What to watch when you’ve already watched everything. Binge worthy, not cringe worthy recommendations. It’s a long title, I know but in self isolation I have more time on my hands than usual. Here are three movies you may not have seen that are available to rent or buy on VOD and streaming services that can help pass the minutes, hours, weeks… whatever, until we are allowed to touch our faces again.
Posts Tagged ‘Good Hair’
On the surface Good Hair sounds like the thinnest idea for a movie since Andy Warhol documented 24 hours in the life of the Empire State Building using only one static shot. Comedian Chris Rock’s look at the African-American hair industry could have been a bit on the gimmicky side but he and director Jeff Stilson wring every ounce of interest from the subject.
Inspired by his young daughter asking, “Daddy, how come I don’t have good hair?,” Rock uses gentle humor to examine the relationship black women have with their hair. He interviews everyone from teen star Raven-Symoné to author Maya Angelou to decipher why and how African-American women go to such lengths to modify their hair. They discuss weaves—hair extensions described as “the graduation of the wig”—and relaxer, a potion used to straighten hair for a more “European look” that several women refer to as “creamy crack” because of their dependence on the toxic balm.
It’s all rather light and breezy and would be kind of inconsequential if Rock and company hadn’t broadened the film to examine how hair care in the African-American community became a billion dollar industry and why more of the businesses that feed this industry aren’t black owned. “There’s something wrong when we can’t control something as basic as the hair on our heads,” says Al Sharpton (called the “Dalai Lama of Relaxer”).
Good Hair works because it cleverly uses a study of African-American hair culture as the gateway to examine larger issues of race without ever sounding preachy or pedantic. Is it perfect? No, a hair competition that bookends the film could easily have been shortened or cut altogether, but it’s worth the price of admission to watch Rock talk hair—male and female—with the folks at a barbershop or hear Ice-T talking about getting a mug shot taken while wearing curlers.
Ultimately Good Hair’s most important message is summed up by Al Sharpton who says, “The stuff on top of their heads isn’t as important as the stuff inside their heads.
After a career spent making people laugh, in Good Hair, Rock is tackling a subject that sounds light hearted, but has deeper roots — the relationship African-American women have with their hair.
“When people first heard I was doing it they kind of thought it was going to be frivolous,” he says. “They thought it would be some version of Punk’d where I exposed people for not having their own hair or whatever and they see the movie and they are surprised.”
Surprised perhaps that Rock uses the subject of a cultural obsession with hair as a starting point to address larger issues.
“It’s hair,” he says. “It’s self esteem. It’s race. It’s how we look at ourselves. It’s the beauty industry. It’s a black movie. It’s a white movie. It’s an American movie. It’s a world movie. It’s a really gay movie. It’s a lot of movie.”
Rock’s formal foray into the culture of hair was inspired by a question his daughter asked — “Daddy, how come I don’t have good hair?”— but he had his own experience with toxic hair relaxers years before.
“I’ve had my hair relaxed and it burned,” he said. “It feels like having your head set on fire. I stopped when I got Lethal Weapon. It was literally like, ‘I got a million dollars and burning my scalp … that is not being rich.’ I dreaded it. I thought if I can’t make money without doing this then I’m just not going to make any money.”
He has, of course, made money without sacrificing his scalp.
His career is thriving — he has two features coming out next year, including Grown Ups opposite his old SNL partner Adam Sandler — and, he says, Good Hair may not be his last documentary.
“I just have to find the right topic,” he says. “You can’t just do it because you have a slot. ‘OK, it’s been a year!’ That doesn’t work for me. This one was really from my heart.
“I’m not gonna get rich off of this, but this really, really came from heart.”