Thursday, October 4, 2007

Diary of a Tired Black Man DVD

Headline: Incendiary Melodrama Examining Tensions between Brothers and Sisters Arrives on DVD

In recent years, numerous revenge-themed Hollywood adventures have seemed to take a certain delight in portraying black men as unreliable womanizers undeserving of any respect, like the sort of losers always airing their dirty linen any day of the week on The Jerry Springer Show. From Waiting to Exhale to Two Can Play That Game to Diary of a Mad Black Woman, these female empowerment flicks have generally left brothers not only browbeaten but in need of an image overhaul. Now, help has arrived in Diary of a Tired Black Man, a fascinating half-documentary-half melodrama from the very talented Tim Alexander.
At the point of departure, we find James’ (Jimmy Jean-Louis) being dogged by his ex-wife (Paula Lema) and her Amen chorus of self-righteous girlfriends because he arrived to pick up his daughter with the white woman he’s currently dating. Without reacting to their verbal attack, he calmly pauses to let them know that he had been, and still is, an excellent, if unappreciated provider.
Rather than continue with the rest of his modern morality play, at this juncture the ingenious director came up with a brilliant cinematic device which only heightens the already palpable tension. He freezes the action here and periodically throughout the story for revealing man-in-the-street interviews featuring fan reaction to the couple’s heated exchange.
So, essentially half of what we see is an intriguing documentary of everyday folks from all walks of life weighing-in on the battle-of-the-sexes. And those remarks, ranging from the profane to the profound and from the silly to the sobering, prove to be every bit as telling as the film’s fictional front story.
For instance, a young woman quick to question whether there are any good black men out there refers to the married guy she dated for two years as “typical “and an “effed-up, trifling-ass Negro.” Yet, when asked why she even entered such an ill-fated, illicit liaison in the first place, her only answer is that she “fell in love,” leaving the audience to conclude that she’s just as much to blame for her lot in life as all the black men she’s just dissed.
Overall, the movie does tend to come down harder on females than on males, even though it doesn’t let brothers off the hook entirely. Cleverly-edited to keep the audience on the edge of its seat, the movie flits back and forth between frank dialogue and the riveting tug-of-war between James and Tanya.
With both the factual and fictional parts of the picture equally absorbing, anticipate feeling emotionally drained in the end, yet also inspired to discuss the degree of dysfunction permeating African-American relationships. While Tim Alexander is quick to say that “Diary of a Tired Black Man is not a movie, it’s a message,” I found it so thoroughly entertaining that it obviously must be both.

Excellent (4 stars)
Running time: 108 minutes
Studio: ScreenTime Films

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