Saturday, January 28, 2006

Talented Black Faces, Unfamiliar Places

Sorry my posting's been so spotty this week, I'm under a lot of pressure to get this presentation together. My birthday party is tomorrow afternoon, too, which I'm hosting. I saw a pair of interesting and unusual films. "Hustle & Flow" indelibly sketches the predicament of a pimp who dreams of being a rapper, and places you smack in the middle of bitch-smacking, whore-parading, curse-word-flinging inner city reality. It's not a comfortable place for me, but art's purposes include stretching your boundaries, so I did. Lead actor Terence Howard adeptly sketches a man fallen into bad habits, who dreams of better, and who must risk breaking his only eggs to pursue that grand omelette that may never happen. There's a violent undercurrent throughout the film, anger offsetting humanity, it's an eye-opener, not far from a daily reality I'm (thankfully) insulated from.
"Monster's Ball" is far less raucous but earns its moments of searing intensity, as unexpected deaths devastate lives, and broken people stagger onwards into unexpected changes. The principals are excellent, notably Billy Bob Thornton as a corrections officer, Heath Ledger (of 'Brokeback') as his depressive co-worker son, P Diddy as aa death-row inmate bound for the chair, and best of all, Halle Berry, who deservingly won Best Actress for playing the executed man's widow, who faces further tragedy and tentatively becomes Thornton's lover in her grief.

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