It happens every few decades, each time with more respect than before: statements about the existence of black art. They whisper about renewal, they talk about piquant moments. Certain demographics are quick to celebrate its arrival, and those allergic to trends (or those whose memories span more than a decade) are well aware that it's always been there. Representation, necessity, meaning and art are rejected until the conversation is gone. And then we start again.
Elvis Mitchell is black enough for you?!? The film, which debuted at the New York Film Festival and was released on Netflix on November 11, tries to rid us of this intellectual trial. A taut and thoughtful documentary explores the influence and legacy of film noir released in the late 1960s and 1970s, a decade marked by the proliferation of Blexploitation films.
Dark enough for you?!?
Result Ambitious in scope, rich in content.
Venue: New York Film Festival (Spotlight)
Release date: Tuesday, November 11 (Netflix)
Director : Elvis Mitchell
Rated R, 2 hours 15 minutes
Mitchell uses an essay from the film, which combines personal experience and cultural critique, to challenge traditional notions of the time. From William Greaves' Symbiopsychotaxis: Take One and Melvin Van Peebles ' Watermelon Man to Gordon Parks Jr. Super Fly – Show how black filmmakers, artists, writers and musicians revived cinema with the help of both formal and narrative experiences.
Dark enough for you?!? Ambition is a feat, but a search of this magnitude requires the right tools. As I watched the two-hour film, which covered an astonishing amount of information, I was furious when the publishers turned down Mitchell's offer to write the book. (According to the press notes, Mitchell is dark enough for you?! or dare I say, he has a longer shelf life. The exhibition documentary works, but some of the content is inevitably lost due to the cuts , required form changes and deletions .
Mitchell's paper works best as an educational primer, a (long) tasting menu that will not only broaden your palette, but leave you hungry for more. A must-have for viewers wishing to ignore or sleep through the contributions of black filmmakers; For those of you who think you know this decade of movie history, I suggest you run instead of walk and turn on Netflix when it goes offline.
The workers set the tone for this documentary which structurally and tonally resembles the studios included in Raul Beijing's film “ I'm not your Negro ”. Influential film critic Mitchell analyzes Is That Enough for You?!? of Baldwin. that he wrote, directed and told. Again, interesting film review with anecdotes retracing its complex relationship with cinema. The interviews are intercut with an eclectic mix of black theatrical figures, from Laurence Fishburne, Whoopi Goldberg and Zendaya to Harry Belafonte and Suzanne de Passe. Their interpretations expand Mitchell's work and place his ideas within the larger veil of film noir history. But they also offer a welcome break, a break from the constant drumming of information.
Dark enough for you?!? It begins with a broad observation of American cinema, its rejection of black audiences, and how Mitchell's grandmother regulated his use of moving images. For example, he couldn't watch The Andy Griffith Show because there were no black people on it. – What do you think happened to them? asked her grandmother. These kinds of questions Mitchell asks throughout the film are examples of the mental tricks black people do when watching "classic" movies. Their exclusion is not always a sign of the ignorance of the creators, but rather a testimony and a reflection of the current of racist violence which makes certain American spaces white.
Mitchell organizes and presents his ideas methodically. There is also poetry in the narration, a convenience that can be demonstrated with the audio format (Mitchell hosts the KCRW radio show The Treatment ). An overview of the American cinematic landscape, including the studios' visionary mission to shape culture rather than react to it, is accompanied by a more concrete analysis. Like a jeweler examining gemstones, Mitchell observes these characteristics from all angles, an encyclopedic approach that can make it difficult to understand the main purpose and essence of the film. He gives a brief plot summary before revealing the movies' most interesting qualities, from storytelling development to creative and genre innovations. Consider these works against the backdrop of socio-political battles unfolding against the backdrop of: the Great Patriotic War; the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X and Medgar Evers; and the horrific lynching of Emmett Till. His enthusiasm, even when faced with difficult subjects, is contagious; You leave the doctor wanting to love everything as much as Michelle loves the movies.
Viewers familiar with current film noir discourse, is that enough for you?!? , who does not hesitate to criticize the conservatism and exclusivity of American cinema. Research drives the creation of national myths, helping to evoke and perpetuate fictional images of the United States. Belafonte, interviewed at length here, is a symbol of artistic integrity whose role, often minimized, does not take her talent seriously or attempts to caricature her.
One of the most interesting parts of Mitchell's documentary is his detailed study of film scores and soundtracks, a subject that particularly piqued my interest and I wish it had stayed longer. Here, Mitchell leads the analysis, describing Curtis Mayfield's voice and music as a "falseto ballad" that black Americans have struggled with. He briefly offers a theory, which he attributes to a conversation with a studio executive, that Super Fly popularized the trend of releasing soundtracks before a movie's premiere to attract audiences. (Mitchell says it was Van Peebles' technique.) This connection makes us think about the aesthetic and commercial relationship between image and sound, and how music activates and enhances the imaginary worlds created in movies.
How did we choose this theme, is it dark enough for you?!? switches to the next movie and analysis mode. The project has the amazing quality of constantly jumping from one consideration to another: the aesthetics of film noir, the legacy of a particular opening sequence, the function of the music, the economics of independent films and research-supported projects. It is rare to see black cinema even attempt to address these critical issues. However, it's a hassle to digest, especially in the first round. Dark enough for you?!? it's layered and in-depth, but like a college dissertation, it takes work to unpack. It is a challenge worth taking up.