A 2021 Film Journey: Day 42 and Day 43

Day 42 – It’s snowing today, and I lost power, so today will be the first day I don’t watch something. Making this quick post by phone and I’ll be back tomorrow with at least two movies to make up for today.

Day 43 – I woke up to some lovely snow outside, and lights that worked. I fought my way through the last day of work this week and was anxious to kick off my weekend. Like I mention yesterday, I was committing to watching two movies today to make up for a power outage requiring my first missed day yesterday. Since the second movie of the day is not a bonus movie but a catch-up movie, I’m making sure that both are directed by Black filmmakers.

Girls Trip (2017, Dir. Malcolm D. Lee)

Image result for girls trip movie

First film of the day was Girls Trip, a comedy from 2017 that I didn’t watch at the time, but that received enough praise that it had been lingering on my maybe to-watch list since then. I really enjoy Regina Hall as a comedic actress. She wonderfully blends dramatic acting with comedy to make scenes that are emotionally resonate and deeply funny at the same time. On the other hand, while I respect Tiffany Haddish, her comedy is not for me. I find it too brash and loud for my personal tastes.

Unfortunately, as I somewhat anticipated, Hall’s more quiet and nuanced comedic style was overpowered by Haddish’s loud and in your face persona. I don’t think the film was unfunny; rather I acknowledge that the film just wasn’t for me. I still really appreciated Hall’s performance, but it alone couldn’t keep me engaged. The film was a loud and generic comedy, not bad, but not something I tend to go out of my way to watch.

Frantz Fanon: Black Skin White Mask (1995, Dir. Isaac Julien)

Image result for Frantz Fanon: Black Skin White Mask documentary

To follow up the comedy film that wasn’t for me, I returned to the Criterion Channel’s Black Voices collection to find something more my speed. Chosen at random was a Frantz Fanon: Black Skin White Maska documentary playing with experimental tendencies about a man I had never heard of before pressing play.

In contrast to Girls Trip, this movie really worked for me. As a documentary, it is built primarily with talking head interviews and stock footage, but director Isaac Julien cast Colin Salmon to play Frantz in extremely stylized recreations. These recreations play with visual perspective and create a dreamlike setting for telling the life story of the psychoanalytic theorist. Being completely unaware of who Frantz Fanon was, the evolution of the man from psychiatrist to decolonization revolutionary was unexpected, but kept me intrigued throughout.

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