Repository for the projects of Michael McVey, filmmaker.

Posts tagged “American

WARWICK, NEW YORK: Scenes of a Pastoral Valley — A short film by Michael McVey (2017)

Warwick, New York: Scenes of a Pastoral Valley

Warwick, New York: Scenes of a Pastoral Valley (2017) from Michael McVey on Vimeo.

This short film explores the seasonal beauty of Warwick Valley, New York during the Village’s 150th Anniversary. Featuring the music of Antonín Dvorák, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and Ludwig Von Beethoven. Cinematographed, edited, produced and directed by Michael McVey.

Filmed on location in Warwick, New York, U.S.A.
July 3, 2016 through June 18, 2017

Warwick Sesquicentennial
1867—2017
Celebrating the Village of Warwick’s 150th Anniversary

Copyright © 2017 by Michael McVey. All rights reserved.
#skiffleboom
skiffleboom.com

Music:

String Quartet No. 12 in F major ‘American’, Op. 96
Movement I. Allegro Ma Non Troppo
Written by Antonín Dvorák
Performance by European Archive Music Recordings

String Quartet No. 15 in D Minor, K 421
Movement IV. Allegro Ma Non Troppo
Written by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performance by Musopen String Quartet

Symphony no. 40 in G minor, K. 550
Movement II. Andante
Written by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Performance by Musopen Symphony

Symphony No. 3 in E Flat Major ‘EROICA’, Op. 55
Movement IV. Finale Allegro Molto
Written by Ludwig Von Beethoven
Performed by Musopen Symphony

All music courtesy of Musopen (musopen.org)
All music Public Domain Mark 1.0.


THE MOST BADASS AFRICAN-AMERICAN CHARACTERS IN MOVIE HISTORY

By Michael McVey, Skiffleboom.com

Preface:
DVD Verdict’s “Objection” podcast created a list of their MOST BADASS AFRICAN-AMERICAN CHARACTERS IN MOVIE HISTORY for MLK day, 2011 (episode #756).  Judge David Johnson and Judge Dan Mancini named their TOP 1o:

Honorable Mention: Billy Dee Williams as Lando Calrissian – Star Wars Episodes 5-6
10.  Reginald VelJohnson as Sgt. Al Powell – Die Hard
9.  Richard Roundtree as John Shaft – Shaft
8.  Samuel L. Jackson as Mace Windu – Star Wars Episodes 1-3
7.  Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox – Batman Begins and The Dark Knight
6. Grace Jones as May Day – A View to a Kill
5. Carl Weathers as Apollo Creed – Rocky 1-4
4. Wesley Snipes as John Cutter – Passanger 57
3. Michael Jai White as Black Dynamite – Black Dynamite.
2.  Mr. T as B. A. Baracus – The A-Team
1.  Danny Glover as Lt. Mike Harrigan – Predator 2

The gentleman at “Objection” specialize in contrarian a-holery, and offer deliberately restive and hilarious positions on cinematic topics.  A fine list, full of both mighty (HARRIGAN!) and unusual (Lucius Fox) choices.  Conspicuously absent from the list is THE most BADASS African-American Character in Movie History:  Samuel L. Jackson as Jules in “Pulp Fiction”. The role is so iconic, so utterly badass, that the Marine Corp plays his “Ezekiel” speech to fire up Jarheads for deployment.

I personally feel as THE single most BADASS African-American Actor in Movie History, Samuel L. Jackson should be exempt from the list altogether.  He’s a given.  Like the answer to “who is the greatest basketball player of all time,” there’s just no arguing.

I hereby offer an addendum to the original “Objection” list, taken from my collection.

RULES…

I am not reusing any of the aforementioned actors, no matter how much I want to.  For instance, Carl Weathers is an incredible bad ass in “Action Jackson” (where he jumps 20 feet over a speeding car), but as he was listed by “Objection” for “Rocky”, so I won’t include it.

I am only listing actors once.  While Bill Duke was badass in “Commando” and “Pam Grier” is badass in everything, I included only my favorite choice.

I’ve only included movies I’ve seen in full, within the past 10 years (sorry Mario Van Peebles, sorry Billy Blanks).  I also don’t include non-human characters (Sorry Michael Dorn)… though formerly human is okay.  So please feel free to include your own suggestions in the comments section.  And now, without further ado…

Skiffleboom.com:
THE MOST BADASS AFRICAN-AMERICAN CHARACTERS IN MOVIE HISTORY

Bill Duke as Mac – Predator
Turns jungle into parking lot with mini-gun.   Kills boar with knife.  Badass.

Ken Foree as Peter – Dawn of the Dead
Blows away loads of zombies, evil zombie kids.  Owns the mall.  Does his best buddy a solid.  Zombie apocalypse survivor.  Badass.

Woody Strode as Draba – Spartacus
Kicks the ass of the future slave rebellion leader.  Shows him mercy.   Defies class system through ultimate sacrifice, igniting spark in future slave rebellion leader.  Ripped as hell.  Badass.

Tina Turner as Aunty Entity – Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome
Redesigns future legal system to include chainsaws for civil disputes.  Badass.

Denzel Washington and the entire cast of the 54th Massachusetts Volunteers – Glory
Charge on Fort Wagner – ’nuff said.  Badasses, one and all.

Fred Williamson, Jim Kelly, Jim Brown – Three the Hard Way

This hat trick defies description.  Badassery abounds.

Eugene Clark as Big Daddy – Land of the Dead
Is technically dead with rotting brain, yet still figures out how to use machine gun. Leads revolution, destabilizes class system.  Badass.

Pam Grier as Coffy – Coffy
Destroys mob, drug pushers, corruption.  Blows drug dealer’s head off with shotgun:  “This is the end of your rotten life, you: motherf#%kin’ dope pusher!”  Badass.

Julius Carry as Sho’nuff – The Last Dragon
Sits wherever he wants in a movie theater. Glows in the dark.  Badass.

Angela Bassett as Mace – Strange Days
Repeatedly saves incompetent hero.  Beats the piss from corrupt cops.  Badass.

Keith David as Frank – They Live
Brawls for absurdly interminable length of time with Rowdy Roddy Piper over sunglasses. Uncovers shocking societal truth, immediately enlists in suicide mission.  Badass.
Rudy Ray Moore as Dolemite – Dolemite
Kicks at stuntman’s head, misses, and STILL knocks him out cold (presumably by the intense air pressure generated by foot) . Beds every woman in the movie, gets no STDs.  Not the smartest idea in the world… but Badass.

Dennis Haysbert as Pedro Cerrano – Major League
Sees hat for bat, takes hat for bat. Keeps live snake in locker.  Deadly lumber.  Later elected President of the United States of America.  Badass.

Charles S. Dutton as Dillon – Alien 3
Gives one of cinema’s greatest motivational speeches ever.  Bare-knuckle boxes alien.  While being torn to pieces by xenomorph, asks it: “Is that all you got?”  SuperBadass.

Leave your own suggestions!
-m


A Scene from “Casablanca” – Rick Helps the Bulgarian Couple, from Michael McVey, Skiffleboom.com

Film as Art
Week 08 Logical Storytelling, Assignment 8
By Michael McVey – April 21, 2010
Bunker Hill Community College – Charlestown, MA

Watch Casablanca. Chose a scene and identify what the hero wants. Choose one scene from the movie and describe what it is about by using Mamet’s method of analysis in one short paragraph. (What does the hero do in this scene to try and get what he wants?)

Casablanca: Rick Helps the Young Couple

About an hour into Casablanca, Rick helps a young Bulgarian couple desperate to reach America. Rick’s objective in the scene is to quietly facilitate the young couple. He needs to keep his help secret, to maintain his reputation. Rick does not want to see the newly wed Bulgarian girl forced to trade sexual favors for an exit visa. Rick sympathizes with the couple’s predicament – he does not want them to experience the pain of a compromised relationship. There are a few steps Rick takes to accomplish his objective.

Rick needs to secretly secure money for the couple’s exit visas. Rick enters the room and makes contact with the roulette dealer – a dealer who works for Rick. Rick straddles up to the young Bulgarian man. He advises the man to bet on 22. Rick needs to communicate with the dealer to fix the game. Rick repeats himself so that the dealer hears. The dealer correctly interprets Rick’s tone and look: roll a 22. The dealer rolls 22, and the man collects. Again, Rick advises the man to bet on 22. The dealer understands Rick’s unspoken orders. The man bets and wins. Rick succeeds in getting the Bulgarian couple enough money to exit Casablanca.

Rick’s second objective is to keep the whole affair quiet. Rick tells the man to cash out his chips and leave permanently. The man complies. Rick asks the dealer how they are doing? The dealer replies that they are down a couple thousand, and he winks knowingly. Since the other witnesses and participants work for Rick, the transaction remains secret. The Bulgarian woman approaches Rick and hugs him gratefully. This jeopardizes Rick’s objective of keeping his sentimental actions quiet. Rick coolly ends the hug and tells the woman her husband is “just a lucky guy.” He downplays the potentially emotional scene, keeping the whole affair quiet. Reputation intact, Rick succeeds in both helping the couple and maintaining secrecy. This scene is very efficient in handling Rick’s objectives. His goals are clear without being obvious. Rick’s true character is revealed, and the scene becomes more emotional by having characters conceal their emotions.


“American Beauty” – Identifying the Throughline, from Michael McVey, Skiffleboom.com

Film as Art
Week 10 – Identifying the Throughline, Assignment 10
Michael McVey – Bunker Hill Community College
April 27, 2010

Watch American Beauty. Identify the super-objective of a central character and describe this character’s throughline in detail.

American Beauty tells the story of Lester Burnham, played by Kevin Spacey. Lester is a middle-aged, unhappy suburbanite. He feels his American life is a joyless chore, and sets out to reclaim happiness. Lester’s pursuit of happiness is his super-objective.

The opening scenes establish Lester’s ennui. He has strained, distant relationships with his wife Carolyn and daughter Jane. The gay couple living next door, Jim and Jim are the only “normal” people Lester knows. Lester hates his job. At work, Lester is largely unappreciated, and is in danger of being let go by his undeserving superior Brad. Quitting this job will become one of Lester’s sub-objectives. At home, Carolyn is hypercritical and unsympathetic to Lester’s plight. She perceives him as a loser. Jane hides behind a wall of sarcasm.

Lester attends a local high school basketball game. His daughter Jane cheerleads. Lester sees Jane’s friend Angela, and is immediately smitten. Angela becomes the object of Lester’s desire, and he begins fantasizing about her.

Lester steals Angela’s number from Jane’s bedroom. He calls Angela, but hangs up immediately when Jane exits the shower. This is Lester’s first step towards his super-objective. He awkwardly attempts to contact Angela to begin a relationship – Lester associates having Angela with happiness. Sleeping with Angela becomes a critical sub-objective for Lester’s super-objective.

Later, Lester and Carolyn bicker at a party. When Carolyn flocks over to local real estate magnate Buddy King, Lester makes an awkward, honest comment. This embarrasses Carolyn, and Lester further embarrasses her with a protracted kiss in front of Buddy. Lester starts to cut loose a bit, taking another step towards his super-objective.

Lester’s young neighbor Ricky approaches him at the bar. Ricky and Lester retire outside for some recreational smoking. Lester enjoys himself and makes a connection with Ricky. He admires Ricky’s self-control and perceived freedom. Lester begins defining his super-objective based on some of Ricky’s qualities.

Jane brings Angela over to her house. Aware that Lester is fixated, Angela decides to flirt with him. Lester quickly falls into a semi-erotic fantasy. Later, Lester overhears Angela talking about him with Jane. She playfully teases Jane about her dad’s fixation. Lester hears Angela mention that he would be sexy if he worked out. Later, Lester goes into the garage, finds some weights, and works out in the buff. He is clearly motivated to get fit. Lester equates his fitness with Angela’s attraction. Fitness becomes a sub-objective, as it may result in attracting Angela, culminating with Lester’s super-objective.

Carolyn catches Lester masturbating during a nighttime fantasy. Lester defends his right to masturbate, as his wife does not service him. They argue about their mutual sexual frustration, and Carolyn brings up divorce. Lester quickly turns the tables on her, ending the argument. Lester seizes control from Carolyn and does not back down from her criticisms. This fosters the self-control needed for Lester to achieve his super-objective.

Lester starts running with Jim and Jim. He goes over to Ricky’s to buy weed. Getting high is a new sub-objective for Lester – it helps him to relax and enjoy life. Lester fondly recalls his youth to Ricky: flipping burgers, partying and having sex. Later, Lester smokes a joint in the garage while lifting weights. When Carolyn confronts him on his new social deviance, he retorts, telling her to leave. Lester’s exercise, habitual pot use, and devil-may-care attitude reflect his efforts pursuit of happiness (through irresponsibility).

Lester writes a sarcastic and biting performance review. Brad tries to fire Lester, but Lester counters by threatening blackmail and sexual harassment. Lester refuses to be a victim, turning the tables on his thankless employers. Lester gets a year’s salary as a severance package, and triumphantly leaves. Lester separates himself from the working rabble, gaining a degree of freedom.

Later in the evening, Lester eats dinner with his wife and daughter. Lester and Carolyn bicker, and Jane is forced to listen. When Jane tries to leave, Lester exerts authority, and Jane sits back down. Carolyn rants hysterically, refusing to quit. Again Lester exerts himself, smashing a plate against the wall. This silences Carolyn. Much of Lester’s earlier misery stemmed from his passivity. In this scene, Lester works on the sub-objective of reclaiming his familial authority. Lester exhibits more self-control, and he moves towards his super-objective.

Lester enjoys the spoils of his severance by purchasing a 1970 Pontiac Firebird. He also buys several toys. When Carolyn berates Lester yet again, Lester defuses her through compliments. He makes a move on her, and we sense a happier past. But before he can round second base, Carolyn breaks the mood, afraid Lester might spill beer on the couch. Lester cannot overcome the sub-objective of salvaging his family life. His wife’s obsession with material objects and appearances hurts their relationship. He gets angry with her material worship and chases her away. Despite acquiring material objects for himself, Lester is not happy.

We flash forward to Lester running through the neighborhood. He looks much happier and healthier. While Lester makes a health shake in his kitchen, he learns Angela will be sleeping over. Jane is embarrassed by her father’s obvious attraction to Angela, and shares her disgust. Lester calls his daughter a bitch, just like her mother. This hurts Jane, and she leaves. Lester still struggles with the sub-objective of normalizing his family relationships, which prevent him from obtaining his super-objective.

Later, Lester catches Carolyn having an affair with Buddy King. At the drive-thru Burger joint Lester works, Lester surprises the cheating couple. Carolyn sees Lester has been working a menial job, but Lester finds the work invigorating; there is little responsibility. Lester calmly dismisses Carolyn and Buddy. By cheating on Lester, she has relinquishes any authority over him. From his perspective, Carolyn’s transgression is liberating. Instead of feeling remorse or anger, Lester puts her affair in context of his super-objective. Not able to resolve his sub-objective with Carolyn, Lester is inadvertently given the liberation he needs to continue towards independence and self-control.

After Lester buys more pot from Ricky, Angela and Jane run into him in the kitchen. Angela flirts with Lester. Repulsed, Jane runs from the room. Lester flirts back, but Angela is clearly nervous, and goes to find Jane. Lester’s object of desire, seemingly the key to his super-objective, runs away from him.

Later, while working out in the garage, Lester is confronted by Ricky’s father, Colonel Fitts. The Colonel has mistakenly confused the relationship between his son and Lester. Thinking Lester is a homosexual, the repressed Colonel Fitts kisses Lester. Stunned, Lester gently rebuffs his advances. Overwhelmed, the Colonel stumbles into the rainy night. Lester’s calmly handles the awkward situation, suggesting comfort in his own skin. This grace suggests Lester is ever closer to realizing his super-objective.

Lester goes for a beer in the kitchen, and encounters Angela, sitting alone. She tells him about her fight with Jane, revealing to Lester that she thinks him sexy. Lester and Angela get intimate, and they begin kissing. Lester is within moments of having Angela, the catalyst of his super-objective. Lester takes off her clothes, and as they are about to make love, Angela tells Lester she is a virgin. At first he think she is joking, but he quickly realizes that Angela is sincere. In that moment, Angela stops becoming a fantasy and becomes a person to Lester. He covers her with a blanket and comforts her. In this moment, Lester embraces responsibility.

Throughout the film, Lester sheds the coils of societal expectation. Irresponsibility felt like the key to Lester’s super-objective of happiness. Ultimately, Lester balances out his selfish impulses with genuine care for others. He breaks through his lustful delusions to see an inexperienced, frightened teenager before him, and he gives her comfort and affection. Lester and Angela sit in the kitchen, where Angela eats. Lester asks her about Jane. Angela tells him that Jane is in love. This touches Lester. For the first time in the film, Lester is genuinely interested in his daughter. He is a father reborn. Angela asks how Lester feels. Lester replies “great.” It is this moment that Lester achieves his super-objective. He feels genuine happiness for the first time in ages.

Angela leaves the room for a moment, and Lester is murdered. His body lies on the table, a smile etched on his face. Even though the scene is bloody, there is a poetic beauty in Lester’s smile. Moments before his death, Lester discovers that honest love and affection for others is essential to happiness. Lester recovers from his journey of irresponsibility and realizes that happiness requires balance between selfishness and selflessness. His final moments are happy: Lester attains his super-objective.