Friday, September 18, 2009

Can Tyler Perry Handle Ntozake Shange's 'For Colored Girls..'?


Before I answer the question in the heading...It's been a slow blogging week for me because I've been spending a lot of time with my mom. We've had some serious estrogen bonding over the last week. In between the shopping, celebrity gossip and chats about men we had to throw in a Tyler Perry flick. I saw "I Can Do Bad All By Myself" and loved it. Taraji P. Henson acts her behind off. The teen actress who plays her niece, Hope Olaide Wilson will have you in tears. CSI: Miami's Adam Rodriguez is tender and oh so yummy. I know Perry likes to thread a church theme throughout his films, but church was the last thing on my mind when Rodriguez was on screen. And of course Perry is hilarious as Madea. Lately we've seen less and less of Madea in his films. I wonder if Perry is weaning us off our favorite (and only?) gangsta granny. Madea didn't even pull out her gun in this film. Madea, are you getting soft on us?
Perry has said he's tired of doing Madea and he probably still puts on the fake boobs and floral dress to lure moviegoers in. Mades is becoming less relevant in his story lines. Maybe he's ready for something more serious like For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When The Rainbow Is Enuf. Perry will write and direct a film adaption of Ntozake Shange's 1975 stage play. Shame on me because I haven't read the book. The play deals with heavy topics like love, rape and abandonment through the experiences of black women. Subjects Perry has tackled in his films. We know Perry has a passion for black women and our struggles. Black folks may disagree on his approach, but the black woman's plight is a strong presence in his work. So why couldn't he turn down the fluff even more and tackle a deep piece of work? A little fluff and comedy is not a bad thing in some films. But, Perry must bring the fire to "For Colored Girls..." because he'll have a lot to prove here. Mainly, can he do something besides black Southern- Christian Comedy? I think he can. If I'm wrong I'll admit it next year when the film is scheduled for release.
I would have preferred for a sista to write and direct this film. Someone like Julie Dash is ideal. Women in general are underrepresented behind the camera. Doesn't it makes sense for a woman of color to tell a black woman's story? Still, I'll give Perry a chance. My only problem so far with the film is the casting. The Village Voice reports Perry's dream cast is Oprah Winfrey, Angela Bassett, Halle Berry, Kimberly Elise, Cicely Tyson, Beyonce, Ruby Dee, Thandie Newton, Alicia Keys, and Mariah Carey. I love, love, love Beyonce's music. As for her acting, she needs to step it up. If I pay $10 for a movie I want top-quality acting on the screen. What about Nia Long, Jill Scott, Lynn Whitfield, Whoopi , Alfre Woodard or Kerry Washington? Throw in some of those names to the mix.
Speak your mind! Can Tyler Perry pull this off? Who would you like to see in the film?

7 comments:

  1. No. I don't think he can do it. I think he's spent too many years playing to the formula of the chitlin' circuit and whatever you call his films (Sochrisploitation?). And his dream cast isn't filling me with excitement -- like you said, Beyonce? Really?? And Mariah Carey? That tells me he's not trying to do this with the best actors he can find; he's just trying to fill it with enough star power that it'll make money. This is the consistent theme I've seen throughout his stuff: he doesn't actually attempt to show any artistic vision; he just knows what the lowest common denominator wants to see. But you can't take a truly artistic piece like Shange's book and give it the formulaic, crowd-pleasing treatment. That's disrespectful to the material. You have to have some vision, and take some artistic risks. I've never seen Perry do that.

    I would prefer to see Kasi Lemmons do this. Her film "Eve's Bayou" had all the power that I would want to see in a "For Colored Girls..." adaptation.

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  2. Sorry, Tyler Perry's films strike me as deeply, deeply sexist. My sisters love him, but he leaves me cold. As for him being funny in a dress? I find Medea insulting to women and am pretty tired of seeing our brothers need to put on a dress to make money at the box office.

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  3. Who EVER gets a wider audience for this so so so important play has my support. I've seen it several times and it always moves me.

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  4. I would've preferred a Black female director to tell my story through my eyes (nothing against Tyler, BUT...) Also, would like to see some unknown or little known, untapped actress to be given a chance to shine. I am personally tired of seeing the same Black faces in every "Black" movie. So to that end, I hope that Tyler will give this movie the proper treatment and respect that it's due and not "water down" the material just to make a profit, BUT TELL THE STORY RIGHTEOUSLY!!!

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  5. @Nojojojo Thanks for you comment and I agree that Kasi Lemmons would be a great choice to direct and write this film. Jurnee Smollet ("Eve's Bayou", "The Great Debaters") should act in this film also.

    @Keesha We disagree on Madea but I hear what you saying about brothas dressing in drag on screen. David Alan Grier did a spoof documentary on "Chocolate News" called the Fat Black Mama Syndrome. He said black men do it because that's the only way people listen to them. You can watch it here.
    http://www.comedycentral.com/videos/index.jhtml?videoId=190005&title=fat-black-mamma-syndrome

    @ Ellen Thanks for your comment. I think PBS aired the played years ago. I'm going to try to rent it at the library.

    @Retta-Girl I'm with you. I'm tired of seeing some of the same faces too. I was also surprised he wanted Mariah Carey and Halle Berry in the film. What about Regina King? Haven't seen Jasmine Guy in a while. Dawn Lewis is a great actress also.

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  6. I couldn't agree with Keesha more. Check out what these beautiful sistas have to say on the subject of Tyler Perry and the Chitlin Circuit on Sistah Talk TV Show.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_LFOlKjwfqo

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  7. @ Anonymous--I love this show! Thanks for the link. I can watch these ladies everyday.
    Back to your comment, you may have a different feeling about Perry after watching "For Colored Girls" b/c it is nothing like Madea movies. I'm not crazy about "For Colored Girls" but I don't you'll find it sexist. Let me know what you think of the film after you see it.

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