You KNOW that the United States would have never, ever made this poster when this film came out....he'd be lucky to be shown less than 5 feet away from Raquel Welch.
btw, this is from the 60's American film "100 Rifles".
Sunday, October 17, 2010
You KNOW that the United States would have never, ever made this poster when this film came out....he'd be lucky to be shown less than 5 feet away from Raquel Welch.
Tuesday, August 3, 2010
That really should have been the title of this film. What do you say about a movie that bills itself as the "Black" version of Warren Beatty's "Shampoo", yet has nothing in common with it except that a hairdresser has sex with his clients? A lot of sex.
"Black Shampoo" stars John Daniels (a Black Lou Ferrigno doppelganger), as "Mr. Jonathan", who apparently owns an upscale hair salon by the same name on Sunset Blvd. in Los Angeles, that supposedly caters to the elite. I say apparently and supposedly, because since this film seems to be made on about $26, we only see two rooms of this "upscale" salon that has a few chairs and a few ferns. And a couch in the back that would probably make a CSI black-light explode in disgust.
Mr. Jonathan must have been doing hair for a long time and had his fill, because we never see him actually styling one head. Oh, except in the opening credits, where it seems someone just washing your hair can give you the greatest orgasm you've ever had in your life.
Mr. Jonathan spends his day going from one white woman to the next, juking happily three to four times a day, either in the shop or making house calls. He does this while wearing his white hairstyling uniform, which looks like a gay male nurse's uniform, and never bothering to hit his peen with a lick of water in between trysts, not even with a moist baby wipe.
He hires a Black receptionist, and they go to dinner exactly one time, and decide they are completely and totally in love forever and ever. Well, I guess like they say, for Mr. Jonathan once you go Black, you never go back.
Turns out that said receptionist is Mr. Big's ho, and ran away, and Mr. Big kidnaps her back. It is unclear what exactly Mr. Big does, but he always carries a briefcase, even at the pool, and exclaims once loudly that he has to make "some goddamn speech at some goddamn dinner". To address what, heaven only knows.
The rest of the film shows Mr. Jonathan trying to get his Black Queen back, but that is genuinely just filler for the sex scenes. What this film is really is soft porn, and not very good soft porn at that. It is worth a look just to see how ridiculous some films of the period were, and how producers would put "Black" in front of everything and anything just to draw in an audience. It is also quite a sight to see Mr. Jonathan walk around like a baby gorilla in a two sizes too tight hairdresser uniform, and the awful, stunning, unbelievable 70's stereotypes of the gay male hairdressers he has working for him. Truly riveting....they make "Men On Film" from "In Living Color" look like Terry Crews and Tiny Lister.
Ms. Invisible says check it out.
Unfortunately, the movie trailer seems to have disappeared from the internets, but here is the radio commercial trailer for it...dripping with innuendos:
Monday, December 21, 2009
Okay, regarding my last post--I thought Darktown Strutters would be interesting based on it's premise, but I must say I did not love it. At all. Any movie that randomly has The Dramatics pop up in a jail cell in full costumes doing a full performance with Temptations-like choreography gets a huge side-eye from me. Why were movies that weren't dramas in the 70's so effin weird? I know it was a time of rampant drug use, and a lot of films from that decade were hard evidence of that...from "Tommy" to "Heavy Traffic" to "Darktown Strutters" just to name a few--they were just so disjointed, so horribly edited and all over the place with zero cohesiveness. *sigh* Thank goodness for Fred Williamson...
Anyway, let's view a few trailers, yes? These films at least have a linear storyline, but let me know if you find them interesting (personally I can't wait to see "Brooklyn's Finest"). I will get around to writing about the zillions of films I've seen in the past month and a half.
First up, Chris Rock's remake of "Death At A Funeral", with Danny Glover, Tracy Morgan, Zoe Saldana, Martin Lawrence, and my next husband, fine ass James Marsden.. I've had the original on Tivo for the longest, but still can't get myself to watch it....I would like to see the original before viewing this one with a Black cast-I'd like to see if they made it any different--or better:
Then we have this one, which is not really a Black film, but Sanaa Lathan (down with the swirl once again) was tweeting about how "proud" she was of it. When I first read about this film a year ago, it also got the side-eye from me, and after viewing this trailer, it now has a bigger one; Michael K. Williams from "The Wire" nonwithstanding. I dunno...:
I will be working with the publicity team on this one, so expect to see more about this film--hope you likey, at least for the novelty of seeing Wesley Snipes with back-length cornrows..."Brooklyn's Finest" (Michael K is in this one too, as well as The Cheadle, who I always like a lot more in crime thrillers):
Btw, here is a clip from Darktown Strutters; watch at your own risk (and yes, that is Roger Mosely...the chick is actually the first Black Bond girl for you trivia buffs):
Wednesday, September 16, 2009
How bout a couple of trailers? I wanted to post this last week, as I knew about this film before most (as I usually do) but I was too busy to post, so everyone looks like they have the scoop before me, as usual. I must step it up! For your perusal, "Takers" with Idris Elba, T.I., Chris Brown, Michael Ealy, and Zoe Saldana. Might be fun, but the poster, it's fair to say, is positively atrocious. Michael K. had this to say:
I have no clue what this Takers movie is about, but based on the poster I'm guessing the "something" everyone is after is NECKS! This shit should be called NECK TAKERS, because none of these motherfuckers on this poster have one! Paul Walker sort of has one, but it's hidden underneath that spandex turtleneck(?!!!?). I mean, what in the fuck?! My drunk computer-illiterate uncle, who thinks an ipod is a type of diaphragm (true story), could do a better Photoshop job than this!
I wish Paul Walker would use his GIGANTIC hands to rip that hat off of Hayden Christensen's head, because SamRo has been asking for it.
And part of me hopes the movie is just like the poster. You know, a bunch of cardboard cut-outs hanging around together, boozing, smoking and TAKING!
Saw this over at my blog sis' spot, IssaRae.Com....Barry Jenkins, director of "Medicine For Melancholy" has this new short about interracial love, involving a Black woman and an Asian man:
How about a bit of hilarity, yes? "Tamika The Arrogant African American Professional - Who Cant Keep A Man" featuring some "Waiting To Exhale" concepts:
Oh, I almost forgot...here is director F. Gary Gray's (Friday, Set It Off) new one with Jamie Foxx, "Law Abiding Citizen::
Thursday, July 9, 2009
I think it's safe to say that our infatuation with the promise of a "post-racial America" is officially way over. Not that I ever bought into it, for sure. Much about race is bubbling up these days, and while a tiny bit of it just has me shaking my head, the rest of it just makes me wanna kick somebody's ass sometimes. Like Field Negro said, it's just exhausting trying to keep up.
What leaves me going "whatever, dude" is pot/kettle Quincy Jones' non-revelation about Micheal Jackson "wanting to be white". "Have you seen his kids?" he asks in an interview. Wow. This from a man who I've never seen date anyone darker than a Sunset Spray Tan, and whose daughters can pass so well they actually get work in Hollywood. This is who he was with in Europe instead of attending the funeral of the man who made him zillions:
Speaking of Micheal, spotted this on my blogging buddy Eric Easter's site "Big Ideas" from Ebony/Jet.Com. It is a video of Sammy Davis Jr. comparing himself to Michael Jackson on Arsenio Hall, and ends up being something close to a confessional on race. Sammy goes in a few different directions, but you can see and feel the pain this immensely talented man went through, and he used that talent to navigate his way through a tragic life, just like Mike. It was his shield, just like Mike. Oddly Sammy was the only other celebrity besides MJ that made me cry when he passed.
What makes one want to put foot to ass is the situation in Philly that most have heard about by now, where a group of children were denied entry into a swimming pool because it was feared they may change "the complexion" of the pool area. Yes, the fools that run the joint actually said that.
I am not surprised, however, as the same thing happened to me as a kid. My family and I took a road trip to Canada, and in one hotel in Washington state we went swimming. When we went in, all of the YT's promptly got out. I saw one kid crying to his mom "Why can't we swim? I want to swim!" and his mother hissed at him to "shut the hell up". When I asked my mother if everyone got out because of us (it was even obvious to me as an 8 year old), she said "don't worry about it, there's just more room for us to swim now". And being a kid, I promptly forgot about about it. But now that I know better, I'm sure she felt all of the pain, hurt, and frustration those kids in Philly felt, and what made it more ridiculous is though Black, she is the same skin tone as those who got out. I am grateful she made light of it for my sake, so I did not feel what she felt too.
And finally, a cinema related statement on race; a post that my blogging soulmate Tafari did for The Afrospear, which he relayed got him a lot of heated haterade comments:
"Yesterday, I made it a point to go see “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen” in IMAX. Ever since the last Transformers theatrical release I had been giddy for more.
Hours before I headed to the movies, I started reading posts online that discussed racism in the movie but still I pressed on to Showcase Cinemas and dropped $10.50 for my ticket.
Fast forwarding 2.5 hours later. I’m walking out of the theater with my mind blown for many reasons; 1st, the movie was so action packed I thought I was going to slip into a seizure. 2nd the movie was overtly sexual, which made it seem like an R rated movie instead of PG-13 and 3rd the racism that was built into the movie was billed as comedic relief.
As I drove home, I tried to reconcile the racism but I could not, so I decided to sleep on it.
So this morning, when I woke up, I actually got mad about what I saw in “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.” The racism that I’m talking about in case you don’t already know is dealing with the Autobot twins “Skids” and “Mudflap” or the “ Little Black Sambo[ts].
- Both of the twins talk like they are straight from a Lil Wayne video.
- They play the dozens (crack jokes on each other and anyone else) in every scene.
- They are seemingly proud of the fact that they cannot read. “Read?! Nuh-uh…” “No, we don’t really do much readin’!”
- Skids has a GOLD front tooth. Yes, a big bucked out gold tooth
- The names “Skids” and “Mudflap” imply darkness and or nastiness.
- Do I really need to add a 6th, you should get the picture now.
(Wait, for extra measure, if you want to see another relevant countdown list, you have to read this. “7 reasons why Transformers 2 might be racist…”)
With all this now parsed out, I’m wondering why and how this stereotypical bullshit slipped past Michael Bay and Paramount Pictures. Did they care? Did they know? Did they think it was ok?
I feel bad and torn because I actually liked the movie a lot, but how could I in good conscious? Maybe it’s the kid in me remembering watching the cartoon way back in the mid 80s.
Although the racism pisses me off about this flick, I was also disturbed about the adult content and overt hypersexuality. But like I said, I liked the movie, so what does this mean about me?
I know I won’t see the movie again, nor will I purchase the DVD. I do not want my kids seeing this mess and not only that it’s so not a kids movie. Don’t let the PG-13 rating fool you!
Transformers used to be all about the kids way back when, but not so much now thanks to Michael Bay and Paramount Pictures. I’m just saying.
Side note: This post is not nearly what I wanted it to be. Not at all! My thoughts are with and on Michael Jackson. As I wrap this up, I’m chair dancing to “Off The Wall” while I try to control my urge to cry about a man that reached my soul through song, dance and beauty."
From IW: Why am I not surprised that Mike Epps was the voice one of those coontastic robots?
Update: OK, I was misinformed. It wasn't Mike Epps, but one of the voices was YT Tom Kenny, who also voices Spongebob Squarepants :-(
Friday, January 9, 2009
There was this guy that I used to date back in the day, Thomas Monagham (very Irish, right?). I use his real name, cause if he ever happens upon this blog I would be very glad to see/hear from him.
Anyway, Thomas and I met on the subway in New York. Actually he just really mashed on me and charmed me to death in just 5 minutes (till my stop), so I just had to see him at least one more time. He was an actor, and on our first date we went to a Greta Garbo Festival. I wasn't really into it at all at first, but then I actually really enjoyed it.
Thomas was always showing me new things in film, and he was very much the actor in style and looks in the vein of the holy covenant of the Mickey Rourke (when he was hot), Gary Oldman (when he was hot), Eric Roberts (when he was hot), and Sean Penn (when he was hot) mold, and he really exposed me to the works of all four actors. So when I saw 3 movies starring each one of them over the weekend, it led me to think of him and compelled me to post about them.
First up was "State Of Grace", which I had always mistakenly thought was a military film. Not at all. It's Penn as a deep undercover cop from Hell's Kitchen who comes back to his old neighborhood, with his old gangster cronies (including Gary Oldman), and basically has to be a rat fink.
Man, Sean used to be hot to death--I could see why Madonna married him. He wasn't handsome in the traditional sense, but the way he wore his hair, the way he dressed, even the way he smoked; his bad boy swagger was off the meters. The movie was pretty much a by numbers crime story, but Oldman and Penn are so charismatic it keeps you transfixed. There is a beautiful juxtaposition at the end between NY's famous St. Patrick's Day Parade, and Penn's bad ass high-noon style showdown, all in slo-mo. Rent it just to see that sequence alone.
I also rewatched "The Pope Of Greenwich Village", which I hadn't seen in years, starring Mickey Rourke and Eric Roberts. For those of you that don't know, there was actually a time when Eric Roberts was a much bigger star than his sister, Julia Roberts. How the mighty have fallen. It was a bit distracting to look at him sometimes, cause they look so much alike, but I digress.
Rourke and Roberts are cousins that get fired from a restaurant for Roberts' stealing. Roberts, though a complete and total airhead, comes up with a scheme to rob a safe, which they find out (too late) belongs to a mobster.
This movie has been a fave for many cause the characters are so memorable, and it is a real slice of New York life in the 80's. I say see it if you like films about New York, mobsters, and lovable losers.
I saved the best for last, which is Mickey Rourke as "The Wrestler". Holee sh*t this man can act. If you didn't know it was Mickey, you would swear you were watching someone's life. Since this is a Black Cinema blog, I won't go on and on the way I'd like to about this film.
Suffice it to say that between Darren Aronofsky and Rourke, there can't help to be some amazing sh*t. There is a scene where Rourke begins work as a deli worker in a supermarket, and for the couple of minutes before he starts his very first shift, it is just as taught, anxiety ridden, and fraught with anticipation as when he goes into a ring for a match. If a movie can convey that linear polarity, you know you have something very special before you on the screen.
The commonality of these films was that in the working class tribes of the Irish and Italians hoods and the Wrestling World, being loyal and working together came first and foremost. Before anything. And having dreams, and seeing them slowly die, and coming to the harsh realization that you may actually live out your days as a loser, compels people to do extraordinary and desperate things--some good, but a lot of it...not so much.
Here is the trailer for State Of Grace:
And for "The Pope Of Greenwich Village":
ps: if you don't know the term "palookaville", ask an old new yorker
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Is the title of an adorable movie I saw last night. Some have you might have seen it already; I passed it up at a couple of film fests cause the trailers turned me off. It seemed silly, lame, and cliched, and I certainly didn't want to spend an hour of my life seeing a brother chase the grey girls.
But if that stopped you as well, or if you haven't heard of it, I implore you to find/rent/ watch it on cable. I was surprised at it's freshness, it's sweetness, and it's optimism about black love, without being corny at the same time. It is funny, and the lead actor, Anthony Montgomery, is very easy on the eyes ifyaknowwhatimean. The lead actress seemed like a very cool chick--I know some people like her, though I must admit her hair had me at my wit's end. For those of you that consider yourselves different from the expected Black "norm" or maybe just a nerd looking for love, you will especially enjoy this. I also know a lot of the readers of this blog have said they liked "Hav Plenty" (which I did not, more on that later)--you will definitely get into this one.
I was going to write a review, but I saw one on Pajiba that summed up perfectly how I felt about it (plus Ms. Invisible's feeling a tad slackish today):
After a while, you get used to the romantic-comedy template. In fact, after reviewing dozens and dozens of them, you begin to realize that it’s not the existence of either romance or comedy that makes a movie a romantic comedy — since those qualities so rarely exist in the genre — but whether the movie follows the romantic-comedy structure: A man and (usually a) woman meet; they either fall immediately in love, or hate one another and fall in love later, then separate due to a contrived argument or circumstance, before ultimately reuniting after a callback and/or heartfelt speech, i.e. the grand gesture. It’s been the same since Shakespeare, and there’s no indication that this will ever change. And why should it? Name a romantic-comedy that ends unhappily, and I’ll give you a bad romantic comedy (see, e.g., The Break-Up and Prime, two more recent examples in which the protagonists didn’t end up together).
And by traditional measures, I’m Through with White Girls: The Inevitable Undoing of Jay Brooks (currently making the film-festival rounds) fits the romantic-comedy mold: Jay Brooks (Anthony Montgomery), a slacker-geek graphic novelist with a history of commitment issues, meets Catherine (Lia Johnson), an up-and-coming feminist author. They fall for each other more or less immediately, develop a serious relationship over the course of the film, and then — through a contrived argument that entails both his fear of commitment and her trust issues with men — the two separate, and Jay tries to win her back with a grand gesture, this one involving self-humiliation.
By that count, I’m Through with White Girls is a typical romantic-comedy, except that it’s not: In addition to being a rare rom-com that actually roms and coms, it’s also unusually smart, clever, and contains an authentic social message that is neither trite nor self-serious. What’s unusual about the fact that Jay is a slacker geek graphic novelist is that he’s also African-American, and Catherine - an uber-feminist writer - is of mixed-race and happens to speak like a valley girl, both characters defying racial stereotypes. Jay’s history of commitment issues also all involve white girls, because black women have never found him particularly date-worthy. Nevertheless, he decides, after a series of bad relationships with a string of white women, to swear them off. Meanwhile, Jay’s quirky best friend (male best friends in romantic comedies are always quirky - check the archives), Matt (Ryan Alosio) is an unemployed white dude with a video-game obsession who, to win the affection of a white girl, studies rap music and embraces the hip-hop lifestyle.
Sounds kind of crass, doesn’t it? And yes: Perhaps in a conventional studio comedy, all the stereotypes about race and sex would be trotted out and lazily exploited in a borderline offensive manner (e.g., white chicks dig black guys because they have big dicks), featuring Martin Lawrence, Cedric the Entertainer, and LaWanda Page. But here, director Jennifer Sharp, working from a script from Courtney Lilly (who, fittingly, has written episodes of both “Everybody Hates Chris,” and “Arrested Development”) playfully toys with those stereotypes in as subversive a manner as allowed while still maintaining the romantic-comedy label. The whole thing is surprisingly sweet, strangely funny, and so unexpectedly good that it took me a while to realize it was actually a romantic comedy. Indeed, despite a title that screams lame urban comedy, I’m Through with White Girls is something akin to a cross between High Fidelity and a Spike Lee film, if Spike Lee still had a goddamn sense of humor.
Granted, it is a truly independent film (not from one of those corporate-owned specialty studios), and it shows in some of the film’s supporting cast - a few of the actors/actresses seem as though they were pulled off the street or were friends of friends just hanging out, likely given the two-week shoot (I am, however, impressed with the casting of Alaina Reed Hall, who some may remember from “Sesame Street” and “227.”). But despite a budget that probably wouldn’t pay for a day’s catering on a studio film, the cinematography is fantastic - vibrant and luscious, a romantic-comedy seemingly colored by a graphic designer. Super-hardcore-uber -neo-maxie- dun-dweebie-Trekkie geeks may even recognize the two leads - Lia Johnson (whose character is ten kinds of attractive and winsome as all hell) had a role in Star Trek: New Voyages, while Anthony Montgomery was a regular cast-member in “Enterprise,” and he is flat-out fantastic - the man effuses charisma, and I have no idea where this guy has been hiding. The two together have more chemistry even than Ashton Kutcher has with himself, which is saying something, given his obvious self-adoration. And Ryan Alosio is impressive as a poor man’s Justin Kirk, and his hip-hop white boy is less funny that it is sweet.
What’s most impressive about I’m Through with the White Girls, however, is its place in the current genre: It’s neither an Apatow-friendly dick-flick full of frattish humor or unattractive guys dating attractive women, nor is it the other side of the spectrum: A Rainbow Killer/McConaughey chick flick obsessed with finding Mr. Right. Instead, White Girls is a real goddamn love story that deftly explores race, gender, and class issues while maintaining a sense of humor. In other words, nothing that’s likely to come to a theater near you anytime soon.
From IW: Word. Here is a a trailer of the movie. Bear in mind, this is not the one I saw; this one is much better:
For a terrific interview that my girl SolShine did with the lead, Anthony Montgomery, on her blog Think Virtue! click HERE. She also has a sweet blog all about minority film called "Reel Artsy" which is on my blogroll, but you can click HERE to check it out.
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
There is a blog that is always on my radar called "The Black Snob". Miss Snob writes in a way that I wish I had time to do. Unfortunately I don't; I barely even have time to read her thought provoking and involved posts. Here is her detailed review of "The Family That Preys" via Sergio (who I'm sure printed this review on flyers and handed to everyone in the Chicago metropolitan area). Veeerrrry interesting:
I Saw A Tyler Perry Film And Didn't Walk Out In The First 15 Minutes....But Not Because I Didn't Want To
The Snob went to see Tyler Perry's "The Family That Preys," for free, as a guest of a friend. She went with an open mind and that mind was so dulled that it couldn't cut through Perry's horrid dialog, shoddy stagecraft and hysterical directing.
I didn't have high hopes, but I didn't expect what I got.
When I read how others saw this film I wonder if they were grading on a curve. Or maybe his previous films were so poorly executed that by comparison this one was brilliant. But I do know this:
I've watched a lot of black films, many which barely passed as "entertainment." They were what they were, imperfect comedy vessels produced by hacks, but hacks who understood film, if only on a hackery level.
Perry is not good enough to be called a hack.
Compared the producers and directors of such high black cinema as "Juwanna Man," "Two Can Play This Game," "Waiting to Exhale" and both "Barbershop" films, Perry doesn't even come close. To say he is a hack would be to assume that he understood the most basic, crudest elements of filmmaking on a budget.
And from what I saw Saturday morning, this man does not.
Words cannot describe how much I didn't like "The Family That Preys." (Although this review comes close.) The corny, hackneyed mish mash of "Days of Our Lives" and "Soul Food" for a plot could be forgiven. The sickly sweet use of the Lee Ann Womack's relatively recent country classic "I Hope You Dance" could be forgiven. Forcing poor Alfre Woodard and Kathy Bates to go through lines as subtle as a hand grenade. I can even forgive making Rockmond Dunbar's character the dumbest cuckolded man in the history of cuckolds. But I cannot forgive the fact that Perry either does not or refuses to learn the basic elements of filmmaking.
[SPOILER ALERT! If you actually want to be "surprised" by Perry's been-there-done-that plot, please stop reading. But if you watch this film and can't see what's going to happen from a mile out, you obviously don't consume much fiction, whether as a book, TV show, film, music or long form poem.]
Show, don't tell: This was the greatest sin of the whole movie. There's a wedding at the beginning that you never see take place. There is an affair that you never learn any of the "good" parts of -- like the seduction, the courtship, the illicit meetings, any allusions of sex or intimacy between those two characters, allusions of any love or lust between the two. All parts of the affair are learned through a list of talking points uttered by various characters throughout the film.
There's two "children," one per each cheater. One child you only see via the back of his head and the other is invisible, despite both being mentioned. The history of the friendship between Woodard and Bates' characters is verbally mentioned, but not shown. Potential for the examination of class/race issues are offered up but never probed. Woodard takes Bates to an impromptu Baptism when there was no lead-up explaining why Bates would want to be Baptized. There are no conversations between the two about life and death, the existence of God or who Jesus Christ is. Just a Baptism out of nothingness, never touched upon, referenced or explained ever again.
And rather than show through better filmmaking why Sanaa Lathan's character is such a gigantic bitch or why she is obsessed with money, there are jibs and jabs from her sister (who comes off almost equally as bitchy), regular references to luxury items and finally, a blurted out half-assed excuse/motivation for Lathan's nuttiness when she barks at her mother for driving their father away who apparently abandoned them. This is the first and only reference to the man and how his actions affected their family.
Attack of the two dimensional character: There were only two types of characters in this movie -- the good, salt of the earth, working class-to-poor people and the evil, college educated, stuck up rich people.
Does Cole Hauser's William Cartwright have any motivation to cheat on his wife that we know of? No. Do we find out the nature of his marriage? No. Do we learn why he and his mother have such a frigid relationship? No. Do we find out why he loves or does not love his wife or Lathan's character? No. Do we find out why he chose to carry on a years long affair with Lathan's character? No. Do we find out if he had a relationship with Lathan's character's "son" (who Perry -- shock, shock -- outs as Cartwright's son? No. He's just evil.
The same goes for Lathan who is a cold, calculating and cackling witch with no explanation. She also turns into an immature, nonsensical woman who doesn't act anything like a tough, hardworking woman who managed to pull herself up out of poverty and earn an Ivy League education. We don't learn that she had any love for Cartwright until shortly after the film's climax. I'd assumed she was playing him for the money given how "evil" she was, but she tearfully blurts out the most trite and cliched, "He loves me. He's going to leave his wife and marry meeeeee!" bullshit that is even below "The Young and The Restless" standards.
The "good" characters are just as awful. Dunbar's "Mr. Cuckold" is the stupidest wronged spouse in the history of wronged spouses. He is written as so weak and so witless he defies belief. When he learns his wife has a separate account with more than $280,000 in it and asks her about it, she castrates him telling him he has no business looking at her money and that she gets the cash from "bonuses."
She also has a "bonus" car given to her by the company and a "bonus" house, also from the company.
Yet, Dunbar's character doesn't figure it all out until the very end where he uncharacteristically slaps Lathan so hard that she flies over a diner counter top. While this got a lot of laughs from the audience, no doubt under the guise of "she had it coming," I was still disturbed as it wasn't necessary and gives the impression that there is a justification to physically assault another person, especially a woman, if she had it coming.
Wildly gesticulating caricatures: Perry does not understand how you can't direct actors for film the same way you'd direct actors for stage. Too often he has instructed his talented actors to "overact," as you would do for a stage play. On the stage you have to make wider gestures to fill the open theater void. Film is an intimate medium. Actors have to dial back so the dialog and interactions seem real. But the actors weren't dialed back, so they all sounded like cartoons, especially with such unimaginative dialog.
Repetitiveness: Apparently Perry was worried I wouldn't get a few points, so he had his characters repeat them over and over. For Lathan, "I get bonuses!" From every character to Dunbar about his dream of his own construction company some variation of," You need to get your head out of the clouds and be thankful for what you have!" Everyone except Woodard's character, "I need a drink." Having a fresh from work (and two fresh from cheating) threesome return home needing a shower almost immediately. Largely because Lathan and Hauser's characters, hint, hint, wink, wink, did the nasty that day. Perry's character just needed a shower because he was funky from work.
Perry is a lazy screenwriter: I could go all day naming plot devices that did not work or make sense, but if I had to pick one, the most maddening would be how Dunbar's character finds out about the secret account flushed with cash. He learns of it from a bank teller while trying to make a withdrawal. By this point, he and Lathan have been married for four years. The teller asks him which account and he is confused, asking the teller where the extra account came from and what is in it.
How dumb is Lathan's character if she didn't have the presence of mind to open her "secret" account at a different bank? Or if she had to have it at that bank, why would she have her husband's name listed on it? Because that's the only way the teller would say "which account." Because he gave his name only accounts with his name should have come up. Plus, this undercuts the fact that they've already been married for four years and we are to assume that he has never gone into the bank to make a transaction not once when his name is on his wife's secret account.
What the hell, people: Out of all these things I've mentioned, I guess my biggest disappointment was with the audience.
I don't have a problem in people liking and enjoying Perry's stage plays and films, but let's not fool ourselves. This is some piss poor film-making and everyone in that audience should have known it. THESE are the same people who saw "Dreamgirls," who watch "CSI: Miami," who read "Waiting to Exhale" and whose favorite films are "The Color Purple," "The Best Man" and "Bad Boys II." These are people who have seen both excellent cinema and some of Hollywood's finest hackery, yet they applaud something they have to know is a vastly inferior product when compared to "CB4," "Hitch" or "New Jack City."
I can understand why someone would love "Beauty Shop," the boring sequel to the "Barbershop" films, or "Glitter," that "A Star Is Born While a DJ Saved My Life" nightmare by Mariah Carey because as bad as those movies were the people making them understood the basic elements of filmmaking. That way, you could focus on the REAL problems of the film. Not get stuck on elementals you should have learned in either film school or via virtual film school -- a la Quintin Tarantino, a cinephile who consumed mass amounts of movies as he taught himself the craft.
I mourn what could have been -- a watchable melodrama on the subjects of marriage and infidelity featuring black performers.
Seeing actors I like (Rockmond Dunbar, Alfre Woodard, Kathy Bates) and love (Sanaa Lathan, Cole Hauser) wasted in a work undeserving of their talent drove me mad. To have an affair movie with no dramatization of the affair was ridiculous. I wasn't expecting a dry humping sex scene, but would it have killed him to shoot some passionate kissing, a fall on a bed and a fade to black? Give me the seduction. Give me the thickness of the drama. I want to understand what makes a marriage breakdown. By the end of the film, I learned nothing about commitment, family, love or loss that I couldn't find in a fortune cookie.
I realize this film was supposed to be some sort of departure for Perry, going with a biracial cast of characters with a grab for serious drama. But he really demonstrated his limitations as a director and it's hard to "cross-over" when you know that you can't screen your films for critics. And this is likely because Lion's Gate, which put out this film, knows it wouldn't even fly as a film student's freshman experiment. They know Perry can't direct and don't care, because they know black people who know his films are overacted with lots of shortcomings, love Perry anyway and focus on the good more so than the crappy.
So I applaud Perry for his ability to sell his vaudeville to a black movie-watching public who is willing to forgive his egregious sins of cinema because they are so starved of visions of us on screen. So starved that they are willing to pretend like "The Family That Preys" is "Unfaithful" meets "In Living Single" when it's really neither.
It seems I am too big of a snob for Tyler Perry films. My desire for the film fundamentals of A + B = Basic Filmmaking to be met are so strong that not even the power of blackness can override it.
From IW: Wow!