Here are 5 (now 6) examples from Film Comment where I opine about movies...professionally!
(Göran Hugo Olsson, Sweden, 2011)
“They were into you, so they made you a tape” is the simple description of, and rationale for, a mixtape according to Cassette From My Ex, a website devoted to these audio artifacts. Mixtapes (distinct from dance mixes) were carefully edited compilations of obscure and familiar songs arranged to express the maker’s interests and tell an aural story, often designed for a particular and/or intimate listener. Göran Hugo Olsson’s mixtape documentary is a chronological, musically structured collage tracing the arc of the Black Power movement from its inception during the civil rights era through its dissolution as drugs began to erode black communities in the Seventies, created with rarely seen footage culled from the archives of Swedish Television."
(Dee Rees, U.S., 2007)
Adapted by Dee Rees from her award-winning 2007 short, Pariah is one of a handful of contemporary coming-of-age features that depict the transformative experiences of adolescent African-American women. It may be the only recent film that also portrays the coming-out process of a young person of color.
(Anthony Hemingway, U.S., 2012)
Appearing on The Daily Show to discuss Red Tails—a war drama based on the exploits of the 332nd pursuit squadron known as the Tuskegee Airmen, the first African Americans to fly combat for the U.S. military—executive producer George Lucas explained: “It’s one of the first all-black action pictures ever made. It’s exactly like Star Wars . . . The story is too fantastic and wonderful to cram into two hours. If we get a good first weekend . . . there is a prequel and a sequel and they’re better than this movie by a long shot...I took the soft center.”
Along with daffodils, sunshine, and graduations, a sure sign of spring is the arrival of the New York African Film Festival, founded and programmed by executive director Mahen Bonetti. The 19th edition arrived at the Film Society of Lincoln Center with the hallmarks of the season: color, freshness, warmth, and variety, with hopes for renewal and contemplation of what’s past. As co-programmer Richard Pena remarks, African cinema was born in 1963 (the same year as the New York Film Festival), and for almost 20 years NYAFF has mapped the development of this (youngish) industry by showing classic and contemporary films of the African continent and of the diasporas. The vast scope of the festival, which screens work from dozens of countries, provides the rare opportunity to view a variety of African media and to meet filmmakers, uncovering aesthetic and cultural commonalities and regional particularities across the continent, and situating African production within the context of international cinema.
(Terence Nance, U.S., 2012)
Terence Nance’s debut feature and festival favorite, An Oversimplification of Her Beauty, is anything but. It is a visually and aurally intricate collage that mimics quixotic, obsessive contemplation, the kind of over-thinking commonly associated with lovers and artists for millennia.
Enjoy and please share your opinions! I'll try not to shout you down.
(And btw, I can also write about non-black films too!) ;-)
WAIT! Here's One More!!
(Peter Atencio, U.S., 2016)
I laughed throughout Keanu with the audience, and when it was over, I was left wanting more. Not because it was so good, but because I was hoping for more. I should make a Shepard Fairey–style Hope poster picturing the Keanu trio (oh, I guess I can) because it is difficult not to link Key & Peele to their best-known characters, Barack Obama and his anger translator, Luther. The popular comics are also cultural translators who initially emphasized their biracial heritage and ability to “code switch” tactically (in the way that Obama is politically strategic) creating depictions of urban poor, suburban, middle- and upper-middle-class blacks, and bringing racially inflected humor that appeals to a Comedy Central–centric audience who, I would argue, want to believe that the duo transcends race. While Key & Peele minor in mixed-race, they major in and identify with blackness, and often their sketches and characters grapple with representations of African American men and women and people of color, with black acting and acting “black.”
"Put some information up in the frame, Bitch!"