Can someone stop the multimedia empire that Oprah Winfrey imparts on the rest of the world? I mean really, you’ve got the TV show, you’ve got the books, and you’ve done the movies, what else is there to do? Oh, provide reading and watching lists of material you enjoy? Um, OK. But why?
Take the case of Their Eyes Were Watching God. Based on a novel by Zora Neale Hurston and directed by Law and Order veteran Darnell Martin, the film covers the story of a black woman in the tu…n of the century south, who is torn between the love of her successfulhusband and a free spirit of another man. Get my tissues ready, and pop up the popcorn, huh?
In actuality, the movie isn’t too bad, and stars Halle Berry (X-Men, Monster’s Ball) as Janie, who early on in her life, before she’s 18, runs away with Joe (Ruben Santiago-Hudson, Shaft, Domestic Disturbance), a wealthy landowner, who reinvests in the town of Eatonville, and turns it into a thriving town where blacks are welcome. He is elected Mayor of the town and he and Janie live there for 20 years, alongside friends like Phoebe (Nikki Mecheaux, Ringmaster) and Amos (Terrence Howard, Hustle and Flow).
Janie starts to feel disenchanted about her life in Eatonville. Joe, while his intentions seem OK, sees her as more of a trophy, or figurehead to the town, and she feels stifled by this. Things degrade through the years, until Janie meets Tea Cake (Michael Ealy, Barbershop), when she feels alive and enjoys every opportunity made to her.
The film does move a little slowly in parts, and other parts are somewhat entertaining, but the performances aren’t really memorable enough to make you forget what the story lacks. There’s a subplot involving Amos’ feelings for Janie that doesn’t really go anywhere, and if any actor is memorable in this film, it’s Hudson, who gets the most screen time and does quite a good job with it.
The only audio option on the film is a Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack. Unfortunately, the soundtrack is somewhat wasted on the film. There are a few songs, along with a storm, that perhaps could have better benefited from proper use of all six speakers, but everything comes from the front channels, so a 2 channel mix would probably have been a better option.
This is one of the better full frame presentations I’ve seen, as everything is reproduced vividly. There aren’t too many chances where you’ll see bright colors in the film, and the film sports a pretty pristine transfer, and that’s a plus.
This was one that was presumably pushed quickly to video, the only extras on here are some teasers and trailers for Disney features.
I’m sure if I was a black woman with a romantic conflict in my life, I’d enjoy this movie more than I did. But I’m not, and I didn’t. Some parts of the movie were decent, but there’s nothing to make it transcend as a romantic movie that others haven’t seen before. If you are comfortable contributing to the Winfrey war chest, than feel free, otherwise, catch this when it airs from time to time on the TV.
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