Sunday, September 7, 2008

Movies: She's Gotta Have It

I want to say that this is Spike Lee's best movie, but I'm unqualified to do so because I've only seen one or two others (Jungle Fever, 25th Hour, and Inside Man). It's also a bit ludicrous to say so, because it's Spike's first film out of school, and its packed full of film school pretension (um, I mean intellectualism). But it's hard to imagine that a better movie could be made, in spite of the stilted dialogue, the wooden acting, and purposely-typological characters.

I don't know that I've ever witnessed a male writer/director/actor get more closely inside the head of a woman. Maybe it's just because that woman, Nola Darling (Tracy Camilla Johns) is, like me, rather in touch with a more masculine sexuality, but it's really quite delicious to see her with her three different lovers, refusing to drop any of them because they all satisfy (entertain?) her in different ways, and in fact trying to bring them to make nice with each other over Thanksgiving dinner (it doesn't work; having tried the same thing before myself, I could have told her that).

Nola's three lovers, the preening Greer Childs, the clowning Mars Blackmon, and the romantic Jamie Overstreet each remind me of a different man I've known, in addition to representing, for Spike, a certain type of black male available to the modern black woman (even by his name, Jamie Overstreet is clearly the closest to the ideal, but even though Nola finally gives in and tries to be monogamous for him, he can't hold her). But as funny as these three men can be, Spike includes a (hysterical) montage of other men's pickup lines, their big faces in black and white arthouse framing, as they threaten to "drink her bathwater" and offer her ten inches of "prime-cut, grade-A tube steak."

Somehow, this film manages to be completely of its time (with its full-color Ailey-esque dance sequence, Nola's lesbian friend Pearl, Jamie's terrible, horrible short, tight shorts, Spike's crazy Mars getup, and the naive documentary/interview style of so many of the scenes), and yet also eternal (and still fresh, and still relevant, and still hilarious). Much can be made of the gray-rape scene (and it's done so badly, I almost wish it wasn't there), but I'll leave that to the real feminists. For me, a better movie couldn't be made.

1 comment:

Joni said...

So you liked the movie?
You liked it, right?
You thought it was good?
So it was a good movie?