On today’s episode of Cinema in Noir, my co-hosts and I discussed interracial friendships in film. We reflect on the films that got it right and the ones that reduce the relationship to the tokenism by employing tactics such as the sassy black friend, the magical Negro, or the clueless white guy. Two of my favorites that got it right are The Family That Prey’s and Save the Last Dance.
Alice and Charlotte (played by Alfre Woodard and Kathy Bates) in The Family That Prey’s have a bond that transcends race. They bond as mother’s with difficult adult children but also over their dedication to family. The scenes that chronicle their road trip are the best in the film. The chemistry between the two iconic actors is amazing. It was an excellent portrayal of friendship.
In Save the Last Dance, Sara and Chenille (Julia Stiles and Kerry Washington) also have a very realistic friendship. Chenille is the first person to reach out to Sara and quickly takes her under her wing. However, they hit a road bump when Sara begins dating Chenille’s brother. But the two discuss the issues of race rather than gloss over them. It’s a difficult conversation, but one that two people interested in maintaining a genuine friendship would have. And for that, I love this relationship.
We also chatted about the state of action films today and the trends we like and dislike in the genre. We all agree that a strong character is a must. For me, I’m all about a strong female lead. And I like a little comedy mixed in with my action.
1. Surprise! There are no surprises. This is your typical revenge action thriller that we have all seen before. The story doesn’t stray far from the formula that director Olivier Megaton has shown us before, action first, everything else second.
2. Don’t look too hard for answers. There are a few holes that the story that the film leaves unfilled. For example, “why were her parents killed?” I get that the father did something bad to someone bad. But no details are given.
3. Be prepared to suspend most, if not all belief. I know that most action films are implausible. I mean, that’s the point right? But a few times during the film I was like ‘Seriously’? One scene in particular features a young Cataleya, played by Amandla Stenberg and her uncle, Emilio played by Cliff Curtis. In an effort to show the girl the importance of an education, Uncle Emilio starts shooting outside of the school. Wait…what? My thoughts exactly.
4. Zoe Saldana is a force. She has stated in interviews that the trained for months so that she could perform her own stunts. And believe me, it paid off. Zoe’s physicality is nothing short of amazing. Some of the best moments of the film feature Zoe maneuvering through the shadows either hunting her prey or eluding those who prey upon her. And despite a few flaws with the story, Zoe’s performance is dead on. She plays the emotion when appropriate but is convincing as the vengeful assassin that her Cataleya has trained to be. Colombiana provides Zoe with the perfect character to take her to the next level in Hollywood and join in the limited legacy of female action heroes of color.