Sunday, December 30, 2012

Clarke Peters in Spike Lee's "Red Hook Summer": Spiritual Blackout in the Valley of the Shadow of Death

The magnificent Clarke Peters as "Bishop Enoch Rouse" in  Spike Lee's phenomenal "Red Hook Summer"/photo credit 40 Acres

By Barry Michael Cooper
"For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of CHRIST. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works." 
2 Corinthians 11:13-15
"When you look into an abyss,  the abyss also looks into you." 
Frederick Nietzsche 
I'm just going to cut to the chase.

Clarke Peters should not only be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor, for his bravura interpretation of a conflicted man-of-the-cloth in Spike Lee's gut-wrenching Red Hook Summer, but Clarke Peters should win. Hands down, his portrayal of the complex, multi-layered preacherman  Bishop Enoch Rouse, is by far, one of the most virtuosic, skilled, and almost preternatural performances I have ever seen on film.


I say that having been previously awed by the following: Denzel Washington in both Malcolm X and Training Day, Daniel Day Lewis in There Will Be Blood, Al Pacino in Godfather II and Serpico, Michael Wright in StreamersSugar Hill and The Five Heartbeats, Wesley Snipes in New Jack City and Sugar Hill, Burt Lancaster in Elmer Gantry, Allen Payne in New Jack City, Gena Rowlands in A Woman Under the Influence, Chris Rock in New Jack City, Dirk Borgart in Servant, Diahann Carroll in Claudine, Simone Signoret in Room at the Top, George Sanders in All About Eve, Morgan Freeman in Street Smart, Julie Christie in Darling, Michael Douglas in Wall Street, Robert DeNiro in Raging Bull, Tom Cruise in Magnolia, Robert Downey Jr. in Black and White, Richard Gere in Internal Affairs, Keith Carradine and Robert DoQui in Nashville, Jane Fonda in Klute, and Sir Laurence Olivier in The Entertainer. 

These are a few of the actors and performances that looped in the screening room between my ears, long after the end credits disappeared.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

"Django Unchained": Nino Brown was Not an Abolitionist

screen-shot from "Django Unchained"/TheWeinstein Company

by Barry Michael Cooper
"Fellow-citizens; above your national, tumultuous joy, I hear the mournful wail of millions! whose chains, heavy and grievous yesterday, are, to-day, rendered more intolerable by the jubilee shouts that reach them. If I do forget, if I do not faithfully remember those bleeding children of sorrow this day, "may my right hand forget her cunning, and may my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth!" To forget them, to pass lightly over their wrongs, and to chime in with the popular theme, would be treason most scandalous and shocking, and would make me a reproach before God and the world. My subject, then fellow-citizens, is AMERICAN SLAVERY."
-Excerpt from the speech, "What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?"Frederick Douglass, 5 July 1852 

We as a nation, are no longer interested in history; we have become bewitched and enthralled by tweetstory; the 140 characters (or less) social documentation of a retrofitted deconstruction of the facts. We will make it up as we go along, just to get some attention,  some wiki/google pages, some dollars, and some relevance. Whether what we are transmitting is true...

...Or not.

The anthropological shorthand of Twitter has touched all aspects of our postmodern society; political, social, even personal. The spirit of Twitter's blue bird of paradox, has even flown into the gilded coop of Hollywood. How else can one explain the provocative, almost manic frenzy today--Christmas 2012-- across the country, over the release of director Quentin Tarantino's new film, Django Unchained?

Friday, December 14, 2012

Looking For Sanctuary Amongst the Towers of Ruin, Part 2 (The Wretchedness of All Things "Ratchet")

By Barry Michael Cooper

"The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?"
Jeremiah 17:9 
Going into eight more years of the Obamian trek known as the Starship Yes We Can, and we have crashed into the forbidden planet known as What The F&^% Happened To Us?

We are murdering our Mom at home, before walking into a classroom full of innocent babies, and massacring  them with high-powered guns, before turning the weapon on ourselves.

We are excoriating our employees without mercy, when they fall for an insensitive prankster's phone call pretending to be royalty, and then left struggling for answers when an employee commits suicide.

We are shooting people dead at point blank range, because the music is too loud.

We are carving pentagrams into the backs of our children, because we foolishly believe the numbers of a particular day will illuminate the dark shadows of our souls.

We are eating each other's faces off.

We are shooting babies and families and soldiers at midnight theater screenings.

We are building collegiate sports powerhouses on the backs of sexually abused children.

We are driven by unknown voices from demonic earpieces that whisper, "Pull the trigger; it's God's will," as we murder unarmed teens wearing hoodies.

We are pushing this country to the brink of economic apocalypse just to get a political nut.

Our Providential GPS is broken.

We have lost our sense of direction.

We are directed by dollars and cents.

There is no more True North; only True Blood. Our fascination with vampires reflects our undead desire of wanting more and still not having enough.

We laugh at our superheroes who are stuck inside the phone booth, while capturing that image on our iPhone/Androids and upload it as the trending topic #Duh?Losing.

We have lost our authenticity as individuals in a maze of reality shows, which are just waiting to murder someone on camera; fraudulent reality shows that reveal the wretchedness of all things ratchet in us.

We are dub-stepping to a Mephisto Waltz that is too loud, out of tune, and out of time.

We are looking for the "Like" icon on the mirror for the image staring back at us, but we can't find it.

We are losing our joy. And there is no app for that.

We are looking for sanctuary amongst the towers of ruin.

GOD Help us all.

Be sure to order Barry Michael Cooper's debut anthology of street journalism from the 1980s (from his award winning reporting in The Village VoiceSpin Magazine, in addition to his more current essays on the Huffington Post), titled "Hooked On The American Dream-Vol.1: New Jack City Eats Its Young," which is now available on Kindle/Amazon. Don't have a Kindle? No problem; Amazon has a free app available for download, to read "Hooked On The American Dream-Vol.1: New Jack City Eats Its Young," on your PC, Mac, iPad, iPhone, and Android devices. Only $1.99! Click here to go to the Amazon site.