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Thursday, July 19, 2007

The Glass Shield aka The Bermuda Triangle

Just rewatched the Charles Burnett film "The Glass Shield" last night (on-demand is a good platform for that), which I haven't viewed since it's 1994 release. Sometimes it's good to rewatch a film that you were too young to really appreciate the first time around, or just weren't paying attention to.

Charles Burnett, in my opinion, has always been the most thoughtful of the Black Hollywood directors, never really getting his due, and flying just below the radar. His films are very character get to know them as flesh and blood, and actually get what motivates them, something that is sorely missing in 80% of the films out there. I've always said that character driven films are usually the best films, because you care about the story, and it usually makes you forget you're watching a movie. It gives a film richness and texture. Martin Scorcese can be placed in that category.

The film is about a fresh out of the police academy rookie (Micheal Boatman, who looks about 12) as the only black officer in a department deeply embedded in racism and politics. He teams up with the only female officer in the department, who has been treated just as unfairly as he, to reverse an injustice thrown upon an innocent man (Ice Cube), who is a victim of circumstance and prejudice, accused of murder. The officer has to deal with his loyalties as an officer, and his heart as a black man.

Anyhoo, Mr. Burnett does not make films too often, and when he does, you can be guaranteed that they will be the realest. So real, in fact, that sometimes they are almost painful to watch, but it's like a trainwreck--you can't look away. Whether you're black or non-black, he digs deep into our social issues and fears unflinchingly. What makes it more painful is that he doesn't judge, or try to hit you over the head with a statement...he just presents it. And he always presents it in a way we recognize and feel on the deepest levels.....probably the #1 reason Hollywood hasn't welcomed him with open arms. But he never sells out, and I really respect that.

Charles Burnett also directed "Killer of Sheep" and "To Sleep With Anger". Tired of the summer blockbusters? Rent any of his films, but prepare to think. I call this film the Bermuda Triangle, as it was the last I'd heard from him, Victoria Dillard (the girlfriend in "Deep Cover"), the boss from "The Bionic Woman", Bernie Casey(who I used to have a crush on), the "Chicken McNugget Head" from "She's Gotta Have It", Lori Petty (Tank Girl, then nothing), and Michael Boatman, who jumped ship to TV (Spin City). At least we know Ice Cube and Elliott Gould (the new "Ocean's" films) are still alive.

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