Sunday, November 4, 2012

Review Two Black Snake Moan

Never before has a movie so much made me want to turn it off in the middle of watching it so I could jerk off to rape porn.

Alright, for real now, I’d like to be serious about this for a moment. The truth of the matter is that  I can jerk it to any movie where women are brutalized.  Even this one.

Right now, at this very moment, somewhere in the world, someone is being  jizzed on while tied to a radiator.

So before I dive into this one, who directed this film? What kind of movie might we be in for? Black Snake Moan, released in 2006, was written and directed by Craig Brewer, who one year before that was the writer and director of Hustle and Flow. Now that fact alone was almost enough to make me skip this movie over. Why the fuck do I care that some pimp (pimp is completely literal in this case by the way) is having, what I suppose you could call, a life crisis?

It’s hard out here for a pimp? Seriously? Fucking seriously? If you like this shit even a little you’re a fucking asshole!

“But Mandrew, you’re a huge fucking asshole, so does that mean you think it’s hard out there for a pimp?”

I fucking swear to the coin-counting god of Jews that I’d rather be turned into Kim Kardashian and have my legs amputated at the pussy, only to be stripped naked, oiled, and tossed over the walls into a federal  pound-you-in-the-ass prison and left for dead, then to, for one second, have any of you mochachino slurping, Weeds watching, carb counting, suburban driving, lilies try and explain to me why this shit is good. There isn’t enough fires for all you drooling Quasimodos to die in.

It’s hard out here for a pimp…fuck you.

It’s hard out here for single parents trying to raise their kids(like one’s with actual jobs that don’t involve pimping girls or selling shitty weed). It’s hard out here for all the butt bumping, carpet munching homos that can’t get married even though they believe in the same god as everyone else. It’s hard out here for the farmers or the small business owners who are losing everything because business just ain’t what it used to be.  It’s hard out here for the poor bastards stuck in fox holes, wondering if they’ll ever see home again. Or the kids who really think all those virgins will be waiting for them after they strap that bomb to their chest. Or all the other fucking kids who are born with AIDS and starving because their government is too busy chopping each other’s hands off. Did someone come to your village today and cut your fucking hands off? I’m going to go with no.

Is it really so hard to imagine why the majority of the world thinks Americans are assholes? It’s because it’s so hard out here for a pimp. Fuck you. I mean it’s bad enough that fucking song won a god damn OSCAR! Not only that, but fucking Terrence Howard got nominated for best actor that year as well. Thank fucking goodness Philip Seymour Hoffman won for Capote. Terrence Howard is nothing but a watered-down Cuba Gooding  Jr. who wished Tom Cruise would have shown him the money that one time. Cuba isn’t even that awesome either. He did go full retard in Radio (2003). If you want to watch a movie with similar themes to Hustle and Flow go fucking watch Boyz n the Hood (1992) nominated for best screenplay and director. Or you could watch Dangerous Minds (1995) with Michelle Pfeiffer, though one could certainly argue it’s just another Stand and Deliver (1988), or Freedom Writers (2007). There’s also Baby Boy (2001), same director as Boy n the Hood, John Singleton.  And of course there was this one fucking movie called 8 Mile (2002) where some poor bastard plagued by all the social hindrances one can imagine and overall poor circumstance struggles to be a rapper and make something of himself. Does this fucking shit sound familiar? Djay is a shitty character and that movie sucked ass. I’m sorry you made bad decisions, but get a real fucking job and take care of your fucking family! Eminem also has an Oscar in case anyone forgot. It might be hard out here for a pimp, but all you have to do is lose yourself in the moment. Or maybe we can all just drink the fucking Kool-Aid already and call it a day. You assholes go first!

My true point is that this was the mind set I had when I saw Black Snake Moan in the theater back in 2006. However, I watched it again this week for the first time since then with fresh eyes. My opinion on Hustle and Flow remains the same, but the verdict on Black Snake Moan is better than you might imagine. That doesn’t mean it’s getting off easy though. Let’s break this shit down.

To begin with, Black Snake Moan is a perfect movie for people who consider themselves to be intellectuals, aka self proclaimed no-it-all faggots that pretend they are good at stuff.

“So Mandrew, does that mean that this movie is perfect for you?”  Funny guys, real funny.

Honestly though, if you went to college and memorized a few books about philosophy and meta science, with the delusions of self exploration, that in reality have no purpose save the regurgitation of facts and choice quotes in a coffee shop setting to impress other no-it-all assholes so maybe they touch your private parts later, because you’re so “deep”.

“Hold on Mandrew, that sounds really familiar…didn’t you used to…” If you guys don’t chill the fuck out I’ll turn this blog around right now and go home!

 Ladies the only deep thing about tight pants, thrift store sweater wearing, boys you meet in coffee shops is how deep they plan on getting into you girl gash because they think they can charm you by vomiting up things they heard actual intelligent people say. And fellas, well…we all know none of us are interested in girls that read. Books! Come on girls, you should know better. But yes, if you are one of these so called “smart” people, then you probably have an atrocious personality and difficulty just having plain old interactions with people, this movie is for you.

“So Mandrew does that mean that this movie is…” I said be quiet!

This film does a lot of things really well, except for the plot. The plot to this movie is one of the stupidest fucking things I’ve ever seen. I mean just look at the tag lines. “Everything is hotter down South”, or “To save his soul, he must save hers”. If my penis could vomit, it would. The only movies I can think of that have a worst plot then Black Snake include things like, Snakes on a Plane( 2006), also starring Samuel L. Jackson. Asian bad guy that does karate must kill witness by putting snakes on a plane. Crank (2006) with Jason Statham. Guy gets poisoned but has to run around blasting extreme uppers and electrocuting himself to kill the bad guys. I know Who Killed Me (2007), starring Lindsey “Skeletor” Lohan.  I’m having all these weird visions of being murder by this creepy man because I actually have some twin sister that’s really being murdered…and…and…oh god. And of course who could forget Troll 2 (1990), which is arguably the worst movie ever made. Family goes to a place called the Nilbog for vacation, sounds awesome, only to have to fight off an entire civilization of goblins. Yes goblins, there are actually no trolls in this movie.  Then there’s Rubber (2010), starring  Robert the Tire. One of the worst movies I’ve ever seen, I might even argue worse than Troll 2. Tire becomes self realized and rolls around…maybe a head explodes here and there, then the tire…rolls…around… So here is the plot to Black Snake, as quickly as possible.

Guy is pissed his wife left him. His life sucks. Girl is pissed her dad molested her. Her life sucks. Guy chains up girl, and all of their problems just go away! Horay! And there’s titties. HORAY!

Say what you will, but that’s more or less the whole movie. Though I suppose I should mention the awards this movie was nominated for. This film actually won the very prestigious Wyatt Award! It’s an award given out by the Southeastern Film Critics Association. Surely you’ve heard of them…oh wait…and when I say it won I mean they got second place. And of course who could forget when Justin Timberlake  was nominated for a Teen Choice Award for his Breakout Male performance as Ronnie. He got one for Alpha dog the year before.


Now I admit that my description could be considered an oversimplification, but that’s just the majestic Horsey sweater, I bought at the Good Will talking. Maybe I should go buy glasses with no frames in them…that would help! Anyhow, how about this for an actual, but still brief, plot summary.

Samuel L. Jackson plays Lazarus, an old broke down blues musician turned farm living in the backwater of Mississippi. All southern stereotypes one might imagine are present. Lazarus’s wife has just left him for his brother. That’s the ultimate burn. As a result the already hardened and surly Lazarus suffers from a self-loathing inferiority complex, coupled with alcoholism and sudden bouts of misplaced altruistic rage. Wait what? I know right! He finds Rae, played by Christina Ricci, nearly beaten to death and suffering from a potentially fatal fever on the road near his home. Rae is the embodiment of the trailer trash cliché that also suffers from a self-loathing inferiority complex and manifests itself through substance abuse and sexual addiction brought on by unresolved feelings of abandonment,  because her mother stood idly by when he rather molested her as a child.
So Lazarus finds her and decides to nurse her back to health, because well, he’s actually a pretty good guy, except he then takes it a step farther and decides to chain Rae up and hold her prisoner until she can kick her terrible affliction, which is just an excuse for Lazarus to live vicariously through her as she resolves her problems because he can’t resolve his on his own…Wait what? Oh my.
Eventually they develop a very close father/daughter like relationship and work out their deep seeded emotional issues together through some weird sexy southern mishmash of therapy that doesn’t involve a trip to Jerry Springer. The End.

Wait what? Oh my goodness. Even when I use a lot of big words this plot still sounds stupid as fuck. And that’s because it is. So here’s what we’re going to do gang. I’m going to rant about why this movie sucks, then I’ll rap up by pointing out what this movie does well, which is actually a lot of things. So stop complaining and go iron your skinny jeans.

The main focus of the plot in this movie is that Sammy jack wants to cure Rae of her sexual addiction, because up until that she occasionally suffers from a mind bending seizure-like episode that can only be resolved after she has hot trailer park sex with the closest man available. The Tehronne character, black gangster type person, describes her affliction by saying to Sammy Jack, “She gotta get dick or she goes crazy”. Thanks other black guy! So here’s the first major plot hole. Why the fuck would anyone guy within a hundred mile radius want to cure her of that?! So let me get this straight…very slutty, hot as shit Christina Ricci has to fuck to not go crazy, and she’ll fuck any guy with no discrimination whatsoever? And you want her to stop her? WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU?! I’ll tell you right now, if that condition ever became contagious I would pack my shit and move to that town immediately.

So this is the point where my male readers are chuckling, and my female readers aka crybabies are no doubt feigning outrage. Let me guess gals, you’re tired of Hollywood writers aka evil men jerk faces using female objectification as not only an advertising pull, but as a plot device? I’ll be the first to say that women have every right to be mad about female objectification. No one likes feeling degraded, and certainly no one likes having their existence so oversimplified, but you’re looking at it all wrong. The objectification of women makes the world go round. The very society and civilization we know now would crumble without it. Now before all you gals pop an ovary, I’ll explain.

Ask yourself this: what keeps people from raping and pillaging at will all the time? Well I suppose you could argue the overall basic goodness of humanity and…and…and I can’t even type this fucking sentence with a straight face. Had I been serious I might have asked the barista at Mugs if I could plug in my laptop somewhere while she refills my caramel macchiato. FAGS! People don’t rape and pillage for two main reasons. First and foremost is because of fear of retaliation and punishment. How many times have you caught yourself thinking about a “if only I could get away with it” scenario? I’m guessing a lot. I’m certainly guilty of this, because I would rape and kill pretty much everyone if only I could get away with it. But I wouldn’t. I’d get arrested and sent to prison where some huge guy would knock all my teeth out for blowjobs. So for now I’ll just maraud you all in my head.

The second, and most important reason is the ability to look at boobs.

It’s the reason we don’t have Vikings storming the shores, or Mongols rampaging across the plains. It’s the reason the average asshole doesn’t rob banks, rape his neighbor’s wife, or bring a gun to work and shoot everyone. This shit happens of course, but I’m talking about a global meltdown here. The average dude doesn’t go crazy, because after he gets home from the job he probably hates, he can forget about it by jerking off to girls that are way hotter than anything he’ll ever get, probably, and reconvince himself that monogamy is easy. This keeps him sated and docile. Some Muslims strap bombs to their chests because they think there’s a bunch of chicks waiting for them in heaven. If there were more boobs hanging out in the Middle East I bet it would be a calmer place. On that not ladies, please don’t get mad when men objectify you, because your bodies are keeping the world safe from total anarchy and destruction.

This brings me to why the characters in Black Snake Moan are actually good. For as stupid as this fucking movie is, the characters are pretty well developed in my opinion. I’ll start with Christina Ricci as Rae. Right off the bat I can tell you her character fulfils a classic character template you’ll find in a lot of movies, and that arch is the hooker with the heart of gold. Basically what we have here is a great looking gal that gets involved in some “morally questionable” activities, but she’s a really good person the rest of the time. The hero character always likes the hooker with the heart of gold, and the audience usually does too. From a historical perspective, we probably see this character recur so much in movies because of Mary Magdalene.  Way to fuck hookers Jesus!

My favorite examples of movies with the character include: Pretty Woman with Julia Roberts (1990), Trading Places with Jamie Lee Curtis (1983), L.A. Confidential with Kim Basinger (1997), Leaving Las Vegas with Elizabeth Shue (1995), Shoot’Em Up with Monica Belluci (2007), and Moulin Rouge! with Nicole Kidman (2001). Characters like this work really well in movies because it’s such a familiar thing to most audiences whether they realize it or not. It’s like rooting for the underdog, which is a safe play for writers and directors. And the fact that it’s some beautiful girl engaging in scandalous activity, it even appeals to cynics like me. As an audience we can tell that the writer/director of Black Snake understands this well because Criag Brewer as a hooker with a heart of gold in both his movies. The bag of shit-covered dicks aka Hustle and Flow has the Shug character played by Taraji P. Henson. She’s the pregnant hooker that can really sing, so the audience likes her.

This is the Rae character to perfection. Sure, all Rae does is cheat on her boyfriend with everyone, and is naked all over the place, (we have a word for that and its WHORE) but it’s established that she doesn’t do it all on purpose. The story makes it clear that she’s in trouble. Her father used to rape her for one, which is made apparent in the very creepy but artfully done fever dream sequence where his blurry visage ominously approaches her helpless on the couch. We also know that Rae’s mother is a worthless and cruel person when Rae finally confronts her in the grocery store. Not only is it made clear that Rae’s mother knew about the child raping and did nothing, but she also seems to blame Rae for it, even though she was just a little girl when it happens. Her mother even goes on to say something to the affect of, “I should have had an abortion”. How can the audience not feel for this character? So with all this in mind the audience forgives Rae for all her sexual indiscretions.

Now don’t get me wrong here folks, I’m not saying this is good writing. Not at all. But it is safe writing. It works. Safe writing is better than bad writing.

This might be the point where someone might say that Christina Ricci is a good actress. If you actually think so, it’s probably time to refill your frappuccino and go back to reading that philosophy 101 text book you cradle like a newborn asshole. It’s easy to be tricked into thinking Ricci is a good actress because you get to see her boobs. I’m not saying she’s the worst actress, but she it’s not hard for the audience to ignore her cold weak line delivery when Sammy Jack is running around screaming for two hours and her boobs are always out. This is also a safe play on Brewers part. Ricci is just one of those actresses that we grew up with as kids. She was in stuff like The Adams Family (1991), and Casper (1995), which were pretty popular kid movies. While she never really stops acting, she does disappears into indie movie hell for a long time, until she pops back up in stuff like Sleepy Hollow (1999) and Monster (2003). Again she is carried through these movies by Johnny Depp and Charlize Theron. Then all of a fucking sudden this actress we’ve known since we were little kids is showing us her rocking tits! What!? YES! WHAT A GREAT ACTRESS! PALM TO FACE. Thora Birch made a similar move when she was the loveable kid in Hocus Pocus (1993) then showed us her huge boobs in American Beauty (1999). There’s a lot more, but I won’t list them because I don’t want my blog to get flagged for kiddy porn.

Then of course there is Samuel L. Jackson. What can I say really? Sammy Jack is why this movie works PERIOD. Like before when I mentioned safe writing, this is safe casting. No matter how bad a movie is, if Samuel L. Jackson is in it, people WILL go see it. No matter what. Star Wars…seriously? COME ON! Now if you were to look up his filmography, you would notice that he’s been in a lot of shit, as far back as the 1970’s, but once Pulp Fiction (1994) happened it was all over. In my opinion that’s the movie that shot him into hilarious ultra fame and defined him as an actor forever. Now I love Sammy Jack, I’ll admit that right now. I might even have his giant black screaming babies, if he asked me, but he is exactly the same in every single movie he’s in. Now I’m not saying this is a bad thing necessarily, because let’s be honest, he’s a really entertaining actor, but it is certainly not original or innovative. It’s not good, it’s safe, and everyone likes safe.

So the character is an angry alcoholic blues musician? Let’s cast Sammy Jack and make him scream a lot. Hilarious! Wait let’s make him chain up a hot naked girl for no reason. Awesome! Which by the way where the fuck did he get that chain? I mean that’s a huge fucking chain. It’s so big I wonder if he mugged Jacob Marley and stole it. Jackson is black…it would make sense. He also just walks out to his shed and takes it out a treasure chest that’s just hanging out in there. I half expected for him to also pull out a health potion, some gold coins, and mention how the chain actually grants a stamina bonus when equipped. Also, if you think Jacob Marley is related to Bob Marley and not a character from A Christmas Carol I hope you get raped by the entire NFL. Twice.

One of the best things about Black Snake is the poignant crisp one-liners that lace the whole film. Even though I do like a lot of the dialogue, so many of Sammy Jack’s lines could be mashed up with lines from Pulp Fiction and still work just fine. Examples of lines I like: Lazarus goes to see his wife at the beginning of the movie wearing a suit. She mentions how she doesn’t remember the last time she saw him wearing, and Lazarus, without skipping a beat, instantly replies, “It was at your momma’s funeral. I was a pall-bearer remember?” This is exactly what dialogue should be. It tells us everything we need to know about Lazarus, and sets the tone for the entire scene. However, since it’s Sammy Jack the lines could also be read as, “It was at Big Kahuna Burger. That's that Hawaiian burger joint. I hear they got some tasty burgers. I ain't never had one myself. How are they?” Guarantee no one would care. They movie might actually have gotten better reviews. There’s another part I also really like when Lazarus is drinking at a bar. His brother comes in, and the audience finds out that it was in fact his brother Lazarus’ wife left him for. She gets real, and Lazarus throws his brother down, breaks a bottle, and threatens to stab his brother’s face with it. Lazarus says, “Cain slew Able, slew him out of envy. God put his mark on Cain for his sins, is that what you want Deke? Huh? Is that what you come here for? I'll do it for you, all you got to do is say it again... Say you love me. Say you love me nigga!”  It’s a fantastic line, and makes for an intense scene that does great at character development. But it could also read, “Cain slew Able, slew him out of envy. God put his mark on Cain for his sins, is that what you want Deke? Huh? I'm a mushroom-cloud-layin' motherfucker, motherfucker! Every time my fingers touch brain, I'm Superfly T.N.T., I'm the Guns of the Navarone!”
Lazarus: I ain't gonn' be moved on this. Right or wrong, you gonn' mind me. Like Jesus Christ said, "Imma suffa' you. IMMA SUFFA' YOU!" Get yo ass back in my house!
Rae: Or what? Or what?

A lot of the dialogue can still stand on its own, however.  Like when Rae and Lazarus are talking about their afflictions. Lazarus confesses that his wife aborted their baby because she hated him, and Rae talks about being molested by her father. She says, “You can’t just go around hurting people then say you’re sorry and it all gets washed away. Why would heaven want people like that?” Great line. Then later Lazarus explains what the Black Snake Moan actually is when he says it’s a voice in his head. “Every time I think it’s gone it comes howling back. Calls me when I’m ailing and can’t find my way home lost in the past.” Also a fantastic line, with good delivery. This takes place in what I believe to be the best scene in the whole movie. Ricci, having been cleaned up and wearing a nice dress, holds onto Jackon’s leg just being sexy, as Jackson plays the blue on his electric guitar. Lightning strikes on the outside, and the wind howls.  It’s intense and very entertaining.

This is actually what Black Snake does best.  It makes great use of striking visuals and overall good cinematography and editing, which is why pseudo intellectuals will love this movie, because it’s so “artsy”. I really like the scene at the beginning when Rae walks in front of the huge tractor and refuses to move out of the way. Or any of the fast cutting fever dream scenes, like when she wanders lost through the fields screaming, and especially the creepy scene with her blurry father. There’s also the Exorcist like scene as Rae writhes on the floor, which is what convinces Lazarus he has to help this girl. Scenes of Lazarus’ wife spouting  hurtful are sporadically cut in to mirror things that Rae says, as a way to bridge them together. Then of course there’s any of the blues scenes. The one I just mentioned is great, and the one later when Lazarus takes the chain off of Rae and they both lose themselves in the blues ballroom. It’s filled with sweat, sex and dirty dancing, a gritty tribute to classic noir. It unfortunately reminds me of the scene from The Matrix Reloaded (2003) when they have their underground rave in Zion. That makes me want to vomit on my own penis, so I usually try and forget about it.

At the end of the day this movie is about an unlikely friendship. There’s billions of examples of this in film, and just story telling in general.  It actually reminded me a lot of the relationship between Jean Reno and Natalie Portman in Leon: The Professional (1994). I literally could list a hundred movies with this theme, as I’m sure you could too. Like I said safe writing. Lazarus becomes the father that Rae has always needed, and she in turn becomes the daughter he never got to have. The cliché is made up for slightly by the imagery I just mentioned, and the fact that their relationship is defined in such an unconventional way. And by that I mean the chain.

WHY DOES NO ONE CARE THAT HE HAS A GIRL CHAINED UP IN HIS HOUSE!? Even the preacher is all MEH about it. Fucking sack of gay. In fact the sack is so gay it fucks itself in the butt, and I’m not even sure what any of that means.

But yes, the imagery reduces the need for me to hate the cliché, not to mention their father/daughter relationship is riddled with sex. Like when he pulls her in the house by the chain or walks her around with it. It’s for her own good I realize, but if that isn’t a metaphor for fucking, I don’t know what is. Then other stuff later, like when he gives her a bath after the encounter with her mother goes poorly. It’s a harmless loving gesture, but remains very sexual.  Audiences respond well to this. All in all, you can really tell that these two characters love each other, which I like because good characters make any movie.

I think Craig Brewer knows he’s not a great writer, but he does seem good at utilizing the tools of the trade. He uses safe plot techniques, and casts actors that will draw, while focusing on the undeniable power of great visuals in film. Again the plot is fucking stupid, but we can ignore it. It’s not a great movie but it’s unique enough to stand out in our minds and maybe provoke some thought. If you haven’t seen it I would say it’s definitely worth a watch, or even a rewatch. Overall it’s a pile of shit with great wrapping paper.

Keep trying Craig Brewer you have a lot of potential sir…oh wait you directed the Footloose remake in 20011…probably just kill yourself.

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