Tag Archives: film

“Think Like a Man…”: Are you shocked at the success of this movie?

IF you are shocked at the success of “Think Like a Man“, I have one word for you.  “Boomerang“.

1992 was the year and Boomerang was THE movie.  I love that movie.  I wish they would get the band back together and make a sequel!  Someone please tell Reginald Hudlin that there is money in the air.  And tell Eddie Murphy too…his last few movies have been terrible to so-so.

Wikipedia: Released in the United States on July 1, 1992, Boomerang received mixed reviews from film critics. Nevertheless, the film was a commercial success, ranking as the 18th highest grossing film in North America that year. Boomerang earned over $131 million worldwide during its theatrical run.

There hasn’t been a black relationship movie with that kind of star power behind it in a minute.  Hallie Berry, Eddie Murphy, Robin Givens, Martin Lawrence, Eartha Kitt…wow.  If you can think of another movie with a majority black cast that can compare, please comment below.

In terms of talent, I’m comparing the 2 casts and overall star power moment in time to moment in time.  The cast of “Boomerang” went on to do a lot of great acting and many were young and full of potential at the time.  I don’t think this is a total apples to apples comparison talent and acting wise.  That being said, I can see many parallels.

The other star power involved is that of Steve Harvey.  Harvey is said to have an audience of about 6 million listeners in more than 60 markets.  With that following and Oprah’s blessing of the book this movie is based on…I’m not surprised that the movie reached #1 and made 33 million.

Sidenote: Yes, yes, I know who Tyler Perry is, but I don’t put his movies in the same category.  Not taking anything away from his success, I think of him as a phenomenal businessman who is very focused on black audiences.  I don’t think he’s trying to put out mainstream movies for mainstream success.   He’s doing what has worked for him for years, just on a huge scale due to his success.

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“The Help”: Is it just me or…

…are black people not feeling this movie trailer?  I’ve witnessed a very conflicted reaction to the trailer of the new movie “The Help” recently, in a movie theater that was filled with black folk.  Conflicted is the best way I can describe the mix of disgust and curiosity.  Am I surprised? No. It’s 2011, but the subject matter and images still sting.  Nothing like a dark-skinned black woman serving white folks in a maids uniform…in a period movie…set in the deep south.  Sigh.  Especially when it centers around a classic white savior character.  Since it takes place during the Civil Rights era, I think the author could have done a better job of developing the black lead character.  However, would Hollywood even make such a movie if it didn’t have a white lead?  I don’t know.

Unlike a lot of people I know, I read the book last year.  I can see how the movie trailer is off-putting without the book as reference.  I had some problems with the book, but overall I thought it was a decent read given the full context of who wrote it and the back story presented.  At times, reading it was heart wrenching for me as a black woman whose family is from Mississippi (mom’s side) and who’s great-grandmother was a maid for several white families.  Parts of the story were plain old scary, as racism sometimes is.

I don’t know for sure how this movie is going to be received by the black community.  I think Michele Wallace’s recent review in Essence is dead on (if they post it to the site, I’ll link to it).  In my opinion, this is not going to be a celebrated movie (like “The Color Purple”), but I’m glad that great actresses like Viola Davis and Cicely Tyson are taking on the roles in this film so that they are played with dignity.

One more point that doesn’t help: A Maid Sees Herself in a Novel, and Objects – Yep, a black maid, named Ablene, that worked for Kathryn Stockett’s older brother is suing her.  Dag! At least name the main black character in your book something other than your brother’s REAL, black maid’s name.  Come on!  To add insult, the woman says that part of the storyline was taken from her life.

NY Times | “Ablene Cooper, a 60-year-old woman who has long worked as a maid here, has filed a lawsuit against Kathryn Stockett, the author of the best-selling novel “The Help,” about black maids working for white families in Jackson in the 1960s.

In the complaint, Ms. Cooper argues that one of the book’s principal characters, Aibileen Clark, is an unpermitted appropriation of her name and image, which she finds emotionally distressing.

It is more complicated than that. For the past dozen years, Ms. Cooper has worked for Ms. Stockett’s older brother, Robert, and sister-in-law, Carroll, and still does.

“Ain’t too many Ablenes,” Ms. Cooper said at a law office after a day’s work at the Stocketts, for whom she has helped raise two children. Ms. Cooper also said that she had their support in her legal quest.

“What she did, they said it was wrong,” Ms. Cooper said of the Stocketts, members of a prominent Jackson family. “They came to me and said, ‘Ms. Aibee, we love you, we support you,’ and they told me to do what I got to do.””

Quote from Viola Davis in the August issue of Essence magazine:

”Of course I had trepidations. Why do I have to play the mammy? But what do you do as an actor if one of the most multifaceted and rich roles you’ve ever been given is a maid in 1962 Mississippi? Do you not take the role because you feel like in some ways it’s not a good message to send to Black people? No. The message is the quality of the work. That is the greater message… As Black women, we’re always given these seemingly devastating experiences – experiences that could absolutely break us. But what the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the master calls the butterfly. What we do as Black women is take the worst situations and create from that point.”

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Sex and the City 2: Black Don’t Crack

Black actresses need to thank God that “Black Don’t Crack”.  Apparently HD brings out every little flaw.

I saw “Sex and the City 2″ Thursday and I’m telling you, HD film is NOT forgiving!  Not at all.  All of the ladies looked much older than in the first film.  Even Charlotte, who was so youthful looking, was showing major signs of aging (most notably in the chin area).  SJP has always shown her age and is not a Botox or surgery girl so I wasn’t surprised at how she looks.  I will say, Samantha looked the best out of all 4.

I really would have expected that they’d found some way to filter out the harshness of HD.  Whoo!  Makeup Artists, you have your work cut out for you.  Sistafriend actresses, ladies let’s hope that the Melanin and some good moisturizers helps your black not to crack.

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The Wedding Proprosal, hope and single black women

The Wedding Proposal is a personal documentary where the filmmaker takes stock of her life style and romantic choices during the year of her 35th birthday. The film examines the institution of marriage, opinions and attitudes about marriage and marriage options from the viewpoint of professional African-American women my age and older.”

Thomas Lopez-Pierre (holding private placement memorandum) with models during casting call for Fashion Show Club Magazine /investor presentation for Lopez-Pierre Realty, LLC, November 19, 2007 (NYC)
Thomas Lopez-Pierre (holding private placement memorandum) with models during casting call for Fashion Show Club Magazine /investor presentation for Lopez-Pierre Realty, LLC, November 19, 2007 (NYC)

I’m watching Anjanette Levert’s documentary on BET right now. The filmmaker, an educated African-American journalist, celebrates her 35th birthday and acknowledges to her dismay that she is STILL unmarried. For answers she turns to her family, her friends and a very interesting negro…Thomas Lopez Pierre, Managing Partner of The Harlem Club, a private social club for professional African-Americans. Any professional man is eligible to join, but women must be under 35, single, have no children; AND they must also submit head and body photos. Thomas points out the troubling statistic that of those African-Americans that graduate college, 65% are women. That leaves a shortage of available professional men for women like Anjanette. As you might think, the ladies in the documentary are not feeling Mr. Lopez. He says that most professional men don’t want a partner (who is a professional woman who works and that they have to support in their goals and journey to success) …they want a wife and that they want to walk into the room with a drop dead gorgeous woman/trophy that personifies their success. He also says there is NO hope for any unmarried black woman over the age of 35. Very interesting…sigh.

What do I think?
Everybody wants love. No body wants to be one of “those women”.  Yall know what I’m talking about!

Very interesting so far…it will be on again as part of the Black Stories series, I’m sure.

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Friday Question: Are we back to Amos and Andy?

jim crowThe question for today is…

Are we excepting Step n’ Fetchit, Amos and Andy, big eyed, slack jawed, caricatures of black men from movies and television Willingly? Think about Mr. Brown from Meet the Browns and Flavor Flav before answering. Are we going to see more and more of these types of “characters” in the media?

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Watch It: Goodbye Uncle Tom

This movie may be quite simply the most shocking, screamingly offensive blaxploitation movie of all time!!! is an unabashedly incendiary look at race relations in America during the early seventies that’s guaranteed to leave your jaw on the floor. This movie has it’s flaws, as critics like Robert Ebert have pointed out. However, I rank it right up there with Sankofa on the scale of movies that illuminate the horror, the absolute inhumane nature of the institution of slavery…no sugar coating.

The Italian filmmaking team of Gualtiero Jacopetti and Franco Prosperi’s 1971’s GOODBYE UNCLE TOM (a.k.a. ADDIO ZIO TOM) (view it here) is an epic that puts the team’s documentary background to good use and outdoes all their other films in sheer outrageousness. Some would say that this pseudo-documentary is arguably the most shocking (yet effective) cinematic treatment of slavery and its consequences, surpassing all the others–ROOTS, MANDINGO, DRUM, AMISTAD, ILL-GOTTEN GAINS, BELOVED and MANDALAY. Well, I can say that this movie has something to anger just about anyone. Want to see it…there are some clips available on YouTube (I think the whole movie is on Google Movies). Here are some comments from others.

I thought this site summed it up well…

The movie is filmed as if modern filmmakers took a trip the antebellum south and recorded what they saw there, with an emphasis on the most inhuman stuff they could find. So, we get to see rape, torture, children being sold as sex toys, beatings, and just about everything else you can think of. Even when there are not massive amounts of violence on the screen, it’s still pretty disturbing. There’s a shot of a little white girl and a little black boy running through a field together; after a little while you realize the girl has the boy on a leash. And about every five minutes, there’s someone prattling on about the inferiority of blacks people. Much of the dialog comes from the actual letters and documents of time, so at least there’s some devotion to historical accuracy. I’m not sure how accurate everything else is, but even if only 10 percent of it is true, it would still be absolutely horrible.

In the end, Goodbye, Uncle Tom is not so much a racist movie as it is a completely tasteless movie. It’s like watching a John Waters-directed version of Black Like Me – whatever lessons about racism there are to be learned, they’ll be overshadowed by the scenes of transvestites getting hit in the face with colostomy bags. I have no problems with a discussion of race relations or the horrors of slavery, but bringing a Jerry Springer-type sensibility to it is a really bad idea. The movie stands as a testament to good intentions gone completely awry.

Robert Ebert says…

The movie gloats over scenes of human degradation. And this time there isn’t even the excuse of documentary; every scene in this movie was specifically staged. Unfortunately, Jacopetti and Prosperi have been able to find people willing to undergo the humiliation inflicted on them in “Farewell Uncle Tom“; most of the blacks in the film are apparently Africans forced by poverty and need to do these things for a few days’ pitiful wages.

This is cruel exploitation. If it is tragic that the barbarism of slavery existed in this country, is it not also tragic — and enraging — that for a few dollars the producers of this film were able to reproduce and reenact that barbarism?

Make no mistake. This movie itself humiliates its actors in the way the slaves were humiliated 200 years ago. A man without a hand is photographed shoving mash into his mouth from a trough. Very young girls are mocked in auction scenes. Pregnant women — women who are really pregnant — are corralled into a scene about the “breeding” of slaves. The fact that this film could find a booking in a legitimate motion-picture theater is depressing.

You can read the rest of Robert Ebert’s take here.

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The “Magic Negro”

Reading an article about “Tyler Perry’s Why Did I Get Married?” I learned a new term…”Magic Negro”.

What Perry does is depict black Americans as people relating to other people – not as mere plot devices, and not as characters defined solely by how they relate to the white world.

In depicting African Americans, mainstream Hollywood still struggles to leave behind the “Magic Negro” paradigm – the idea, epitomized by “Driving Miss Daisy,” that black characters exist solely to teach valuable lessons to white characters. We still don’t get a lot of films in which black characters bestow their moral wisdom on one another. Even in “The Pursuit of Happyness,” Will Smith’s character was only secondarily a lesson-giver to his son; mostly, his role was to teach and uplift the audience.

There’s nothing wrong with a little inspiration. But African American moviegoers who want to see their own concerns and struggles – their own lives, even if rendered in broad outline – projected at the cineplex still aren’t getting much love from Hollywood.

I guess Will Smith has 2 “Magic Negro” movies…through “The Legend of Bagger Vance” in there.  However, the Green Mile is the ultimate “Magic Negro” movie.

Source: SFGate.com

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American Gangster: Finally Cuba Gooding Jr. in a good movie

I could give you the typical rundown about how good I thought American Gangster was.  I could tell you all about my favorite parts, and how GOOD Denzel and the other black actors (especially Chiwetel Ejiofor and Common) looked…dayum good.  I could rave and rave about how you should go and see it!

But I’m not going to do that.

I’m going to make some observations.

1. Finally, Cuba Gooding Jr. in a good movie where he’s not a shuffling fool or a walking punch line.  Thank God…now the Oscar can actually sit on a shelf in his home.

2. Black men will be hunting down beautiful Puerto Rican women as the new trophy chick to have as arm candy.

3. What will this mean for Snitching?  Could we see a change of heart in the hip hop community?

4. Ruby Dee scared me (you know the scene I’m talking about…*growl*)…and she was too  damn funny.  She pulled out the big momma voice.  I thought she was going to pull out a belt and start whooping butt.  I love her :)

5. When will we learn that crime doesn’t pay, no matter how glorified it is in the media and music?

6. How did Fab 5 Freddy get into this film?

7. I want to see a Rayful Edmond movie starting Will Smith next.  Get on that Ridley!

8. I still don’t think chinchilla is cute on a man…fur coats period I don’t like on a man.

9. They killed Stringer Bell…again!

10. That 2 hours and 40 minutes just flew by.  I really didn’t notice at all.  That’s when you know it’s a great movie that has captured your attention.

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Video: What if the South Had Won?

“An audacious, frighteningly resonant faux documentary, CSA: The Confederate States of America asks what American culture would look like if the South had won the Civil War. Venturing a glimpse at such a world, it stimulates the experience of watching a TV special, complete with racist commericals and newsbreaks.” – Caroline Libresco

One of my favorite videos in the last 5 years (I bought the DVD…it was in Target…who would have thought), CSA: The Confederate States of America is a must see. Here’s more…


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