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Friday, January 11, 2008

Dodging A Bullet....


Okay...I've had an advance copy of "First Sunday" for about a week, and haven't even looked at it since I put it on my bookshelf. Even if I do get around to watching it, I don't really think I'll want to talk about it. I think I made my feelings known when I wrote about it here in July.

So here is wonderful Black Cinema lover and comrade Sergio Mims, who writes reviews for Ebony/Jet.Com to take the bullet for me with a great review:



First Sunday

theatre vet david talbert takes it to the multiplex

Review By Sergio Mims


Someone recently remarked that when it comes to movies black people have two different standards. If it’s your usual mainstream all (or mostly) white Hollywood movie, black audiences, like any audience, expect an entertaining, well-made film for their money. But when it comes to a black film, black folks are willing to accept less than perfect and tolerate even the slipshod and ragged. Perhaps knowing the impossible odds against making a film and wanting to support their own, or just happy to see black people on the big screen instead of yet another movie with Ms. Box Office Poison, Nicole Kidman, black audiences are too willing to forgive whatever shortcomings there may be in directing, acting, writing or technically just to give a pat on the back and hope for a better film next time.

After a 12 year career writing, producing and directing his own hugely popular chitlin’ circuit plays which are still touring today David E. Talbert directed his first feature film. Unfortunately, First Sunday won’t give black audiences anything to cheer about. Light years removed from the far superior The Great Debaters, First Sunday falls back on shop worn clich├ęs, telegraphed well in advance of their appearance onscreen. Add to the mix the usual broad acting, hyperactive antics, a loud incessant hip-hop soundtrack, hissabale villains, a couple of flamboyant gay characters and lots of inspiring messages and homespun homilies.

Cube and Tracy Morgan are a pair of best buddy losers up against the wall. Morgan is in over his head with some Jamaican criminals after a disastrous attempt to sell some pimped out wheelchairs and Cube, an ex-con who can’t get work because of his criminal past, is desperate to keep his baby mama (Hall) from moving to Atlanta with his son.

After a last minute visit to a church and seeing the huge piles of money in the collection plates, they hatch a lame brained scheme to break into the church at night and take off with the loot. Of course, they pick the one night when the pastor (McBride), his daughter (Malinda Williams, wearing, fortunately for all the red blooded men in the audience, the tightest dress ever worn by a church parishioner) the church secretary (Devine), the deacon (Beach), the choir director (Katt Williams) and several others happen to be there. What follows is a sort of low rent Dog Day Afternoon with Cube and Morgan keeping everyone hostages as they reveal themselves to each other, discover painful pasts and haunted memories, and figure out who the secret embezzler in the church is during a raucous court trial , before forgiveness and the dawn of a new life approaches.

Talbert, to his credit, displays a genuine cinematic flair in his film. His use of dramatic close-ups, creative framing of scenes and the tight rhythmic interplay in several scenes shows that he’s someone who’s comfortable behind the camera and definitely has a lot of potential. He’s also a confident director of actors giving them space to breathe and allowing their characters to display some honest emotion, though his tendency to let them overact as if they’re performing on stage for the person in the top balcony is annoying. Occasional sloppiness seeps in, particularly in a tasteless character of a retarded man played for laughs who’s one of the hostages yet mysteriously disappears from the rest of the film no doubt to be resurrected in the deleted scenes feature extras on the DVD.

First Sunday is at best a very minor film of very modest diversions and can’t escape its hackneyed predictability. Though it’s mildly amusing one wonders if with a little more effort it could have been something much more. Which can only mean one thing: It'll be a big hit at the box office.


4 comments:

Undercover Black Man said...

But it made that money, IW.

A $19 million opening weekend.

I ain't mad at 'em.

Danielle said...

I've just drawn a line in the sand IW. I'm not going to practice the dbl standard of a set of expectations for white films and then some for black films.

If the quality stinks, it won't get my money black or not. Period.

My life will be simpler that way.

Invisible Woman said...

Yeah UBM...Rush Hour 2 made a lot of money too...feel me?

@Danielle: i hate to say it, cause i know our folks have a tougher time, but i am starting to get jaded as well about giving out the handicaps.

Danielle said...

IW - I feel bad too girl, but if we don't start demanding the best and raising the bar, then it will continue to get worse.