I’m kicking off 2023 by trying to watch and review one movie every day for the first 90 days, all of which will be 90 minutes or less.
Title: Blood Tea & Red String Release Date: February 2, 2006 Director: Christiane Cegavske Production Company:Adler & Associates Entertainment | Salami Studios Summary/Review:
This bizarre fairy tale story told through stop-motion animation features a conflict over a doll between the Creatures Who Dwell Under the Oak (who look to me like wingless bats with the beaks of crows) and aristocratic mice. It’s equal parts fascinating and disturbing. Fans of Aliceand Wolf Houseshould enjoy this.
I will turn 50 in November of this year, so my project for 2023 will be to watch and review one movie from each year of my life. The only qualification is that it has to be a movie I’ve not reviewed previously.
Title: Get On the Bus Release Date: October 16, 1996 Director: Spike Lee Production Company:Columbia Pictures | 40 Acres and a Mule Filmworks Summary/Review:
On October 16, 1995, Black men from across the United States converged on Washington, DC for the Million Man March. I remember this being a huge historical event at the time, but it doesn’t seem to have left a large cultural footprint in retrospect. Spike Lee’s film Get on the Bus dramatizes the Million Man March through the perspectives of several men traveling on a charter bus from Los Angeles to Washington, DC. This is a loooooong trip, and long-distance bus trips tend to be tedium punctuated by napping. Thankfully this is a Spike Lee film so the characters have a lot to say.
The ensemble cast has so many characters that some of them are just archetypes like “the conspiracy theory guy” and a member of the Nation of Islam who never speaks. But we do get to know some of the other characters better, including:
Jeremiah (the always amazing Ossie Davis) – an intelligent and caring elderly man who becomes kind of a father figure for the group.
Evan (Thomas Jefferson Byrd) and his teenage son Evan Jr. aka Smooth ( De’Aundre Bonds) who are handcuffed together on a court order because Smooth was charged with petty theft.
Kyle (Isaiah Washington) and Randall (Harry J. Lennix), a gay couple whose relationship is falling apart.
Flip (Andre Braugher), an aspiring actor with a big ego who likes to stir up controversy.
Gary Rivers (Roger Guenveur Smith, a mixed race man with light skin who is a police officer.
X (Hill Harper), a young film student shooting a documentary.
Jamal (Gabriel Casseus), a former gangster who converted to Islam and now works with at-risk youth.
Although there are some heavy-handed monologues, the movie avoids being too didactic. Instead you really get the feel that this is a cross-section of Black Americans coming together and the characters are really changed for the better by their experiences together. There’s a lot of great acting talent in this movie but it never feels like you’re watching a bunch of actors but real people discussing their real problems. Lee also makes good use of the closed confines of the bus as a crucible.