You kids today don’t even know. Those of us who were 20-something in the 90s enjoyed the golden age of the black rom-com. If Larenz Tate standing in the rain on the Southside of Chicago telling Nia Long, “Let me tell you somethin’. This here, right now, at this very moment, is all that matters to me. I love you. That’s urgent like a motherfucker”, didn’t make you feel all the feels…then I ain’t got nothing to say to you. (And, yes, I know the movie’s feminist politic was verrrrrry sketchy.) Of course, if Love Jones is the Citizen Kane of black romantic comedy, The Best Man is at least, like, The Maltese Falcon or something. It’s a classic. And it’s back.
Behold, the trailer for Best Man Holiday, coming to a theater near you on Nov. 15. Man, this takes me back. Remember when Morris Chestnut was the shit and not a minor character on An American Horror Story? Remember when we were blissfully unaware of Terrance Howard’s baby wipes obsession?
I also need to know when and how Nia Long made a pact with the devil. ‘Cause girlfriend is as fine as she was in…every black romantic comedy ever made, and seemingly ageless. Nia, call me. A fellow 40-something needs the 411 on your skincare regimen.
So I haven’t done a movie review for this site in forever, and I probably will never again. That’s because before I started this gig, I watched movies like this:
Because Michael Jackson picked good movies.
And now I watch movies like this:
No one is impressed with this film. McKayla and Barack agree.
But the other Knights wanted to go, it looked pretty, Hova did the soundtrack, and I was hoping it would be as much fun as Sofia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette.(Huh? Plot? We ain’t got time for alla that. That’s what the book is for.)
So, Gatsby was fun–as one of my friends noted, it’s “Art Deco Porn.” But of course, there’s also race things. Some quick observations after the jump. *SPOILERS TOO!*
The levels to which I would like to see Lucy Liu, Eva Mendes, or Aisha Tyler as the next Rom Com Queen knows no bounds. It’s nice to know Ms. Liu feels the same way. From The Edit magazine:
“I wish people wouldn’t just see me as the Asian girl who beats everyone up, or the Asian girl with no emotion. People see Julia Roberts or Sandra Bullock in a romantic comedy, but not me. You add race to it, and it became, ‘Well, she’s too Asian’, or, ‘She’s too American’. I kind of got pushed out of both categories. It’s a very strange place to be. You’re not Asian enough and then you’re not American enough, so it gets really frustrating.”
I have so many (read: so many) ideas in the works for romantic comedies, each starring a lead of color. And, one gay one- starring me, of course. If Lena Dunham can do it, so can I. I just want to see someone like Lucy fall in love in a movie lit like a Dannon commercial. Doesn’t everyone want that? Fellow lovers of Hitch, The Wedding Planner, and Something New: who would you like to see meet-cute, wardrobe montage, and run towards (or away from) an airport in a romantic comedy? Make your case in the comments.
Over the years, people of color have had the hardest time breaking into the ‘biz’ or just simply being recognized for the work that they have done on the silver screen.
It was in 1939 that the first African American person–Hattie McDaniel–won an Oscar for her supporting role in Gone With the Wind. It took 30 years for another African American person to win again: Sidney Poitier won Best Actor in a leading role for Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?, a film that tackles racial divides and interracial dating at the onslaught of integration. But how much have we integrated since then?
In their 2011 New York Times article, “Hollywood’s Whiteout,” staff film critics Manohla Dargis and A.O. Scott wrote, “[Race] in American cinema has rarely been a matter of simple step-by-step progress. It has more often proceeded in fits and starts, with backlashes coming on the heels of breakthroughs, and periods of intense argument followed by uncomfortable silence.” Their article came out in response to the 2010 Academy Awards where zero African Americans were nominated, which struck many as peculiar within this Obama Era where ideals around post-racism circulated from sea to shining sea.
The lack of people of color at the Academy Awards was a stark reminder that Hollywood was still very much divided. Let’s play a game: Can you name a prominent black actor under 30? Someone that, if you walked up to a random person on the street, they would know who you are talking about? Didn’t think so.
I’ve heard a few friends’ opinions so far about The Bourne Legacy, the latest installment in the Bourne film franchise. The last set of sequences in the film got particular attention. Those scenes take place in Manila. It seems to be the case here in the Philippines that people, at least those I know, managed to stay immersed in the film up until that point. After this, a feeling of strange misrecognition of the landscape took over. This may be because what we’re shown through the camera work in the Manila scenes suggests a perception of the Philippines not unfamiliar to a militarized American pop-culture industry that’s easy to identify with it until you find that familiar spaces have become the focus of the camera’s lens.
One thing that I’ve noticed about First World action sequences that take place in Third World settings is the position of the camera. You often find it hovering above, looking down on metal, shanty-town rooftops as protagonists run across, leaping from one roof to the next either in pursuit of, or escape from, the enemy. A couple examples that come to mind can be found in Edward Norton’s Incredible Hulk and, in Inception, the scene that takes place in Mombasa. I can’t actually remember the movie Quantum of Solace very well, but the video game features a shanty-town, rooftop-hopping stage.
(Don’t watch the whole video, it’s actually pretty boring)
But, to say on track, here’s an illustrative scene from Bourne.
Winner of the Best Director Award at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival, MIDDLE OF NOWHERE follows Ruby, a bright medical student who sets aside her dreams and suspends her career when her husband is incarcerated. As the committed couple stares into the hollow end of an eight-year prison sentence, Ruby must learn to live another life, one marked by shame and separation. But through a chance encounter and a stunning betrayal that shakes her to her core, this steadfast wife is soon propelled in new and often shocking directions of self-discovery – caught between two worlds and two men in the search for herself.
Ava DuVernay is back! And I have been dying to see this film.