Above The Rim, 1994

Duane Martin plays Kyle Lee Watson an inner-city high school basketball star that gets lured to played with Birdie’s team, played by Tupac Shakur, in the shootout – an inner city tournament where the the stakes can be high. The game starts off with Kyle playing a basketball game at high-school and Birdie’s crew turns up to watch. Kyle’s team lose arguably due to him not passing (or a foul as Kyle professes), in the locker room he gets a bit of a grilling but shakes it off all good. As he’s leaving he bumps into an old mate who’s now hanging with birdie’s crew, and they go off to meet Birdie. At Birdie’s club he’s introduced to the ladies and Birdie asks him if he wants to play on his team. Impressed by the money and girls he’s tempted to play for Birdies team, but his coach is wanting him to play for his team… He has to decide whether to play for the darkside or not so to speak.

Kyle’s mum starts to fall in love with Shep – the guard at Kyle’s college, and so some tension starts to build between Kyle and Shep. Shep used to play basketball when he was younger but with his friends death he’s decided to not play anymore. The film’s essentially focused around Kyle’s struggle with whether to play for his coaches team in the shootout or to play for Birdie’s with the money, girls and danger that’s associated with the underworld. Kyle’s coach also wants Shep to play on the team for the shootout, further putting the stresses on Kyle’s mind. We learn as the film progresses that Shep is Birdie’s older brother…

A good 98mins of entertainment, arguably one of the best basketball films made. Here’s the original trailer from 1994:

Oceans Eleven, 2001

The first in the now well known serious detailing impressive heists completed by a well organized and hand picked team led by conman Danny Ocean (George Clooney). It starts with Danny being released from prison, and straight away he’s onto a new plan to make the millions.Next we’re introduced to an ace card-shark, Ross, (Brad Pitt) who is currently making a buck teaching famous people how to play cards. Danny tracks him down as he steadily builds his team for the heist of the century – eleven men, three casinos, one night.

The targets are the Bellagio, the Mirage, and the MGM Grand, all owned by the ruthless entrepreneur Terry Benedict (Andy Garcia) who’s dating Danny’s ex-wife Tess (Julia Roberts). Steadily each team member says it’s crazy, but for the $150million they’re all in.

Danny and Ross go to meet Ruben, a bitter casino mogul. They meet him at his luxurious pad and after hearing their ideas he says he’s out, on hearing they’re all Terry Benedict’s casino’s he’s in – as Terry muscled him out of the business… And so the team grows to three.

Next up is a cockney explosives expert who Ross rescues from arrest through pretending to be a cop when one robbery went wrong… Then they hunt down their grease man – a Chinese acrobat… Next is a retired thief they track down at the dog tracks. Then Linus, a pick pocket, (Matt Damon). The other essential members are requested to meet at Ruben’s house, and the plan is explained detailing the many security issues they’ll face, and then they’re either in or out…

They start doing reconnaissance, who does what, when they do it, so they know the movements of the staff. They work out how to cut the power, and look at how to trick the surveillance, and steadily the plan is rolled out. The plan sounds impossible, looks impossible, there are many hurdles along the way however with Brad and George on the team they overcome all the hurdles and get away with the loot.

A high action, star studded film, with a great tension build up to a fantastic ending. Well worth many a view more I must say.

Rain Dogs, 2005

The Film:

Rain DogsThe cover of Rain Dogs looks a bit like reservoir dogs, though the description looks plenty interesting enough starting with “In the high-octane fueled crime caper…”, always a good start. Two of the thieves go on a tour of a Scottish castle and nick the most valuable piece of artwork there through overpowering the guides. The idea being an insurance scam to net the owners a tidy sum and the thieves a pretty penny too. Their meticulous plan steadily falls apart as the film progresses, hell it wouldn’t be interesting if it all went smoothly would it? The 3mill they were meant to get drops to a measly 300k, so new plans have to be made…

The team split into two’s and try to find their hide out joint whilst their waiting for the deal to go through, one bunch arranging some fun for when they get their whilst the true masterminds get lost on their way. A load of booze and a couple of hookers later and the remaining two arrive to a party in full swing. One hooker spots the painting, though is rapidly drugged into a hedonistic high and the 4 ho’s leave in the morning. The next day they get the amount increased, but not to what they want.

Yet again there hideout plans don’t go too well, after a brawl in a boozer, they have to move and so go to a hunting lodge, rather unsurprisingly their hunting does not go without event…With one of the gang accidentally getting shot. A copper doing the rounds inquiring about the fight turns up at the lode and is nicely palmed off. Clearly they’ve got to move on, whilst driving the next day the they learn one of the guys from the brawl died, and the girl’s hedonistic high resulted in her O.D.ing.

So far the robbery went well, the amount they were going to get has been slashed, a dead hooker, a bar brawl, one dead from that, a copper has said hello, one has been accidentally shot, and now one of the cars has picked up 2 Swedish girls on the way to the next hideout. The cars get separated, as the plans going so well, the 2 with the swede’s in the car decide to shag ’em on route… on then drop ’em off further down the road.

When the first 2 arrive at the hideout, the gun accidentally goes but eventually they get settled. Go on a fishing trip the next day, and 2 of the girls that they met up with previously come round – one’s a nurse and so patches up the guy that got shot. The 2 lads and 2 girls seem to be getting on quite well, go back to the house and discover that the painting’s actually a fake!

They contact the buyers to see pitch a new deal, saying they’ve got a buyer lined up who wants to see the painting first, and go out for the day to a whiskey distillery. They agree to meet having persuaded more cash from the buyers. On route, the copper turns up – turns out she’s only a special cunstable and is thinking of packing it in… hey presto, William the lady’s man rapidly beds her and runs out after she try’s to cuff him in the sack – furry cuffs mind, never know if she’s onto them properly or not.

The meet goes well, they’ve been wired the money they wanted and are now trying to scam a few more pennies from the buyers. In order to swap the fake for the original they go back to the castle to meet with “The Duke”, they take the fake, he turns up with a machine gun… the cops are called and you’ll have to watch it to see what happens…

In the end it probably couldn’t have turned out much better… other than they only net 150k each rather than the 750k, with a bit of a twist at the end!

All in all a good film, with plenty of twists and turns to keep you wandering where it’ll go, I’ve left out a couple of bits, so even after reading this it’s no doubt still very much worth watching.

The Background:

The story for the film was originally inspired by a piece of graffiti director Robbie Moffat saw on a toilet wall in Glasgow. Securing a grant from the Scottish Arts Council in late 2003, he developed a unique ‘interactive community collaboration program’ where the initial synopsis was plastered on the walls of public toilets in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and John O’Groats and further plot developments were added by members of the public, chain-story style.

The various plot developments were then posted on the now defunct ‘RainingintheToilet.com’ website created for the film, and the public were invited to vote on which ones should be included in the screenplay for the finished film. Although only 37 people responded – the majority either members of the cast and crew or their immediate family – this formed the finished screenplay. To add a further element of ‘serendipitous chaos,’ the cast were only given a broad outline of the story and only told of the content of scenes before they were filmed.

In three cases, most notably the key robbery scene, the cast were not told the content of the scene until after it had been filmed because Moffat hoped the actors would inhabit their roles so completely that they would intuitively do what was in the script. Although this did not prove to be the case, Moffat left the cast’s version of the robbery in the film on the grounds that “it was raw honesty, and truth is always better than fiction.”