The mission of The Department of Afro-American Research Arts and Culture to identify the global significance of the creative contributions pioneered by an international diaspora of Blackness
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Friday, July 28, 2023

G [a.k.a. Summer G] (2002)

"G" (2002) is a romance drama directed by Christopher Scott Cherot and written by Cherot, Andrew Lauren, Charles E. Drew Jr. The writers loosely based the story from "The Great Gatsby" by F. Scott Fitzgerald but took a hip-hop approach intertwined with black classism. "G" premiered on May 10, 2002, at the Tribeca Film Festival and was theatrically released in 2005—the movie stars Richard T. Jones, Blair Underwood, Chenoa Maxwell, and Andre Royo. 

In the late 90s and early 2000s, love triangle dramas were popular in black films, but many were underground and received little marketing. But "G" has a little more to offer than love triangles. The classism approach adds a layer to the film as the film takes place in the Hamptons. Richard T. Jones plays the title character, Summer G, a successful music producer. He tries to rekindle his relationship with his college lover, Sky (Chenoa Maxwell), who left for Chip Hightower (Blair Underwood), a wealthy man. Those familiar with "The Great Gatsby" understand that one of the book's underlying narratives was old versus new money and how people earned wealth. "G" attempts to explore this narrative and its effects on the thinking within the black community. It also explores our decisions and how their results can have terrible outcomes. However, being familiar with  "The Great Gatsby" is unnecessary to understand the movie, but it adds more context.

"G" isn't a blockbuster movie, but it grossed over $3 million. Unfortunately, the filmmaker's choice of title makes it a difficult film to find today. The alternate title was "Summer G," but they didn't change it during its release. 

Director: Christopher Scott Cherot
Writers: Christopher Scott Cherot, Andrew Lauren, Charles E. Drew Jr

Starring Richard T. Jones, Blair Underwood, Chenoa Maxwell, Andre Royo, Laz Alonso, Lalanya Masters, Nicoye Banks, Jillian Lindsey, Sonja Sohn, Marcia Wright, Damian Young, Alex Carr, Renet Kyles, Johnny Russo, Lisa Ferreira, Andrew Lauren

Summer (Richard Jones) is a millionaire rap music mogul who operates his empire from a beachside estate in the Hamptons. The reclusive and publicity-shy G could have any woman he wants, but he still yearns for the one who got away, the girl he fell in love with in college but who chose to marry a prosperous man. Years later, he and his old flame reunite. Sky (Chenoa Maxwell) lives nearby with her husband Chip (Blair Underwood), a duplicitous philanderer born into wealth and figures that give him the right to do what he likes. But old feelings between the two lovers aren't the only ones ignited.

Sunday, July 23, 2023

Romeo Must Die (2000)

"Romeo Must Die" (2000) is an action film starring Jet Li and Aaliyah in her film debut and the only film she appeared in while she was still living. The film also stars Delroy Lindo, Isaiah Washington, Russell Wong, D.B. Woodside, Anthony Anderson, and DMX. Andrzej Bartkowiak was the director, and Mitchell Kapner, Eric Bernt, and John Jarrell were the writers. The soundtrack to the film consisted primarily of hip-hop and RnB debuting at #3 on the Billboard 200.

This film was a mixture of modern Chinese and Black culture. Jet Li recently saw incredible success in the US when he starred in "Lethal Weapon 4." As a result, "Romeo Must Die" was another mainstream introduction for the martial arts star. So Jet Li teaming up with the popularity of DMX and Aaliyah during the late 90s and early 2000s gained him more exposure. In addition, martial arts have been popular among black culture since the 70s in action movies. Martial arts also influenced one of the most significant hip-hop groups ever, so integrating the two cultures was familiar.

"Romeo Must Die" was a blockbuster film distributed by Warner Bros. It was a box office success grossing over $90 million on a $25 million budget. It's a fun action film with some talented actors. There could be more scenes with Li fighting, but overall it's an enjoyable movie. Seeing some of these familiar faces from over 20 years ago is nostalgic.

Director: Andrzej Bartkowiak
Writers: Mitchell Kapner, Eric Bernt, John Jarrell

Starring Jet Li, Aaliyah, Delroy Lindo, Isaiah Washington, Russell Wong, D.B. Woodside, Anthony Anderson, Henry O, Jon Kit Lee, Edoardo Ballerini, Matthew Harrison, Terry Chen, Derek Lowe,

In this martial arts take on Shakespeare's famous tragedy, an ex-policeman is jailed for a crime he didn't commit, and he breaks out to avenge his brother's death in America. He meets Trish O'Day there, and as they fall in love, she helps him in his search. Her father knows more about Li's brother's death than he should, and he and Li are at war soon.