Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
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Friday, July 06, 2007

For a real rollercoaster ride of a movie,climb abroad Black Snake Moan

Earlier this year,Black Snake Moan hit the theaters and many folks were surprised that it was not a sleazy throwback ala Mandingo(which I think may have disappointed some)but an interesting and compelling story about two people in pain who find comfort in each other. I've heard and read much about it,but it didn't get to see the movie until it arrived on DVD recently.

I watched BSM last night and I was truly riveted to the screen. I didn't even want to pause for a bathroom break due to the hynoptic sway of the story and the need to see what would happen next to the characters. The plot is not just"Christina Ricci gets chained to a radiator by Samuel L. Jackson." Jackson play Lazarus,a former blues man turned farmer whose wife has just left him to take up with his brother. While still stewing about that,Lazarus discovers a young,barely dressed and beaten girl abandoned on the roadside by his house.

Her name is Rae,and Lazarus finds out thru some local inquiries that she's a sex addict. She's also running a fever and wanders around in a haze,hallunciating due to past traumas and some of the drugs she took to get over her boyfriend Ronnie leaving for the Army.

When Rae finally wakes up sober and somewhat healthier,she finds that Lazarus is determined to "cure" her of her self destructive lifestyle and part of that treatment involves chaining her up. She naturally doesn't take kindly to that and fluctuates between flirtation and pure fury to get him to set her loose. Lazarus stays firm about helping her and slowly but surely,the two of them form a bond of unlikely yet healing friendship.

One of the key factors that makes this movie work is the casting;it's truly difficult to imagine any other actor than Samuel L. Jackson that could pull this role off and make Lazarus believable,sympathic and very reasonable in everything that he does. Ricci plays well off of him and brings plenty of solid emotional strength to Rae. One of the most gripping scenes in the film is Rae's confrontation with her mother about their past and while there's only a glimpse of it in this clip,that whole sequence is heartbreakingly sad and amazing all at once:

In the making of the film featurette,director Craig Brewer describes the film as a music album,with it's various rhythms and themes. That's pretty accurate,since music plays a major part of this film,almost like a narrator at times. Jackson did his own singing here and could've had a whole other career based on his personability in the performances given,whether it's in front of a crowd at a juke joint or alone in a room,with only an audience of one:



This movie is so good,that even Justin Timberlake(as Ronnie) was actually credible in his performance. From what I gathered,he was pretty much playing himself and perhaps he might do better than some of his musical compatriots in the acting realm. We shall see. He's no Mandy Moore(why that poor girl got sucked into the vortex of a crappy comedy like License to Wed,we may never know)but I would be willing to see him in another film and not be quick to dismiss him on sight.

Black Snake Moan is the kind of film that will hold a place on many critics' Best Movies of the Year list but undoubtedly will be overlooked for most of the awards shows(the Golden Globes,maybe yes but Oscar,most likely no). That's a real shame for all of the artists involved here and I hope that more people will take a chance on seeing this movie for themselves.

Hype aside,it's best to appreciate BSM for what it is,not what it isn't or could have been. The story is meant to be allegorical,sort of a modern day Southern fable and works best on that level. Put away any notions you may have pre-hand and simply allow yourself to be spellbound,you'll enjoy the experience much better that way.


Robin Brande said...

Lady T, I loved this movie as much as you did. SO original, so out-there, and just some incredible acting. I agree that Justin Timberlake did a really fine job. I saw him in Alpha Dog last year, where he had a much larger role, and he was really good in that, too. He's got some acting chops. We'll be seeing more of him.

lady t said...

I may have to give Alpha Dog a chance,now that I've actually seen Timberlake act. Heck,I might even have check out Hustle & Flow,since Craig Brewer seems to be quite a talent there!