Directed by Tim Story
A Film Review by
Movies that sincerely
celebrate community and esprit de corps , as opposed to despair and alienation,
are rarer than hens teeth or ducks paws. Particularly when
U.S.filmmakers concern themselves with Black ghetto lives.
In the distant past such esteemed international film auteurs as Jean Renoir
[The Crime of Monsieur Lange,1936] John Ford [ Tobacco Road, 1941] and
James Cagney [Johnny Come Lately] adapted novels of Erskine Caldwell,
William Saroyan; and John Steinbeck in the pursuit of capturing on celluloid
for posterity self-sufficient groups of men and women surviving against
all the odds in the face of unsupportive if not actively hostile officialdom.
In the late 1940s Cagney, his actress sister Jeanne, and his brother William
via their Cagney Productions,est.1942 struggled even before
star Burt Lancasters Hecht-Hill-Lancaster indie company
to make and release films [The Time of Your Life, 1948] that celebrated
team spirit and a strong sense of active community.
Ice-Cube, born OShea Jackson in 1968, is a unique powerhouse within
contemporary U.S. Black Cinema. Since he co-wrote and produced Friday
in 1995 and The Players Club in 1997 , followed by the second pothead
comedy Next Friday and soon its third installment Friday After Next, Ice-Cube
has blazed a trail across todays Hollywood.
The latest film from his Cube Vision Productions director Tim Storys
Barbershop starring Ice-Cube and a feisty coterie of young players, is
a frothy, amiable comfort-food paen to the intricate often tortuously
knotted ties-that-bind a community together through good times and bad.
A day in the life of Calvins Barbershop, open since 1958 in the
Chicago ghetto is fluently and poignantly unreeled during a bitter North-East
winter. Folks of all stripes converge upon this home away from home to
bicker and boast and preen. Calvin Palmer [ Ice-Cube ] presides and plays
referee within this sanctuary for dead-beats, wiseacres and retirees.
His task can be a daunting one.
Seldom for instance in the glum, hectoring inner-city sagas of
Spike Lee, whose first film of note was set in a barbershop do
you encounter Afro-American people who are neither hostile, oppressed
or vengeful. Barbershop is the antithesis of Lees one acknowledge
masterwork 'Do The Right Thing'.
Ice-Cubes latest venture does not buy into the typical White Mans
misperception of todays black ghetto culture. That insistent sociological
trap is skirted by his Cube Vision partners with agility and grace. This
filmmaking team have chosen to let us in on the secret that even in the
lower depths of the underclass lifes goes on, glued firmly together by
camaraderie and b.s.
© Alex Grant September 14 2002
24 Hour Party People
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