Wednesday, March 07, 2007
Black Snake Moan
The last time I was in the south, I hadn't been off the plane for six hours before I had a toothless hillbilly panhandler offer to share his Jack Daniels with me. When I declined, he tried to sell me his coat. I'd already given a panhandler money that night and was exhausted and ready to get back to my hotel. When I started to walk away, he yelled, If those niggers out there get me tonight, it's your fault. It's all your fucking fault, little girl. Welcome to the New South! Lest I disavow my roots completely, I must say that the South has produced some of our greatest musicians and writers, both black and white. So how best to capture this heady mix of racism, sexism, heat, language, lushness, beauty, and general craziness? My answer at the moment-- the movie Black Snake Moan.
Black Snake Moan has gotten a whole mess of mixed reviews -- some love it, some hate it, but nobody can turn away. In a sea of bullshit, politcally correct pablum, this country-fried sexploitation flick stands out. Samuel L. Jackson and Christina Ricci carry the day; he as a washed up, embittered blues player whose wife has left him for his younger brother, she as a deeply ill incest survivor who fucks everything that moves, not to put too fine a point on it. By the time we're into it, there's a chain around her waist, there's a chain around his heart, and a lot of blood is shed. The movie gets its title from a Blind Lemon Jefferson song about an affliction that won't let you go. If this isn't the song for our times, I don't know what is. Who doesn't have an affliction that won't let them loose, no matter how hard they try? Once again, I found myself laughing at how real everything seemed despite the bizarre set-up. And really, what alliance doesn't have some strange shit at the center of it? The blues speaks of redemption, salvation, sex, the bottle, adultery, and loneliness all mixed together to make one heady cocktail. I ain't gonna be moved, Samuel L. says in one scene, when he's got his plan together to save Christina and himself. But I was, and I suspect that anyone who dares to see this film will be too.
Michelle's Spell of the Day
"There's only one kind of blues and that is what consists between a man and a woman." Son House
Drinking soundtrack suggestion: Black Snake Moan (the music in this movie is fantastic!)
Benedictions and Maledictions
33 days until The Sopranos airs!