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David Poland

By David Poland poland@moviecitynews.com

Mad Blackwoman… The Conversation

Have at it, boys & girls…

37 Responses to “Mad Blackwoman… The Conversation”

  1. Lota says:

    I know at least 10 Madeas, all of which have a .357 in the house and are full of Geraldine Jones Christian revenge. Revenge on a brother who acts like a middle class guy trading ‘up’ on his wife (capital sin).
    Having said that, somehow some things weren’t working as a cohesive movie and while I giggled alot, it was a urban play directed like a Fassbinder film and made my temples sore after awhile. They still hurt.
    A few people with me didn’t see anything comic and saw it as a cautionary drama(!) on financial success & forgetting your roots.
    Like Kimberly Elise, and Shemar Moore looks Nice.

  2. L&DB says:

    I had a professor once who refered to this type of
    production as “chitlin house.” As in, it’s playing
    up stereotypes, and selling black folks down the
    river. Why did the writer have to play an older
    female character when he’s a man? Did he just
    have a Shakesperian book bite his arse, and lead
    to this silly choice?

  3. PastePotPete says:

    He plays three characters, two of them men.

  4. Lota says:

    I didn’t think it was Chitlin House, any more than early Living Color was. It was more early 70s ghetto meets the middle class urban living. Vigilante stuff. Waiting to exhale/Walking Tall.
    Why did the writer (male) have to play a woman? Why did the Monty Python guys think it was so funny to play women ALL the time?
    Never really understand it honestly, except y’all want an excuse to wear our clothes.

  5. Joe Leydon says:

    I suspect many p.c. white critics (and, yes, I’d probably have to admit to at least charter membership in that club) are too quick to condemn achetypical comic characters as demeaning stereotypes becasue, frankly, we’re not as steeped in African-American culture as we might think we are. Put it another way: What Dave might think of “cooning,” or I might think of as Stepin Fetchit, black moviegoers might think of as modern-day variations of comic characters that have been around since the days of folk tales and black vaudeville. (Take a look at movies made for and by black people during the ’30s and ’40s, and you’ll have a really vivid idea of what antecedents I’m talking about.) On the other hand, if you really want an earful, ask some black women what they REALLY thought of Halle Berry’s performance in “Monster’s Ball.” (Hint: They might not be as pleased as you think.)
    I saw “Diary of a Mad Black Woman” with an audience that was, at a conservative estimate, 98 % African-American — and the overhwleming majority of folks there sounded as though they LOVED this movie. I’m sure some image-conscious black critics and commentators will be upset, and the p.c. white boys (and girls) will fret — but, you know, you give people what they want, and they’ll buy your product.

  6. Mark says:

    Why waste the time to talk about this movie? I’d rather pick lint out of toes.

  7. Lota says:

    exactly Joe Leydon. It’s inner city black humor and Black humor. I thought it was kinda funny, some of the suburban folks didn;t think so taking things seriously as i said above, I don’t think they got the fatalistic sarcasm.
    It was decent stoopid humor, not meant to be an OScar contender.

  8. Stella's Boy says:

    I work at a school that is 100% African-American. They have been talking about it since after Christmas break. I had no idea what they were talking about until about a week ago. When they talked about it, they referred to it as Madea or talked about the author, Tyler Perry, I believe. Only recently did I hear someone say Diary of a Mad Black Woman. I’d seen the trailer a while back and remember thinking how awful it looked. Even though the kids were eagerly anticipating it, I never would have predicted this kind of box office. Astounding really.

  9. Null says:

    Mark, if you’re not interested in discussing the movie, why would a discussion of your disinterest be any better?

  10. lazarus says:

    Will we be forced to co-opt this thread for Oscar discussion?

  11. Joe Leydon says:

    Laz: Could be. I tell ya, ever since Poland started hanging out with Paris Hilton, he’s neglecting us something awful!

  12. lazarus072 says:

    Well, Blanchett just won. Not wanting to sound like a sore winner, but I don’t feel Virgina Madsen was essential to Sideways’ success. She had one GREAT monologue, but that’s about it. Whereas it’s pretty impossible to imagine The Aviator working at all without Cate’s work. The sparked the film to life, and came back near the end to breath new life into it. This award was much deserved, even though I personally felt Natalie did the best work of the nominees.
    And to all the other Aviator fans…things are looking good right now, but to borrow a line from Han Solo, “don’t get cocky!”

  13. Stella's Boy says:

    Gotta disagree. Cate Blanchett is, in my opinion, one of the best actresses alive, but I much prefer Madsen’s work in Sideways. I think it is vital to that movie’s success and much more important to that movie than Blanchett’s performance is to The Aviator.

  14. lazarus says:

    Stella’s Boy, what in god’s name are you talking about? Please explain. Madsen didn’t have much screen time, and while she was great in the role, Church and Giamatti’s chemistry is what carried that film. It had a phenomenal screenplay as well. Again, no offense to Madsen, but there are plenty of, for lack of a better term, “washed-up” actresses, as well as steadily working ones, who would have been great too. Would you care to suggest who else would have even come close to taking a good crack at Hepburn, or making her moments in the film so enjoyable?
    I didn’t think so. As I said, Blanchett wasn’t my favorite in the category anyway but I’m trying to be objective here. Madsen is just a cinderella story and people feel she has the most to gain from winning. But she was FAR from essential.

  15. Stella's Boy says:

    I think you would find many people who would disagree with you and argue that Madsen is essential to Sideways. I don’t care at all about who has the better career. Like I said, I’m a huge Blanchett fan. Have been since Elizabeth. She does a fine imitation of Hepburn, but that’s about it. I enjoyed her work, but nothing more. I think Madsen gives the better performance. Just my opinion. Simmer down.

  16. L&DB says:

    Lady Cate kicks all sorts of ass. No one, not
    even the critics who hate Veronica Guerin would
    deny that. Yet, Madsen should have won for Sideways
    since her character acts as a catalyst for Miles.
    Without her that film has no heart or soul. She
    was absolutely jobbed.
    Payne and Taylor at least had a great speech.

  17. Joe Leydon says:

    Beyonce: First she sings in French, then she plays the Phantom of the Opera! Cowabunga!

  18. Lota says:

    like Beyonce otherwise, but really, the Real singers of the nom songs should be singing–it’s their frickin potential award.

  19. lazarus says:

    my point isn’t that Madsen didn’t bring heart and soul, I’m just saying they could have easily found someone else. I’m waiting for someone to tell me who else could have come even close to doing Hepburn justice.
    Again, what is so ESSENTIAL about Madsen in that film. You guys are acting as though she’s more indispensable than the two male leads, which is bullshit.

  20. lota says:

    But she IS indespensible precisely becasue they are such F-ups and she represents what they are secretly striving for.
    Madsen’s come a long way from her Bimb days. I don’t think there is a person who could have done her thankless character with such luminosity.
    Blanchet is a great actress who just won an award for doing an impression, unfortunately. Madsen had to act and do a bit of a transformation in more ways than one, I think she deserved it more than Blanchet (who should have won for Elizabeth).

  21. Joe Leydon says:

    Classy memorial egment. But where was Spalding Gray?
    And is it just me, or is Dustin Hoffman getting a lot of reaction shots tonight for someone who isn’t even nominated for anything?

  22. L&DB says:

    Wow. Mediocrity won again this year! Last year
    they awarded the wrong LOTR film with an Oscar.
    This year they reward a movie so factually based
    in BS an Oscar because the academy loves a movie
    where a BOXER HITS HER HEAD ON STOOL! What a crock
    of garbage.
    When Empire makes a list in 2015 of the worst
    Academy award winning pictures of all-time. This
    great sham of a film will be on top of the list.
    Scorcese has now lost twice to mediocore films
    dealing with the twiffles of white-trash be it
    the high class or low class variety.
    Whomever presents him with his honorary Oscar should
    do so in such a way that it shames the Academy. To
    lose twice to garbage, and to a man who pales in
    comparison to the work Scorcese has given to film,
    proves above all doubt that the Academy hates little
    massively Italian fellas from the NYC. Or the
    Weinsteins.

  23. Joe Straat says:

    Prince as a presenter, 50 random cuts to Dustin Hoffman for no apparant reason, Charlie Kaufman finally getting well-deserved recognition, the LOUNGE TERMINATOR MUSIC MOTIF!……… and yet, so boring.

  24. L.J. says:

    Right after the Oscars, I looked down at a book that happened to be on my coffee table about the making of Vertigo. The preface was by Scorsese. It just reminded me that he’s devoted his whole like to the movies. When he’s not making them, he’s preserving them or writing about them, or supporting film historians. Eastwood takes a tear-jerking little script, films it in a few days with his ‘well oiled machine’ and gets the biggest film award in the country. What a sham. On his off time all he seems to do is run a restaurant, get elected mayor, and schmooze with Hollywood insiders. The Hollywood establishment is treating Scorsese the same way they treated Orson Welles in the past, resentful of someone whose passion for this art form puts everyone else to shame. That’s clearly why they hate him so much.
    There’s that sign in the gym in Million Dollar Baby that says “Winners are willing to do what losers aren’t” or something to that effect. What’s Eastwood been willing to do that Scorsese hasn’t? Anything? M&DB, you’re right. It’s almost worse this time because even if The Aviator isn’t as good as Raging Bull, Ordinary People was at least a decent and coragious film unlike the b movie swill that is MDB. In a couple of years everyone will realize this and you won’t find anyone who will actually admit to having voted for the thing. I’m really disgusted……

  25. L&DB says:

    LJ, very astute points about the academy members
    denying voting for this flick in a few years. How
    they can wrong a guy like Scorcese time and time
    again has to be one of the most dispicable acts
    any award giving Academy has perpetrated on one
    person close to ever.
    There was nothing more agonizing than the look on
    Marty’s face when Clint won Best Director. It’s
    like that episode of the Simpsons when Bart pause
    the tape of Ralphie Wiggum getting his heart
    broken by Liza. You could see it.
    And who thought Beyonce had talent? Did Alicia Keys,
    Sarah Maclachlin, Mary J Blige, and countless other
    great singers want too much money? I do not even
    like Alicia Keys, and she had more right on that
    Oscar stage than Beyonce. Denying the world at
    large to hear Emily Rossum’s beautiful voice has
    to be one of the biggest shots towards a singer
    since that broad sang Against All Odds instead of
    Phil Collins.
    The funniest moment of the night: Sam the Man coming
    out to a slow motion, evil, and ambient version
    of the SWAT theme song.

  26. SamoanJoe says:

    Um…what happened to The Conversation? The conversation should really focus on how, when it comes to – as you Americans put it, the “urban” (snigger snigger) audience – most of the pundits don’t have a c to the l to the u to the e. And that they won’t admit it, neither. Now THAT makes me laugh…

  27. bicycle bob says:

    dave i hope ur joking with this thread

  28. Joe Leydon says:

    I think the opening-weekend box-office for “Diary of a Mad Black Woman” underscores something that too many of us tend to forget: There are huge, HUGE hunks of the moviegoing audience – well, OK, make that the POTENTIAL moviegoing audience – that feel under-served and overlooked by Hollywood and Indiewood. Movies like “Mad Black Woman,” “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” and “The Omega Code” score with their target audiences (and, in the case of “Wedding,” expand upon that target audience) because they take direct, grass-roots approaches to marketing, targeting people who simply aren’t served very often by mainstream megaplex fare. Yes, even “Greek Wedding” is an anomaly – you can criticize it as being sitcom-like, but the fact is that few people are making that sort of old-fashioned romantic comedy for grown-ups anymore. You might think it’s nothing special, I might think it’s nothing special – but when something that small hits that big, it’s obviously getting great word of mouth, and the words are being spoken by people who are pleasantly surprised and greatly pleased by what they see. “Mad Black Woman” might drop off in its second weekend, sure. Hell, when the final numbers are in, it might actually be No. 2 (behind “Hitch”) for the weekend. But the point has been made: If you build it, they will come.

  29. Terence D says:

    Build what? It was the only new movie of the week. A lot of people see a movie a week and this was the only new one out there. The reviews are all piss poor.

  30. Lota says:

    There aren’t enough niche movies. New Line did a few decent ones when m. deluca was picking them, but by and large there aren’t enough because Hollywood doesn’t do based-in-real-life mixed stories most of the time. If a studio is going to make mostly about-white-suburban-people movies, then they need to do more niche films.
    People go see them because who knows when the next token film will come out.
    Besides, everyone loves stoopid movies occasionally or even kids films.
    The Heffalump love was very good. I bet Carly Simon gets awards this year with her catchy uplifting song.

  31. Joe Leydon says:

    Terence: Actually, “Mad Black Woman” was one of THREE new movies that opened wide last weekend. And the other two (“Cursed” and “Man of the House”) were more heavily hyped, and played in many more theaters. Yet “Mad Black Woman” — a film pitched largely, if not exclusively, to black audiences — made more than both of them put together. That’s phenomenal.

  32. Lota says:

    i would say that Mad Black Woman was pitched at subway and bus riders in big ass cities like my own! Those damn billboards with Madea’s accusatory eyes have been around for months. I had to go see it or burn in hell for eternity.

  33. bicycle bob says:

    cursed and man of the house were not screened for critics and didn’t run in the movie section. when people see that they know they are not good flicks.

  34. Mark says:

    Might be the weakest opening weekend in years.

  35. SamoanJoe says:

    …and after all that “Dy-no-mite” headline “furore”…what do we have on MCN itself but this Black Heterosexual/Jay-Z/Beyonce headline which is, y’know, RICH coming from a site (which i admittedly enjoy) that took said headline to task for its inherent racism. jeeze, louise.

  36. Joe Leydon says:

    Bob: You bring up an interesting point. Do most civilians out there really notice when there aren’t opening day reviews? (And by civilians, I refer to non-media, non-industry folks — in other words, people who actually buy tickets.) I mean, sure, everybody on this blog notices — but most of us are hard-core movie buffs, or we wouldn’t be here in the first place. And I know some newspapers actually run notices in Friday editions to alert readers that this or that movie isn’t reviewed because it wasn’t pre-screened for critcis. But, once again: Do average folks notice?
    Another thing about “Mad Black Woman” — I guess there’s no way to underestimate the importance of Tyler Perry’s track record as a playwright/actor in regional and touring company productions. I know, most white audiences (and white critics) aren’t aware of them. But his shows are sell-outs in big cities (like Houston, where I live) and small communities alike. It’s kinda-sorta like “Omega Code.” Mainstream critics and journalists were freakin’ amazing by the opening weekend numbers for that movie. But if you watched cable-TV religious-programming networks for weeks before the “Omega” premiere, all you saw were shows devoted to the movie. Heck, I think they even aired some kind of red-carpet premiere special for the movie.

  37. bicycle bob says:

    its bigger than it seems. a lot of people look to those opening reviews because they see a movie or two a week and usually whats new. man of the house not getting reviewed says something to the average moviegoer. i have met some people who will see anything that friday afternoon especially if its well reviewed.

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This is probably going to sound petty, but Martin Scorsese insisting that critics see his film in theaters even though it’s going straight to Netflix and then not screening it in most American cities was a watershed moment for me in this theatrical versus streaming debate.

I completely respect when a filmmaker insists that their movie is meant to be seen in the theater, but the thing is, you got to actually make it possible to see it in the theater. Some movies may be too small for that, and that’s totally OK.

When your movie is largely financed by a streaming service and is going to appear on that streaming service instantly, I don’t really see the point of pretending that it’s a theatrical film. It just seems like we are needlessly indulging some kind of personal fantasy.

I don’t think that making a feature film length production that is going to go straight to a video platform is some sort of “step down.“ I really don’t. Theatrical exhibition as we know it is dying off anyway, for a variety of reasons.

I should clarify myself because this thread is already being misconstrued — I’m talking about how the movie is screened in advance. If it’s going straight to Netflix, why the ritual of demanding people see it in the theater?

There used to be a category that everyone recognized called “TV movie” or “made for television movie” and even though a lot of filmmakers considered that déclassé, it seems to me that probably 90% of feature films fit that description now.

Atlantis has mostly sunk into the ocean, only a few tower spires remain above the waterline, and I’m increasingly at peace with that, because it seems to be what the industry and much of the audience wants. We live in an age of convenience and information control.

Only a very elite group of filmmakers is still allowed to make movies “for theaters“ and actually have them seen and judged that way on a wide scale. Even platform releasing seems to be somewhat endangered. It can’t be fought. It has to be accepted.

9. Addendum: I’ve been informed that it wasn’t Scorsese who requested that the Bob Dylan documentary only be screened for critics in theaters, but a Netflix representative indicated the opposite to me, so I just don’t know what to believe.

It’s actually OK if your film is not eligible for an Oscar — we have a thing called the Emmys. A lot of this anxiety is just a holdover from the days when television was considered culturally inferior to theatrical feature films. Everybody needs to just get over it.

In another 10 to 20 years they’re probably going to merge the Emmys in the Oscars into one program anyway, maybe they’ll call it the Contentys.

“One of the fun things about seeing the new Quentin Tarantino film three months early in Cannes (did I mention this?) is that I know exactly why it’s going to make some people furious, and thus I have time to steel myself for the takes.

Back in July 2017, when it was revealed that Tarantino’s next project was connected to the Manson Family murders, it was condemned in some quarters as an insulting and exploitative stunt. We usually require at least a fig-leaf of compassion for the victims in true-crime adaptations, and even Tarantino partisans like myself – I don’t think he’s made a bad film yet – found ourselves wondering how he might square his more outré stylistic impulses with the depiction of a real mass murder in which five people and one unborn child lost their lives.

After all, it’s one thing to slice off with gusto a fictional policeman’s ear; it’s quite another to linger over the gory details of a massacre that took place within living memory, and which still carries a dread historical significance.

In her essay The White Album, Joan Didion wrote: “Many people I know in Los Angeles believe that the Sixties ended abruptly on August 9, 1969, ended at the exact moment when word of the murders on Cielo Drive traveled like brushfire through the community, and in a sense this is true.”

Early in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, as Leonardo DiCaprio and Brad Pitt’s characters drive up the hill towards Leo’s bachelor pad, the camera cranes up gently to reveal a street sign: Cielo Drive. Tarantino understands how charged that name is; he can hear the Molotov cocktails clinking as he shoulders the crate.

As you may have read in the reviews from Cannes, much of the film is taken up with following DiCaprio and Pitt’s characters – a fading TV actor and his long-serving stunt double – as they amusingly go about their lives in Los Angeles, while Margot Robbie’s Sharon Tate is a relatively minor presence. But the spectre of the murders is just over the horizon, and when the night of the 9th finally arrives, you feel the mood in the cinema shift.

No spoilers whatsoever about what transpires on screen. But in the audience, as it became clear how Tarantino was going to handle this extraordinarily loaded moment, the room soured and split, like a pan of cream left too long on the hob. I craned in, amazed, but felt the person beside me recoil in either dismay or disgust.

Two weeks on, I’m convinced that the scene is the boldest and most graphically violent of Tarantino’s career – I had to shield my eyes at one point, found myself involuntarily groaning “oh no” at another – and a dead cert for the most controversial. People will be outraged by it, and with good reason. But in a strange and brilliant way, it takes Didion’s death-of-the-Sixties observation and pushes it through a hellfire-hot catharsis.

Hollywood summoned up this horror, the film seems to be saying, and now it’s Hollywood’s turn to exorcise it. I can’t wait until the release in August, when we can finally talk about why.

~ Robbie Collin