Saturday, August 14, 2004

Beat 'im to the punch

Last night James and I went and saw a movie called Wattstax. It was presented jointly by the Light Factory and the Afro-American Culture Center. It was presented in the attic theater of the AA Culture Center. Before the movie started James went to the potty and I walked around and checked out the art hanging on the walls. Some of it was quite nice.

The movie was incredible. It featured interviews with residents of Watts that were funny, tragic, silly and serious. Interspersed throughout the film are informal interview segments with Richard Pryor. His appearances are stunning. This is Pryor at his strongest. He spends a lot of his screen time riffing on comedy bits that are now classics. Many of the routines were familiar but they were not mere repeats of what appears on albums. Pryor's contribution alone is reason enough to see this film.

Then there is the music: Albert King, the Bar Kays, Rufus Thomas(!) and Isaac Hayes were the highlights of the Wattstax music in the film. The band backing Hayes was spectacular. I could have listened to that band play the opening of the Shaft Theme song for 30 minutes. It was gorgeous.

An unexpected treat was a scene where religion was discussed. We got to see three women sing a rousing gospel song in a small church in Watts. They were beyond words. They had people crying, one woman was speaking in tongues and they turned that crummy little church into a golden chapel. It reminded me very much of that juke joint in Mississippi.

No comments: