Before I review this film, let me just state for the record that the 2 films I went to see on Friday 27th April 2012 were the best in their genre I have seen in a long time and in 3 years of "professionally' reviewing films, this was the "Bestest day ever!!!" Why? Read on my captive individual.......
I remember growing up and being a big music fan. I remember having a dilemma once which was. "Do I watch Top of the Pops on BBC1 or "Kung Fu" on ITV1? Bearing in mind there was only 3 channels in the UK then.
Also take into consideration that seeing black acts on TV was a minimal experience unless you were watching Shaw Taylor on Police 5 and the Police line up or the photo fit picture featured, seemed to always look like me or someone from my ethnic background (but, I digress...).
Robert Nesta Marley aka Bob Marley was born in 1945 to a young 17yr old Black Mum Cedella from Jamaica and "Captain" Marley, a white Scotsman from the UK. Bob was mixed Heritage and was never allowed to forget this by his fellow countrymen even though the Prime Ministers of the island were always white (bar a few exceptions).
There's a saying, "what don't kill you will make you strong" and I'm not saying how it affected Bob but what I will say is that it never killed him.
Now this documentary tells His-Story in an unbiased way, taking the viewer around the world to show you, the viewer that even 31 years after his death, his deeply political music is still being influential.
Let me tell you both (my regular readers according to official figures) my theory of "controlled" influential artists in the world of the Black Artist.
In the 40s after the 2nd World War, the West wanted a way to be more controlling, a way to ensure that if the next war happened, they would start/control it (stay with me peeps, this is important).
One of their ideas was to create a new market that had not existed before. They created the term "Teenager" and made clothes for them (think Denim which was farmyard clothing and wasn't everyday wear at that time).
Stars that were promoting this included Marlon Brando in "The Waterfront”/"Streetcar named Desire" and (admittedly more so after his death) James Dean in the films "Giant" and "Rebel without a Cause" as a confused/delinquent. James died in a car crash and the "died too soon/dead celebrity market was born.
Music was in a need to be controlled and they did it like this.
The first Rock “n” Roll Artist was Ike Turner who recorded a track in 1951. The term Rock “n” Roll was coined to describe when the young would go to a drive-in movie and they would have the stereo on loud listening to the music that was performed by black artists. The vehicle was moving from side to side/rocking and rolling (denoting that the peeps in the car were having sex) The "Controllers" didn't like the idea of white kids having sex to black music so went about trying to find a white Artist that sounded black. Ladies and Gentlemen, I introduce the white guy who learnt to dance watching black church people "in the spirit", step forward Elvis (an anagram of EVILS/LIVES) Presley.
The 60s featured Motown and yes they were Black artists but again they were aiming for the newly emerging TV market and discovered that just like Nat King Cole who was around in the 50s on TV experienced that if they wanted to be featured on this medium then they would have to appear lighter. This was achieved by removing the contrast from the picture and getting the artist to straighten their hair giving the person/commodity a whiter/less dark appearance. Examples included Diana Ross and The Supremes, Smokey Robinson etc (could this reality have affected MJ to use bleaching creams? Another story and another time peeps).
Fast forward to the 70s.
Bands that were big in the mid 70s included classic pop acts such as Mud, Showaddywaddy and the very seriously discredited artist who asked the question to the young and impressionable "You wanna be in my gang?" I’m talking about convicted paedophile Gary Glitter.
The young musically and non musically minded peeps of the UK rebelled and went for bands with very ruff edges such as "Sham 69” "The Clash" and "The Boomtown Rats" aka from the newly created genre called "Punk" which created space for this young man whose film/documentary I'm reviewing.
The Punk bands helped a lot to promote the Wailers amongst white disenfranchised young people in the UK and across the pond as well. I remember having a discussion with my good friend Macca-B who said that Bob had stolen "I shot the Sheriff" from the artist called Eric Clapton and a lot of people believed this to be true too however the reverse is true.
Bob was also in my opinion the greatest Artist the world has ever seen. Why? Because just like Cat Stevens decided to stop singing pop and becoming a man of religion, so did Bob but the difference was that Bob didn't fade into oblivion, rather rose and became influential to all the artists of influence. His personal friends included Stevie Wonder (who wrote "Master Blaster Jamming" as a tribute to Bob) and Michael and the Jackson’s.
Also bear in mind that Bob was a Rastafarian which means he was a follower of The Ethiopian Emperor “Haile Selassie I” whose lineage goes back to King Solomon, the son of David, the second King of Israel. If The Emperor was the embodiment of the Biblical Deity then Bob was a modern day John The Baptist preparing the way for a new Kingdom based on Righteousness and an ending of the "controllers' Babylonian system.
98% of Jamaicans are descendants of slaves so do bear in mind that the imagery in Christianity depicts a white saviour, the same colour that has enslaved them. Rastafarianism is a belief in that Selassie I was the embodiment of the Biblical Christ.
When you speak to some Rasta’s, they do not call their belief system as a religion rather "a Way of Life".
On top of all this, Jamaicans in the 60s-70s based on its Colonial connections disliked "Rasta’s" and were treated disrespectfully in Jamaica as well as in the UK amongst Black families. Bob made Rasta’s become respected in Jamaica and World wide even having films made about them (Think Countryman which was dedicated to Bob). Then fast forward to a few years after Bob's death and "The Controllers" go about trying to demonise the Rasta in various films such as "Marked for death" which gets a 5.4 rating and "Countryman" gets 7.1 on IMDb and criminal gangs called "Yardies" who are renowned for their Dreads.
He was not only a musician, he was more than that. Again, let me try and explain.
In the 50’s Nat King Cole straightened his hair, had the contrast taken out of the TV picture being broadcast and smoked so he appeared to be the black equivalent of Bing Crosby. In the 60s the black artists were doing the same to get ahead (The temptations, Smokey Robinson, Diana Ross and The Supremes etc). Mid to late 60s-early 70s there was a rebellion/a sea change where artists became political (think "Cloud 9" by The Temptations, Say it Loud (I'm Black and I'm Proud) James Brown and the classic anti war song "What's going on?" Marvin Gaye).
The hairstyles that were a massive compromise were replaced by the "Afro" and a black hero called "Shaft" that launched the "Blaxploitation era of films. This is the Bob Marley area where his dreadlocked hair was iconic and even made a political statement. He was without doubt the biggest, most iconic artist around at the time influencing a generation then suddenly, he's dead and who takes over the mantle influenced by the "controllers?" Michael Jackson who transforms his hair from an afro into a perm, thus launching a hair product industry that is worth $9.6bn today.
I also remember a friend of mine who told me he lived on Oakley Street in London in the late 70s and occasionally seeing people going into his neighbour's home not realizing that it was Bob! (Now that's a really cool neighbour eh)!
There's a bit in the documentary where they point out that for all Bob's critical and commercial success, he wanted to know if he was reaching his people? At that point I looked around the theatre and noticed that on the opening night of the film there was roughly 30 people and only 4 were Black, which brought to my attention the New Testament verse which says "a Prophet is without honour except amongst his own people". The Right Honourable Robert Nesta Marley, we The People, Salute you and your Undefeatable spirit. Bruce Lee said "The key to immortality is first living a life worth remembering".
If that is "thee" definition then without doubt Bob will never be forgotten. Period.
A white woman coming out of the cinema having watched the film was wiping her eyes due to finding the film "emotional" remembering her own youth in Nottingham singing in a 15 piece reggae band.
Bob didn’t see him self as either Black or White, rather a man following Jah.
Finally, I could write far more but what would be the point? You need to go and watch it for yourselves. Why? Because it's very, very rare that mainstream cinemas show films that are this significant featuring people of colour in a positive light.
Go "get up. Stand up" and watch this film and see the man behind the Smoke and Dreads.
Marvel's Avengers Assemble
By the fact you are reading this review tells me that you love films. Well you’re not alone because I do too!
I love all genre's from Silent (The Artist), Action (Faster), Comedy (The Other Guys), Sci-FI (The Matrix) and Rom-Com (Larry Crowne).
There's also another sub group that I want to talk about and that's the one where Men wear spandex in a non sexual way. I'm talking about the world of the Superhero.
Surely you've watched the Classic Batman series which was made during the camp 60s era (think Our Man Flint/Austin Powers and you'll be on the same page as me). Fast forward to the late 80s and Michael Keaton acted in Tim Burton's interpretation of Batman, which was good for the 80s but according to my film reviewing sparring partner @markDugganfilms (his twitter name, check him out, he’s real good), The Superhero film to date is "Batman Begins' because "it had character development" which is a good point. My counter argument was that Howard the Duck should have had more money thrown at it (awkwardly he doesn't reply to my tweets, can't think why anyway, I digress).
Seriously though, we weren't speaking about Howard, rather this film that I’m currently reviewing. How good is it? Come closer into the world of “g” and all will be revealed...
Normally I meander, beat around the bushes before I deliver my verdict but not this time (ok, well a little bit)
THIS IS THE BEST SUPERHERO FILM I HAVE EVER SEEN. PERIOD.
Why? Well it succeeded where others have failed. Take any of the X-Men films. Each member has X-trodinary powers but no real personality bar Wolverine (oh that's what @markDugganfilms was talking about)!
The Avengers are all complex individuals who would all prefer to be anywhere but where they are. Which characters in the World of marvel are featured in The Avengers? Answer is Iron man (Robert Downey Jnr), Captain America (Chris Evans who incidentally played Flame in Fantastic 4), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) and two agents of S.H.I.E.L.D who are Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner, the new Jason Bourne) who though they lack superpowers, in the words of Loki, "have Heart" as he precedes to take his poison (watch the film, don't wanna spoil it for you)
Ok, I’ve jumped right into the film without telling you what's it all about, so here's the plot...
Loki (Tom Hiddlestone) falls to earth (I beheld Satan has lightening which is a verse from the Bible) and goes about corrupting mankind in his desire to control The Tesseract an energy source with unlimited potential. Avid Marvel fans would know that after Captain America defeated The Red Scull who originally had control of this blue cube, he crashed the plane carrying this power source into the frozen seas. 70+ years later when S.H.I.E.L.D discovers the immaculately preserved Captain and the Power cube. Loki steals it and is "hell bent" on opening a doorway to another dimension.
Nick Fury (Samuel L Jackson) goes about recruiting this team of misfits hoping that they will put their egos to one side and fight for the preservation of Earth. Will they succeed? Of course, otherwise the film would flop, how they do is the reason why you will be watching this film first on the big screen in record numbers then on DVD and Blu-ray (pocket money permitting) also in record numbers.
That's the film in a nutshell and I know that I will fail miserably in portraying the brilliance of this film but as you can see, I’m still trying!
Remember this team is dysfunctional and when they clash, they clash on an epic scale!
Have you seen MTV's "Celebrity Death fight" match ups where they will have a celebrity made out of plastercine fighting each other? This has that too.
Near death experiences and death amongst the team, check. This film has the lot.
LOL moments, check. For example, Captain America says to Iron man, "You're just a man in a suit. Take it off and what are you?" which Iron man retorts "A billionaire playboy". Now that's funny.
Another funny line in the film is where Loki is being disrespected by an Avenger so during the heat of the fight he shouts in ye olde English Language, "Stop, have you no respect for my authority and being. Am I not a god!" and just as the words leave his mouth, his assailant decides to get "medieval on his Ass!" Funny, funny, funny with a capital F. Also look out for the Shakespearian era swear word "Quim" which is clever and when someone insults Loki and Thor points out that the person should have more respect because it is his brother. The offender states that Loki is doing something very bad only for Thor to reply, "Loki was adopted" (seriously, you have to hear it delivered in context, so funny).
I've even heard of people in other showings spontaneously applauding at the end of their screening, which I do not find in anyway hard to believe.
I really, really loved this film and reckon the only Superhero film that will best equal this in takings and critical acclaim with be the final instalment of Batman.
A Great comic book adventure that all comic based films will be based on...
Downside to me was the reference to Thor and Loki being gods because there's only one and it mos def ain't them.
Ps, I’ll tell you what's also really super cool. My good friend Backo who's a few years (decades) younger than me has just emailed me a picture of his copies of the original Avengers comic issue NUMBER 1!!!
Also in the picture is his copy of The Justice League of America also ISSUE NUMBER 1. Justice League was DC Comics version of Marvel's The Avengers (or was it the other way round?).
So coolio Backo be.
There will be a sequel so go watch the film.
Article by @gmanzen / 2nd May 2012
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