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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Saturday, July 15, 2023

How Stella Got Her Groove Back (1998)

"How Stella Got Her Groove Back" (1998) is a romance film directed by Kevin Rodney Sullivan, adapted from the best-selling novel by Terry McMillan under the same title. The movie stars an incredible cast, including Angela Bassett, Taye Diggs, Whoopi Goldberg, Regina King, and Suzzanne Douglas. The film was a box office success grossing nearly $40 million on a $20 million budget. In addition, the soundtrack to the movie peaked at number eight on the Billboard 200 Albums chart and number three on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums.

Director: Kevin Rodney Sullivan
Writers: Terry McMillan, Ron Bass

Starring Angela Bassett, Taye Diggs, Whoopi Goldberg, Regina King, Suzzanne Douglas, Michael J. Pagan, Sicily Johnson, Richard Lawson, Barry Shabaka Henley, Lee Weaver, Glynn Turman, Phyllis Yvonne Stickney, Denise Hunt, Lisa Hanna, James Pickens Jr., Philip Casnoff, Lou Myers

Unlucky-in-love stockbroker Stella (Angela Bassett) jets to Jamaica with her gal pal Delilah (Whoopi Goldberg) for fun in the sun. The 40-year-old working woman has an island fling with Winston (Taye Diggs), a handsome 20-something. When it's time to return to California, Stella realizes she's developed real feelings for her new man. But, with their distance from each other, not to mention their age disparity, does a real relationship stand a chance?

Sunday, July 9, 2023

Spirit Lost (1996)

"Spirit Lost" (1996) was an erotic horror directed by Neema Barnette. BET Films and United Image Entertainment (Tim Reid's production company) produced the movie, a straight-to-home video release by Artisan Entertainment (formerly Live Entertainment). The movie stars Leon, Regina Taylor, Cynda Williams, Tamara Tunie, and Juanita Jennings.

Reid filmed the movie in Virginia, one of many movies he made under his production company. Other films include "Out-of-Sync," "Once Upon a Time... When We Were Colored," and "Race to Freedom: The Underground Railroad." Reid and Neema Barnette worked together in previous films and television shows as far as 1987 when she directed a couple of episodes of "Frank's Place," which starred Reid.

The "Spirit Lost" storyline was unique for black cinema but straightforward—a married couple movies into their new seaside home, where a ghost resides. However, this ghost (Cynda Williams) is seductive and jealous and intends to run off the pregnant wife (Regina Taylor) so that she can have John (Leon) to herself. This film has an artistic nature, even with its B-movie atmosphere. 

In hindsight, Reid had something going for black cinema. He wasn't just producing movies. He was employing black filmmakers while simultaneously worth with T.V. networks. His movies had substance, were thoughtful, and diverse in genre. "Spirit Lost" is an adult movie with sexual nature, but there isn't any blood, gore, or obscene language.

Director: Neema Barnette
Writers: Joyce Renee Lewis, Nancy Thayer, Shirley Pierce

Starring Leon, Regina Taylor, Cynda Williams, Tamara Tunie, Juanita Jennings, Frank Hoyt Taylor, James Avery, Reed R. McCants, Yvonne Erickson, Chris Northup

An artist, John (Leon), and his wife, Willy (Regina Taylor), move to a seaside home that is haunted by a jealous and seductive ghost (Cyndia Williams). As the couple starts to settle in, John begins this supernatural affair that strains the couple's marriage. However, only John can see the ghost, and his behavior grows concerning for his pregnant wife, who hires a nurse (Juanita Jennings) to help around the house as her husband is now unreliable. With John becoming increasingly unhinged, how will the couple survive this terrifying ordeal?