One Man And His Shoes (2020, directed by Yemi Bamiro)

I have never been a shoe person.

As long as they fit, they’re comfortable, and they get me where I’m going, I’ve never cared who made my shoes or what they represented.  That set me apart from most of the people who I grew up with.  They were not only very much concerned with wearing the right shoes but they also judged anyone who was perceived as wearing the wrong shoes.  They all wanted the Air Jordans, even though I can’t think of a single person I knew who was ever able to get a pair.  Everyone knew that the Air Jordans were expensive and that they sold out quickly.  They also knew that owning a pair of Air Jordans could be dangerous.  People got killed for their shoes.  A friend of mine came close to getting a pair but his mother refused to give him the money after she read a news story about someone on the Block getting shot because he wouldn’t hand over his shoes.  That always seemed strange to me.  Why shoot someone over their shoes?  Of course, I was not a shoe person.

The new documentary, One Man and His Shoes, is all about shoes and shoe culture.  Beginning in the 80s, when Michael Jordan was just a promising basketball player in North Carolina and Nike was considered to be an also-ran in the shoe business, the documentary shows how Michael Jordan and the shoes named after him revolutionized American culture.  At a time when shoe companies like Converse were making cringe-worthy commercials that featured Larry Bird and several other players rapping about their shoes, Nike reinvented the game by teaming up with Michael Jordan and bringing in Spike Lee to film their commercials.

If the first half of the documentary celebrates the success of Jordan and Nike, the second half takes a critical look at the violence that has sprung up over the shoes.  Nike is faulted for aggressively advertising the shoes and then only released a limited amount of them at a time.  As a result, the shoes become a status symbol that are difficult to get and which some people are willing to kill to possess.  The documentary goes from celebrating Jordan and Nike to condemning them for refusing to speak out about the violence surrounding their product.  As one interviewee puts it, Jordan telling people to “knock it off” wouldn’t end all of the violence but it wouldn’t hurt.

The documentary ends with the wrenching tale of a man in Houston who was killed for his shoes.  When the murder became national news, Jordan personally sent the grieving family a pair of the new Air Jordans.  The dead man’s sister explains that she didn’t feel safe wearing them in public because, if anyone saw them in her possession, they might kill her as well.

One Man and His Shoes is a sobering documentary.  If you just watched The Last Dance, you owe it to yourself to also watch One Man and His Shoes.

TV Review: Night Gallery 1.3 “The House/Certain Shadows on the Wall”

The third episode of Night Gallery aired on December 30th, 1970.  While Americans were undoubtedly finalizing their plans for a wild New Year’s Eve (because, after all, Nixon was president and every day was a party), NBC and Rod Serling invited viewers to take a tour through a darkened museum, one where every painting told a story.

This episode of Night Gallery featured two stories:

The House (dir by John Astin, written by Rod Serling)

The House opens with Elaine Latimer (Joanna Pettet) talking about a recurring dream.  She’s driving her car through the countryside when she comes across a large house.  Though she’s never seen the house, she finds herself drawn to it, as if she somehow belongs in the house.  As Elaine describes her dream, we come to realize that she’s talking to a psychiatrist (Steve Franken) and that Elaine is recovering from mental breakdown.  Her doctor tells Elaine that the dream is nothing to worry about.

However, when Elaine is driving home, she realizes that the countryside looks familiar.  Soon, she’s pulling up in front of the house from her dreams!  When Elaine gets out of the car, she’s greeted by a real estate named Peugeot (Paul Richards) who asks her if she’s interested in buying the house.  As Peugeot gives her a tour of the estate, he mentions that the house is thought to be haunted….

I liked The House.  It was an atmospheric little tale and, from the minute that Elaine started talking about her dream, the story captured my attention.  (I should admit that I also have recurring dreams about a house that I’ve never actually seen before.)  Admittedly, the story does play out at a very deliberate pace and requires a bit of patience but the dream sequences are effectively surreal and Joanna Pettet gives an empathetic performance in the lead role.

Certain Shadows On The Wall (dir by Corey Allen, written by Rod Serling)

This segment features Agnes Moorehead as the sickly Emma, who is poisoned by her own brother, the despicable Stephen (Louis Hayward).  After Emma’s death, Stephen is shocked to discover that, even though Emma is gone, her shadow remains on the wall.  While Stephen is trying to make sense of that, his other two sisters (played by Grayson Hall and Rachel Roberts) have plans of their own for how to deal with their duplicitous brother.

Like The House, Certain Shadows On The Wall is appropriately atmospheric.  The ending is a bit weak as Stephen gets what he deserves but the shadow itself doesn’t have much to do with his actual fate.  Just when you’re waiting for Agnes Moorehead to make a sudden, ghostly appearance, the story comes to an end.  Still, this is an effective segment and it features excellent work from its ensemble.  I especially liked the performance of Grayson Hall, which features one of the most frightening glares that I’ve ever seen.

The third episode of Night Gallery was a definite improvement over the two that came before it.  Both segments tell intriguing stories, though it’s obvious that the show was still better at coming up with good premises than effective endings.

Previous Night Gallery Reviews:

  1. The Pilot
  2. The Dead Man/The Housekeeper
  3. Room With A View/The Little Black Bag/The Nature of the Enemy

Two From Brian Canini : “Across The Diner”

Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

A simple story, well told, is always worth its weight in gold — a sentiment that’s perhaps never been more true than in these troubled and troubling times — and when he’s really hit on a nugget of an idea, when he’s firing on all cylinders creatively, a simple story, well told, is precisely the kind of thing that Columbus, Ohio’s Brian Canini excels at. Guess what? In his latest self-published (under the auspices of his Drunken Cat Comics imprint) mini,  Across The Diner, he’s hit on a nugget of an idea and is firing on all cylinders creatively.

Still here? ‘Cuz, I mean, I just pretty well gave away the game, which — at least according to what passes for conventional “wisdom” — is supposed to be seriously poor form. Even if what you’re saying is true — which, in this case, it absolutely is — you’re…

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Music Video of the Day: The Hardest Thing by 98° (2000, dir. by Wayne Isham)

The Hardest Thing is a skeevy boy band song about how the hardest thing is saying goodbye to your mistress.  That’s what the song is about.  That’s the hardest thing.  The hardest thing for some people is to figure out how to put food on the table and to make sure their children make it home safely.  The hardest thing for 98º is having to choose between being loyal to your significant other or hooking up with Becky and Tiffany and Sandy and everyone else on the strip.  Even though the band knows that the hardest thing they’ll ever have to do is say goodbye to the woman that they’re cheating with, they also know that they’ll meet up again someday and maybe the time will be right for them to continue their affair.  What?  How does that make sense?  I can’t cheat with you now but maybe in three months.  OK, guys.

According to the video, Nick Lachey is a boxer so maybe that’s why this song seems to be punch drunk.  His mistress is a showgirl.  I can’t imagine Nick every winning a fight, can you?  Ladies and gentleman, with a record of 1 win and 30 losses by knockout, it’s Nick Lachey!  His mistress can probably do better.  Are the Backstreet Boys in town?