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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Showing posts with label Black Cinema. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Black Cinema. Show all posts

Thursday, August 3, 2023

To Sleep with Anger (1990)

"To Sleep with Anger" (1990) is a drama film written and directed by Charles Burnett and features an all-star cast, including Danny Glover, Paul Butler, Mary Alice, Vonetta McGee, Carl Lumbly, Richard Brooks, and Sheryl Lee Ralph. Burnett comes from a group of black filmmakers at the University of California, Los Angeles, who pioneered a new wave of films during the seventies. They were primarily arthouse movies, and Burnett's "Killer of Sheep" (1978) was his most notable work before "To Sleep with Anger."

Those unfamiliar with black arthouse films from the 70s may initially have some challenges latching on to those movies because of the abstractness, but "To Sleep with Anger" is interesting. Danny Glover's character is entirely ambiguous. He randomly appears at his old friend's house after 30 years, but his presence brings subtle discord. I couldn't help but parallel this human dynamic with Newton's First Law of Motion: An object at rest remains at rest, or if in motion, remains at a constant velocity unless acted on by an external force. Danny Glover is that external force. Glover's character sets things in place in such an unpretentious way that nobody notices what is happening. He has an assertive presence and a knack for his way with words.

This movie has many layers to dissect and is an excellent example of black filmmaking. Much symbolism and messaging may require multiple viewings to grasp Burnett's details. I highly recommend it for viewing.

Director: Charles Burnett
Writers: Charles Burnett

Starring Danny Glover, Paul Butler, Mary Alice, Vonetta McGee, Carl Lumbly, Richard Brooks, Sheryl Lee Ralph, Reina King, DeVaughn Nixon, Ethel Ayler, Wonderful Smith, DeForest Covan, Sy Richardson, Davis Roberts, John Hawker, Julius Harris

A close-knit family headed by Gideon (Paul Butler) and his matron wife, Suzie (Mary Alice), gets an unexpected visit from a friend, Harry (Danny Glover), whom they haven't seen in 30 years. While old friendships ignite, things change within the family, causing disarray, and Harry invariably seems to be around when something happens. 

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.