Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Movie: District B13 (2004, U.S. 2006)

B-movie maestro Roger Corman once laid out his formula for exploitation film success. Mix good looking people with plenty of action, and add a dollop of social consciousness.

Sounds simple enough. And yet the only person walking in his footsteps is France’s Luc Besson. The last few films from his stable – including Unleashed and both Transporter movies – have been lethally entertaining. His latest effort follows the Corman program to a T.

1. Political content. In 2010, the French government walls off the worst of the ghettos, called banlieues, that lie at the edges of major cities, leaving the residents to fend for themselves. Based on recent events, this premise doesn’t seem entirely far-fetched.

When a neutron bomb falls into the hands of B13’s crime lord, a by-the-book cop teams up with the last honest man in the district to recover it. Think of it as Escape From New York meets Rio Bravo/El Dorado, only with a heroin-addicted sister instead of a drunk.

2. Action. It’s all based on parkour, the French-created extreme sport that’s about constant efficient motion around obstacles in an urban landscape. Here’s how smart Besson is: he simply took one of his best stuntmen and made him a star.

3. General hotness. I have it on reasonable authority that the two lead ass-kickers are, and I quote, “yummy.”

Take my word on this. You may see more expensive action films this summer, but you won’t see a better one.

TV: Color Commentary

I had the perfect baseball experience last night: the Mets beat the Dodgers in a game called by Vin Scully. How is it that Vin is more entertaining and informative working all by his lonesome than the batteries of ex-ballplayers other teams put in their booths?

It helps that Vin is a walking history of baseball. Last night’s success of the Mets’ Cuban pitcher Alay Soler had him reminiscing about a time when Dodgers owner Walter O’Malley flew his team and the Cincinnati Reds to Havana for spring training. It was the early days of the revolution, and people lined up to have their pictures taken with Fidel Castro look-alikes “as if it were a fiesta,” Vin said. “Some fiesta.” It’s a privilege to listen to him.