Vondie Curtis-Hall

All posts tagged Vondie Curtis-Hall

Courtesy of Netflix

Courtesy of Netflix

Warning: Spoiler Alert

A genuinely seemingly polite man named John Healy walks into a bowling alley around closing time. A man and his goons continue to bowl as if the rules don’t apply to them. Because they don’t. This new patron politely asks if he might join them. This is where the interaction begins to lose its polite nature. Healy (the polite bowling enthusiast) takes an exception to the attempt at having him removed. He swiftly takes care of the two goons. His gun jams (which Turk said it absolutely wouldn’t do) and is now in a fist fight. A fist fight that ends with Healy bashing the man’s face in with a bowling ball. The bowling alley employee runs off after calling the police. Healy hides the gun and assumes the position as the sound of sirens nears. When the cops arrive he says only one thing.

Healy: I want a lawyer.

Matt Murdock sits at a bench outside his church. The interaction between him and his priest is very short. Confession doesn’t seem to be in the cards, so Father Lantom offers him a latte from a fancy espresso machine that was donated to the church. That feels like it will re-emerge at a later date.
We meet Ben Urich as he meets with a local mobster. There clearly is a long-standing relationship. This particular mobster seems all too happy to cash out and moved to Florida. There is a new element in the organized crime equation in Hell’s Kitchen. Urich tries to get some information he can use, but all he’s getting is to sit this one out. There’s a respect from previous, but this is a dead-end. Maybe.

Mobster: When I went away to do my ten, every newspaper in town dragged my name through the —-, you were the only one who did it without mentioning my kids. Always grateful for that.
Urich: Then give me something. A name. Anything.
Mobster: Take a pass on this one Benny. Some fights, just get you bloody.

Foggy arrives at work very hung over. Moments later, Matt shows up with bruises and cuts on his face that will in time become something relatively normal. Foggy charges in with a joke that I hope will become a running gag. “You need a dog”. While Matt tries to fight off the need for a seeing eye dog, there is a knock at the door. In the doorway stands a very well dressed and well spoken gentleman we will eventually come to know as “Wesley”.

Wesley has come wielding nothing more than a very large check, the intent of putting promising local ‘talent’ on retainer, and vaguely dancing around who his employer is. Foggy can’t get past the big check part to see the significant issues or omissions that seem to bother Matt. Matt starts again about being selective about their clientele, then Wesley inquires about Karen. Asking if they hire all the suspects they get off of murder charges or just the attractive ones? Wesley offers them to look into one of their cases to see that everything’s on the up and up. Matt runs out to tail Wesley and picks up on his watch’s unique second-hand rhythm. Matt follows just long enough to hear Wesley (in the distance) say, “its been taken care of”.

At the 15th precinct, Foggy begins to confer with Healy. Healy’s answers are entirely too spot on. Foggy gets the impression that this is not Healy’s first rodeo. He has clearly been coached, using adjectives a person in his positions is not likely to have at his disposal. Especially when you combine that with his very even keel and calm demeanor. Foggy is all set to decline the case and walk away, knowing something if off here. Which is precisely the reason Matt walks in more than happy to take the case.

Urich is in his office fighting with an insurance company when his boss walks in. Urich is the old guard of reporters back when reporters covered what was newsworthy and responsible. He is a dinosaur in an ever-changing print media world. Organized crime doesn’t sell papers like it once did. Ellison (boss) wants Urich on the annual, “Will Hell’s Kitchen Get A Subway Line” fluff piece.

Urich: There was a time when this newspaper wrote the hell out of the news.
Ellison: Everyone we know are making twice what we are writing for blogs. Working from home in their underwear. We’re hanging on by our fingertips Ben.

Inside the room with Healy, Matt decides to see what if anything he might get from Healy on the bigger fish, the man who hired them. It’s slim pickings. Healy does not in any way exhibit the behavior of a man facing life in prison or worse. Matt asks him, “are at all afraid with what might happen if we lose this case?” Healy’s answer is simply “no, are you?” Foggy does not like this at all. Not interested in defending a professional criminal or a ‘shark in a skin-suit’.

Wesley shows up at the bowling alley as if he were just another patron. Shrugs off the comments from the pinball players, lays down a quarter and says, I’ve got next. Wesley’s presence has nothing to do with playing pinball. He’s there to retrieve the gun Healy hid under the pinball machine.
Once back at the office, Matt apologizes for taking over and taking a case that Foggy thinks they shouldn’t take. They accept that they need to take some cases they aren’t proud of to keep the lights on. Then they realize Karen is not in the office. That’s because Karen is at a meeting where she is offered a deal and a large sum of money to never disclose publicly anything about Union Allied Construction (former employer) or any of its affiliates.

Urich’s health insurance issue is not with him specifically, it pertains to his wife. As she is not talking to this point, it’s easy to assume that she will come up in the near future.

In the courtroom Foggy delivers their opening statement on the Mr. Healy case. His statement is pretty straight forward for anyone whose seen a courtroom drama. You don’t have to condone his actions, but the prosecution has to prove that he was not justified in defending his own life. Then Matt hears something odd followed by something familiar. A quick heartbeat that belongs to the juror followed by the familiar tick of a certain Cartier Mens wrist watch.

Outside, the juror is met by a handler. They have something on her and Daredevil is going to find out what it is. It’s a video tape, of the adult entertainment variety. The handler will provide cause for this woman to excuse herself from the jury. Something personal. Then he will leave this city.
The juror is excused and Matt delivers their closing statement. Just curious, what do you think the over/under is on the likelihood that Matt Murdock references ‘justice is blind’? Matt surveys the room listening for anything specifically different. Murdock’s statement is resoundingly good. It almost makes Foggy’s statement seem pedestrian. He lays out that Mr. Healy is in fact guilty of taking a man’s life, but that is not what’s on trial here. Maybe I’m biased on my enthusiasm of this show, but I’d put Murdock’s statement up against any we’ve seen recently in a courtroom drama. Or at least the ones I’ve seen. Up to and including Jake Brigance’s (Matthew McConaughey) closing statement at the end of A Time To Kill.

Courtesy of Netflix

Courtesy of Netflix

Karen approaches Mrs. Fisher, the widow of the dead man Karen woke up next to in the first episode. She is there to apologize but to also see how much Mrs. Fisher knows and what she might to do to bring these people down. Mrs. Fisher is not filled with the same gumption. She instructed her husband to bring to light what he felt was wrong. As a result of which, he is now dead. Mrs. Fisher’s two kids now dictate her compliance.

Karen shows up at the Bulletin to speak with Ben Urich. Her interest is with the Union Allied story, not the subway lines. She has more information, if he’s interested.

In the courtroom, the jury gives its verdict. Before it is read Matt, surveying heart beats already knows the jury is hung. The jury may be hung, but the DA is not going to retry the case, and Healy knows it.

Instead, Healy is convicted by the court of public opinion and his sentence is carried out by The Daredevil. Healy fights admirably. When he no longer has the upper hand, Daredevil inquires about the man who hires Healy’s lawyers. With a large shard of glass moving deeper and deeper into Healy’s neck, he spills. “FISK, Wilson Fisk”. Daredevil instructs Healy to get in a car and never return to Hell’s Kitchen.

Healy: You still think this is about you. I gave up his name. You don’t do that, not to him. He’ll find me and make an example. And he’ll find everyone I’ve ever cared about…and do the same to them. So that no one ever does, what I just did. You should’ve just killed me. You coward. (Then Healy turns and throws his face into an old rusty metal post killing himself instantly)

A curator walks through her art exhibit and finds a large bald man staring at a large predominantly white canvas. She tells a story about the price of art, reflecting that it’s what the art is but the feeling the art invokes. This large man replies with, “It makes me feel alone”. If you’re not picking up what I’m putting down, the large bald man is Wilson Fisk.

Courtesy of Netflix

Courtesy of Netflix

Courtesy of Netflix

Courtesy of Netflix

Warning: Spoiler Alert

Daredevil wakes up bloody and bruised inside a dumpster in an alley. A young man finds him and brings help in the form of Claire Temple (Rosario Dawson). In her apartment she carefully removes what is necessary to tend to his wounds, including his black mask. Matt wakes up in time to prevent Claire from calling an ambulance.

In a flashback sequence we find young Matt Murdock listening to the broadcast of one of his father’s fights. A particularly ugly and bloody fight. When Jack returns home, his young Matt Murdock plays ‘cut man’ tending to his father’s wounds.

Back in the present, Karen does whatever she can do at the office to avoid going home. She overhears Foggy singing as if he were alone in a shower. This fun exchange ultimately leads to the two of them going out on the town.

Matt wakes up again. He and Claire play twenty questions. The answers to which are not satisfactory to either party. Matt asks why she would pull him out of a dumpster, her answer is vague and almost feels like she’s hiding something. Nothing sinister, but something nonetheless. Matt drifts off to sleep again. While all seems alright as he sleeps, he lunges awake and cannot breath. Claire quickly pulls the empty syringe to the chest move restoring his breathing. There’s even a nod to a future costume/suit, a change I don’t believe they need any time soon.

Claire: You’re suit kinda sucks…
Matt: It’s a work in progress.

Claire then asks Matt (she calls him Mike) to give her one reason why all of this is worth the risk of her potentially ending up in handcuffs if he dies in her apartment. He tells her about a human trafficking ring ran by the Russians. That there was a young boy forced to watch the men beat up his father, then get kidnapped. He tracked the Russians to a warehouse, where they were waiting for him. In the middle of this, Matt’s attention is drawn to something. He can smell a man on the third floor going door to door.

In another flashback sequence young Matt studies at the gym while his Dad spars in the ring. After a little small talk about what it’s like learning to read braille, Jack Murdock is called over. A bittersweet moment as Jack is presented with the fight of a lifetime, then asked to take a dive. Something he has an objection to.

The man with an affection for too much discount cologne is finally at Claire’s door. Matt attempts to take care of it using essentially a paring knife. Claire convinces him to let her try a more socially acceptable approach. Claire feels like a crisis got averted. Matt does not agree. He walks out her front door and grabs a fire extinguisher. He stands at the handrail holding the fire extinguisher out. Waiting for just the right moment. Then he drops the fire extinguisher and lands perfectly colliding with the man’s head knocking him out cold.

Foggy strongly suggests Karen accompany him to “Josie’s”, their local dive bar of choice. Foggy keeps calling Matt but he is, well, indisposed. Foggy eventually puts aside the flirty banter and presses for why Karen is always at the office. The answer is obvious to us. Home is a reminder. A literal reminder of what has happened to her recently. Blood stains in the carpet, dented walls, broken fixtures reminding her of the attempts to have her framed and then murdered. In addition to the state of her apartment, Hell’s Kitchen doesn’t resemble a city anymore. It’s a series of dark corners. Then Foggy suggests they just stay out all night.

Claire is having significant morality issues with tying up what looks like a cop on the roof of her building to interrogate and maybe hurt once he wakes up. She wants answers but she’s not going to get satisfactory ones. Just like that, she makes the first move towards trust. He asks why she fished him out of the dumpster and she tells a few stories of cases that came through the E.R. where a man in black mask was responsible for making a difference.

In a flashback, Matt and Jack Murdock have a nice conversation about Murdocks always getting hit, but then also always getting back up. Shortly thereafter, Jack makes a phone call from the gym. The assumption being that it’s a bookie. He changes his bet. Instead of putting it on Creel, he puts it on himself to win. Then directs the bookie that all of the winnings are to be deposited into an account under the name Matthew Murdock. The next phone call we have to believe is to Matt’s mother. Jack is about to do something stupid and if it goes south, Matt’s going to need her more than ever.

The Russian parading around as a NY City Cop finally wakes up. Daredevil starts in on him immediately. “I’m going to ask you some questions. You’re going to answer them. If you’re lying, trust that I will know. And that will make me unhappy.” The Russian gives up nothing of consequence at first. Kidnapping the boy was a ploy to draw him out. Funny how Claire’s morality flies out the window when she realizes the man with the badge is a bad man. She instructs Matt on exactly where to stab the man in order to create enough pain that the man with cave. Then surprisingly, Matt cuts the man down, walks him over to the ledge and says something that is sure to peak interest and gets Matt the address of the boy.

Daredevil: Sssshhhhh. I need you to know why I’m hurting you. It’s not just the boy. I’m doing this because I enjoy it.

He pulls up the Russian who taunts him again. “They’ll be waiting for you.” As the man tries to continue creating the imagery of what they will do to him and what a shame it would be for the boy to witness that. As the man says “boy”, Matt shoves him over the edge with Claire screaming as he falls. He’ll live.

Flashback to the Murdock/Creel fight. Young Matt listens to the broadcast at home. While young Matt celebrates the win, his father frantically tries to get out of his gear and make his escape. Jack mentioned on the phone to the woman we assume is Matt’s mother, that just once his son should hear the crowd chanting his name for the right reason. Jack turns to bathe in what that sounds like as the crowd pulses with the sounds of a ‘Murdock’ chant. Jack slowly closes his eyes. The next camera shot is the sound of a single gunshot waking young Matt Murdock.

Then comes the rather epic scene anyone familiar with the Daredevil story has been waiting for. A blind, frantic, young Matt Murdock feeling around Jack’s bloody face to identify that the dead man in the street is indeed his father.

This next scene may now and forever be referred to as, “the sequence”. I’ve watched a lot of television. I’ve seen a lot of fights, both verbal and physical play out on a television screen. None I have ever seen can equal the final scene in Daredevil episode 2: Cut Man. As I have expressed many times before, my words will not accurately convey what your eyes and mind will get from actually watching this fight sequence. It’s also very important to see the parallels. Understand the motivation, because it all plays a part.

This entire episode has essentially been about saving a young boy. A young boy who was forced to watch his father get a beating before being kidnapped. A scared and helpless boy. This is all about Matt Murdock the man, identifying with the position the boy is in. Knowing that if he could have reunited with his own father on that night or any night after, he would have done anything to do just that. The motivation is apparent quickly.

We all have seen some hero face off against many bad guys at once. I assure you this sequence is not that. Yes, a wounded Daredevil faces off against many men at once. The difference here is, one punch doesn’t take a guy out for good. Guys go down, then get back up. There is visual evidence of fatigue and struggle. Daredevil doesn’t just walk in there and take the guys out. This is a real fight. Daredevil gets hit and knocked down. However, the realism of this fight is remarkable. If you can accept a sense of realism applied to a fake fight sequence where a comic book hero takes on many bad guys, then this will prove to be the best most compelling fight sequence you have ever seen. Period, end of discussion.

Daredevil does not neutralize the situation with ease. This is a difficult fight. A wounded and fatigued Daredevil takes on somewhere between 8-10 men. None of which go down easy. And definitely don’t stay down. Also the fight takes place in a hallway. At times it feels like Neo fighting the sea of Agent Smith’s in the third Matrix movie, only not anywhere near as fake. There are even times when it looks like Daredevil is done for. Then he summons just enough strength to deliver the final blow. Ultimately allowing Matt Murdock as the Man in the Black Mask to find the door.  Open the door.  Remove his mask.  Then tell the boy, “I know you’re scared.  I’m here to help you. You don’t have to be scared.  Let’s get you home to your Dad.”   And why go through all of this punishment? To deliver a scared boy back into the arms of his father. Whether it’s a young Matt Murdock reliving the tragic events that took his father from him or the boy behind the locked door at the end of the hallway, it has always been about the boy.

Courtesy of Netflix

Courtesy of Netflix

Courtesy of Netflix

Courtesy of Netflix

Warning: Spoiler Alert

The highly anticipated Marvel series, the first of which to find its way onto the Netflix platform, starts exactly the way it should. A man navigates a sea of people with trepidation in his eyes. For those that are not familiar with the story, Matt Murdock the protagonist, loses his sight from a chemical accident. That man is his father en route to discovering his son’s fate. The circumstances that lead to this accident, I’m sure will be revealed down the road.

While Jack Murdock slowly experiences what has happened, an old man is helped off the ground and yells out, “your boy saved my life”. Early beginnings of a hero yet to be realized. Young Matt scared, exclaims that his eyes burn. Then the visual effect the show runners use to illustrate a rapidly deteriorating sense of sight, was subtly impressive.

Fast forward to present day and we find adult Matt Murdock in confession. The scene lasts a little long, but for a reason. Daredevil was created to stand alone. Meaning, you need not be familiar with the comics or even the 2003 movie (that most people hated) in order to ‘get it’. This is an essential device to illustrate the man Murdock is and the contrast between this man in confession and the man who will don the mask very soon. It also gives a little perspective to the admiration he had for his father and the origin of what will become the hero namesake. “Watch out for those Murdock boys, they have the devil in them.”

Priest: Maybe this would be easier if you told me what you’ve done…
Matt Murdock: I’m not seeking penance for what I’ve done, I’m asking forgiveness…for what I’m about to do.

Not cross-breed brands but, the next scene and our first introduction to the hero Daredevil comes in a scene reminiscent of the docks scene from Batman Begins. Dark, loading docks, containers. In the darkness, Daredevil just appears. Then takes out the muscle and gets the people out of their intended to be used in a human trafficking ring. I can’t imagine accurately capturing this in text. However, I will say that hinting to a ‘Jason Bourne’ style was accurate. You do feel like you are experiencing each hit.

Foggy Nelson, Matt’s law partner (played by Elden Henson) calls Matt for his not so courteous wake up call. Foggy is walking through Hell’s Kitchen jabbing Matt about his exploits the night before assuming its a woman and not moans from injuries sustained by fighting crime. Then Foggy goes to bribe a cop. It’s innocent enough as the cop is a childhood adversary of Foggy’s. The bribe is to get a head’s up when a prospective client/criminal comes across his radar.

Matt and Foggy meet a real estate agent for office space for their upstart law practice. A running gag with Foggy is just how much he is annoyed/jealous of Matt’s ability to woo women with his ‘blind charm’. Even when (or maybe specifically when) Matt is short with his responses, he gets the desired effect. Leaving Foggy to just roll his eyes.

If you’ve wondered just how might this (or not) fit in with the Cinematic Marvel Universe, or MCU, they answer that question rather quickly. The real estate lady references “the incident” of course referring to the Battle of New York in which the Avengers (Captain America, Ironman, Thor, Hulk, Black Widow, and Hawkeye) fought Loki’s Chitari army and almost wiped New York and thus Hell’s Kitchen off the map.

Here’s where the story picks up speed. Karen Paige, who may look familiar to you. as she played by the same woman to played Jessica on HBO’s True Blood, wakes to find a man dead and bloody while she’s holding the murder weapon. Nelson and Murdock appear shortly thereafter, benefit from bribing the desk officer. Karen has no money, prompting Foggy to try to leave. Murdock purposes the idea that they can help each other. She needs defense council and they need clients.

Karen tells her story. It’s damaging to any hope she’ll walk out of there ever again. She met a co-worker for drinks. They had a couple of drinks, then she woke up covered in his blood holding the knife. As she recants this story we the audience, hear the subtle sound of her heartbeat. Well, Matt Murdock hears it. This is a brilliant, less is more, approach to showing his ‘ability’ as opposed to inventing ‘sonar hearing’ as they did in the 2003 movie to utilize the technology of the time.

A man in a suit walks up and sits next to a man who is absolutely not in a suit. This is a power play to put this older more modest looking man in Wilson Fisk’s pocket. Don’t worry, you didn’t miss anything, but we all know Wilson Fisk is the bad guy, we just haven’t met him yet. This man’s shown a video of his daughter while at college in real-time.

In her holding cell, Karen wakes up a second or two before a guard begins to choke her out. That guard is the man from the previous paragraph. He’s about to turn her lights out, so to speak, when she reaches up and gauges his right eye. This prompts the first standoff between Nelson and Murdock and the New York District Attorney’s office and the local detectives. Murdock demands Karen be released immediately, even if the detective doesn’t like Matt’s tone.

Union Allied Construction (Karen’s employer) has been doing something fishy with the pension portion of their books. When Karen brought this to their attention, they shrugged it off. She made the mistake of opening the file. That’s the big mistake. Having the file is a huge loose end to tie up. During their more candid conversation from Matt’s living room, he asks Karen if she kept the file. We know she lied when she said no by the increased rate of speed of her heart rate as she tells it.

In the night, Karen sneaks out to retrieve the flash drive that she absolutely has and hid. Luckily Matt woke up just in time to hear her leave. When she gets to her apartment, a man is lurking in the shadow. Before the assailant can do anything to her, Daredevil shows up. A violent a frenetic fight sequence breaks out. The sequence starts in Karen’s apartment, but doesn’t end there. Daredevil and the assailant throw each other out of the window. On street level, they exchange blows. Murdock can hear the faint sound of chain links clinking against a metal scaffolding. Daredevil uses this to his advantage wrapping it around the assailant, then kicking him and knocking him out.

Daredevil removes the flash drive from the assailants pocket. Karen is beside herself for witnessing what she has just witnessed. Then Daredevil says he will get this in the right hands. Karen immediately switches gears suggesting that he can’t trust anyone and especially not the police.

Karen: You can’t take it to the police. You can’t trust anyone.
Daredevil: Then we tell everyone.
(The beaten and now shackled assailant is thrown onto outer steps with an envelope taped to his chest that reads “editor”)

Fisk’s right hand man speaks to him on speaker phone about the status of the various people involved to this point. Most of them have been ‘ended’ in ways that cannot be traced back to Fisk. The belief is that Karen doesn’t know anything that wasn’t printed in the newspaper article. Then they move to Nelson and Murdock, described as ‘ambulance chasers’. Then we clearly hear Fisk say to start a file on them as they may be of some use.

Karen makes dinner as thanks for Nelson and Murdock keeping her safe and out of prison. Then a new symbiotic relationship is formed. Nelson and Murdock Attorneys at Law desperately need secretarial help that Karen is glad to provide, without a paycheck.

Our final series takes us through a montage of Matt hitting a heavy bag in the gym his father trained in after paying a gym employee to let him in after hours. While simultaneously seeing various crime elements getting ready for something. Guns, drugs, and now kidnapping. Including the Chechens from the first human trafficking attempt jumping out of a van, beating a man senseless and stealing his young son. At that point, Matt Murdock aka Daredevil stands on a rooftop taking in the sounds of injustice. Pulls down his mask. Credits.

Side note. Not to sound arrogant or to demean other such attempts, but one episode down and this Marvel’s Daredevil on Netflix is easily the best comic book to television adaptation that I’ve seen to date. No disrespect to Agents of SHIELD or The Flash or Smallville or The Incredible Hulk. If you haven’t yet seen any of this new Daredevil series, I implore you to do so. The $7-10 a month service fee is a modest price to pay for what may be the best comic book to screen project ever attempted. At this point, it should go without saying, but I’ll say it anyway. Check back to NJATVS for episode recaps on Marvel’s Daredevil. There is one slight difference. Check back to NJATVS every Wednesday, Thursday, and Saturday as we will be recapping Daredevil episodes 3 times a week until season one has wrapped.

Courtesy of Netflix

Courtesy of Netflix

Photo: Courtesy of Netflix

Photo: Courtesy of Netflix

Warning: Spoiler Alert

Marvel Studios along with Netflix, put together one of the greatest renditions of a Live-Action Comic Book, presented on a screen of any size, as they debuted Marvel’s “Daredevil“, Friday morning at 12:00 am. A gritty, tough story, taking place in a rebuilding section of New York City, infamously known as Hell’s Kitchen, they’ve tied this character into the preexisting Marvel Universe. The city’s still recovering from The Incident, that occurred in the Marvel film “The Avengers,” a couple of years back.

The story revolves around an attorney Matt Murdock, who lost his sight in a car accident, when he was a child. However, Murdock’s remaining senses now heightened, have allowed Matt to become a masked vigilante, capable of taking on countless men, despite the pain or injuries he endures. Charlie Cox, brings the character alive, making you believe that Murdock’s able to withstand any beating.

All 13 episodes of the series, got released Friday morning, encouraging binge-watching, which this writer’s in the midst, of at this moment. Jason Jones will start recapping the series Saturday April 11, and will publish recaps, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, over the next few weeks.