...because they're awesome.
...because they're awesome.
Len here: There are a lot of Black people in the movies we review.
Vince: Unless, of course, there aren't a lot Black people. Something like Imitation of Life doesn't have many at all. We just watched a version of Othello with only one main character. Actually, that's the most recurring theme of all: What makes a Black film?
Len talking now - 70s Black movies have a definitive 'fight the power' aesthetic. 80s and 90s try to portray real life while being aspirational at the same time.
You’ve done more than 170 episodes, which is incredible - and with the amount of Black Film that’s out there, you have so many more episodes to do. Part of your investigation, of your mission is to scrutinize - what IS a Black film. Can you share more on that constitutes with us?
Vince: My short and sweet critieria is-would this film change if the characters weren't Black? If so, I usually default to, this is a Black film. Ironically, this takes a bunch of work by the biggest Black performers like Will Smith or Denzel Washington off the table because they tend to make, "color blind" work.
Len - If the lead character or protagonist is another race or ethic upbringing and it fundamentally changes the film, then what you're watching is more than likely a 'Black film'. But in the end, it's all subjective and open to your interpretation. That's why discussing what is or isn't a Black film is a lasting component of the show.
I love film discussion podcasts, so I’ve been enjoying the energy you bring to the films you analyze - for example, disagreeing about Philip Glass’ soundtrack in CANDYMAN! How do you define what’s up for discussion?
Vince: It's all up for discussion! It's VERY organic!
Len here - it's organic. I turn on the microphones and we go.
Also, because we’re on Cake - the Cake vs Pie debate - who won, in your opinion?
Vince is Team Pie! You can go sweet or savory!
Len: IF IT'S CHOCOLATE, it don't even matter.
What have been some of your favorite episodes that you’d suggest new listeners check out and why?
Vince: I'm a big fan of some of the more serious episodes; Moonlight, Daughters of the Dust, Nothing But A Man, etc. because it really shows how passionate we are about the subject matter...but the Tyler Perry episodes (Why Did I Get Married?, Acrimony, Tyler Perry's Temptation) are magnificent spectacles of hilarity!
Len - Everyone loves our Driving Miss Daisy debate and it was fun. But I most enjoyed talking Dolomite with Dorian Missick and Omar Dorsey; just fun energy. Same for our recent conversation with Tia Whitfield on The Best Man. Honestly though, my favorites are ones when Vince hates a movie but says 'it's interesting'. That means we're in for some real good BS, folks. Wear your boots.
Some questions from a colleague: “A perhaps obvious question that’s been on my mind a lot this year, with GREEN BOOK and all, is…to what extent should white people be making movies about black stories? It seems complicated. On the one hand, it would be good to see more movies about black people and their stories. On the other, if white people are telling those stories, aren’t they telling them from a white perspective? Is that more harmful than helpful? Also what is Quentin Tarantino’s best film and why is it JACKIE BROWN?”
Vince: It is complicated. Obviously, I think people telling their own stories have a heft that, oftentimes, gets lost when others try to speak for them but, to paraphrase Maya Angelou-who thought Shakespeare must have been a Black woman to understand her so well-good stories are universal. In a skilled craftperson's hands, I have no problem with white people telling the stories of Black people even though, again, I wish Black artists had more opportunities to tell their own stories. The problem is, and Green Book is a good example, so many white creators don't have the respect of Black culture and Black humanity to do a proper job. And, yes, Jackie Brown is Tarantino's best film...but Django Unchained is the greatest Black cinematic love story of the last two decades. I said what I said.
Len - personally, I just look for a good story with well defined characters so I think anyone can write stories of anybody. But if the film is about the 'Black experience', I'd prefer for the creatives crafting the story to have skin in the game, so to speak. That could be writer, producer, director, or what have you.
And Jackie Brown is the best because it's the most accessible.
Last night was the 91st Annual Academy Awards (and I know you did an episode a few weeks ago on the The Binge Lounge on “If Beale Street Could Really Talk”). Did you tune in? What were your thoughts?
Len talking so hear me - I was very happy for Spike Lee and Regina King and Ruth Carter. I enjoyed the lead actress speech immensely. Otherwise I didn't care.
Props to Mahershala for Into the Spider Verse, too 😁
Vince: Sigh. Big, big, big sigh. My thoughts are there were no suprises. I think the Oscars have shown themselves to be out of touch and reflective of a specific type of old, stagnant taste and last night was no exception. Just pragmatically, I'm happy for Regina King and Mahershala Ali and the opportunities that, hopefully, the win give them and I'm big, big happy for Ruth Carter but, otherwise, eh. Also, Spiderverse!
The Micheaux Mission has inspired other types of discussions / podcast forays, like The Binge Lounge and Spock Adjacent. Can you tell us more?
Vince: Spock Adjacent is really a labor of love that grew out of the conversations that Len and I tend to have before we go, "live." The proto-episode was our, uh, vibrant back and forth about Star Trek Into Darkness and the great response we got because there are a lot of Trek fans among the Missionaries! It's a lot of fun!
Len - The Binge Lounge is just an opportunity to take off our critics' hat and be the pop culture geeks we really are. We also get to marinate in nostalgia and be more self indulgent. And silly. Really silly.