As I sat down to write this morning, I was having trouble coming up with the words to describe just how bad Craig Brewer's new movie is, so I'll just come out and say it: This is, without exaggeration, one of the worst movies I have ever seen.
In case anyone has been living under a rock for the past year, Brewer's movie purports to be about an old blues man (Samuel L. Jackson) who finds a nymphomaniac (Christina Ricci) beaten up and tossed by the side of the road, and then proceeds to chain her to his radiator to "cure" her of her wanton ways.
If this were at all effective as a story, you would think it would be at least slightly offensive or provocative, but not in Brewer's hands. What he tries to turn it into is sudsy fare that is supposed to make us feel good, like a Hallmark movie with Christina Ricci in her underwear. And, while I can say for the record that Ms. Ricci does have very beautiful breasts, that's one of the very few things this movie has going for it.
Instead of crafting a tale that had any originality to it, Brewer borrowed liberally from two other movies "about" the South that I just can't stand: "Driving Miss Daisy" and "Monster's Ball."
As in "Driving Miss Daisy," he picks up the legend of the noble black sage who can rescue the lost white woman. That he would do so here by chaining her to a radiator in her underwear would be offensive if it weren't so silly that you find yourself laughing throughout, at all the wrong moments. I'm not sure what Ricci's Rae was supposed to learn from this ordeal, but all I learned was Craig Brewer has hit his sophomore slump.
And like with "Monster's Ball," rather than craft any real characters, Brewer simply takes whatever societal affliction he can find and throws it into the pot. I guess that's what makes reviewers from other parts of the U.S. say things like this movie "captures the South." Well, as someone who has lived in Georgia for more than 10 years now, I can only tell you that while it might make you feel better about yourselves to think we all live like this, it's a lie that should be stopped now.
Whew. That's a lot of bile for a Monday morning. So, what's good about "Black Snake Moan"? Well, except for Christina Ricci's body, there's Mr. Jackson, who continues to soldier through with solid performances in wretched movies. After watching him trying to save this and the almost-as-bad "Freedomland," I'm officially designating him as the actor most in need of a great movie to match his talents. This, however, definitely isn't it.
Any life that "Black Snake Moan" has comes when Jackson picks up his guitar and plays the blues this flick is supposed to be about. But whereas hip-hop culture saturated "Hustle & Flow" and made it one of my favorite movies, the blues here is just window dressing for Brewer's cornpone tale. Interestingly, one of the few right notes in "Black Snake Moan" comes from the great Mississippi rapper David Banner, who essentially plays himself as a small-time thug.
Ricci's Rae, however, is just a mess, and in none of the ways Brewer may have intended. As she went into the convulsions that supposedly provoke her nymphomania, I can attest that all five people at the showing I was at laughed out loud. It was the only thing funnier than hearing her try to imitate a Southern accent.
So, what did I learn from "Black Snake Moan"? Samuel L. Jackson needs better movies, Christina Ricci is in tremendous shape, and Craig Brewer will live again to make a movie to erase this disaster from my memory.
Monday, March 05, 2007
Posted by Reel Fanatic at 5:20 AM