Black filmmakers, a black filmmaker and Black Adam: movies viewed

IS THAT BLACK ENOUGH FOR YOU? (2022) would double bill well with This Changes Everything as black film critic Elvis Mitchell points out that despite multiple black stars and directors proving their ability to generate profitable box office, neither their careers nor black film in general takes off the way they should.

While Mitchell looks back at early filmmakers such as Oscar Micheaux, the focus is on the 1960s, the blacksploitation era, the various stars (Harry Belafonte, Ivor Dixon, Sidney Poitier) and Mitchell’s own love/hate relationship with white film (“When a white man donned a bow tie and a dark jacket he was headed out for a glamorous evening, a black man was dressing for work as a servant.”). There’s a lot of debatable but not implausible speculation on how much blacksploitation affected white work, for example whether John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever amounts to “another Elvis Presley” (i.e., copying black style to advance a white career). Well worth the catching. “For most of the history of movies, studios have been content to leave black money on the table.”

I loved Jordan Peele’s Us and Get Out! so I was delighted his NOPE (2022) was streaming on Peacock. Not so delighted when I sat down and watched it … After a rain of objects from the sky (making me wondering if Peele is a fan of Charles Fort) kills a black rancher whose family provides trained animals and stunt work for films, his son and daughter struggle to keep the business a going concern. Then they sight what appears to be a UFO and set out to get conclusive film, confident a money shot can turn things around for them (based on my reading for Aliens Are Here, I’d say that would take a miracle shot, but I can believe they believe it).]

This is pretty to look at but it’s more a random collection of characters and ideas that never tie together: the story of a kid star and his freak experience with a chimpanzee is memorable but doesn’t connect up with the rest of the film. That could work in some films, but this is not one of them. “He’s right — that ain’t Oprah.”

Kahndaq archeologist Sarah Shahi summons BLACK ADAM (2022) back to life to save her son from Intergang, only for Dwayne Johnson’s Shazam-powered champion to spend most of the movie battling the Justice Society, including Pierce Brosnan’s Dr. Fate, before the real bad guy arrives for the climax. This is based on a plotline from Geoff Johns’ JSA plotline in the comics but it’s all wrong here, like introducing the Hulk in a movie and also introducing the Avengers as his antagonists with no explanation who they were. Some of Black Adam’s effortless super-stunts look great but they’re stuck in a mediocre movie. I discuss it more, and look at Black Adam’s comics career, over at Atomic Junkshop. “Life is the only path to death — well, that’s obvious.”

#SFWApro. All rights to images remain with current holders.

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