A Good Day to be Black & Sexy
Magnolia Home Entertainment // R // $26.98 // February 3, 2009
Review by David Walker | posted March 3, 2009
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The Film:
It's not so much that I didn't like A Good Day to Be Black & Sexy, because it wasn't the movie itself that didn't do it for me. If that had been the case, then a thorough analysis--be it positive or negative--would be fairly easy to offer. But the problem with the film, a collection of short films about various black couples at different stages of their relationships, is that I didn't like the characters. That's to say that none of the characters in any of the shorts were compelling enough or likeable enough for me to want to spend another second watching them--which is pretty bad when you consider the fact that these are shorts.

Written, produced and directed by Dennis Dortch, A Good Day to Be Black & Sexy is comprised of six short films, each one focusing on a couple and their sexual trials and tribulations. Reciprocity starts with a young woman in the throws of orgasmic ecstasy, thanks to her partner's oral technique. But when she refuses to respond in kind, tensions quickly escalate. Her Man starts much the same way as Reciprocity, but once the sex is done, this new couple finds themselves dealing with tension from a different source--it seems that he's married, and she wants more of his time. Tonite, a two-part segment, starts out strong as a young couple gets into an argument over stolen French fries. But by the time the man makes the "put out or get out" demands on his female companion, we have once again found ourselves in another tale of sexual aggression and frustration between two people who shouldn't be together in the first place. American Boyfriend revolves around an Asian women stressing out over her family's inability to accept her black boyfriend.

If my descriptions of the vignettes that make up Black & Sexy seem too short or lacking in detail, it has a lot to do with the fact that none of the shorts are all that engaging, nor are the characters compelling. Each segment is shot in a quick cut, hand-held, most close-up manner that creates an intrusive feeling that is not intimate, but certainly annoying. This style of filmmaking, which I suppose could be considered "mumblecore," can work, but it is more unsettling than anything else.

Some people may find the way Dortch deals with sex, sexuality and relationships to be both frank and uncompromising, but he isn't really doing anything that wasn't done much better in Spike Lee's She's Gotta Have It. Likewise, films like Better Than Sex and John Cameron Mitchell's porntastic Shortbus are far more provocative and entertaining. On their own, any one of these films would work, both stylistically and even with the basically unlikable characters. But as a collection of films, this is just too much. It is one thing to come away from watching a film and not wanting to spend anymore time with the characters, but it's something else altogether to wish you had never even met the characters in the first place.

A Good Day to Be Black & Sexy is presented in 1.78:1 widescreen. Much of the film is shot in that handheld style that creates a creepy, too-close-to-the-subject feeling that makes you uncomfortable. The picture goes in and out of focus, and the naturalistic lighting can make it difficult to fully see what's going on. But all of that is intentional; so what does that say about the picture quality?

A Good Day to Be Black & Sexy is presented in English 5.1 and 2.0 Dolby Digital. The thing that I initially noticed while watching the first vignette was how loud the kissing was. Seriously. I've never been more put off or annoyed by the sound of kissing. From that standpoint, I suppose, the sound mix was good.

Bonus Material:
If you are so inclined, you will find behind the scenes footage, deleted scenes, auditions and a live stage performance of Reciprocity. I was not inclined.

Final Thoughts:
Just to be clear: I wasn't that big a fan of A Good Day to Be Black & Sexy, even though I don't think it is a terrible film. It simply wasn't my cup of tea. Clearly director Dennis Dortch has a sense of style and a visual aesthetic that if used with a bit more moderation, would probably be more effective. But for all the promise of Dorth's direction, it is hampered by a script that is too full of characters that are neither compelling nor pleasant.

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