Tuesday, July 12, 2011
"G" is Black Soap Opera
Opening date: September 16, 2005 (limited)
Running time: 97 minutes (1 hour, 37 minutes)
MPAA - R for language, some sexuality and brief violence
DIRECTOR: Christopher Scott Cherot
WRITERS: Charles E. Drew, Jr. and Christopher Scott Cherot, from a story by Andrew Lauren and Charles E. Drew, Jr.
PRODUCERS: Judd Landon and Andrew Lauren
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Horacio Marquínez
EDITOR: Brad Lauren and Robert Reitano
Starring: Richard T. Jones, Blair Underwood, Chenoa Maxwell, Andre Royo, Andrew Lauren, Laz Alonso, Lalanya Masters, Nicoye Banks, Jillian Lindsey, and Sonja Sohn
Shot in 2001 and traveling the film festival circuit since 2002, the film, G, took as its inspiration, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s great American novel, The Great Gatsby. In the film, a rap music mogul builds a hip hop record empire solely to win back the love of his life, whom he met in college.
Tre (Andre Royo), a writer for a New York hip hop magazine called True Flow, is visiting the Hamptons in hopes of landing an interview with the Sean “P. Diddy” Combs-like, Summer G (Richard T. Jones). While in the Hamptons, he stays with his cousin, Sky Hightower (Chenoa Maxwell), and her husband, Chip Hightower (Blair Underwood), a wealthy businessman, who are Summer G’s neighbors.
Sky and Chip’s marriage is in the dumpster because of Chip’s many infidelities. In fact, Chip, whose father owns True Flow magazine, coerces Tre into assisting him in one of his affairs with another woman. Tre and Sky later attend one of Summer’s hip hop house parties, where Tre is shocked to discover that Summer and Sky have a past. Angered by Chip’s earlier intimidation, Tre assists Summer in restarting his old relationship with Sky, something that has dire consequences for everyone around Summer G.
Although The Great Gatsby inspires G, it’s only on a surface level. The film is by no means an adaptation of the novel; G more or less uses Gatsby’s setting and some of its plot points and characters as a springboard. G isn’t really about anything, although it attempts in a small way to discuss how much, if any, heart hip hop has. If anything, G is an African-American soap opera. Part TV movie (think Black Entertainment Television’s (BET) arabesque romance/soap opera telefilms), G is about spouses and lovers cheating on one another and the subsequent about backstabbing.
The acting ranges from quite good to amateurish. Blair Underwood turns in a tight professional performance; his Chip Hightower is a sly, lying, firecracker of violence always on the verge of exploding, so that adds a nice sheen of suspense to the story. Andre Royo is weak as Tre, but the character still works as the one who introduces us to this “colored” part of the Hamptons. Chenoa Maxwell is about of equal skill to Royo, and does more preening and posing than acting. However, two superb supporting actors and their characters bless this film: Nicoye Banks as B. Mo Smoov and Jillian Lindsey as Daizy Duke. Banks’ B. Mo Smoov adds a touch of hip hop credibility, humor, and philosophy to the film, so it’s a shame his character didn’t have a larger part. Ms. Lindsey sparkles as the messy and conniving Daizy, always slinking around like a sneaky cat, trying to get into other people’s business. Once again, she is another character that needed a bigger and more substantial part, in terms of story and character, in G. As Summer G, the title character, Richard T. Jones has an imposing presence, but a combination of a slight script and some shaky decisions in his performance, make Summer G a supporting character rather than a title character.
If there is one thing that does make G stand out, it’s the script. The directing and acting are all a little raw around the edges. The script may not have a plot that rises above the soap opera theatrics or much characterization, but it does have is flashy and witty dialogue. Just listening to the characters speak, even the weak ones, is just the kind of treat we expect when buying a movie ticket – in G, people say the darndest things. G certainly aspires to be cultural and social commentary, and fails at that because the screenplay focuses more on gossipy, romantic entanglements. But the dialogue makes G a highly entertaining soap opera.
6 of 10
Friday, November 04, 2005