So I was doing what the “hip and trendy” folx call “channel surfing” the other day when I came across the scene up above. Nia Long and Adam Baldwin “making out”
sidebar: The Little Woman HATES when I say “making out”, she says it “confuses people” and it makes me sound like “I hang out with Fonzie”. I say, “I have no problem with that, for it would be so cool, ayyy!
So, Adam Baldwin and Nia Long were “making out” and this seemed so random so I had to find out what was going on.
Turns out, I had come across a scene from the movie GOSPEL HILL.
Gospel Hill is the name of the black neighborhood, in the southern town of Julia, that’s being torn down to make way for the ultimate gentrification, a golf course.
One of the main supporters of the golf course is one of the leading sellouts black leaders in town, Dr. Ron Palmer (Giancarlo Esposito), who runs the emergency clinic in Gospel Hill.
Julia is a town where this kind of conflict between black and white has a tragic past. Back in the day, 40 years ago to be exact, a local black civil rights activist Peter Malcolm (Samuel Jackson) was assassinated.
In the present, Malcolm’s son, John (Danny Glover), maintains a low profile that he established after his father’s death. John still feels animosity towards the ex-sheriff, Jack Herrod (Tom Bower). Herrod, the classic “I hates you darkies” type, drug his feet during the “investigation” of Peter Malcolm’s murder and, of course, nobody was charged. I guess that Peter assinated himself?
Herrod has two sons. His oldest son, Carl (Adam Baldwin) is fulfilling his “Jungle Fever” fantasies with Dr. Palmer’s mm-mm-good looking, hot thang, bootylicious trophy wifey (Nia Long). While Carl tends to Dr. Palmer’s “secret garden”;
his younger brother, Joel (Taylor Kitsch), is a landscaper who works for Dr. Palmer. Joel hires Lonnie (The Rza) to help him out.
Sarah Malcolm (Angela Bassett), John’s wife, isn’t too pleased about her hood being turned into a “bastion of whiteness”, so she challenges the house negro Dr. Palmer, who she thinks is all about getting paid (have you seen his wife? Hello? Keeping her satisfied has got to be high matenance) and she wants to out him as the carpetbagger that he is.
Oh, there’s a liberal school marm, Rosie (Julia Stiles), straight from the DANGEROUS MINDS/FREEDOM WRITES Teacher’s mold. Joel falls in love with Rose, I suspect, because he’s probably bedded down every woman in town, twice and is naturally inticed by that which has yet to be mounted conquered.
The block gets hot as Dr. Palmer goes around and buying out all the poor Negroes on Gospel Hill and trying to fight off Sarah, who really ain’t having it at all. Sarah tries to get John to come out of self-imposed exile (hell, I would be on the down-low myself if somebody shot my dad and the po-po acted like it didn’t happen, cut the man some slack, Sarah!). Joel has to deal with his dad, who he doesn’t really like because of that whole “I hates darkies” thing plus having to hear it from his super-duper liberal girlfriend, Rose, who’s, of course, now hanging out with Sarah and letting her fill her head with her “left-wing agenda” jibba-jabba.
sidebar: The only thing missing from the Rose scenes is Coolio singing GANGSTA’S PARADISE
Jack finds out that he’s terminally ill and deciding that burning in Hell for all eternity does not seem like a fun vacation, re-opens the Peter Malcolm murder investigation. At the same time, John realizes that he can’t ignore his father’s legacy anymore (partially because his wife is making him feel more and more like a chump by fighting the good fight that he should be and letting him know about it every chance she gets).
Gospel Hill was one of those film festival casulties (failed to find a big screen distributer) that went straight to DVD and, fortunately, to one of the movie channels (Showtime/Starz). To be honest, I don’t know why it didn’t get the big screen treatment. The film was directed by veteran character actor Giancarlo Esposito (Dr. Palmer in the film) who’s most famous role, to me anyways, is Buggin’ Out from DO THE RIGHT THING.
Hell, NBC should have found someway to get this to the big screen, if for no other reason, to promote some of their programming. Three of the actors in the film were cast regulars on NBC shows in 2008-09 (Baldwin/CHUCK, Bassett/E.R. and Kitsch/FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS). Spend a few more bucks to promote the film and it would have EASILY regained the estimated 6 million American dollars that it took to make the film the first week alone.
I guess that, nowadays, if Tyler Perry isn’t involved in a black movie, it ain’t gonna get that big push.
sidebar: That wasn’t a diss on Perry. It’s more of one on Hollywood, who still refuses to see that black cinema is just as diverse and layered as any other genre. It doesn’t all have to be one extreme or the other.
Having said that, I will admit that Gospel Hill isn’t a great film. It’s barely a good film, but it is good. For a film about race from an actor who’s best known role was one that was about as racial as one could get:
the racial aspects of Gospel Hill are almost mundane by comparison. Perhaps it was the laid back (and realistic) approach that was the thing that kept the film from getting a wider distribution. Whatever the reason, don’t let the straight to video nature of the film keep you away. It’s well acted, even when the script fails, at times, to keep up with the performances. I wouldn’t have been disappointed had I paid to see it at the movie theater and I don’t think to many others would have been either, except those who may have showed up to see Taylor Kitsch take off his shirt. You can’t please ’em all.
I certainly hope that Esposito gets more chances behind the camera and more films from “Gospel Hill” side of town get made.