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Author Topic: BLACK SNAKE MOAN-how the F@#k did this movie get made?
Ken Burch
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posted 22 March 2007 03:05 AM      Profile for Ken Burch     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Christina Ricci plays a young woman in Tennessee who becomes an uncontrollable nymphomaniac after her boyfriend leaves. When this results in her ending up beaten and unconscious by a roadside, an old bluesman, played by Samuel L. Jackson, decides to save her from herself by taking her home and CHAINING HER TO THE RADIATOR so she won't go out and well, be nymphomaniacal.

I usually don't get offended at movies, but sweet Jesus on a space heater, even I think this is insanely disgusting.

Is anybody in Canada picketing this thing?


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Michelle
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posted 22 March 2007 03:22 AM      Profile for Michelle   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Sounds pretty gross to me.

I generally don't bother protesting movies. Just gives them more press. They count on that for their publicity budget. I just don't go if I think it sounds offensive.

Probably no one would have heard of the Last Temptation of Christ if it hadn't been for all those religious nutjobs picketing the movie.


From: I've got a fever, and the only prescription is more cowbell. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Lard Tunderin' Jeezus
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posted 22 March 2007 04:00 AM      Profile for Lard Tunderin' Jeezus   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Christina Ricci has never done a crappy movie that I know of - she sticks to pretty good (and usually interesting scripts. And generally Samuel L. Jackson either makes big bucks on crap like 'Snakes on a Plane', or does interesting character parts in smaller films.

Checking it out, the reviews on IMDB were uniformly good, most posters trying to defend it against the horrible marketing that was used for it.

I'm not rushing out for it, but I wouldn't mind seeing it at some point - likely on DVD.


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bigcitygal
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posted 22 March 2007 04:47 AM      Profile for bigcitygal     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Ick.

quote:
As anyone who's so much as looked at the poster for this movie knows full-well, there's a ton of weird tangled up race-and-sex shit going on. I'm not sure I've seen a movie loaded down with this level of phallic imagery since Commando; guitars and guns and chains and cars and I don't even know what else all get to act as surrogate dicks. (No snakes, though.) There's also a film-theory book or two to be written about the levels of fetishization going on. (Spoilers be here.) The selfless black man overcomes the temptation to take advantage of a young, vulnerable white woman while nursing her back to health, the white woman finds freedom in submission, Christina Ricci writhes around on the ground like Linda Blair because she needs sex so bad. I'll leave all that stuff to the film people; for me, it was just mostly off-putting and sort of boring. I can, however, say that there's something truly misguided about the film's treatment of music, which plays into a deep authenticity fetish.

by Tom Breihan from the Village Voice:
Black Snake Moan: fetishization overload


From: It's difficult to work in a group when you're omnipotent - Q | Registered: Apr 2005  |  IP: Logged
Boom Boom
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posted 22 March 2007 08:22 AM      Profile for Boom Boom     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I have a recording of an old blues song of this title, recorded by Dave Van Ronk, I think around 1965. Sorry to hear the song has been stolen to make a screw-up of a movie. I gather the movie has nothing to do with the original blues song?

ETA: My mistake. It's actually performed by ramblin' jack elliott (scroll down to bottom of first page).

[ 22 March 2007: Message edited by: Boom Boom ]


From: Make the rich pay! | Registered: Dec 2004  |  IP: Logged
jas
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posted 22 March 2007 08:42 AM      Profile for jas     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I was certainly disgusted by the so-obvious-as-to-be-cartoonish master/slave sex/race imagery in the trailers (which are on TV now too). I didn't realize it was Christina Ricci. What would have possessed either of them to agree to do this?
From: the world we want | Registered: Jun 2005  |  IP: Logged
Boom Boom
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posted 22 March 2007 08:50 AM      Profile for Boom Boom     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by jas:
What would have possessed either of them to agree to do this?


Answer: $$$$$$$$$$$$


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quelar
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posted 22 March 2007 08:55 AM      Profile for quelar     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Why is this one being so heavily critizised when I could bring up dozens of quazi-rape, torture, imprisonment, sexualized violence scenes in movies made in the last year?

Is it because he's black?

I'm kidding, really, please don't hurt me....


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jas
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posted 22 March 2007 09:07 AM      Profile for jas     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by quelar:
Why is this one being so heavily critizised when I could bring up dozens of quazi-rape, torture, imprisonment, sexualized violence scenes in movies made in the last year?

Agreed, quelar, but do the trailers for those movies depict semi-naked white girls being chained up by black men? It's the blatant and apparently unapologetic appeal to shock and titillation that is so distasteful. Especially from two actors that we respect. The premise of the story advertised looks like great porn, but seems rather base and juvenile for general moviegoers. The film would have to pull a major "fooled-ya" to justify this premise.


From: the world we want | Registered: Jun 2005  |  IP: Logged
Boom Boom
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posted 22 March 2007 09:57 AM      Profile for Boom Boom     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Never underestimate North America's appetite for schlock. This movie will probably do huge business. Then it'll be released on DVD where it'll do even better, and then there's the huge PPV cable/satellite market. This film will probably return at least twenty times what it cost to make.
From: Make the rich pay! | Registered: Dec 2004  |  IP: Logged
Martha (but not Stewart)
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posted 22 March 2007 10:12 AM      Profile for Martha (but not Stewart)     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Boom Boom:
ETA: My mistake. It's actually performed by ramblin' jack elliott (scroll down to bottom of first page).

I believe that the original recording was by

Blind Lemon Jefferson in 1927.


From: Toronto | Registered: Mar 2006  |  IP: Logged
Boom Boom
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posted 22 March 2007 10:15 AM      Profile for Boom Boom     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Yes, I knew that, but I was referring to a recording that I have.
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Gentlebreeze
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posted 23 March 2007 06:37 AM      Profile for Gentlebreeze     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Has anyone actually seen the movie yet? Just wondering if the fears and concerns have been born out by the film or not?
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farnival
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posted 23 March 2007 06:57 AM      Profile for farnival     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
well, i haven't seen it yet, but was pretty hyped about it from a music perspective (and yes, the title was taken from the Blind Lemon Jefferson song) primarily, and because i'm a big fan of Sam Jackson, and lately Christina Ricci (who is awesome in Buffalo 66).

In light of this thread, i checked out the actual official movie site and it seems that all the issues that have been brought up here are addressed in the "production notes" that can be found after the site loads and you click on the red guitar pick labled "menu". The go to great lenghts to talk about the social and cultural dynamics at play in the film and make no secret of the black man/white woman stereotype as the basis, not to mention the outright mysoginy of the characters and the stereotype of the "town slut".

The thing that kind of blew me away was reading the "licks on a guitar" section that describes the music, how Sam Jackson was chosen and trained by some of the most legendary delta blues players going, and learning that he actually plays and sings all his music parts, kinda like sean penn a few years ago (though some of that was faked). I was quite stunned to learn that Kenny Brown and Cedric Burnside are his band in the movie. Cedric is none other than the late R.L. Burnside's grandson, and Kenny's played for years with R.L. and when i saw them in Montreal i have to say it was one of the best live shows i've ever seen, and i've seen alot!

after seeing the official site, i want to see the movie more now, though for different reasons than at first. The Memphis born makers seem to have made it with the intention of breaking down all the racist , mysoginist, and cultural predjudices and stereotypes that are flipping everyone in this thread out. I'll report back after i've seen it whether they pull it off or it's a misguided attempt that just makes things worse.

in any event, the soundtrack looks fantastic, and everyone should definately check out the Black Keys, who's track is used in the trailer.


From: where private gain trumps public interest, and apparently that's just dandy. | Registered: Jul 2004  |  IP: Logged
smokingeatingdrinkingprohibited
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posted 23 March 2007 11:59 AM      Profile for smokingeatingdrinkingprohibited     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Michelle:

quote:
Probably no one would have heard of the Last Temptation of Christ if it hadn't been for all those religious nutjobs picketing the movie.

Last Temptation tells a genuinely interesting and controversial story. The film was directed by Martin Scorsese and William Defoe, Harvey Keitel & others do an amazing job. I'd say it wasn't just the controversy that drew attention. Wait, maybe you meant Passion of the Christ?

Here's a positive & convincing review from Ebert & Roeper:

BlackSnakeReview


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Martha (but not Stewart)
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posted 23 March 2007 10:07 PM      Profile for Martha (but not Stewart)     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Michelle: Probably no one would have heard of the Last Temptation of Christ if it hadn't been for all those religious nutjobs picketing the movie.

smokingeatingdrinkingprohibited: Last Temptation tells a genuinely interesting and controversial story. The film was directed by Martin Scorsese and William Defoe, Harvey Keitel & others do an amazing job. I'd say it wasn't just the controversy that drew attention. Wait, maybe you meant Passion of the Christ?

Well, Passion of the Christ tended not to be picketed by very religious people, but rather to be viewed by very religious people -- at least by very religious Christians. I think that Michelle meant The Last Temptation of Christ, which was, indeed, picketed. When I saw it, I kept expecting Harvey Keitel to ask William Dafoe to go out for a coffee.


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trippie
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posted 23 March 2007 11:33 PM      Profile for trippie        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Black Snake Moan, written and directed by Craig Brewer; Zodiac, directed by David Fincher, screenplay by James Vanderbilt, based on the books by Robert Graysmith

Video footage of blues legend Son House opens Craig Brewer’s new movie Black Snake Moan. The tone and theme are set when House tells the camera: “There’s only one kind of blues...between male and female.” Brewer, an American independent filmmaker, came to prominence in 2005 with his second work, Hustle & Flow.

Lazarus (Samuel L. Jackson), a broken-down blues guitarist known in his small Tennessee town for once shaking up the local honky-tonk, raises vegetables on a ramshackle farm. A bitter, God-fearing middle-aged black man, he is scarred by the departure of an errant wife who tired of a bare-bones life.

Things change when he finds a half-naked white girl on the road, unconscious from a beating. As he stabilizes her, he learns that Rae (Christina Ricci) has a sexual disorder stemming from childhood abuse. She has been binging on sex and drugs since her boyfriend Ronnie (Justin Timberlake) shipped off to army boot camp in an attempt to overcome their dead-end existence. Ronnie himself suffers from a case of extreme anxiety, which eventually gets him discharged from the service.

With misogyny in his heart and Bible in hand, Lazarus decides to exorcise the demons in Rae. It begins by chaining her to a radiator! In the end, the revival of Lazarus’s musical roots proves the proper medicine to soothe all the savage and ravaged breasts—his own, Rae’s and Ronnie’s.

Black Snake Moan is only partially rescued from an implausible script that spouts a hollow religiosity by some flair and dynamism. The film is named after and draws energy from the “most haunting, wicked blues song of all times” by Blind Lemon Jefferson, who wrote the ballad about going blind.

“It proved the perfect metaphor,” says director Brewer, “for a pivotal scene in the film. There is a moment in the movie when Lazarus and Rae are confronting their darkest secrets. Locked in a house in the country with no one around you and the right amount of thunderstorms on your back and moonshine in your mug, you’re going to tap into something really primal.”

Although the town’s inhabitants live in extreme poverty and backwardness, in no way does the film connect their impulses or states of mind to this reality. Psychological and physical traumas seem arbitrary. A bad childhood or bad marriage just happens. Facile prescriptions follow, while emotional steadiness and good relationships emerge from faith-based good will and a lot of playing and listening to the blues.

Brewer sees the suffering in people, and genuinely empathizes with them, but attributes its cause to the emotionally primal—“the moan of love’s torment.” This is compatible with the biblical references: Lazarus the resurrector (and resurrected), Rae the serpentine temptress. All of which too easily suits the present official championing of religious piety and “personal responsibility.”

According to the director, it all boils down to “when you start listening to the music, you feel you are listening to something that is truly at its irreducible essence: One man, one guitar and a whole lotta pain.... I’m talking about north Mississippi, blood and guts blues. This is not pretty music. This is music that comes from raw, emotional state of need.”

Whence springs this raw state of need? In one interview, Brewer explains that the “South is the Mesopotamia of American music, and it all came from poverty, it all came from those collisions of race, of culture, of gender. We’re a better country because of the South.”

This is very confused. No doubt the South has been the birthplace of a great deal of American popular music. The latter hasn’t simply emerged, however, from “poverty”—as though poverty didn’t exist in every region of the country. It developed in large measure out of forms of social resistance—to slavery and racism, to rural poverty, to the exploitation of landowners, to the depredations of the railroad companies and other representatives of big business—by populations, black and white, with powerful musical traditions. The notion of a struggle against existing conditions, expressed artistically or in any other way, seems to be a closed book to Brewer, as it is to many contemporary filmmakers.

Black Snake Moan shows poverty; it shows a young person who enlists in the military for lack of a future; it shows his peers stuck in a no-man’s land engaging in self-destructive activities.

These social elements, however, are undeveloped and uncritically approached. Languishing on a primitive level, the film’s characters are starved of real definition and purpose. During the course of its moralizing, Black Snake Moan presents a few twisted notions: with the proper intentions, holding someone captive can produce positive results and the rape of a young black boy when Rae gets the “fever” seems a legitimate rite of passage. But this is entirely in line with the notion that poverty is the source of musical inspiration. According to the upside-down logic of this argument, opposing social misery or any other kind of suffering would be downright harmful! Clearly, the director has simply not thought these things through.

Brewer is simultaneously drawn to and repulsed by violence and aggression. He is leery of certain consequences, yet attracted to the possibility of getting to what he views as “the core of things.” Rae’s emotional-sexual pyrotechnics blow things wide open. Unfortunately, they don’t shed much light.

Brewer indolently hangs his movie on a cultural genre—the blues—which, as he says, has complex origins. But it is a culture and a music that defy superficial usurpation. It is Black Snake Moan’s numerous “raw” and exploitative moments that draw the least from the waters of a deep cultural well.


http://www.wsws.org/articles/2007/mar2007/snak-m13.shtml


From: essex county | Registered: Feb 2006  |  IP: Logged
Papal Bull
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posted 29 March 2007 07:35 PM      Profile for Papal Bull   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
"Black Snake Moan" shouldn't be at all shocking. It is just a resurgent 1980s horror aesthetic and the dispersal of Giallo films from Italy. "Black Snake Moan" is just a continuation of the old explotation genre and it is hardly a money generator. It is like "Delicatessen"n or any other number of shocking movies that can depict the deranged and absurd in artistic qualities. "Salo" comes to mind. This phenomenon is more European than it is North American, such films fly right in the face of the whole idea of the moral majority ethic of much of the entertainment industry and cross a lot of taboos. I have not seen the movie, but it is hardly anything new. Look at "Bad Lieutenant" and such.

As for the "Last Temptation of Christ" it was a really important piece of literature from an equally important modern Greek writer before being taken up by Hollywood.


From: Vatican's best darned ranch | Registered: Oct 2004  |  IP: Logged
jrootham
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posted 29 March 2007 08:57 PM      Profile for jrootham     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I've seen the movie. From the comments I would think I'm the only one here who has.

The advertising is a con. The movie has nothing to do with horror and very little to do with exploitation. It does have a lot to do with yanking people's chains though.

I am sure there is a feminist critique of the movie, however, the two attempts I have read lack credibility. One on Salon objected to the characters in the movie shown as believing things that are not true. Almost like the concept of fiction was foreign to them. The other that was referenced on Bread and Roses lumped the advertising in with the movie without apparently noticing the con job.


From: Toronto | Registered: Jun 2001  |  IP: Logged
Papal Bull
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posted 29 March 2007 09:42 PM      Profile for Papal Bull   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by jrootham:
I've seen the movie. From the comments I would think I'm the only one here who has.

The advertising is a con. The movie has nothing to do with horror and very little to do with exploitation. It does have a lot to do with yanking people's chains though.

I am sure there is a feminist critique of the movie, however, the two attempts I have read lack credibility. One on Salon objected to the characters in the movie shown as believing things that are not true. Almost like the concept of fiction was foreign to them. The other that was referenced on Bread and Roses lumped the advertising in with the movie without apparently noticing the con job.


Well, if it is an escape from exploitive and horror genres then I might muster myself to go and see the movie.


From: Vatican's best darned ranch | Registered: Oct 2004  |  IP: Logged
Michelle
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posted 14 August 2007 06:11 PM      Profile for Michelle   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Okay, I just watched this movie on the recommendation of a friend and OH MY GOD IT'S SO GOOD.

Seriously - this is a damned good movie. I feel like I've just listened to an hour and a half long blues song and seen it acted out.

Ignore the trailers, they're crap and they don't do the movie justice. I still can't even articulate why I loved it, or even give a half-decent critique. Just...see it, you'll know what I mean. I turned it on with an arms-crossed-show-me attitude, and it showed me.

It's basically an old blues, good and evil, crossroads kind of movie, except with a woman. The chain thing - you've got to see the movie to get it - the movie poster doesn't do it justice.

It was incredible. I'm happily eating crow on this one. Jackson and Ricci were amazing. Hell, all the actors - even Justin Timberlake! - were amazing.


From: I've got a fever, and the only prescription is more cowbell. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Ken Burch
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posted 14 August 2007 08:49 PM      Profile for Ken Burch     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I'll defer to Michelle's experience of the film then.
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