29 5 / 2013


The Return of the Black Movie…

As a child of the 90’s, when I think back to my childhood, a few things come to mind:  Swatch watches, bright colored clothes, box braids, R&B, and black movies – good black movies – like  “The Inkwell,” “Love Jones,” “The Best Man,” “The Wood,” and “Love & Basketball.” Each film, in their own way, spoke to the Black experience in America. Actually paralleling the successful black shows that were on television, like Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, A Different World, and The Cosby Show, these projects both identified with and influenced Black culture at the same time, while exploring universal human emotions, like love, friendship, and social injustices. And, at often times, they crossed racial lines.  Mostly, because they were done in a way, that didn’t mock black people.

Now when we begin to compare these films to Hollywood’s most recent “Black” films – “Diary of a Mad Black Woman,” “Madea Goes to Jail” and “I Can Do Bad By Myself,” or even the most recent Terry Perry creation, “The Haves and The Have Nots,” I actually start to feel constricted, like the caricatures portrayed in these films.  Yes, these films grossed millions at the box office and they do obviously identify with a segment of the black population; yet to me, they only display one very small part of “Black America,” and isn’t art supposed to imitate life? All of life? I mean, for every one Tyler Perry movie, there should be one Lee Daniels, one Antoine Fuqua, and one Spike Lee movie. We need something to counter-balance the foolery. And, yes I know, we all enjoy a little foolery, but let’s embrace all parts of Black America – the foolery and the refined.

Well, to my luck, I think my wishes have been granted.  I am happy to see the release of a several black films, starring all-star black casts that tell stories that are entertaining, relatable, and for lack of a better analogy, could even parallel mainstream white comedies. Comedies, that would typically star, Jennifer Aniston, Drew Barrymore, and Paul Rudd. Now, I’m not saying we don’t have further to go, but hey it’s a start!

Baggage Claim – Move over Gwyneth! Paula Patton’s the newest flight attendant and is joined by an all-star cast of Black actors, acting, ummm… normal. Yea, Black people fall in love too, and can poke fun at themselves in the same way, you may see in a Jennifer Aniston romantic comedy.

The Best Man Holiday – The entire cast of the original Best Man returns. Nia Long is a leading TV producer, Taye Diggs is a successful writer, and the stripper has even turned from being a lady of the night, to a lady of the day. The nostalgia that I experienced when I saw the trailer brought me back to high-school. I’ll definitely be seeing this in November.

Think Like A Man, II – Although I’m not a big fan of men telling women “how to act” or “how to win a man,” Steve Harvey does a great job bringing common issues facing women to life in this romantic comedy, and, does it in a way that is entertaining, universal, and somewhat empowering ( so it looks.)