Friday, March 23, 2007

Reign Men | Reign Over Me

Director Mike Binder has made a decent living telling stories of intimate relationships. Whether it’s two lovers, friends, or husbands and wives, Binder relishes in breaking them apart only to bring them back together once again. His latest film, Reign Over Me, finds him in rare form in arguably his strong work to date.

Dentist Alan Johnson (Don Cheadle) has his own set of problems but is coping well when he spots his old college roommate, Charlie Fineman (Adam Sandler), on the streets of Manhattan. Awhile back, Johnson read that Fineman lost his entire family on Sept. 11, 2001 and had been trying to contact him offering support. When he finally catches up with Fineman again, Johnson is shocked that he doesn’t recognize him.

Fineman is suffering severe posttraumatic stress and has blocked out any memories of his deceased family and completely isolated himself from anyone from his past that reminds him of that lost connection. He spends his days redecorating his kitchen and his nights jamming on his drums to Bruce Springsteen records or playing video games – subordinate clause]. Apparently, he too was a dentist but gave up his practice. He now survives off of the settlement he received because of the death of his family, which is managed by his accountant and former best friend, Bryan Sugarman (Binder).

While Fineman is dealing with his demons, a dissatisfied Johnson works at his dental practice living a mundane existence. Confusion comes into his life when one of his patients, the unbalanced Donna Remar (Saffron Burrows), offers him oral gratification during a routine examination. A stunned and uncomfortable Johnson orders her out of his office, only to be served several days later with a lawsuit alleging sexual harassment. The embarrassment and potential financial implications create an uncomfortable situation at his office.

If Johnson isn’t dealing with enough, his lovely wife, Janeane (Jada Pinkett Smith) is having trouble communicating with him, and the too are slowly growing apart. It doesn’t help that her husband is spending more and more time with grief-stricken and slightly off-balance Fineman. The two wounded souls and old friends renew their friendship and in the process both men learn to cope with the cold and unfair consequences that life presents.

Johnson decides that Fineman needs help and turns him on to his therapist, Angela Oakhurst (Liv Tyler). Eventually, he opens up and unburdens himself in one of the film’s most tender and emotionally charged scenes.

Critics praised Sandler’s last dramatic performance in 2002’s Punch Drunk Love, but that film’s failure at the box office seemed to sour him from delving into more dramas. In this film as well as PDL, Sandler effectively plays flawed individual suffering loss, while looking for a shred of hope. He and Cheadle acting together are like watching two skilled chess players, not necessarily thinking, but instinctively making all the right moves. The two of them are a delight to watch as they take filmgoers simultaneously from “joy and pain” to “sunshine and rain,” all inside this thought-provoking drama.

9/11 was this generation’s Pearl Harbor, not only for New Yorkers but for the entire nation. Reign On Me is a fitting bookend to Spike Lee’s incredible 25th Hour, capturing how that tragedy continues to affect filmmakers and audiences.

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What in the "Hills" is Going On | THHE2

There is no one in Hollywood more responsible for scaring the bejeezus out of filmgoers like Director Wes Craven. The man who created Freddy Krueger in The Nightmare on Elm Street, introduced us to The Swamp Thing and taught a new generation of moviegoers to “Scream” 30 years ago, he also created the original The Hills Have Eyes.

Fast forward to 2007 and Craven is back once again with his second sequel to THHE2 (The original “sequel” was produced in 1985). Once again, people will not leave well enough alone and they continue to venture to “Sector 16,” an area so secret that the government will not acknowledge that we have a presence there.

Last time around, a misfortunate family got trapped in the Bermuda triangle of film and only a handful survived. This time around, the filmmakers, looking for a more of a challenge for their cannibalistic mutants, raise the ante by dropping a platoon of National Guardsman in Sector 16.

Craven is a veteran screenwriter and director and he pulls out his “How to Do a Horror Film” box to give moviegoers the standard scare scenarios. There’s the heroic Black character that dies early, the prerequisite scared White girl (and guy) character, the hot-tempered Mexican-American character and several White “I can make it own my own, but die quick” characters.

The characters are wrapped around an all-too familiar story of a group of people who find themselves in the wrong place at absolutely the wrong time. The guardsmen are training for duty in the Middle East and we discover early on that they are just young kids not ready for combat. This same group is sent on a routine patrol to “hills of New Mexico.” Before you can say “ugly creatures,” our naughty deformed neighbors begin to pick off the kids one by one. Some are lucky and killed early; once again, one is brutally raped and so on.

The film, written in four weeks, feels like an idea that time passed like 30 years ago. You would think that some filmmaker would be smart enough to populate his story with characters that may have watched a horror movie or two and would understand how to survive. Late in the film one doomed characters attempts to end her life when another character tells her, “death is never better.” For people such as myself who have to sit through these countless brain-dead scare fests, sometimes I beg to differ.

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Thursday, March 22, 2007

Sharp Shooter | Shooter

Hollywood has been churning out stories of simple men who become extraordinary when thrust into pressure situations. Generally, the government will train them (think Jason Bourne in The Bourne Identity, Sylvester Stallone in First Blood or Keenan Ivory Wayans in Most Wanted) and then betray them, setting them off like “weapons of mass destruction.”

The latest film in the genre is Shooter, directed with an increased sense of urgency by Antoine Fuqua. At the film’s outset, Bob Lee Swagger (Mark Wahlberg) is on a mission with his partner in the hills of some unnamed foreign country. Swagger establishes his credentials quickly by taking out several targets from very long range. Suddenly, the mission goes wrong, and he and his partner are left behind enemy lines, where his partner is mortally wounded.

Fast forward three years later and Swagger is holed away on his ranch far away from civilization when a delegation of government officials, led by the mysterious Col. Johnson (Danny Glover) come calling. They apparently have uncovered a plot to assassinate the president and need Swagger’s help to stop it. Initially, Swagger is reluctant, only to be swayed by Johnson’s argument “to protect America from all enemies, foreign and domestic.”

While Swagger agrees to help his country, covert meetings show political powerbrokers with other plans. They need a fall guy, and Swagger fits the bill. Soon, he is W.W.A. (Whiteman with Attitude), framed for a murder he didn’t commit. Swagger is intent on clearing his name and teams with disgraced FBI agent, Nick Memphis (Michael Peña) and his late partner’s fiancée, Sara (Kate Mara). One by one, Swagger serves his own brand of justice; one man, one rifle and a whole lot of determination.

While the motivation to produce these stories is understood, one has to question the common sense of the government officials in these stories. The question that begs to be asked is, “If you’ve trained a soldier to kill the enemy, why do you think he wouldn’t turn those special-killing skills on you if you betrayed him?

Fuqua, who has directed high-tension dramas such as Training Day and Tears of the Sun, has produced an “intelligent action movie,” with a believable lead performance from Wahlberg. With so much news about the war in Iraq and many Americans not agreeing with the policies coming out of Washington, the film’s relevancy is current. Such films, which bridge the gap between Hollywood and Washington’s inner-circle, feeds public paranoia about our government.

Fuqua’s film is equally entertaining and thought-provoking. Where many films in this genre are just talking loud and saying nothing, this strong pre-summer entry, Shooter, promises to blow away the opening-week competition.

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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

A Swimmingly Good Time | Pride

Two years ago, Terrence Howard either starred or co-starred in a Samuel L. Jackson-esque seven films. With an Oscar nomination under his belt and nine more films in various stages of production, Howard now receives access to much better scripts, and it clearly shows in his latest inspirational film, Pride.

Based on a true story, the film, which can best be described as Coach Carter meets Akeelah and the Bee, finds Howard playing Jim Ellis, who started a successful swim program in Philadelphia during the mid-1970s. When racism took away his opportunity to be successful, it opened the door for him to use his gift to touch the lives of countless others.

The story begins in 1964, as we follow a young Ellis (Howard) at a swim meet with his college team, historically Black Cheney State. The only African American on his swim team, Ellis meets resistance from disrespectful jeering Whites who refuse to swim in the pool with him. During a resulting melee, Ellis strikes a police officer and is dismissed from his team.

Fast forward 10 years, and Ellis is in Philadelphia, pursuing a job as a swim teacher at an exclusive private school, Main Line Academy. He is summarily dismissed after a brief “interview” with a racist school administrator, Bink (Tom Arnold), who claims that they need someone who can “communicate with their students.” After a job search, he is given a temporary assignment helping to close down a rundown youth center.

What he finds is an old maintenance man, Elston (Bernie Mac), who initially is suspicious of his motives, and a group of kids who play basketball outside but never step foot inside the dilapidated center. Once their hoop rims are taken down, the kids are faced with a choice: either play at a court across town or come inside where Ellis has opened up the center’s pool.

Once the kids have accepted Ellis invitation, he begins the arduous task of molding them into a swim team. While Ellis has his hands full working with the young adults, Elston enlists the help of council aide Sue Davis (Kimberly Elise) to pull some strings to help keep the center open. In addition, she also rallies the community together to provide additional support for this group of inner-city pioneers.

While this talented trio are doing all they can to provide a safe haven and keep these kids off Philly’s mean streets, they still must contend with the neighborhood drug kingpin, Franklin (Gary Anthony Sturgis). Who will win the power struggle for the kids’ souls? Will his team finally bring home the elusive honor that Ellis never received?

Howard steps into the role of Ellis with mostly positive results. While the film is formulaic and predictable, that doesn’t stop it from being quite enjoyable. His performance in this film does not match the intensity he displayed in Hustle and Flow or in the confused vulnerability of Crash. In Pride, Howard successfully channels his passion and rage to portray the inspirational swim coach.

The end result is a rousing, crowd-pleasing family film that will have audiences’ chests swelling with cinematic Pride.

This review also appeared on

Friday, March 16, 2007

Dead on Arrival | Dead Silence

The parade of low-budget horror films continues with the release of Dead Silence. This latest offering putting young White kids in harm’s way will surely not thrill my movie critic colleagues, but will probably have enough jolts for a solid opening weekend.

Jamie (Ryan Kwanten) and his wife Ella (Amber Valletta) are enjoying an evening at home when an unexpected present arrives at their door. They discover that a ventriloquist doll has been sent to them with no return address information. Instead of immediately disposing of the doll, Ella attempts to use it in a practical joke with her husband. Suddenly, there are strange doings in their apartment and instead of leaving immediately, she uses her “horror film logic” (which means having none) and Jamie comes home to find her dead.

Suddenly, Jamie is under suspicion for homicide and being interrogated by a skeptical Detective Lipton (a weary-looking Donnie Wahlberg). Jamie tries to explain to Lipton that it’s more than just a little coincidental that the “doll” showed up prior to his wife’s murder.

He takes his wife to be buried in their hometown only to encounter the town’s secret about murdered ventriloquist Mary Shaw (Judith Roberts). It seems that her demise is the source of a cautionary tale/nursery rhyme that parents told their children before they went to sleep.

“There is the story of Mary Shaw
She had no children, only dolls
If you see her in your dreams
Make sure that she doesn’t hear you scream!”

If you had the misfortune of screaming, there goes your tongue!

Meanwhile back in Raven’s Fair, Jamie is determined to find out what evil force killed his wife and he uses his horror film logic to full effect. He constantly does things that make no sense including going to a graveyard to bury a doll late at night, going solo to the creepiest place imaginable looking for clues and inexplicably sitting in his car and refusing to leave even though he has ample opportunity to get away. The biggest no-no is that if you THINK that the doll may be involved, why take it everywhere with you (sitting in the seat in your car, bringing it back to your room and putting it in a chair, etc.).

The film is from the filmmaker’s that gave you Saw and just like that film, Dead Silence participates in “cinematic three-card monty.” This sort of misdirection is effective when it is employed in films like The Sixth Sense and The Usual Suspects. Unfortunately, this film couldn’t sniff the quality that those films possessed and as a result, I bet you in a month if I asked you about this film your reply would be the film’s title – Dead Silence.

This review also appeared on

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Love and Marriage | I Think I Love My Wife

Chris Rock literally grew up in front of our very eyes. From his small part in Beverly Hills Cop 2, Rock has shown us his love for hip hop (CB4), crack (New Jack City), his boy, Pootie Tang, and the “minimum-wage brothers” (Boomerang).

Rock is all grown up and mature as the frustrated and undersexed suburban husband Richard Cooper in the adult marriage comedy, I Think I Love My Wife. Initially, Cooper’s life seems rosy. He has a beautiful wife, Brenda (Gina Torres), and two cute children who all live in a big house in New York’s affluent Westchester County. By day, Richard works at a large firm and is well respected, but by night he is bored out of his mind.

We find out that sometime ago his wife simply stopped having sex with him. The longer the love embargo exists, the more distracted Richard becomes. Suddenly he arrives for work and discovers his friend’s ex, Nikki Tru (Kerry Washington), waiting for him. Literally the woman in red, Nikki is stunning, and Richard takes it all in like a thirsty man in the desert.

Before long, Nikki becomes a daily fixture in Richard’s life, showing up at his job, calling him excessively and meeting for lunch and other rendezvous. The two are not sleeping together, but Richard’s co-workers’ intensely watchful eyes burn through him as though he is involved with the sexy temptress.

His behavior not only changes around the office, but Brenda also begins to take notice of Richard’s strange comportment. Richard’s life is divided into to distinct parts: his exciting days with Nikki and his boring life with Brenda. He has become like a “moth to a flame about to be burned by the fire” and can’t seem to do anything about it.

Based on the French film, Chloe in the Afternoon, Rock’s film is a commentary on modern marriage that challenges our ideas and principles of a “working marriage.” The film asks married couples the question, “What is marriage?” Is marriage having all of the visual trappings of happiness, minus physical love? Perhaps, it is a union of two people who learn just to tolerate one another?

Much of the film feels better suited for Rock’s standup than this film. There are more than a few scenes in the movie that are laugh-out-loud funny. He infuses the story with several running gags that include making fun of Michael Jackson and the racial politics of the N-word. Although he is mature with a family of his own, Rock still lacks the presence of a true leading man.

The film’s real standout is Kerry Washington. In her second movie with Rock (they both starred in Bad Company), she oozes sexuality in her most brash role since She Hate Me. Where Robin Givens tried too hard to radiate sexuality in A Rage in Harlem, Washington’s performance is almost effortless, making her look like liquid sex when she’s on screen. By turning Richard’s world inside out and making him question his commitment to his wife and family, I Think I Love My Wife gives couples everywhere a reason to explore the state of their relationships.

This review also appeared on

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Sparta's Bravehearts | 300

Hollywood has a love affair with warriors. Recently, we've had William Wallace (Mel Gibson in Braveheart), Achilles (Brad Pitt in Troy) and Maximus (Russell Crowe in Gladiator). But in "300," we've finally found one warrior to rule them all.

Based on the epic graphic novel by Frank Miller (Sin City), 300 is the ferocious retelling of the ancient Battle of Thermopylae in which King Leonidas (Gerard Butler) and his buffed and barely-clad 300 Spartans fought to the death against Persian ruler Xerxes and his massive army. Facing insurmountable odds, the Spartan's valor and sacrifice inspired all of Greece to unite to beat back the Persian threat.

From an early age, Leonidas is taught fierce pride in his homeland, Sparta. Soon, according to Greek custom, he is taken from his mother and forced to survive in the wilderness.

While in training, young Leonidas encounters a large vicious wolf. Frightened, but poised he uses the animal’s size to its disadvantage, killing him. Later in his life, he would duplicate the strategy in his battle with the Persians. Upon completing his mission, he is made King and leader of the most disciplined fighting unit ever assembled.

Fast forward 30 years later and Leonidas' peaceful rule is interrupted when he receives an unexpected guest with and important message. The Persian messenger informs him that Ruler Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro) wants the people of Sparta to submit and fall under his rule. After giving it some token thought, Leonidas and his men quickly send their own message to their Persian guests – “you can’t come up in Sparta talkin' that ****," as they drop-kick them down a deep, dark hole.

Leonidas rallies his men need to defend Sparta and the freedom enjoy. Unfortunately, it won't be a fair fight, because Xerxes' armies is close to a million strong. All Leonidas has at his disposal is 300 troops and some additional volunteers. But as Djay (Terrence Howard) told Skinny Black (Ludacris) in Hustle and Flow, “it’s not the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog.”

Boy, is there plenty of fight in the Spartans. Their fighting personalities can best be described as a mix of Army Rangers, Navy Seals and an elite Marine Corp fighting unit. They are truly some bad men. They engage and hold their ground against the arrogant Persians, displaying tremendous courage and incredible heart against overwhelming odds.

With constant cries throughout the film of “This is Sparta,” the only thing missing in this visually arresting completely over-the-top affair was an agitated Samuel L. Jackson screaming obscenities back at the fiery Greeks. With its slow-motion shots and six-pack toting warriors, one could mistake 300 for a music video, but the burningly passionate lead performance of Gerard Butler as Leonidas gives the film much needed depth.

On the other side, there’s the androgynous Xerxes who is portrayed as a effeminate giant with a gold and piercing fetish. You keep waiting for him to say, “I’m so pretty,” and who could argue. He and his strange, dark-skinned overweight group of arrogant, self-obsessed troops are residing in a virtual Sodom and Gomorrah. They provide a stark contrast to the perfectly-sculpted Spartans.

The film is also historically inaccurate because the real battle featured over a thousand men and Persia’s fighting force only number 300,000. But Hollywood will never let truth get in the way of a good story. While failing as a history lesson, 300 takes Troy and Gladiator to the next level. The film is an exhilarating butt-kicking spectacle that looks and feels like a hint of summer in the spring.

This review also appeared on

Monday, March 5, 2007

A Classy and Dignified Image Awards

Friday night’s 38th Annual NAACP Image Awards was a benchmark program for several reasons, not the least of which was the fact that the show aired live for the first time in its 38-year history and that it exuded an air of class and dignity not usually associated with the broadcast.

Hosted by LL Cool J, this year’s broadcast was conventional in its approach but succeeded because the producer understood that less is more. In the past, the Image Awards have been highlighted by such moments as multiple nominations for films like Kingdom Come and the infamous Barbershop flap.

Granted, there were still a couple of awkward moments For example, actor Isaiah Washington won for “Grey’s Anatomy” and thanked lesbian activist, Jasmyne Cannick, who has come to his defense despite his recent homophobic remarks. Also, honorary winner Bill Cosby praised his friend, former baseball player Joe Black, in a speech that caught the entire audience by surprise. Cosby’s touching tribute to the former Greyhound executive who passed away in 2002, was moving nonetheless.

Many of the winners mirrored choices made at the Academy Awards. Both Forest Whitaker (The Last King of Scotland) and Jennifer Hudson (Dreamgirls) took home top acting prizes. Honorary awards were presented to U2 frontman Bono, CNN News Anchor Soledad O’Brien and Cosby.

India.Arie gave a soulful tribute to O’Brien, while The Roots saluted Bono. Bono’s fiery acceptance speech from the Image Awards pulpit was the evening’s highlight. He recently entered into a partnership with the NAACP to help eradicate hunger and poverty in Africa.

NAACP Chairman Julian Bond and President Bruce Gordon closed the show, which would take on a more symbolic meaning with Gordon’s resignation after the show. Congratulations to the nation’s oldest civil rights organization for finally “getting it right” on awards night.

Below is a complete list of winners


Motion picture: The Pursuit of Happyness.
Actor in a motion picture: Forest Whitaker, The Last King of Scotland.
Actress in a motion picture: Keke Palmer, Akeelah and the Bee.
Supporting actor in a motion picture: Djimon Hounsou, Blood Diamond.
Supporting actress in a motion picture: Jennifer Hudson, Dreamgirls.
Independent or Foreign Film: "An Inconvenient Truth."
Director of motion picture, television movie: Spike Lee, The Inside Man.
Writing for motion picture, television movie: Doug Atchison, Akeelah and
the Bee


Comedy series: "Ugly Betty"
Director of comedy series: "Kenneth Whittingham, "The Office."
Actor in a comedy series: Tyler James Williams, "Everybody Hates Chris."
Actress in a comedy series: Tracee Ellis Ross, "Girlfriends."
Supporting actor in a comedy series: Reggie Hayes, "Girlfriends"
Supporting actress in a comedy series: Vanessa Williams, "Ugly Betty"
Writing in comedy series: Silvio Horta, "Ugly Betty."
Drama Series: "Grey's Anatomy"
Director of drama series: Karen Gaviola, "The Whole Truth."
Actor in a drama series: Isaiah Washington. "Grey's Anatomy"
Actress in drama series: Kimberly Elise, "Close to Home."
Supporting actor in a drama series: Omar Epps, "House."
Supporting actress in a drama series: Chandra Wilson, "Grey's Anatomy"
Writing in drama series: Shonda Rhimes, "Grey's Anatomy," "It's the End of
the World."
TV movie, miniseries, or dramatic special: "When the Levees Broke: A Requiem
in Four Acts."
Actor in a TV movie, miniseries or dramatic special: Kadeem Hardison, "Life
is Not a Fairytale: The Fantasia Barrino Story."
Actress in a TV movie, miniseries or dramatic special: Sophie Okonedo,
"Tsunami, The Aftermath."
Actor in a daytime drama series: Kristoff St. John, "The Young and the
Actress in a daytime drama series: Tracy Ross, "Passions."
News, talk or information, series or special: Tavis Smiley, "Katrina--One
Year Later."
Reality: "American Idol."
Variety series or special: "An Evening of Stars: Tribute to Stevie Wonder."
Children's Program: "That's So Raven"
Outstanding Performance, Children's Program: Raven Symone. "That's So Raven"
New artist: Corinne Bailey Rae.
Male artist: Prince
Female artist: Mary J. Blige.
Duo or group: The Roots.
Jazz artist: Glady Knight.
Gospel artist, traditional or contemporary: Kirk Franklin.
Music vide Mary J. Blige, "Be Without You."
Song: "I Am Not My Hair," India.Arie.
Album: "Dreamgirls" (Soundtrack)


Literary work, fiction: "Baby Brother's Blues," Pearl Cleage.
Literary work, nonfiction: "The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the
American Dream," Barack Obama.
Debut author: "Letters to a Young Brother," Hill Harper.
Biography, autobiography: "The Pursuit of Happyness," Christ Gardner.
Instructional: "Mama Made The Difference," T.D. Jakes.
Poetry: "Celebrations: Rituals of Peace and Prayer," Maya Angelou.
Children: "Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom," Carole
Boston Weatherford.
Youth/teens: "Letters to a Young Brother," Hill Harper.

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Friday, March 2, 2007

It's Hard Out There for a Nymph! | Black Snake Moan

Craig Brewer’s debut film, Hustle and Flow, garnered critical praise for its raw, stripped down Southern feel as well as a Best Actor Oscar nomination for Terrence Howard. His latest effort, Black Snake Moan, proves that he’s no fluke.

Black Snake Moan opens with both main characters in varying degrees of distress. Blues guitarist Lazarus (Samuel L. Jackson) finds out his wife is on the verge of leaving him for his brother and you can believe he’s not happy. “My father told me that a young woman would suck me dry,” retorts the angry Lazarus. Instead of taking out his anger on her, he destroys her prize rose bush.

Meanwhile on the other side town, we meet the constantly sex-starved Rae (Christina Ricci), who sleeps with three men in the film before some moviegoers can get in their seats. Her beloved, Ronnie (Justin Timberlake), is off to the National Guard leaving her unattended, but not for long. After a night of pill-popping and drinking, the inebriated woman is beat down and left in the road where Lazarus discovers her.

But the two lives are on an inevitable collision course that will ultimately change both of their troubled lives.

Rae has been beaten badly and Lazarus comes to her aid. Only after she has had several “fever” dreams and wandered around his property that Lazarus comes to a realization, “keep your friends close, but truly confused closer.” She wakes up to find herself chained to his radiator. The story truly begins here as the two begin to emotionally feel each other out. Lazarus finds out that Rae has a “special condition” that’s another phrase for her being a nymphomaniac. The spiritually-grounded Lazarus takes this as a personal challenge to “fix her.”

His problems are just beginning because it looks pretty suspicious in the deep south for a Black man to have a White woman chained against her will in his home. One hilarious scene underlies the cautionary tale of what happens when one gets “too close” to a person in Rae’s condition.

Jackson easily gives his strongest performance since A Time to Kill. As the broken-hearted blues musician, he displays an amazing amount of tenderness while flashing his trademark Jackson scowl. His passionate performance drives this film and makes it the first important film of 2007.

Where Brewer’s gritty Hustle and Flow featured rap music, Black Snake Moan is gut-bucket Blues companion. Featuring a wonderful script and incredible performances from Jackson, Ricci and Timberlake, this film soars. The film seems to suggest that the way to salvation is to save someone else. One thing for sure, Black Snake Moan has provided box-office salvation to us all.

This review also appeared on