Times change, movies should too | PostIndependent.com

Times change, movies should too

I couldn’t find a better summary for “Four Brothers” than what a character tells the titular quartet in the bowling alley. By way of welcoming Evelyn Mercer’s four vengeful foster sons back to town, a henchman says something like, “It’s been a while, fellas. Times change.”I think he means that, you know, Detroit is a different city, with different people in charge, and that pretty well explains the death of their foster mom in a convenience store hold-up. But the quote underscores the fact that in “Four Brothers,” the times really don’t change: Ignore all the modern military gear the four brothers and their foes use to blast one another – and metropolitan Detroit – to smithereens and the occasional late-model automobile, and you’ve got a movie that never left the mid-1970s.Maybe its blowback from remaking “Shaft,” but director John Singleton’s ability to evoke the ’70s is uncanny – complete with a searing soul soundtrack, a car chase featuring a Monte Carlo and an El Camino on icy streets, and an overall ’70s-cats-doing-’70s-stuff vibe. If studios had simply stopped making movies, period, in about 1978, and “Four Brothers” was the first thing to come out of the gate since, I’d probably decide it was the best movie ever.But they kept making movies through the ’80s, ’90s and well into the ’00s, and the medium has come a long way throughout the past three decades. For one thing, criminals and vigilantes are a lot smarter these days – at least at the Cineplex – and the cast of “Four Brothers” isn’t quite up to the task. With a rapper-turned-actor (Andre Benjamin of OutKast), an underwear model-turned-actor (Tyrese Gibson) and a rapper-turned-underwear model-turned actor (Mark Wahlberg) filling three out of the four title roles and pushing the likes of Terrence Howard into bit parts, every double-cross is visible a mile away. It might have worked in the ’70s, but I like to think Kojak would’ve sniffed it out back then. If only there were that Hollywood hiatus, I could probably enjoy “Four Brothers” for what it was, like Kimberly did. Then I wouldn’t feel compelled to point out two movies that occupy the same niche as “Four Brothers” but hold up a lot better: Just as Allen and Albert Hughes quickly one-upped Singleton in 1993 with “Menace II Society,” they also made a bleak blaxploitation update in 1995 and called it “Dead Presidents.” It’s aged well, as has “Jackie Brown,” which transplants a ’70s groove into a mid-90s setting – and a bulletproof plot to boot. Times do change, and a movie ticket costs as much as renting a couple of DVDs. After all, it’s been a while.Nobody has told Dan Thomas that times change regarding fashion, and eventually baggy pants and hip-hop WILL go out of style.

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