The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter


Saturday, March 08, 2008

Biggest Sambo Alert in Years...

10,000 BC (2008)

Massive, massive Sambo Alert.

Good Lord. The story of a white caveman who unites the tribes of Africa to go after the Alien civilization building the pyramids...I just can't wrap my mind around the awfulness of this film. And yet...I'd be lying if I didn't say I was chortling, and enjoying myself. This iteration of the Tarzan myth is so blatantly insane that it's like a monster mash of my own grade school re-imaginings of Edgar Rice Burroughs. It is legitimately awful enough to be a kind of wicked fun. The mammoth stampedes are great, the saber-toothed Tiger underused. Did I mention the staggering racism of this thing? I mean, its the first truly, deeply racist film of the 21st century, and deserves some kind of award. Wow. For connoisseurs of bad cinema, an "A"--get REALLY loaded and bring your friends. Everyone else, beware. Maybe a "C" if you're in a good mood. For the politically correct, Oh My. Where oh where is Mystery Science Theater 3000 when you need them? Producer Roland Emmerich is one scary dude. Not enough to make me hate "Independence Day," but close.

The Bank Job (2008)

On the other hand, Bank Job is one of the neatest caper movies I've seen in years. Straight-forward example of British Crime cinema starring the under-appreciated Jason Statham (he would make a perfect Willie Garvin if they did a Modesty Blaise movie, dammit) dealing with a bank robbery in 1970 engineered to recover scandalous pictures of Princess Margaret . Casually excellent, tense, exciting, naughty, funny, and sexy. It isn't that the Brits make better movies. It's that when one of their movies makes it all the way over here, it tends to be better than typical Hollywood stuff--sort of the way immigrants outperform average Americans. Makes it worth while to go out of your way to check out good foreign film. This is a good one, a professional product about a group of very unprofessional thieves in way over their heads. And, oh...it seems to have been based on a real crime. The names were apparently changed to protect the guilty. A legitimate "B+" for caper movie fans. A "B" for the rest of you guys.

13 comments:

Mark Jones said...

Jason Statham as Willie Garvin? That's...not bad, actually. I never would have thought of him for the role, but yeah. I can see it now that you mention it. But who would you cast as Modesty? (I'm partial to Andrea Parker, aka "Miss Parker" in The Pretender, though she's not English. Otherwise, I got nothing.

Alas, the track record for Modesty Blaise movies is...not good. Not as bad as 10,000 B.C. (I read another scathing review just tonight)--but bad.

Steven Barnes said...

Actually, I wouldn't mind Angelina Jolie as Modesty. Not perfect, but could be interesting.

mjholt said...

How did you feel about Angelina Jolie playing Mariane Pearl in A Mighty Heart?

How about Halle Berry as Modesty Blaise? I love her as Storm. I found a website of Modesty Blaise book covers, and the 1969 cover of A Taste for Death put me in mind of her. The rest are quite white.

I remember reading some of these when I was in my teens, and stopping when I was chastised for reading sexist junk. I think it's time I revisit Modesty and think about it for myself.

Steven Barnes said...

Look. Mariane Pearl is of mixed blood. She was delighted when Jolie played her. In a way, that settles it.
##
But in another way, I resent it, because there aren't enough good, multi-dimensional roles for actresses of color, and the tendency in Hollywood is to cast white and darken skin (or ignore the issue) if the character is said to be "mixed." Note all of the great "Asian" characters: Kwai Chai Kane, Mr. Moto, Charlie Chan, Fu Manchu--were ALWAYS played by whites. As soon as it became politically incorrect to do this, such characters disappeared completely, rather than casting them with actual Asians. Disgusting...but just representative of human perception and prejudice as it exists in the world, and America. Not just "Hollywood." Halle Berry as Modesty? No. In a world in which color-blind casting actually existed, maybe. But it would be a stunt. Then, of course, I'd have to infinite pleasure of watching her screw yet another white guy. Pardon me while I vomit.

Anonymous said...

"Halle Berry as Modesty? No. In a world in which color-blind casting actually existed, maybe. But it would be a stunt. Then, of course, I'd have to infinite pleasure of watching her screw yet another white guy."

Unless he's cast colorblind too!

Meanwhile, this includes a comment (scroll to the middle, sadly there's no anchor link to go right to it) on BM/WW couples outnumbering BW/WM couples IRL even though WW/WM couples outnumber BM/WW couples in blockbuster films:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/discussion/2006/06/08/DI2006060800820.html

Miladysa said...

Jason Statham is an excellent actor and I look forward to watching that film.

Personally, I do not mind who plays an English or British person as long as they get the accent/s right.

Sometimes a whole film is spoilt for me because someone sounds like Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins!

;-D

Anonymous said...

The British may not make better movies--but I'd argue that they make some of the best (genre) television around. Just received a bootleg copy of the series Spaced and it is incredible. Simon Pegg is great.

I have a question for everyone...Could there ever be a genre show (a la Buffy) with a person of color in the lead that could last for more than one season?

Shawn

Michael Canfield said...

I've seen parts of a "dawn of man" type science program on Discovery or maybe PBS a couple times, I don't know the title but it's narrated by Alec Baldwin. It's set in Africa (because the show later mentions migrations into Europe and Asia) but all the actors playing the naked hunter-gathers appear to be white. They all have very light skin certainly. Maybe this is worse that 10k B.C, because it's meant to be an educational program? Or maybe the film is worse because so many more will see it. Or maybe it's two distinct examples of suck.

Anonymous said...

"It's set in Africa (because the show later mentions migrations into Europe and Asia) but all the actors playing the naked hunter-gathers appear to be white. They all have very light skin certainly."

That reminds me, on another forum a while ago I saw a few people going on about how Native Americans must be more Neanderthal than the rest of us. As if most Neanderthal remains weren't found in Europe. These were Jean Auel fans, and claimed you're being racist against Neanderthals if you thought their comparison was racist against Native Americans. o_O

Likewise, the book The Last Human : A Guide to Twenty-Two Species of Extinct Humans has written descriptions and facial reconstructions (a la forensics). Mostly a good book, but every reconstruction has black hair even though the text on Neanderthals said they were probably lighter.

"Or maybe the film is worse because so many more will see it."

I haven't seen either, but here's my guess:

"The story of a white caveman who unites the tribes of Africa" makes it seem that the movie's closer to saying "white is better than black." "All the actors playing the naked hunter-gathers appear to be white" makes it seem that the documentary's closer to saying "white people aren't less prehistoric than everyone else."

"Or maybe it's two distinct examples of suck."

Yeah, very possible.

Steven Barnes said...

Genre show with a non-white star? Deep Space Nine. Avery Brooks refused to die protecting a station filled with white folks, leaving his son with no father. He pretty much got blackballed as a result. Ugh.
##
There is a movement toward color-blind casting, but very gradual, and within limits. Of COURSE movies show racial mixing as favorable to white males, despite the actual statistics: it ain't white women or black men giving the Green-Light decision, friend. And I hate to have to say this every time, but executives in Hollywood come from all over the country. It is no more "Hollywood racism" than it's "Washington racism" that all presidents have been white males. This is the way of the world, folks. "Them that's got shall ge"t as Billie Holiday once wisely said.

Anonymous said...

Hey Steve,

DS9 (my favorite of the Trek franchise) was a llloooonnnnggg time ago. How about in the 21st century? It seems that black males are almost non-existant in most genre shows. BSG not 1 main black male lead, Heroes "The Haitian?" if he didn't skeap, how the hell did they know he was from Haiti? Lost...Eko died real early one. These are all just secondary or tertiary characters. I'm feeling the need to turn in my SCIFI card and stop hoping that colorblindness will enter mainstream media. My kid is due any day now and (I hope) that she gets into genre stuff; but what do I show her, let her read, etc.?
Might have to write/create my own.

Shawn

Anonymous said...

"Of COURSE movies show racial mixing as favorable to white males, despite the actual statistics: it ain't white women or black men giving the Green-Light decision, friend."

So unfortunately true.

"It is no more 'Hollywood racism' than it's 'Washington racism' that all presidents have been white males."

True, and it's not just one city with the "black men are Hot and black women are Not" racist+sexist stereotype helping push the non-movie dating statistics in a certain direction either.

"My kid is due any day now"

Best wishes to you and your family! :)

"and (I hope) that she gets into genre stuff; but what do I show her, let her read, etc.?"

I hope there's much better stuff (much better and much more of it!) available by the time she's old enough to watch TV, read, etc.

Ceres said...

Where is MST3k? It's here! Rifftrax-- We don't make movies, we make fun of them.

I am positive they'll have one out for 10,000 BC. It's perfect.