And You Thought It Was Safe(?)


Red Tails (2012)
Nice outfits.

Nice outfits.

Confession time, everyone. Time to let you all know that, despite barely mentioned it, I’ve spent the last seven years of my life dreading the release of Red Tails. This dramatization of the Tuskegee Airman story – the story of an all-black unit of fighter pilots trained to fly and fight for their country at the eponymous air field in central Alabama –  is one of the many, many, many passion projects George Lucas shelved back in the 90s so he could focus on making…well…you know…those movies.

But unlike every other reformed Lucasfilm fan in existence, my dread came with its own personal baggage. You see, this

(Left to right) William A. Campbell, Willie Ashley, Langston Caldwell, Herbert Clark, George Boiling, Charles B. Hall, Graham Mitchell, Herbert Carter, Louis Purnell, Graham Smith, Allen G. Lane, Spann Watson, Faythe McGinnis, James T. Wiley, and Irwin Lawrence. (Courtesy Herbert E. Carter)

(Left to right) William A. Campbell, Willie Ashley, Langston Caldwell, Herbert Clark, George Boiling, Charles B. Hall, Graham Mitchell, Herbert Carter, Louis Purnell, Graham Smith, Allen G. Lane, Spann Watson, Faythe McGinnis, James T. Wiley, and Irwin Lawrence. (Courtesy Herbert E. Carter)

is a picture of my grandfather, Herbert E. Carter (eighth from the left, front and center), with his graduating class at Tuskegee Army Air Field in July, 1942. Thanks to racist foot-dragging within the War Department, it took ten months for his squadron to reach French Morocco. As the commanding officer of the Army Air Forces, General Hap Arnold, explained at the time, “Negro pilots cannot be used in our present Air Corps units since this would result in Negro officers serving over white enlisted men creating an impossible social situation.” Continue reading

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A Murder of Crows (1998)
Yeah, I felt the same way, watching Pearl Harbor. It's alright, man. It'll pass.

Yeah, I felt the same way, watching Pearl Harbor. It’s alright, man. It’ll pass.

After the Pearl Harbor review – which I should’ve reposted for Bayhem, but ah well – some of you requested I review a “good” Cuba Gooding Jr. movie. Well, the jokes on you there, since Pearl Harbor wasn’t a Cuba Gooding Jr. movie at all. Not even a bad one. But how did the Academy Award Winning star of Jerry Maguire wind up slumming in a Michael Bay movie, anyway? What sad, twisted tale of modern Hollywood kept this rich young black man down?

Well, to answer that, we have to look at A Murder of Crows. Released three days after Armageddon, in July, 1998, it promptly sank into obscurity, one of the first films to discover Michael Bay’s shadow is actually the manifestation of a trans-dimensional void, a howling vacuum of Suck from which no good can possibly escape. There’s the film’s main problem, right there. Everyone who might’ve been interested in seeing Cuba’s post-Oscar follow-up held onto their money and went to see Lethal Weapon 4 (released the following weekend) instead. We were all suckered, myself very much included, and Cuba (for all his money, talent and money) got screwed right along with the rest of us. Was a time when Jet Li’s presence would get me anywhere, I confess. Continue reading



Pearl Harbor (2001)
Full daylight? In a Michael Bay establishing shot? Revolutionary!

Full daylight? In a Michael Bay establishing shot? Revolutionary!

I’ve been dreading this. Re-examining Armageddon all but killed me, though that’s partially my own fault. I was the one playing that drinking game. Incidentally, Googling “Michael Bay Drinking Game” yields up some dangerous results. But while individual drinking games exist for individual films, apparently no drunk has the courage to construct a game applicable to Bay’s entire oeuvre. As that great old drunk Stephen Hopkins (my favorite character from 1776) once said, “So it’s up to me, eh?” That’s what you get for falling down on the job, fellow rummies.

Since Pearl Harbor bored me so damn much, my mind savored any distraction. I spent a good thirty minutes contemplating how hard I’d need to throw this movie off my balcony in order to ensure its disc would land at the optimum place in the street where it was sure to be run over by as many cars as possible. After I filled half a page with geometric calculations, constructing the Ultimate Michael Bay Drinking Game seemed a much more utilitarian distraction. I figured it would do the greatest good for the greatest number of people. Throwing Pearl Harbor at passing cars would only annoy their drivers…who’d go on to annoy the cops…who’d go on to annoy me. Continue reading