Friday, June 20, 2008

Honeydripper DVD

DVD Review by Kam Williams

Headline: Image Award-Winning DVD Features Danny Glover in Segregation Era Saga

It is 1950, in Harmony, a hardscrabble Alabama town whose name gives no hint that its color-coded caste system relegates blacks to second-class status. But despite the limitations of living under Jim Crow segregation, Tyrone “Pinetop” Purvis (Danny Glover) has managed to eke out a decent living, at least till now.
He’s the proprietor of the Honeydripper Lounge, a juke joint which flourished during its heyday by selling cheap booze while catering to the tastes of a clientele which appreciated the blues. Lately, however, the bulk of Pinetop’s business has drifted over to a shady shack featuring performers of a new genre of music that’s a precursor to R&B.
Finding himself on the brink of bankruptcy, Tyrone decides to book an out-of-town act in a last gasp effort to save the nightclub. Unfortunately, Guitar Sam fails to arrive on the train from New Orleans as arranged. So, the embattled owner comes up with the bright idea of hiring a drifter, Sonny Blake (Gary Clark, Jr.) to impersonate the legendary guitarist, since nobody knows what he looks like, anyway.
So unfolds Honeydripper, winner of this year’s NAACP Image Award in the Best Independent Film category. The front story of the costume drama curiously less compelling than the picture’s electrifying score and wince-inducing recreations of tableaus of a bygone era marked by subjugation and intolerance.
Sadly, such routine mistreatment and exploitation of blacks represents a generally unacknowledged aspect of America’s legacy. Due to a deep cultural denial, sensitive subject-matter of this nature is ordinarily only touched upon humorously in cinema.
Kudos to two-time Oscar-nominee Sayles (for Lone Star and Passion Fish) who has previously tackled African-American themes, both in his comic cult classic Brother from Another Planet and in the relatively cerebral Sunshine State.

Excellent (4 stars)
Rated PG-13 for brief violence and suggestive material.
Running time: 124 minutes
Studio: Universal Studios Home Entertainment
DVD Extras: Director’s commentary, interviews, and a “Behind-the-Scenes” featurette.

To see a trailer of Honeydripper, visit:

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