Hav Plenty & Medicine for Melancholy

As y’all know, I’m not big into romantic comedies. I tend to find them cliché. However, I do try to give black romantic films/romantic comedies a chance. I do think more black love stories need to be told.  A few days ago, I came across the old 1997 (1998?) film “Hav Plenty” on Netflix. The film was part of the big explosion of black movies in the 90’s (“Set It Off,” “Boyz in the Hood, “Just Another Girl On the IRT,” “Love Jones,”  “Soul Food,” etc.) Unlike the beloved romantic comedy “Love Jones,” Hav Plenty tends to be forgotten.

While I will always heart “Love Jones,” Hav Plenty is a more charming movie. It’s an indie film with an obvious low-budget. The film also tweaks the cliché love story line. Hav Plenty was written, produced and directed by Christopher Scott Cherot:

“Lee Plenty is an almost broke would-be novelist and Havilland Savage is rich and very beautiful woman and his friend. When she invites him to her home for New Year’s Eve, they start to build up a romance.”  http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0126938/plotsummary?ref_=tt_ov_pl

Cherot does a good job playing the funny and sarcastic Lev Plenty (it’s also bizarre he kind of looks singer Christopher Williams and they have the same first name!)  The beautiful Chenoa Maxwell plays Havilland Savage (she currently stars on the reality TV show “Crazy.Sexy.Life”). Throughout the film, the two characters engage in witty banter as a way to hide their true feelings for each other.

The film holds up well after all these years. I kinda wish that the film had been given a wee bit bigger budget. It looks horribly cheap in some scenes. But then again, the charm of the film/genuine moments are due to the lack of budget…so what can ya do. One of my favorite scenes is when Plenty is sitting in the car and looks at Havilland wistfully as she walks away. Damn. We’ve all been there.  I still teared up a bit on that part 🙂

It was strange how Cherot disappeared after this film. As a matter of fact, I Googled and found an old  “where are they now” article with a focus on Cherot. After reading the update I believe that  (1) sometimes folks are meant to do that one amazing thing and that’s it.  It doesn’t mean they are a failure, it’s just that they did what they were supposed to do and that’s okay.  (2) it speaks to the challenges faced by indie black directors and the fact that things have only gotten a little better (3) perhaps, Cherot forewarned his future in film making with his ending line in Hav Plenty “I got the deal and the girl and I only sold out a little bit. It’s what I wanted…right?” 😉

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After I watched Hav Plenty, I also watched “Medicine for Melancholy.”  “Medicine…” is a contemporary black love story. It’s another charming indie film by director Barry Jenkins. Medicine for Melancholy came out in 2009. The film follows Micah (Wyatt Cenac) and Jo’ (Tracey Hegginswho decide to spend the day together, after a one night stand. Micah is feeling Jo,’ but Jo’ has a boyfriend. Ouch. I liked “Medicine for Melancholy” because it also tweaked the love story narrative.  It’s unique, because yes it’s about two folks jonezing on each other, but the film also explores how black love can be affected by gentrification, racism, and interracial relationships.  Particularly, if you are two young black hipsters living in San Francisco.  I also liked that tweak of the love story, as we rarely see films about black hipsters/alternative black folks. 

My only compliant with both films is the underdevelopment of the black female love interests. The films are still worth checking out, though.  Especially for folks like me who aren’t big into romantic movies. You won’t feel too icky, after watching these two films 🙂

Randomness: A Place at the Table

A couple of days ago, a friend posted a clip from the film “A Place at the Table” on their Facebook page….

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I asked her if it was a new movie coming out, she said nope it came out a couple of  years ago. I don’t know how I missed it! The film peaked my interest as I volunteer/work on a college campus. Folks would be surprised to know that hunger is a big issue with college students. As tuition increases, financial aid cuts/loans stay stagnant, and less campus work opportunities, many students are struggling to stay afloat. Also, what we call  “non-traditional” students (first-generation, student parents, returning/older students,  veterans, etc.) are increasing on campus. These students tend to have unique barriers (e.g. an older veteran student not being aware she is eligible for benefits) that contribute to hunger crisis.

For low-income students/students of color it can be a matter of being pushed out of their communities (gentrification) into areas what are called food desertsSo, even if they are eligible for food benefits (SNAP), they have nowhere to buy groceries. They are forced to shop at the corner store with its overpriced/often outdated foods.

As noted in the clip, if our government continues its mission to oppress poor people churches and other community organizations will be the only resources for folks to get food. And these places usually have a limited amount they can give to a person/family. As Jeff Bridges pointed out, “this is not a way to combat poverty/hunger.”

I recently read an a good article about the day-to-day survival of poor people  (and the reality is  the majority of us are a paycheck from being in poverty ourselves)…. 20 Things the Poor Really do  . I think how people view the working poor/poor people contributes to them sitting back and not speaking out against the injustices being committed by our government.