Monday 16 January 2017

I've said nicer things, you were just too drunk to remember them

Is there like a new sub-genre in movies where black people's lives in historical periods are observed by privileged honkies?  If so, then Mr Church is an addition to the canon, charting as it does the intersection between the titular African-American man of mystery and the honky women of the Brooks family, whom for some reason he serves for three generations after being hired to care for the terminally-ill ex-mistress of a departed rich dude for what will likely be six months but which turns into six years, paying for the woman's daughter's college education, and then raising that girl and her illegitimate daughter in his own home.  It's a bit of a mess of a story and some of the twists of fate and monologues are insultingly contrived to the point that a woman with terminal cancer telling you about the important things in life just made me angry rather than punched me right between the Feels like you would hope it would, but it's a well-performed film - especially Eddie Murphy in the title role - I just wish all involved had a bit more to work with.
The one thing that did really annoy me is that at the end of the film - SPOILERS - the lead female (because why would a black man be the lead in a story that's named for him even in 2017?) is hosting Mr Church's wake and meets one of his acquaintances - the proprietor of a nightclub Mr Church frequented over the course of the film and from which he often returned drunken and bitterly rambling at the memory of his (presumably) departed father.  The two exchange tidbits about Mr Church and the lead female delightedly notes that Mr Church was a whiz on the old piano and that he brought the nightclub to life each night, and it's treated as a wonderful snippet as she sits down to type out her life story and all I'm thinking is "How is this an amusing vignette?  We saw how unhappy he was throughout the film, clearly this activity did not bring him joy or make him happy and he died after a life of bitter regrets which haunted him to the grave."  But no, Hollywood gonna Hollywood, and the film ends with a blonde honky being handed the man's house where she's been freeloading for at least the last decade and cashing in on his dang life story.  This is a really mixed message of an ending, or possibly I just should not be watching weepies.

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