Friday, February 24, 2012

From A Bodyguard, To Men Of Honor, To Good Deeds

I have this thing for Black movies. I'm sure the term "Black movies" is somehow politically incorrect, I probably should say "African-American" movies, but I can't seem to fully embrace the African-American term, I've just always said "Black". Honestly, I don't even know what's right anymore, but since the website Black Classic Movies says "black", I'm going with it for the purpose of this post.
There's just something about black movies that are appealing to me. I usually prefer a predominantly black cast, but I also like black-themed films, where it may not be a largely black cast, but the story is about a black person, community or issue.

One of the big reasons I like black movies is because a lot of them center around the genre of music I prefer - R & B, Motown, and Gospel. Here are some of my favorites in that category.

The Fighting Temptations: Cuba Gooding, Jr. finds out he'll inherit stock from a recently deceased Aunt but he needs to get her church choir into the Gospel Explosion competition in Atlanta before claiming it. Yes, he's tasked with directing a gospel choir - something he's not done before - but when you have the voices of Beyoncé, Ann Nesby, Faith Evans and Melba Moore to work with, it's not such a daunting task. What a great soundtrack, too.

The Bodyguard: I love this movie. Kevin Costner guarding your body? What woman doesn't love a man who will put his life at risk for yours? They have great chemistry and this is another movie with a great soundtrack. Hell, it's Whitney - can't do better than that.

The Gospel: Popular singer turns his back on God and his father's church, then returns years later to redeem himself. Yeah, yeah, yeah, whatever. This movie has a kick-ass soundtrack (Gospel powerhouses Yolanda Adams, Fred Hammond, Donnie McClurkin, Martha Munizzi, and Hezekiah Walker lend their voices) and the main characters are Boris Kodjoe and Idris Elba. Those two could be the last things I see and I'd leave this earth a happy woman.

Cadillac Records: Another film with Beyoncé - in this one, she plays singing legend Etta James. The movie chronicles the rise of Chess Records and the recording artists signed to its label.

Drumline: The energy in this movie is palpable. If you don't feel the beat while watching this movie, get yourself to a medical facility quick! It's really an entertaining movie and the precision and artistry of the marching bands featured make you think twice about the dorkiness of band camp.

Dreamgirls: Beyoncé is in this one too, but the real star is Jennifer Hudson. She's astounding. When Jennifer opens her mouth, "Beyoncé who?" will be the only thing you're thinking. As Effie White, her performance is certainly worth the Oscar she received.

The Preacher’s Wife: Denzel is charming and Whitney is divine, but it's the soundtrack that really got me. It's been called one of the best gospel movie soundtracks ever - I love "Step By Step" and Who Would Imagine A King.

The next type of black movie I like are ones that deal with cultural issues in the black communities, or situations in which they have had to overcome the color of their skin because of the prejudices of others. The most satisfying to me are cases in which justice prevails...whether it's an immediate resolution or 30 years later, as in the case of the assasination of Medgar Evers. In addition to that story, here are some of the others I love.

Remember The Titans: For a girl who abhors sports, I'm in love with sports movies. And if the sports movie has Denzel in it, I'm even happier. Inspired by real events and battling racial prejudice, the Titans go through the season undefeated, eventually gaining support from their community.

The Hurricane: Denzel Washington was nominated for an Oscar for his portryal of Rubin "Hurricane" Carter, a boxer who was wrongly accused of murder. It's a powerful movie and it's almost impossible not to be touched by the story.

Ghosts of Mississippi: The dramatic story of the 1994 trial of Byron De La Beckwith, who killed civil rights leader Medgar Evers in 1963. The best part of this movie? When Byron De La Beckwith is found guilty and sentenced to life in prison gets sentenced to life in prison at 74 years old. Infinitely more satisfying is knowing he died while spending the last six years (it should have been more) of his life in prison.

Men of Honor: I. LOVE. THIS. MOVIE. This movie is inspired by the true story of Master Chief Petty Officer Carl Brashear (played by Cuba Gooding, Jr.), who was the first African-American Master Diver in the United States Navy. He is determined to overcome the racism he encounters in order to be the first African-American Navy Diver - Master Diver being his eventual goal. Robert DeNiro is brilliant as usual, but the inspiration comes from Cuba's performance. Fun fact - Carl Brashear was born to sharecroppers in Tonieville, Kentucky, which is just nineteen miles from where I lived and he was raised in Sonora, Kentucky, only twenty-five miles from where I lived and in the same town in which I once spent the night at the home of a friend's grandparents who lived there.

Pride: Another true story, this one featuring Terrence Howard in the leading role. An incredibly inspiring story about Jim Ellis, a schoolteacher in Philadelphia in the 1970's who founded the first African-American swim team in one of the city's toughest neighborhoods, to compete with other local teams despite the challenges of racism, violence and threats made against him and the teens on his team. A stand-up-and-cheer kind of film.

Hotel Rwanda: The true story of hotel manager Paul Rusesabagina who housed over a thousand Tutsi refugess during their struggle against the Hutu militia in Rwanda. A really amazing story of how the lives of people are affected by the genocide, political corruption and violence taking place all around them. Really opens your eyes to what happens in places other than the vanilla lives most of us lead.

The Help: Who, at this point , hasn't heard of The Help? I read the book when it first came out, before anyone was talking about it and I recently saw the movie. The book was great, but the movie put a face on the people and made them real. The women in the movie made you laugh and cry and feel. Laced with humor, it was still really about seeing how black maids were treated, and even though it's a movie and we've heard this story before, it's still heartbreaking. To know people treated black domestic workers (especially in the South) this way and to know that racism is still alive and people who are domestic help or migrant workers, are still treated this way, makes one wonder what goes on in the heads of those who do it.

The last category of black films that I enjoy are what I call the "girlfriend films", or ones where relationships are explored. I love how black girls talk to each other, dig at each other, support each other and call each other out when they're doing wrong.

How Stella Got Her Groove Back: Everyone wanted to get their groove back after seeing Taye Diggs. A fun movie, with a great chick flick theme - love and romance on a beautiful tropical island with a strapping twenty-year old.

Waiting To Exhale: There's nothing better than a girlfriend flick, and this girlfriend flick takes the cake - nobody does girlfriend better than these women. Whitney Houston, Angela Bassett, Loretta Devine and Lela Rochon? So perfect. So fun. All set to a great soundtrack.

Jumping The Broom: I knew I wanted to see this as soon as I saw the coming attractions, but reading about the screenwriter, Arlene Gibbs, on Bleeding Espresso's blog sealed the deal. Two black families, from different economic backgrounds, come together on Martha's Vineyard for a wedding. Funny and delightful...with a gorgeous cast.

Something New: Gorgeous Sanaa Lathan falls in love with gorgeous Simon Baker? A fun romantic comedy that tackles the issue of interracial romance. That's still an issue?? This pairing is perfect and anyone would be lucky to find a romance like theirs. Yeah, yeah, I's a movie. But still.

Love & Basketball: Girl. Boy. Basketball. This combines my love of sports movies and my love of a chick flick. Plus, it's got one helluva soundtrack. And yes, every time I mention a soundtrack, it does mean I own it. This one gets a lot of play on my iPod. "I'll Go" by Donell Jones is one of my all-time favorite songs.

Love Jones: Nia Long is beautiful in this movie, and the relationship explored in it can echo feelings one has when trying to figure out if what you're in is real or just for fun.

Above The Rim: I remember liking this movie when I saw it which is why it makes my list, but I think what I liked most is that Tupac was in it and it has a kick-ass soundtrack.

Daddy’s Little Girls: Idris Elba (Can you say gorgeous?) plays a down-on-his-luck mechanic trying to keep his three girls from being taken away from him. A beautiful attorney takes his case, they fall in love and it becomes a lovely, romantic story. I'm a sucker for mushy.

Well, if you haven't seen any of these, this list should keep you busy for a while. Next on my list is the new Tyler Perry flick, "
Good Deeds". The coming attractions look good enough to add it to my list right now.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Just What I Need
Waterfront Dining
The Best Is Yet To Come
It’s Not Just A Medicinal Oil After All
Tracy Hilltop
Calming The Flatulent Tiger


june in florida said...

I love Tyler Perry, cant wait to see the new movie. Did a family reunion last year and his Family Reunion brings it all back.

Belledog said...

Viola Davis wuz robbed!