Friday, August 14, 2020

10 Black Films You Should’ve Already Seen.

December 1, 2019 by  
Filed under Ent., Opinion, Weekly Columns

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( There are so many Black movies out there that this list will be a hard one. There are films outside of genres that are typically associated with Black films that should’ve made the list as well. Historical dramas, action, comedies, romantic movies. Also, we’re trying to keep Denzel Dominance to a minimum here and that was hard as well. At any rate, here are ten Black films that you should’ve seen by now—in 2019.

New Jack City (1991)

Anyone who knows me knows that New Jack City is not only in my top three favorites of Black films but it’s in my top five all time. Wesley Snipes was peak cold-blooded in this story that takes place during the crack epidemic. Ice-T and Allen Payne were great in their roles as well but Snipes? Damn.

It was a 1990s version of Scarface pretty much. What it had going for it over Scarface is that there was a better sense of pacing or passage of time. In Scarface, things just kept happening for Tony and Manny and I loved that pace. However, I got to the point of asking “So how much time has passed?” Things were moving extremely fast for these two then they were both out.

Then again, it makes sense since that lifestyle isn’t exactly a long-lived one—as Nino Brown found out.

Set It Off (1996)

What a starring cast Set It Off had? Then you had the whole bank robbery angle and how that unfolded through the film. It was great from start to finish and everyone had a strong performance. I really recommend this one. In the 2000s, it was one of those films that would get play every now and then. It wasn’t played as often as Friday, Baby Boy, Drumline, or Bad Boys but you could see it on TV pretty often.

Foxy Brown (1974)

I have a soft spot in my heart for Blaxploitation films. The best ones came out between 1971-1974 and Foxy Brown was one of them. Starring Pam Grier, it’s a crime action film centered around Foxy Brown getting revenge for the murder of her boyfriend and then her brother. It’s fast paced, has a great soundtrack by Willie Hutch, and that ending.

I was tempted to put Coffy from 1973 on this list as well but they’re very similar revenge movies. Both movies suffer from endings that leave more questions than answers—especially Coffy.

The Hurricane (1999)

By 1999, Denzel Washington had long established himself as a top leading man in Hollywood. He was hard to top in dramatic films and still delivers today. The Hurricane detailed the career, life, and wrongful conviction of boxer Rubin “The Hurricane” Carter as well as friend Lesra Martin and his efforts to have Carter released. Denzel’s performance in this was really good—as expected. Vicellous Reon Shannon was strong in his role as Lesra Martin as well and his movie body of work should’ve really gone up from there but…

Purple Rain (1984)

First off, Purple Rain is as old as I am and I don’t know anyone who has seen it at least once. That said, dope performances, dope soundtrack, dope motorcycle, good storyline—all around dope film. However, stop right at Purple Rain and don’t bother with Graffiti Bridge. The albums were really good for both films but Graffiti Bridge—it’s a film that VH1 Classic would show to fill afternoon blocks.

Friday (1995)

On Wikipedia, Friday is noted as a “stoner comedy.” Having seen Friday so many times—both when I intended to and when I couldn’t find my remote—I can say it’s a fair label. It’s up there with How High, Cheech & Chong’s Up In Smoke, and so on. I will say that Friday and its sequels have aired on TV at roughly the same rate that BET shows Baby Boy.

I’ve got to say, you really have no reason not to have seen Friday at least once. Not because it’s a hilarious film with all the quotes but simply because of how much it’s been shown. It’s a staple of cable television. A network really doesn’t have anything to air during the afternoon? Run Friday, Next Friday, and Friday After Next. In a row. You’ll be at prime time before you know it.

Black Dynamite (2009)

When Black Dynamite was released. I thought “Michael Jai White? In a Blaxploitation movie? In 2009?” It works as an action film and a comedy film. It’s roughly everything I love in a movie but most importantly, it has a great pace. Things move fast and it isn’t bogged down with too much story. It’s on the more recent end of things on the list but I’m still anticipating the sequel to this one.

Hidden Figures (2016)

While I tend to watch action films and documentaries, Hidden Figures hit right in another soft spot of mine: biographical films. It hit theaters with a ridiculously strong cast of actresses and actors who are at the top of their game now and were back in the day. There was something to be desired as far as how everything went down historically—namely how these Black women mathematicians were treated.

That aside, it gives you people to look into if you weren’t familiar with their names before. It’s still a film worth watching for the stars involved and the performances.

The Mack (1973)

This was an incredible movie. The story was nothing overly complex but it was a good one with a pace that I love. Roger Mosley, Richard Pryor, and Max Julien all showed out in their roles in The Mack. Plus, that soundtrack is just awesome. Another great job by Willie Hutch. The man just can’t do wrong when it comes to the 70s soundtracks.

Ali (2001)

I’m a sucker for many things when it comes to movies. Two of those are boxing and biographical movies. Ali, starring Will Smith, hits both those. It’s a strong blow-by-blow account of Muhammad Ali’s life and Smith does a great job in the title role. What probably surprised me the most is remembering that this came out in 2001.

Staff Writer; M. Swift

This talented writer is also a podcast host, and comic book fan who loves all things old school. One may also find him on Twitter at; metalswift.

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