Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Black Snake Moan

How can you complain about any movie where Samuel L. Jackson gets to say "motherf*cker" at least once? Black Snake Moan, whose title is derived from the classic 1927 Blind Lemon Jefferson blues tune, is so much more than it at first seems. The pulp-like poster depicts a black man with a white woman on a chain and is sure to drive many folks up the wall with just that conjures an exploitation flick that probably should have double-billed with Grindhouse from earlier this year - but trust me the film is much deeper.

Writer/director Craig Brewer, late of Hustle & Flow, creates what can only be termed as a psychological Southern Gothic. Sam Jackson is a semi-religious bluesman whose wife has just left him after sleeping with his brother. Christina Ricci, needing a sandwich and badly bleached blonde, is an abused nymphomaniac with uncontrollable urges. Justin Timberlake, who continues to amaze each time I see him on the screen, is her boyfriend about to go off to war. There is also an impressive performance by Kim Richards as Ricci's mother who has been scarily white trash-ed up for the role.

When Jackson finds Ricci on the side of the road, he decides he must save her from herself. A struggle and a friendship ensues which endears the viewer to these two seriously dysfunctional characters, which if not handled right could easily have filed this flick into the exploitation genre. I think it's sad that it was marketed to that aim, because it really is an amazing film, working on many levels. This is a twisted and explicit must see, but a must see nevertheless. Oh, and of course, great soundtrack, Jackson himself on some tracks.

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