Though it's been some twenty years since they have spoken with one another, two estranged soul-singing legends agree to participate in a reunion performance at the Apollo Theater to honor their recently deceased band leader.
In rural Tennessee, Lazarus, a former blues musician who survives by truck farming, finds a young girl nearly beaten to death near his home. She's the white-trash town tramp, molded by a life of sexual abuse at the hands of her father and verbal abuse from her mother, who seems to delight in reminding Rae of her mistake in not aborting her. Lazarus, who is also facing personal crisis at the dissolution of his marriage, nurses Rae back to health, providing her with gentle, fatherly advice as well as an education in blues music. Rae's boyfriend, Ronnie, goaded by the man who nearly beat Rae to death, misunderstands the relationship between Lazarus and Rae, and vows to kill him. Lazarus, exhibiting a street-smart understanding of violence and its motives, calls Ronnie's bluff, senses that he is as troubled as Rae, and becomes a guiding force in the young couple's resurrection. Written by
Lazarus rants about his ex-wife and how she was "running around behind my back, whoring with my brother, killing my baby" implying that Rose had once gotten pregnant by Laz and decided to undergo an abortion at some point during their marriage. See more »
Although Rae is thrown in the dirt many times, her underwear stays perfectly white through out the ordeal. See more »
Ain't but one kind of blues. And that consisted between male and female that's in love. In love, just like I sung one of them songs a while ago and I put a verse in there saying that love hide all fault and make you do things you don't wanna do. Love sometimes will leave you feeling sad and blue. I'm talking about the blues! I ain't talking about monkey junk. And it consisted between male and female. And that means two people, supposed to be in love, when one or the other deceives ...
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If you've been looking for a film where a out of control nympho gets chained to a radiator by an extremely religious southern man then look no further than Paramount Vantage's latest release 'Black Snake Moan'. Not exactly looking for what I just described you say? Well then, you best get ya wits 'bout yaself and mosey on down to your local theater and still see it as Samuel L. Jackson's character Lazarus would say. As long as you're open minded and don't take everything seriously, there's no reason you won't leave the theater glad you saw it.
In the third offering from director Craig Brewer, we are taken into the deep south where as the tagline to the film claims, everything is hotter. While there we're introduced to the Godfearing bluesman, Lazarus as previously said played by Jackson, and the almost always half naked Rae; a role bravely taken on by Christina Ricci. In the film this unlikely pair cross paths long enough for their characters to each learn a lesson from one another. Both lessons ultimately convey the message to us the audience that no matter what, we are all human. No one is perfect and if everyone would realize that, then we'd be a lot better off. The question of if this will be understood, or be accepted by all who see the film is another story.
One thing not up for debate is how great Jackson and Ricci both are here. You'd think with the role of a sex-crazed woman, overacting would be a given, but no, not here. Ricci breaks through and demonstrates true talent with a raw performance that also doubles as her best to date. Then we have Jackson who completely disappears and for the first time in a long time makes us forget who he even is. Sadly, the third star of the film, Justin Timberlake who plays Rae's military-bound boyfriend isn't all that great. At the start, he fails miserably as he appears to be trying too hard. Later on he steps it up some, still he's far from the level he reached in January's 'Alpha Dog'.
The other thing 'Black Snake Moan' boasts is a splendid soundtrack. Containing tracks from The Black Keys, John Doe, pieces from the score done by Scott Bomar, & of course four, count 'em, four tracks from Jackson himself. It's actually one of his songs, the main performance of the film, 'Stackolee' that is the fuel to the fire of this great collection. It alone is worth the ticket price. Other notable musical delights from the soundtrack are Bomar's 'The Chain', 'When the Lights Go Out' from the Black Keys, & the title track which is also among the most memorable scenes in the film where Lazarus sings to Rae on a stormy night.
The efforts of Craig Brewer can't go without mention though. His last film 'Hustle & Flow' which ended up surpassing low expectations and gaining critical acclaim put him on the map. What he has done with 'Black Snake Moan' will be what sets him apart from other newbies to the industry. He not only directed 'Moan', but also wrote its screenplay. The end result is a story that is surprising and clever. As you watch you feel like you know exactly where it's headed despite its valiant composure. Just as you think you've predicted the next move Brewer shifts gears and takes an entirely different route. There are however some blotches within the screenplay. The background characters are drab and flat while the ending is somewhat disappointing. It left me craving for something more exciting. After so many highs I guess the final scenes were a tad weak compared to the rest of the film.
I imagine the majority of people who see 'Black Snake Moan' won't enjoy it due to the fact they won't be able to stop themselves from thinking how unlikely the situations are. The depressing part about that is there are many other films with just as unlikely, even more outrageous scenarios that are widely well received. It's the issues of race, religious motives, & sexuality the film exhibits that will have more effect on opinion than anything. The idea of a black man chaining a white woman up in his house is enough to make most people not even consider seeing it. Simply put, it's not for everyone. Like I said, to fully enjoy it you have to go in with an open mind, or else you're just wasting your money. For those of you who can do that, I highly recommend it.
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