Welcome to our second on-going series of the season; This is America. America can be defined so many ways… through its people, through its ideals, through its politics, how others view us. Here in this series, we are defining America through forgotten or in some case not-so-forgotten Films. These 12 films showcase the very best and sometimes the very worst of America. Light the sparklers and fire up the BBQ because we’re about to have some very interesting Podcasts.
As our last film ends in 1986 as the “war on drugs” was televised, our next film begins. New Jack City is Mario Van Peebles doing his spin on the gangster film as much as it is also a rise and fall story of entrepreneur Nino Brown (Wesley Snipes). Brown’s rise and fall are no different than any other corporate American entrepreneurship enterprise… it’s just his deals with the selling of crack, mafia dons tariffs, undercover cops, snitches, and crack-addicted family members. Trading crack for alcohol this is more a spiritual cousin to Howard Hawk’s Scarface than De Palma’s ever was. Running at an amazingly brisk 97-minutes the film not only tells Brown’s story but the Cops that peruse him (played by Ice-T and Judd Nelson), one of the users that tries to turn for the better (Chris Rock), and the family he surrounds himself with (Allen Payne, Bill Nunn, and other luminaries). At its core, Van Peebles has created not just a stellar action film, but a socially conscious film that doesn’t have answers but holds a mirror up to an ugly situation created in large part by America itself (just watch American Made, last week’s film to drive that point home even further).
Year Released: 1991
Director(s): Mario Van Peebles
Writer(s): Thomas Lee Wright, Barry Michael Cooper
Cast: Wesley Snipes, Ice-T, Allan Payne, Judd Nelson, Chris Rock, Mario Van Peebles, Michael Michele, Bill Nun, Bill Cobb, Russell Wong, Christopher Williams, Vanessa A. Williams, Tracy Camilla Johns, Anthony DeSando, Nick Ashford, Keith Sweat, Flavor Flav