Archive

2000s

Donnie Darko (2001)
Written & Directed by Richard Kelly

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Donnie Darko is a troubled teenage boy living in Middlesex, Virginia. He has bouts of chronic sleepwalking and sees a psychiatrist for his many emotional problems. His parents constantly worry about him while trying to raise his two sisters, his mother especially has Donnie on her mind at all times. Then a strange twist of fate occurs. An airplane jet engine crashes down on the house, right on top of Donnie’s room. However, he has been pulled from sleep, wandering to the local golf course where he encounters Frank, a man wearing a ghoulish bunny rabbit suit. Donnie is told the world will end by the close of October and from there he is encouraged to commit acts of vandalism that are seemingly random. However, there is a pattern to all the things Frank has Donnie doing and only, in the end, will the truth be revealed.

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The Fast & The Furious: Tokyo Drift (2006)
Written by Chris Morgan
Directed by Justin Lin

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Sean Boswell is a kid who just can’t stay in one place for too long. His penchant for getting into trouble at school, particularly through illegal racing, leaves him getting sent by his mother from Los Angeles to live with his father in Tokyo. Sean quickly befriends military brat Twinkie who introduces his new friend to the drift racing scene. After a disastrous first race against the obvious villain, DK, Sean is taken under the wing of Han, an associate of DK’s. Han teaches Sean how to adapt to a new style of racing while DK is pressured by his uncle in the Yakuza to flex his muscle. Like all these films, it wraps up with a high-speed race where…surprise! The protagonist wins!

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Better Luck Tomorrow (2002)
Written Ernesto Foronda, Justin Lin, and Fabian Marquez
Directed by Justin Lin

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Ben and Virgil are two Asian-American high school students following the stereotypical honor roll/high achiever path. They participate in extracurricular clubs and sports to pad their applications for college, but there is a hidden side to their lives. At night they pull dumb childish pranks and make petty cash on a computer equipment scam with Virgil’s cousin Han. This changes when the trio become involved with Daric Loo, the golden boy of their high school who pushes them to get involved in drugs and larger scale crime. During this Ben has a major crush on Stephanie, his lab partner. However, Stephanie has a boyfriend, Steve (John Cho). Ben’s activities lead to a violent end and a cell phone ringing from underneath the sod laid across Virgil’s back yard

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2 Fast 2 Furious (2003)
Written by Michael Brandt & Derek Haas
Directed by John Singleton

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Former LAPD Brian O’Conner is on the run since he let Dominic Toretto escape at the conclusion of the first film. He’s living in Miami (using his given name instead of an alias bizarrely) and makes a living participating in illegal street racing. Tej Parker (Chris ‘Ludacris’ Bridges) is the local organizer of all things racing and has a relationship in good standing with Brian. Brian’s life on the run comes to a quick end when the FBI brings him and offers a deal: they will drop all charges against the rogue cop if he helps them take down Argentine drug lord Carter Verone. Brian agrees, but on one condition, he gets to bring in his childhood friend Roman Pearce (Tyrese Gibson). The two are paired with undercover agent Monica Fuentes (Eva Mendes) and begin their mission to take down Verone.

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It was at Barley’s Brewing Company in Columbus, Ohio. June 2015. Sunday evening, Origins having wrapped up for the year. We were having dinner with the Magpie crew and the discussion focused on movies. Mark Diaz Truman tells me I should see two films: The Purge: Anarchy and Furious 7. I respond with incredulity, and Mark essentially tells me not to be a movie snob. He explains that the Fast and Furious are very diverse superhero movies at this point in the franchise. I don’t feel in any rush to see them, but it plants a seed. Cut to today.

The Fast and The Furious is inarguably a massively popular film series with eight made and at least four more to come it appears. I have seen fifty-something school bookkeepers who attend church every Sunday and exude all the expectations of Southern femininity make sure they are at the new F & F film opening night. A movie series that has such a cross-demographic appeal must have something redeemable about it. So, I decided I needed to watch them all, starting at the beginning, knowing it would be rough going for awhile, but that there is a chance I might find something good along the way. For better or worse here we go…


The Fast and The Furious (2001)
Written by Gary Scott Thompson, Erik Bergquist, and David Ayer
Directed by Rob Cohen

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LAPD officer Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker) has gone undercover in the illegal street racing scene after a series of electronics truck deliveries were hijacked by crooks with highly specialized driving skills. He becomes embedded in the crew of Dominic Toretto, one of the top racers on the L.A. scene. O’Conner also sparks a relationship with Mia, Dominic’s younger sister which draws the ire of fellow crew member Vince, who also seems to have eyes on Mia. The clock is ticking for Brian as both the LAPD and FBI are demanding he gives them something before things deadly. Will Brian choose his oath as a police officer to serve & protect or will his allegiances fall to the Toretto crew?

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The Revisit is a place for me to rewatch films I love but haven’t seen in years or films that didn’t click with me the first time. Through The Revisit, I reevaluate these movies and compare my original thoughts on them to how they feel in this more recent viewing.

Frailty (2000)
Written by Brent Hanley
Directed by Bill Paxton

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It’s a rainy night in Dallas, Texas when FBI Agent Wesley Doyle (Powers Boothe) is called into the office to speak with Fenton Meiks (Matthew McConaughey), a strange man who claims to know secrets behind what authorities have dubbed “The God’s Hand Killer.” Mainly, he tells Doyle that his brother, Adam is the killer. The film becomes a series of flashbacks to Fenton and Adam’s childhood wherein their father (Bill Paxton) claims to have been visited by an angel that tells him which people are truly demons in disguise. He brings the two boys along with him as he hunts down and murders these false humans, but Adam grows increasingly fearful of his father’s actions. Their father begins to see Adam as a threat and takes drastic measures.

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The Straight Story (1999, dir. David Lynch)

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Alvin Straight is an aging man living in Iowa when he suffers a fall that leaves him barely mobile and relying on two canes to stand up. His daughter Rose attempts to care for him but cannot fully due to her intellectual disability. Alvin takes up a seemingly foolish quest after receiving a phone call from his estranged brother, Lyle’s  stroke. He gets it in his mind that he will drive his riding lawn mower across Iowa and into Wisconsin to reunite with Lyle. During this journey, he meets many people who come to represent times in our lives or certain philosophical viewpoints.

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