Backwaters [SHOWER]

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http://www.jonathanrosenbaum.net/2000/07/backwaters/

Published on 28 Jul 2000 in Featured Texts, Featured Texts, by jrosenbaum

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I’m The One That I Want

This feature-length film (2000) of Margaret Cho’s potent one-woman show recalls the early stand-up films of Richard Pryor 20 years ago. There’s the same confessional fervor and pain-ridden comedy deriving from a restaging of traumas having to do with identity crises and substance abuse. As a 31-year-old Korean-American, former alcoholic, star of a discontinued sitcom, and self-described fag hag, Cho has plenty of issues of her own. But there’s a similar kind of hilariously cathartic autocritique as she examines her efforts to lose weight and become less Asian when her sitcom was in jeopardy, and her priceless impersonations of her mother offer a pungent concentrate of her complex responses to racism. It’s hard to think of many more galvanizing definitions of what it means to be an American than Cho’s volcanic self-assessments. 90 min. (JR)

Published on 19 Jul 2000 in Featured Texts, by admin

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American Pimp

What’s so disturbing yet provocative about this documentary by Allen and Albert Hughes (Menace II Society, Dead Presidents) is that it essentially celebrates as well as interrogates its chosen subject. More precisely, it allows the pimps it interviews to celebrate themselves, offering them the equivalent of their own music videos in which to strut their stuff. Even if one disapproves of the resultsit’s hard not to, given the countless obfuscations and omissions ensured by such an approachthere’s also more understanding of a certain kind than would come from a holier-than-thou polemic. One has to weigh the lift against the mystifications. There isn’t the sort of analysis one would hope to find (the Hugheses even sidestep the issue of whether pimps are as important to prostitution as they once were), but at least one gets a pungent look at what makes being a pimp look attractive to some people in certain circumstances. Check it out for yourself; I’ve felt at least as conflicted about the Hughes brothers’ other movies, but this one arguably accomplishes and says the most. 87 min. (JR)

Published on 11 Jul 2000 in Featured Texts, by admin

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