supposed to take place in Detroit...that's not filmed in Detroit. A few of the opening sequences and a few shots of abandoned buildings were definitely shot in Detroit. The film, to my knowledge, was shot in Toronto. I understand that it's cheaper to film in Canada and that it snows there too, but how about a little more reality? The performances were fine, including a surprising turn from Andre Benjamin (Andre 3000 from Outkast), but nothing really wowed me.

Did the film portray all of the shittiest aspects of Detroit, you ask? Yes. Yes it did. Thanks for asking. When I'm out of town and people ask where I'm from I say Detroit. I know that I live in a suburb that borders on Detroit, but it's just easier to say that I'm from Detroit. Saying that gives me a little bit of street cred, not a ghetto-pass, but just a little bit of street cred. Here are a few problems I have with the film...
1)Josh Charles should not play a "tough crooked cop". He's a brilliant actor (see the absolutely wonderful series Sports Night), but a "heavy" he is not. He could play sleazy or crooked, but he needs to buff up a bit to match this character's bravado.
2)Black people don't watch hockey.
3)Black people don't play hockey.
4)There are no free outdoor ice-rinks in Detroit (that I know of).
5)Even though the lakes and the Detroit "River" freeze up none of them freeze up that far out and support several SUVs. I'd like to know where they freeze at least 2-feet deep.
6)The Garden Bowl is not that clean or modern (don't let the shiny pictures in the link fool you). There was a scene at a mock-up of the Garden Bowl (under a different name, but it was definitely implied)and it was way too shiny and clean. Any real Detroiter knows that the Garden Bowl is dirtier than Nick Nolte's boxers after a 4-day bender. Don't get me wrong...I love the Garden Bowl.
7)Light-up beer/liquor signs in Michigan bars are illegal.
8)There is no view of the Detroit skyline like that anywhere, especially from one street...except for maybe Ford Rd. heading east on a clear day. (I think it was painted or a photo.)

One of the few accuracies in the film is the presence of Arabic writing on a Highland Park party-store sign...

This film portrays Detroit as a violent, gang-infested, gun-laden city, with corrupt police and city councilmen...which are all true, but it's a little over the top. The city is being misrepresented, which is disheartening, but at least it still gives me a little bit of street cred for now.

I mentioned earlier that it's cheaper to film in Canada, but I'm sure that it must be even cheaper to film in Detroit. I think that more films should be shot here. Recently parts of The Island were filmed here (to represent a post-apocolyptic Los Angeles or something). People know to shoot here if they need shots of urban blight, but how about filming a whole film or even just some dialogue? Grosse Pointe Blank wasn't shot here, Detroit Rock City wasn't shot here, Narc wasn't shot here... The only films that were actually filmed in Detroit or painted Detroit in a fairly accurate light were Hoffa, Polish Wedding (in Hamtramck), Out of Sight, True Romance, and Zebrahead. I know that there are more, but these stand out a bit. Some of the most accurate and gritty shots of Detroit are in True Romance, but I think the greatest and most accurate Detroit film is the wonderful and scarcely seen Zebrahead. It stars the young (at the time) and talented Michael Rapaport, Kevin Corrigan, and N'Bushe Wright. Good stuff! Rent it or Netflix it. I think that the city of Detroit should be more aggressive in trying to get Hollywood to shoot here. If they start shooting more films here maybe the money can go to beautifying the city and the movies made will no longer be about post-apocolyptic society or Newark's armpit, but about real things and a great and beautiful city. Doubtful, but hopeful. Let's bring Hollywood bucks to Detroit...

My next Netflix film to watch is Yojimbo. I've seen it before, but it's been a very long time. Great film!

I went to Glen's store on Friday and picked up the new Knitters, two Sufjan Stevens albums, the "The Stooges" re-issue, a Boo Radleys 2-disc set, and the new Kronos Quartet. Great stuff!

I don't know how I got to thinking about this, but I started thinking of some of the great couples in television. This is off the top of my head, but here's a quick, thrown-together list of my Top 20 favorite TV couples...
(The Honeymooners and I Love Lucy will not be found here as I hate both of those shows and they were NOT healthy relationships!)

In no particular order they are...

1)Winnie and Kevin in The Wonder Years (aaawwww...young love and great writing on one of the best TV shows ever)
2)Dan and Roseanne Connor in Roseanne (As real as it gets!)
3)Archie and Edith Bunker (Classic! Sweet and real. Shows that even older folks can still love each other. Not much of that on TV!)
4)The Huxtables (Fun and even pushed kinky...)
5)Marge and Homer Simpson (Go together like frosting and donuts)
6)Sam and Diane (Sexual tension, sparks, fun...)
7)Ross and Rachel (Hate to say it, but it was a great storyline and a great couple...ultimately)
8)Fry and Leela on Futurama (Okay...they weren't a couple, but this honestly is one of the sweetest and most natural looks at adoration. Fry was infatuated with Leela and she wouldn't have him. This was a continuing sub-plot that was played out beautifully although they never got together. Fry's affection for Leela and her constant dismissal was one of the most sincere, sweet, gentle, realistic, and heartbreaking plots in TV history. Laugh at me if you will, but I think it was brilliantly written. Fry's yearning/longing for Leela had deep roots and his gentle soul always shone through. I always wanted them to get together a la Some Kind of Wonderful (in reverse) or how we all wanted Duckie to get Andie... As crushed as Fry always was he was always eager to just be friends if that's all he could have.)
9)"Hawkeye" and "Hot Lips Houlihan" (Again...not a couple. But that kiss in the last episode was something to behold. Lots of chemistry and tension. Brilliant!)
10)Jack and Norma Arnold in The Wonder Years (These were Kevin's parents. It felt real. It was subtle and sweet, although not a big storyline. Jack never showed any weakness in front of his kids, but his insecurities would show when he was one on one with Norma.)
11)Gomez and Morticia Addams (Freaks gotta love too!)
12)Dr. Bob and Emily Hartley of The Bob Newhart Show (Classic!)
13)Tobias Beecher and Christopher Keller in Oz (Nothing like prison love...)
14)Brenda and Billy (brother and sister) in Six Feet Under (F'ed up!)
15)Felix and Oscar in The Odd Couple (Not like that...)
16)Maddie and David in Moonlighting (Sexual tension and yelling!)
17)Mulder and Scully (Again...not a couple, but everyone wanted it.)
18)Magnum and his Ferrari (Who's on top?)
19)Hal and Lois in Malcolm in the Middle (Slightly exaggerated realism.)
20)Kermit and Miss Piggy (Another classic, although I think Kermit may have cheated on her with Candice Bergen, Lynda Carter, and Janice.

Random poll- Who's your favorite television couple?

Random poll #2- What's your favorite "Detroit" film?



Blogger Kathleen said...

For the record, African-Americans do play hockey and watch hockey, although I'll concede the hockey with SUVs on the Detroit River is not accurate at all.

Favorite TV couple? Dick Van Patten and Abby from Eight is Enough

8:39 AM  
Blogger Jason said...

I will agree with you that some do, but not like in the movie. Apparently EVERYONE that lives within the city limits of Detroit plays hockey.

9:05 AM  

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