Tuesday, August 09, 2005

WCBE 90.5 FM: "Four Brothers," "Last Days"

It's Movie Time
Co-hosts, writers & producers: John DeSando & Clay Lowe
For WCBE 90.5 FM

Reviews: “Four Brothers,” “Last Days”
Taped: 1:30 pm, August 10, 2005
Air Time: 3:01 pm and 8:01 pm, August 12, 2005
Streaming live on the web at http://www.wcbe.org .

The Script:


"Four Brothers" is a Detroit homecoming with attitude . . .


“Last Days” is an excruciating look at a drugged up, dropped out musician . . .


Richelle Antczak

"It's Movie Time" in Central-Ohio with John DeSando and Clay Lowe . . .



I'm John DeSando


And I'm Clay Lowe

John (“Four Brothers”)

Clay--John Singleton, a black director with a pedigree boasting Boyz n Hood, has a family film called Four Brother that unlike the similarly themed but relatively benign The Sons of Katie Elder glorifies vengeance in the name of family ties. The Step-Mom of 3 young black men and a white boy (Mark Wahlberg) is murdered by contract killers. After laborious back story material and the usual bonding business, the boys go out on a violent spree, the most brutal of the summer.

Singleton captures the apparent code of the Detroit streets that in the name of mother the ends justify the means, in this case besting the cops by getting better clues and swifter justice. The film is slow in parts, especially the set up, but Wahlberg is as good as any of the black actors like Terrence Dashon Howard, who would seem to be better suited to playing urban vigilantes than this former underwear salesman.

Clay ("Four Brothers")

I have no idea what you're talking about, John, but Wahlberg is as true to form in "Four Brothers" as he was in "I Heart Huckabees" [when he played a wise cracking, face smacking cut-up of a clown]. The difference is that, this time, he gets to cry, and cry, and cry. But come on, John, at least give Wahlberg's adopted movie brothers some credit for holding their own on the screen with him.

The problem is, however, as gritty as the movie’s set-up is, and as nasty as the final shoot-out sequences are; the movie fails for me because director Singleton is just too much of a nice guy. "Bang, bang, you're dead," he said, but what he needed to do was to show the brothers ripping off the faces of the bad guys. You know, the way that Quentin Tarantino did in "Kill Bill," and the way Spike Lee did in "Summer of Sam."

Credit Singleton for continuing to focus his camera on the forgotten violence of back street America, but fault Singleton for choosing to set a tone that’s too Mo-Town and not enough gangsta.

John (“Last Days”)

Clay, I doubt if on the day in 1994 when Nirvana front man, Kurt Cobain, ended his life with a shotgun to the head, anyone saw his soul rise toward heaven, as Gus Van Sant depicts in Last Days, his interpretation of cultural phenomena that he also explored in Elephant, the film about Columbine-like assassins.

It is not always fun to sit through the numerous long takes of “rock and roll cliché” Blake (Michael Blake) doing almost nothing but making macaroni and cheese. Yet if Van Sant wants us to know why life is not worth living for this lost soul, then he succeeds by showing how isolated and mundane Blake’s life actually was at the end.

These last days will be MY last days watching another pop cult music icon fall into a non-returnable funk.

Clay (“Last Days”)

Blake’s life was mundane at the end, John, because despite his success and despite his hard “rock ‘n roll” fame, his life turned out to be more about rhythm and blues than the glories of being an American Idol.

By fixating his camera on actor Michael Pitt aimlessly wandering through woodland waterfalls and streams, director Van Sant has returned us, once more, to those primeval wonders of nature that so haunted his wandering characters in “Jerry.” Those natural sounds, that solitude, the growing awareness of a living world that’s bigger than self. That’s the place where Van Sant always returns us.

Like, Ricky, the confused young videographer in “American Beauty,” Van Sant is content to patiently track blowing leaves and discarded scraps of paper.

But enough of revenge, violence, and solace, John, because it’s grading time.


Holy Heroin Hooray!

"Four Brothers” earns a "C" because KILLING CONTRACT KILLERS should never be a family affair. . .


"Four Brothers” gets a “B” because BABY BOY Tyrese is still a need’n his ever-lovin’ mama . . .


"Last Days” earns a "B" because BAND BOYS would be BETTER as BUS BOYS . . .


"Last Days” gets a “B” because Van Sant’s BLAKE sings songs of pain, not innocence . . .


Clay--I'm going to my Russian interpreter's home to make macaroni and cheese and sing indecipherable pop songs. I should get lucky with that act.

I'm outta here!


Just don’t sing with mouth full, John, I hate it when you dribble thick cheese down your chin.

I'm outta here. too

See you at the movies, folks.



The Award Winning "It's Movie Time" with John DeSando and Clay Lowe is written and produced by John DeSando and Clay Lowe in conjunction with 90.5 FM, WCBE in Columbus and 106.7 FM in Newark.


© 2005 John DeSando and Clay Lowe