Just another one movie weekend day. Like yesterday I slept in much later than I’m used to and today it all makes more sense: I’m getting sick. So even though it was the weekend, I spent most of the day in bed rather than watching a bunch of new movies. And while I did manage to watch one film, I’m still exhausted and am going to cut today’s entry short.
Boyz n the Hood (1991, Dir. John Singleton)
Coming-of-age films are a giant soft spot for me, but far too many of them focus on the coming-of-age of white boys. I’m always looking for a film to tell that type of story but for different people, be they young women, or in the case of Boyz n the Hood, young Black men. The late John Singleton’s first feature works as a brilliant entry into the coming-of-age canon.
The film is broken into two time periods, the first taking up the opening third of the film shows the main characters as young boys. After steeling ends one of the children in jail, the film takes a seven-to-eight-year time skip where the now young men are preparing for their post high school futures and learn what it means to be a Black man in the US. By splitting the film in two, Singleton is able to tell a more complete story about what it means to grow up Black. The country is telling Black people that they are criminals from such a young age that it’s no wonder that it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Laurence Fishburne plays Furious Styles, the father to Tre (Cuba Gooding Jr.) and father figure to Ricky (Morris Chestnut) Fishburne provides the standout performance for the film, and the monologue against the terrors of gentrification resonate just as strongly today as it must have in 1991. Ricky is shot dead, it’s Fishburne’s acting that sells the potential that Tre may calm down and not seek revenge. And when Tre sneaks out to join the now out of jail Doughboy (Ice Cube) to go out for vengeance, it’s the reminder of Furious’s impassioned plea that see’s Tre return home before it’s too late.