Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Is Hav Plenty The Most Slept-On "Black Film" Evar?!?

1998's Hav Plenty is prolly one of my favorite movies evar. It's also one of those movies that (provided you actually know it exists) you either hated or loved. The movie is so slept on, there isn't even a trailer for it on YouTube.[1] So, here's the first part of it. You could watch the whole thing there if you're so inclined, but I really hope you don't.

On the surface, it's hard to understand what makes this movie so good. It isn't really even about anything. A sorta nerdy NY writer named Lee Plenty is invited to DC to spend New Year's Eve with his platonic friend Havilland Savage (thus the title) and her excessively wacky family and friends. And really, that's about it. There's some quirky dialogue. Some occasionally bad acting. Some exceptionally low budget production quality. Strangely, the whole thing works well, mainly because the characters are well fleshed out, and to be honest, pretty different from the typical depictions of black folks in cinema.

Plenty (writer/producer/director Christopher Scott Cherot), is as quirky, broke, thoughtful, and unmacho a character as they come. Savage (the lovely Chenoa Maxwell, who looks just terrible with all the poor lighting and makeup) is alternately bitchy, conceited, and vulnerable. The rest of the cast, with familiar faces like Hill Harper and Robinne Lee, adds just the right amount of experience to what's otherwise a set of novices (Cherot had never acted before stepping in to play the lead role after Harper quit just before filming started) and spares the movie that "straight to DVD" smell.

Perhaps more intriguing is the whole backstory to how this movie was made, distributed, and ultimately received. I won't rehash it here, but it's an interesting Wiki entry to say the least.

If you haven't seen this movie, I'd suggest you rent it, rather than getting the hookup. You'll like it, trust me.

Question: Did you see Hav Plenty? What did you think? Got any other slept-on favorite black films?

Hav Plenty [WikiPedia]

[1] Other slept-on, but great black movies - Cover, One Week, and Restraining Order.

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