Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Tuesday Melancholy

Yes, it is raining in Atlanta today, but that is not the reason for the title of this post. It's because Medicine for Melancholy came out on DVD today. Here is my original write-up on this independent gem:

Tonight, Barry Jenkins’ film Medicine for Melancholy screened for the first time in Atlanta as part of the the Pan-African Film Festival during the National Black Arts Festival. However, it was my second time seeing it. I first saw on cable on demand several months ago. When I saw it then, I wasn’t inspired to write a review. At first I thought it was my age–perhaps as a thirty-something I couldn’t relate to a film about two twenty-somethings having an extended one night stand. But seeing it for the second time, in a theater full of people as part of the National Black Arts Festival, I realized that this film was not meant to be viewed in isolation. It’s about kindred spirits coming together, albeit only briefly. And this time, I was able to see the film with fresh eyes and more enjoyment because I was with kindred spirits. Wyatt Cenac does an excellent job as Micah who’s wrestling with his identity as a black man in San Francisco, a city going through rapid gentrification. He has an immediate connection with and attraction to Jo, played by Tracey Heggins, who wears Vans and who doesn’t mind biking around the city with Micah, riding merry-go-rounds, and dancing to indy music in a club where they are the only people of color. Micah struggles with his predicament as an “only,” somewhere physically and mentally outside mainstream black culture, and reaches for Jo as a life-line. But she does not view the world with the same racial lens. She’s also unavailable, struggling with the fact that she is cheating on her boyfriend. Micah, himself is somewhat unavailable since he has just come out of a relationship. There’s no Hollywood ending and there’s no expectation that this is more than a one-night stand. But perhaps it’s enough that Micah really isn’t an “only” after all. And that’s what’s best about finding kindred spirits.

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