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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Thursday, August 17, 2023

Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit (1993)

"Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit" (1993) is a comedy movie starring Whoopi Goldberg, who reprises her role as a Las Vegas entertainer, Deloris. Directed by Bill Duke, the writers loosely based the story on Crenshaw High School choir instructor Iris Stevenson. In this film, Delores accepts a position as a teacher at St. Francis Academy in San Francisco, where she is responsible for teaching music to a group of unruly teenagers. The movie was highly successful at the box office earning $125 million on a $38 budget. It also introduced Lauren Hill to a broader audience as she was the headline singer in the movie. While she was a member of the Fugees before starring in the film, the group still hadn't reached commercial success. This film was an excellent vehicle for Lauren Hill's career.

This movie follows the formula of the typical inner-city multicultural school-themed films from the 90s. It has a cheesy charm, but it is a Disney film, so expect a lot of fun and feel-good moments. The music is fantastic, with a soundtrack that went gold. It reached #74 on the Billboard Top 200 Albums Chart and #40 on the Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums.

Director: Bill Duke
Writers: James Orr, Jim Cruickshank, Judi Ann Mason, Paul Rudnick

Starring Whoopi Goldberg, Kathy Najimy, Barnard Hughes, Mary Wickes, James Coburn, Michael Jeter, Wendy Makkena, Sheryl Lee Ralph, Robert Pastorelli, Thomas Gottschalk, Maggie Smith, Lauryn Hill, Brad Sullivan, Alanna Ubach, Ryan Toby, Ron Johnson, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Devin Kamin, Christian Fitzharris, Tanya Blount, Mehran Marcos Sedghi

In this sequel, Las Vegas performer Deloris Van Cartier (Whoopi Goldberg) is surprised by a visit from her nun friends, Sister Mary Patrick (Kathy Najimy) and Sister Mary Lazarus (Mary Wickes). It appears Deloris is needed in her nun guise as Sister Mary Clarence to help teach music to teens at a troubled school in hopes of keeping the facility from closing at the hands of Mr. Crisp (James Coburn), a callous administrator. 

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.