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Saturday, May 17, 2014

Bustin' Loose

First things first...get a good look at this blog right now.  Get a look at the light purple wallpaper background.  The light yellow boxes where the blog entries are written.  The Impact font that has been a staple of this blog for at least two years.  The purple and blue splotchy logo with the Italicized white "A POP CULTURE ADDICT'S GUIDE TO LIFE" enclosed within it for the last few months.  

Get a nice good look at it now...because this is going to be the last time you see this look.

Yes, this design served me well over the last two years (prior to that, I used a pink and blue motif during this blog's earliest days).  But, like all good things, it's time for a major overhaul.  And you've seen some of these changes in action so far with the slight changes in font, more use of colour, and the rearrangement of the theme days.

Well, this weekend brings forth the biggest change of all.  And sometime this weekend, that change will be implemented in what will be the biggest layout change that I've ever done with this blog.  New logo, new colour scheme, new everything!  I've definitely experimented with some various backgrounds and different colour schemes, and I think I found one to match the wicked cool logo that my MOTIVE4CHANGE co-host Joshua designed for me.  I am hoping that you enjoy the new look, and as always, I encourage feedback from all my readers!  After all, this blog is as much your creation as it is mine!  You guys and gals truly inspire me to do my best here.  I truly mean that.

So, anyway, that's enough about that.  Trust me when I tell you that you'll know when the changes come.  It will be that drastic. 

Now, let's talk about the new feature based on an old feature.  It's Saturday Night At The Movies!

And, this week, I've decided to pick a movie that was released approximately thirty-three years ago this week.  But thirty-three is such an odd number, don't you think?  Not thirty, or forty, but thirty-three.  Why the big deal about 33?

Well, I have a bit of a confession for you all.  This weekend, I happen to turn the big 3-3.  And, I have to tell you that I'm hoping that 33 is a good year.  It just seems like a number that could bring forth huge possibilities and huge changes.  This blog makeover is certainly only the beginning of that.  And, maybe if you're interested, I'll fill you in on some of the other changes that I'll be doing in my 33rd year of life.  But, only if you're interested.  I won't force you.

So, this explains why I wanted to feature a movie that was released in May 1981.  But here's the problem.  Apparently, May 1981 was NOT a good month for movies at all.  I hadn't even heard of a good 75% of the films that were listed as new releases during that time period, and the others that were there were films that I actually despised. 

I was about ready to give up hope and move right on to June 1981 when I came across one film on the list that I remember liking.  It's not my all-time favourite movie, but it's certainly the one movie on the list that I can talk about long enough to do a substantial blog on!

It's a film that was originally released four days after my actual birthday, on May 22, 1981, and the film starred the late Richard Pryor in a movie about an ex-con who is granted a second chance to live a crime-free life following the violation of his probation.

But the actual plot of the movie is nothing compared to the real-life dramatic incident that happened to Pryor during the filming of this movie.  We'll get to that a little bit later.

For now, let's talk a bit about the plot of the 1981 film "Bustin' Loose", the topic of this week's movie discussion.  In addition to Richard Pryor, the film starred Cicely Tyson, Robert Christian, and a whole lot of child actors.  You'll learn more about those kids in the next couple of paragraphs.

The film received mixed to mediocre reviews when it was released.  Some critics loved it, others didn't care for it.  But the movie ended up making a grand total of $31 million at the box office.  Which granted doesn't seem like a lot of money given that movies like "Avatar" reached the one billion dollar mark.  But keep in mind that money bought a lot more thirty-three years ago than it does now.

Anyway, Richard Pryor starred as convicted felon Joe Braxton, a man who does something incredibly stupid while on parole.  Needless to say, if you're out on parole for a crime, it might not be the best idea to steal a shipment of television sets from an electronics store.  Especially if you're dumb enough to get caught while doing it.

Now, I've never been in trouble with the law before, so I can only speculate what happens when a person violates the conditions of their parole.  But I'm fairly sure that any parole violators usually get the book thrown at them.

But here's the twist in "Bustin' Loose".  In this case, Braxton manages to get a second chance (after playing a game of good old reverse psychology on the judge who is presiding over the trial), and he ends up going on an adventure with his parole officer (Christian), a school teacher named Vivian (Tyson), and eight special needs children who have yet to be relocated to new schools after their old one (in which Vivian used to teach at) closed down.  Just to put into perspective what sorts of kids I'm talking about, let's break it down.  We have one kid who is desperate to learn how to drive even though he is completely blind.  We have another child who has an unhealthy obsession with torching things and watching them burn.  And we have a little girl who once worked as a child prostitute in Vietnam.

Quite the motley crew of characters, eh?

Anyway, the decision to take the children out to a farm that Vivian's aunt owns in Washington seems to be the most logical one, so Braxton decides to fix up an old school bus and take the kids to the farm himself.  And, naturally, Braxton ends up spending so much time with the children that he starts to find ways to help them express themselves better, and to help them cope in a world that frequently made them feel bad about themselves.

Now, that's really all of the plot details that I can give out at this time.  Anything else would be spoiling the film for you.  And, even though the movie discussion has switched from Mondays to Saturdays, I will state that the rules of me not revealing the ending to any of these films will remain firmly in place no matter what day movie discussions fall on.

But to make it up to you, I have a very interesting story to tell you about one behind the scenes moment that almost killed Richard Pryor!

Now, it should come as no secret that Richard Pryor had problems with substance abuse and alcohol.  It was well documented, especially in the early part of his career.  Abusing drugs and alcohol had been a coping strategy for Pryor to deal with depression.  Unfortunately, his dependency on alcohol and drugs lead to an incident that happened on June 9, 1980 while he was filming "Bustin' Loose".  He was attempting to freebase cocaine while drinking a bottle of rum.  Certainly not the greatest combination in the world.

And, certainly not the smartest thing that Pryor ever did.  During the process, he accidentally set himself on fire and instead of doing the stop, drop, and roll thing that you're supposed to do when your clothes catch on fire, he ran down the street screeching like a banshee before police came upon the sight and subdued him while putting out the flames.  By the time he was taken to hospital, he had fifty per cent of his body covered with serious burns, and he spent a total of six weeks recuperating in hospital.  Although reports differ from how things really went down (theories range from Pryor accidentally setting himself on fire in a drug induced rage to Pryor actually attempting to commit suicide), regardless, it happened.

Fortunately, Richard survived the incident, only to be diagnosed with multiple sclerosis six years later.  Still, he managed to live twenty-five more years, passing away in 2005 at the age of 65.

Reportedly with a smile on his face, according to his widow, Jennifer.

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