We were just wrapping up Black History Month when I heard from longtime reader/commenter Philip Harville who wanted to discuss Monster's Ball (2001). I wasn't touching that one with a ten foot pole (!) but here's Philip with a guest column on this perpetual hot potato. -Editor
As we know, black films are hard to come by and good black films can be even harder to come by. This raises the question of what exactly a black film is. Is it simply a film that focuses on black characters? Or do we need to also have a black crew telling the story? The conversations unraveling from that thought are endless, but watching a certain film recently got me thinking. Monster’s Ball’s Leticia (Halle Berry) really suffers from a white male perspective behind the camera. The film gained a wide audience crowning Halle Berry as the first black woman to win the Best Actress Oscar, but did it create the conversation it should have? Good black films aren’t exactly churned out with the frequency of superhero movies (or Tyler Perry movies), so a flawed complicated film is a gift in its own right.
The film isn’t set in a definitive year, though it seems to be in a time where lynching and protesting were out of style, and casual racism has become the norm. We see the generational divide on the issue between the three males in the central family. [More...]