Tuesday, August 16, 2011

'Barbershop' Open Thread

  What did you think?


  1. (Something's a little goofy here, trying to "preview" -- wish me luck.)

    I never know where to start when there a number of things I like about a movie.

    First, I guess, I think it's a well-told story about recognizing what is valuable in life, with a plot that yields just and/or happy endings for the key characters. I loved the breaking-up of the relatively understated scenes at the barbershop with the broader, even slapstick, comedy of the scenes with J.D. and Billy, as well as the balance of comedy and drama with the characters at the shop.

    I thought Ice Cube was was very good, very real, as Calvin, the Reasonable Man. reining in the younger, hotter-blooded, members of this small community. But we see that, for all he is the "responsible adult" in the shop, he has yet to outgrow some unrealistic expectations about the oversized successes he envisions. And Jazmin Lewis was lovely as the wife tries to balance support for her husband with hard-to-hear honesty.

    And the gang at the shop -- a family-of-necessity for the younger barbers, with Eddie as the eccentric great-uncle. I loved his stirring everybody up when he holds forth on some aspect of civil rights history -- not to be questioned because He Was There -- and the uproar he sparks. But my favorite scene with Eddie is the quiet moment when he decides he needs to show the younger barbers the craft of the proper shave. Here he is unquestioned, and I loved the way they collected around him, quiet, to benefit from what he could tell them about the inherent integrity of the Professional Barber. The scene when Calvin tells Eddie he has sold the shop, and Eddie's talk with him about the legacy of Calvin's father, is a nice scene, but the calm authenticity in the shaving lesson is Cedric the Entertainer's best moment.

    I like the way the interactions among the younger barbers prove to be positive influences on each other. Terri is a plenty-tough local girl who demands to be treated properly, except by her boyfriend; fish-out-of-water Dinka's hopeful attentions (including the poetry that makes her feel "all gentle") help her understand that she deserves as much from a partner. (I also found Dinka's protecting her from the furious narcissist particularly satisfying! ) And for all her own hot temper, it is Terri, along with Ricky, who starts the impromptu dance sessions to cool things down between Jimmy and Isaac. I really liked Michael Ealy's depiction, as Ricky, of the unexpectedly sensible, even wise, young man desperately trying to protect his new life after having been in prison.


  2. Continued:

    I was even feeling kinda sorry for the larcenous loonies, J.D. and Billy, until we see the malicious glee with which J.D. takes the news of what being convicted of stealing the ATM will mean for Ricky.

    But something I found delightful throughout the movie were the small funny lines that lightened dark moments and enriched comic ones. When Calvin is rejecting the precedent his father's altruism set, and says

    "Do I look like my father?

    the subdued chorus of


    "A little"

    "There's something around the nose..."

    cracked me up.

    The exchange between Calvin and the Indian (!) owner of the destroyed store was sincere and moving, the foreigner grateful for the few, unexpectedly meaningful, words Calvin had shouted across the street, his own remarks more meaningful to Calvin than the man imagined. But I got such a kick out of the wry twist to the exchange, when Samir won't accept payment for Calvin's purchase: Calvin suggesting a free snack, as well; the inveterate businessman refusing anything else "for free."

    And I love the scene with his wife when Calvin is trying to explain away Lester Wallace's earlier presence at the barbershop, and when she shoots down his claim that Wallace was there for a hair- (or, hairpiece-) cut, he accepts defeat both briskly and philosophically, and moves on.

    "He had to get that faded a little bit, so I just --"

    "Hmph -mmm."

    "No? (shrugging) All right, cool. (Leads her into the room ) Let me show you something..."

    Loved it!

  3. I agree with all that, and very well said. This was a surprisingly good movie, and I must say, I really liked Ice Cube in it. Unlike the usual type characters he had played and lived, he was no thug in this show, but a young man trying to make his way, and trying to decide what was right for himself and for his family. At the outset he felt trapped in his father's barber shop, and couldn't see it as anything other than a low revenue generating business that seemed to have sapped away his father's life. Many times Cal had seen people get work from his dad for nothing, and seen him give a chair and a chance to people who, as Eddie said, were as likely to shank him as to thank him. How did he do that all those years? Why did he do it all those years? Calvin didn't want any part of that, and he was determined to find his way out. But as the show moves along we realize that his father had a huge impact on him, and whether it be his giving a chair to a questionable character like Pete or cutting the hair of a young man looking for a job for free, it's all the same types of things that his father would have done. When he asks in shock "Do I look like my father" meaning "Do you think you can get away with the same games with me that you pulled on him?" he gets the surprising answer "Yes, you do." The similarity wasn't just in the face. It was deep down inside, and when Eddie a little later put to words what his father and the shop had meant to the community it simply confirmed to Calvin what he already knew in his heart.

    I really enjoyed Cedric the Entertainer as Eddie. Apparently he stayed in character on the set, and just kept jawing and story telling all the way through the show. Everyone got a big kick out of him. But my favorite was Ice. My word, he was excellent conveying the frustration he had, while still retaining the good values he was struggling to shed. They put glasses on him to soften his look, but he still had a definite edge to him, which I enjoyed. It was a nice show, which I would never have picked out without a little encouragement. Good one, Cath!

  4. Hey, I know this is kind of a leap (and it probably isn't my turn to pick), but... Would anybody be up for watching North by Northwest?

  5. 'North by Northwest' Hidden purposes, double lives, train travel verses plane travel, thinly veiled threats, lives in the balance, and that lightweight, grey suit - the picture of chic sophisticatation. I loved that suit, and would forever have a fondness for sharing an elegant meal on a train. Let's do! This will be great fun.

    I'll have it up in a couple of days.