The English Patient
I went to my Netflix que the other day and decided I wanted to re-see (made that up) a classic, so I picked “The English Patient” winner of 9 Academy Awards including Best picture in 1996. Fantastic film, I’d forgotten whether or not I had watched the entire film. Great acting, story, cinematography the whole nine. It got me to thinking why don’t we se more films by Black directors that attempt to be great?
There are three recent films by African Americans that come close. Spike Lee‘s “Malcolm X” , “Do the Right Thing” and John Singleton’s “Boyz N Da Hood“. Those are three of my favorite’s of all time. All three received Oscar Nominations (Denzel for best actor …but he was robbed with Al Pacino getting it for “Scent of a Woman”). Outside of that there have a been a few creative triumphs by Black directors “Training Day” directed by Antoine Fuqua, “Antwon Fisher” (Denzel should have received at least a nomination for Best Director). I may be missing one or two but other wise we haven’t had many worthy of such praise. Instead we get the tired Black middle class love story. A decade ago that cast would have had Vivica Foxx, Morris Chestnut and Gabriel Union. Now it’s Paula Patton (what the hell was she doing in this flick she’s a much better actress who doesn’t need junk like this), Laz Alonso and some tired actor from a Tyler Perry movie.
We have so many stories that can be told about our people, from our people. Where are the science fiction flicks, the thrillers the straight dramas no comedy included? I blame the Black community along with the movie industry. Black folks like, most Americans settle for the lowest common denominator in our art (sex and low brow comedy). Our comedy consists of straight cookery thanks to the number one Black director Tyler Perry. I guess we get what we deserve. If you don’t demand quality you won’t get it.
The other problem is bootlegging, its killing African American films. A week before the flick is out some African brotha in Harlem or DC is on the street corner selling a really bad copy of it. That affects the kind of films we get to see. If Hollywood see’s the numbers of Black people going to the theater dwindle because of the bootleg phenomena, then they won’t green light movies we like.
Spike hasn’t done a studio film in three years. He tried to get funding for a sequel to ” Inside Man” which made $184 million worldwide, his most successful film ever (more than any single Tyler Perry film).
I am a movie buff, I enjoy going to the theater rather than sitting home and watching them on TV. I want that feeling of excitement again, when a good Black director does a film that isn’t straight coonery, or story of Black pathology (Precious, For Colored Girls).We have Black writers coming up with great stories, but they won’t be seen as long as we refuse to support those skilled artists. Film is more than just a way to make a buck, it’s also an art form that projects who we are as a people around the world. I once met an African brotha who told me he thought all African Americans were lazy, crazy, violent and dumb because of the movies he saw growing up on the Continent. That’s sad.