New Jersey’s Great Pop Culture Moments Vol.57: The Hurricane

The Hurricane MovieAs I sit at my computer I can barely concentrate due to the violent winds firing a barrage of liquid bullets at my windows. Weather reports have supposedly downgraded the storm but it seems like we are experiencing a full fledged hurricane. The President and Governor have declared a state of emergency in New Jersey and the surrounding areas. About a million people have evacuated our shore towns. Casinos have been shut down for only the 3rd time in over 30 years. So, while I still have power and Internet service, I’d like to recommend some appropriate viewing in case you are looking for something to watch since you’re probably stuck indoors for the next day or so.

Despite accusations of it not being absolutely historically accurate, I still recommend you check out 1999’s “The Hurricane,” which features another first rate performance by Denzel Washington. Washington was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor and also took home a Golden Globe award for his work in the film and his turn was also lauded by Roger Ebert as being “on a par with his work in Malcom X.”

The biographical film of middleweight boxer Rubin “Hurricane” Carter’s life works best if you aren’t too familiar with his unfortunate story. Carter was wrongly convicted for a murder in Paterson, New Jersey in 1966 and spent 20 years in prison for it. It’s a┬ácompelling and tense drama filled with emotional performances and engrossing boxing sequences. The film also stars┬áDeborah Unger, Liev Schreiber, Rod Steiger, Dan Hedaya, David Paymer, Debbi Morgan, and Vincent Pastore.

The Hurricane sign
A few interesting facts about the film:

– Bob Dylan’s 1975 protest song “Hurricane” is featured on the soundtrack and according to Wikipedia, Dylan visited Carter in prison and later wrote the song.

– Thanks to the film’s IMDB profile, the filming locations included East Jersey State Prison (Rahway Prison), Paterson NJ, and Trenton NJ.

– The picture of Malcolm X used in the film is actually a picture of Denzel Washington from the film Malcolm X.

New Jersey’s Great Pop Culture Moments Vol.37: The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3

The 2009 remake of The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3, has a New Jersey in-joke. Travolta’s subway hijaking character Ryder becomes very defensive when dispatcher Walter Garber (Denzel Washington) makes a punchline out of The Garden State. In reality, Travolta was born in Englewood, New Jersey. In an ironic twist, the film also stars Jersey born Tony Soprano himself, James Gandolfini as the Mayor of New York City!

new york,new jersey,denzel,travolta
Ryder and Garber

RYDER: “Yeah well you know, you live, you die, you either go with the current or you fight it, but you all wind up in the same place”
WALTER GARBER: “Where’s that, Jersey?”
RYDER: “Yeah you watch it, I was born there man.”