Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Black Snake Moan

There are many reasons to recommend Black Snake Moan, but chief among them is the sheer amount of time Christina Ricci spends either naked or in some state of near undress. A lot of people are talking about this, but not in the right way. They want you to know that the movie’s deeper and better than it looks. Well that may well be, but I want you to know how much of Ricci’s exposed flesh is on display in this thing before any of that other stuff. Tons!!

My notes are a little hard to read at this point, but I’m pretty sure I saw everything other than her anus. Little Wednesday Adams done went and growed up on me. Mostly I was shocked because all of a sudden she’s just so damn skinny, which isn’t something I ever expected from Christina, who’s always been just a little curvy and you can’t begin to imagine how much weight the girl’s lost. Her rib cages should’ve gotten third billing here (right after each breast). Yes, Black Snake Moan is something of a flesh fest and I don’t know what these people are talking about when they say it was poorly advertised and so forth. Are you kidding me!?!? It was advertised perfectly. If anything, I’d assumed the ad campaign was all a big tease, and the film would likely have one or two quick boobie shots. Not so! There's enough tit and ass on display here that you'll probably fracture your wrist with the number of times you'll be reaching for your remote control and the many functions it offers to enhance this film. And the spunk target works on Christina, oh yes it does. There is still truth in advertising and it is called Black Snake Moan.

See this girl Ricci plays, Rae, is exactly the kind of troubled white trash I would’ve fallen for in my stupid youth, so it wasn’t hard for me to identify with Justin Timberlake (and that pretty much goes right at the top of the list of things I never thought I’d say), who as her beau Ronnie is hopelessly in love with Rae, but gets massive panic attacks every time he picks up a gun. Into their already queasy relationship stumbles bluesman Samuel L. Jackson, who rocks just as hard as he does in every film he’s ever been in (except maybe National Lampoon’s Loaded Weapon 1, in which he failed to rock at all). Sam’s Lazarus is quite simply having none of Rae’s crazy bullshit (which we eventually discover isn’t really bullshit), so he chains her to his radiator in the hopes of curing her of her wicked ways. Of course you don’t really want this to happen, but that may be part of the genius of the film.

Writer/Director Craig Brewer is smart. He seduces you with the nakedness of Ricci for the film’s first half and then shifts gears and forces you care about the movie and its characters to the point that the nudity is no longer necessary (although this doesn’t stop him from placing her into a pretty hot bump and grind dance scene in the film’s third act). Black Snake Moan is the celluloid equivalent of humidity and heat. Every frame of it makes you feel like you’re living in the Deep South, where the people can be as benevolent as they are fucked up. There are some real issues that come into play and lest you think I’m recommending some piece of exploitative trash, you are wrong.

It's actually exploitative art. Note the subtle difference.