Chris Knipp Writing: Movies, Politics, Art

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 19, 2018 5:10 pm 
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Jamaica in a visual tone poem

Khalik Allah's short documentary feature is in the nature of a long poem of cross purposes about Jamaica, land of the director's maternal grandfather, with many motion picture snapshots of local people from different times accompanied by multiple voices speaking about life, motherhood, God, Rasta and ganja, and other germane matters but not specifically lined up with the faces we see. There are country people and city people, prostitutes and holy man, though the overwhelming focus is on the poor. There is black and white and color, Super-8mm, HD video, and Bolex footage, there is meditative thought of death and it all ends with the birth of a child, the whole being organized into three trimesters following the pregnancy. This is not the kind of documentary that gives you specific information, but it may lead you to fall back on your own related memories in a more personal way. It is highly evocative, but negotiating the non-correspondence of related images can also ultimately be wearying.

According to Christopher Gray of Slant, writing from the True/False documentary festival in Columbia, MO, this film follows quite logically from Allah's first, which used the same technique of germane but out-of-synch images and testimony in an impressionistic montage, the 2015 Field Niggas being focused on drug addicts, prostitutes, and cops in a single intersection in Harlem. Gray adds that Beyoncé's Lemonade film works similarly, and Allah was its director as well.

Black Mother, 75 mins., was screened for this review as part of the MoMA-Film Society of Lincoln Center 2018 series New Directors/New Films.

ND/NF showtimes:
Wednesday, April 4, 6:00pm [MoMA]
Saturday, April 7, 6:00pm [FSLC]

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