Sadly, as most folks know, Maya Angelou passed away last week. There were numerous wonderful articles written about the amazing life of Dr. Angelou. So much so, that I couldn’t keep up. However, there were only a couple of articles that mentioned the film “Poetic Justice.” The 1993 movie was inspired by Dr. Angelou’s poetry. Maybe folks have glossed over the film because it wasn’t that good. Or maybe because Janet Jackson was in it.
I love J.J., but her acting can be hit or miss. The film was revolutionary for its time. It was the rare nationally released film that tried to explore the complexities of black womanhood. Yes, the film was kind of all over the map. John Singleton’s directing/writing skills can also be hit or miss. But I think the film has its beautiful moments. I mean, it does feature the poetry of Dr. Angelou.
Who can forget the last scenes as Janet’s character has an epiphany about who she is and what see wants out of her life. As she flips through all of her black clothes in a closet, Dr. Angelou’s poem “Phenomenal Woman” is narrated in the background. if you don’t get a tear in your eye, I don’t know what to say about you…
There is something about the those last scenes that make up for the nonsense of the rest of the film. I wish Singleton had the skills to have made the whole film as thoughtful as those scenes. The film has so much potential. I think enough time has passed it could be remade/tweaked for a new audience.
Maybe black women directors like Ava DuVernay or Dee Rees could take it on.
Last week it was reported that Queen Latifah would be portraying Bessie Smith in a HBO movie. If you don’t know who Bessie Smith is, you better ask somebody!
“Bessie Smith earned the title of “Empress of the Blues” by virtue of her forceful vocal delivery and command of the genre. Her singing displayed a soulfully phrased, boldly delivered and nearly definitive grasp of the blues. In addition, she was an all-around entertainer who danced, acted and performed comedy routines with her touring company. She was the highest-paid black performer of her day and arguably reached a level of success greater than that of any African-American entertainer before her.” See more at: http://rockhall.com/inductees/bessie-smith/bio/#sthash.CUnrPOtu.dpuf
I think the Queen is a good choice for this role. She can actually carry a tune and exudes the same charming personality as the late Smith.
The film is being written and directed by Dee Rees, which means it may actually turn out decent. Rees was creative talent behind the heartwarming film “Pariah.” “Pariah” tells the story of a Black teen girl who struggles with coming out to her parents. You have to check it out to see Rees skills.
Any who, I can’t wait to see this film. It’s been in the works for a while, so glad it’s finally moving forward.
Let me leave you with some Ms. Smith to kick off your week…
Lately, black folks have been hard on Spike Lee. I remember when Django Unchained came out last year, and Lee made it known he wasn’t feeling the movie. I remember a lot of my younger black Facebook friends, really going in on him. Someone even posted, “I loved Django. Spike Lee needs to shut the f*ck up.” I remember being shocked to read that.
Young black folks (and some older ones) don’t realize how much Spike Lee revolutionized black cinema. These folks were babies/not yet born when Lee debuted his film “She’s Gotta Have It.” Lee has made classic black films like “School Daze,” “Do The Right Thing,” and “Malcolm X.”
While I do think Lee could/should improve his representations of black women, I can’t bash the man. He has tried to show the humanity/complexity of black life. Who else could make a thoughtful film about the black survivors of Hurricane Katrina? Or the moving story of the murder of four little girls?
I also respect Lee for supporting Dee Rees making her film “Pariah.” I believe strongly that ALL black stories need to be told. It was progressive of Lee to support a film about a young black lesbian. The film was virtually ignored by black media/black celebrities. So, much props to Lee for putting himself out there.
Any who, I’m doing all this ranting because Lee is being featured on Oprah’s Next Chapter. Check it out, if ya can: