Today, Tyler Perry’s adaptation of Ntozake Shange’s groundbreaking choreopoem For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf hits theaters nationwide. No doubt sisters from coast-to-coast can’t wait to get their ticket and weigh in on Perry’s handling of the classic.
When word spread that Perry would be directing the film, women all over gave him the collective side-eye. Questions surrounding Perry’s ability to deliver an accurate and well-produced film version of the play ran rampant. Many even half-joked that Perry’s signature character, Madea, would make a cameo appearance.
Luckily for fans of Shange’s work, Madea stayed in jail. And some critics are even calling this Perry’s best film yet.
So far the reviews of “For Colored Girls” have been mixed. Venerable film critic Roger Ebert said Perry’s effort was ambitious, but ultimately failed to translate the power and appeal of the play onto the big screen. Ebert wrote,
“Shange’s award-winning play is justly respected, but I’m not sure it’s filmmable, and I’m pretty sure it wasn’t a wise choice for Perry. He seems more at home with everyday, human-comedy types of people, and here I think he is, if anything, too wary of his material. If he’d gone all the way in rewriting it into a more conventional drama, he might have been criticized by lovers of the play, but he might have made a more entertaining and accessible film.
That’s not to say ‘For Colored Girls’ doesn’t have its virtues. Seeing these actresses together is a poignant reminder of their gifts, and of the absence of interesting roles for actresses in general and African-American ones in particular. A generation has been often shut out of fruitful roles.”
While I can’t wait to see the film and come to my own conclusions, the buzz surrounding it made me reminisce about some of my favorite movies featuring fierce colored girls.
If you haven’t already, grab a few of your girls, pop some popcorn, queue up your Netflix, and check these out.
Just Another Girl On The IRT
Ok, this film is far from PC. At first look it seems rife with stereotypes: Money-hungry hood chicks, low-level D-boys, and wannabes. However, there is something very infectious and very real about it. “Just Another Girl On The IRT” follows Chantel Mitchell, a Brooklyn teen, who’s equal parts sass and determination. Although she grows up surrounded by stark surroundings and questionable friends, Chantel wants more for herself. She dreams of going to medical school and breaking the cycle of poverty. But when she finds out she’s pregnant, she’s forced to make some very difficult choices.
This film put Jurnee Smollett on the map. Set in the lush and mysterious bayous of Louisiana, “Eve’s Bayou” follows the powerful Batiste family. When Eve observes her father, Louis Batiste, flirting with a married woman, her view of the world changes. After she shares what she sees with her older sister, the lies and secrets begin to come forth, changing the Batiste family forever. Grab your tissues and your mojo root and get ready to be taken on a ride.
She’s Gotta Have It
Spike’s first film was ambitious. Shot in black-and-white, “She’s Gotta Have It” follows Nola Darling, a Brooklyn woman unafraid of getting exactly what she wants, over and over again. While the acting in this film is pretty weak, the score and cinematography are striking. And Nola . . . Nola is fierce. Twenty years later, she still serves as a role model for women intent on getting theirs and not caring about what other’s say.
Oh how I loved this film back in the day. Filmed in the mid-1990s, “Girls Town” captured the spirit and complexities of around-the-way girls. When ‘Girl’s Town” hit there were few films that dealt with heavy issues like teen pregnancy, abusive relationships, suicide, and friendship, without turning them into afterschool specials. But “Girls Town” handles them with ease. After the suicide of their best friend, the circle of girls decide they aren’t going to mourn quietly. Instead they want revenge (and answers) from those who’ve hurt them most.