Monday, February 16, 2009

AB Goes To The Movies : The Diary Of A Tired Black Man.

As ya'll know, I pride myself on my integrity as a movie reviewer, albeit an amateur one. I don't mince words, because the last thing I want ya'll doin' in this economy is going out and blowing 40 hard-earned dollars on some bullsh*t.

Some of the movies I review are sent in via the filmmakers themselves, for reasons that escape even me. It's not like I'm AOL BlackVoices (Whaddup Alexis!) or somethin', I'm just a no-name blogger with a real Day Job. Anyways, since these are usually black-themed, independently produced films, they present a quandary. Do I tell it like it is, or sugarcoat things a bit because I don't wanna sh*t on another brotha's work?

The film The Diary Of A Tired Black Man is a case study in this dilemma.

I didn't know about it beforehand, but this movie is an offshoot of a viral video that made its way about the blackosphere awhile back. Perhaps you've seen it, perhaps not. Either way, here it is.

And here's the trailer for the full length film itself, which just hit the streets a week or so ago.

I don't know how to categorize this movie. On one hand, it's a feature film about a black man (Jimmy-Jean Louis, whom I'm told stars on NBC's Heroes) and the trials and tribulations he experiences when he beds and weds (no, seriously. they go from meeting in one scene to married and in-bed the next) a beautiful, yet self-absorbed black woman (Paula Lema). On the other, it's a documentary, as more than 75% of its 1:48 screen time is comprised of on-the-street interviews with average black folks nationwide. The net result is sorta kinda like HBO's Real Sex, in that a short vignette is played, and then the street interviews are loosely related in subject matter.

Either way you spin it, I simply can't recommend this movie. The acting is absolutely atrocious. I expect this level of rank amateurism in community theatre. But in what's supposed to be a feature film that once aspired for theatrical release, it's simply unacceptable. As the "Tired Black Man", Louis' Haitian accent is so thick it renders much of what he's saying unintelligible. As the shrewish trophy wife, Lema is nice to look at, but couldn't deliver a line if she drove a BellSouth truck. And then, there's the dialogue, which is clearly cut-and-pasted from every Tyler Perry/David Talbert stage play you've ever watched on bootleg at your family reunion. The preponderance of "girl, he's a triflin'-a$$ed black man"s and "well, go get you a subservient white b*tch, you can't handle a scrawng black women anyway"s is so cliched that my wife and I made a game of guessing what they'd say next. When a character was mid-sentence, we'd hit the pause button and place wagers on the next words out of their mouths. When we pressed play, we were right 90% of the time. This makes for a nice drinking game, sure, but for a movie such predictability is a no-no.

The poor acting doesn't matter ultimately, because most of the time, you're busy listening to "real people" on the streets giving their own tired spin as they watch movies on a portable DVD player while being interviewed by the film's director (Tim Alexander) and Louis himself. This naturally makes for some odd sequences, as folks are literally seen deliberating about how to say something nice about such a not-so-good movie. When the dozens of folks do talk, you hear the same dogeared cliches about how "black women are too damn bossy", "a man just wants peace and quiet" , "black men leave their kids" and "a black woman can't raise a boy into a man". All of this may be true on some level, but who the hell doesn't already know that? And we don't need to hear about it for a whole two hours. By simply allowing regular folks to drone on-and-on, with no "expert" to provide any level of solutions, this movie sorta proves itself to be ultimately pointless. If it were billed as a drama, this might be understandable. But since it's a quasi-documentary, the whole thing feels like an exercise in futility.

It pains me to write such an unfavorable review because as a black man with artistic aspirations of my own, something about sh*tting on another man's dream just feels wrong. I've been told point-blank in the past that my writing sucked, and trust me, it's not a great feeling. But I have to be honest, despite Tim Alexander's best intentions, this just isn't a very good movie and I'd be lying to you (and him) if I tried to say otherwise.

Thanks for sending me the movie, Tim. I'm sorry I couldn't say something nicer.

Final Verdict: I hate giving a movie an unfavorable review of this magnitude, so for the first time ever, I'll refrain from doling out a rating. If a friend has the movie, you might wanna borrow it for the sheer unintentional comedic value. If you wanna support a black filmmaker just on GP, cop this, but otherwise, don't bother. No rating (Out of 5 Stars).

Question: Have you seen the viral video above, or the movie itself? What do you think about TDOATBM? Did I do the right thing by reviewing this movie, or should I have just bypassed it altogether?

Diary Of A Tired Black Man [Official Movie Website]

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