I'm psyched to hear and read all the hype heaping on Terence Howard with the opening of "Hustle & Flow" this weekend.
But I'm freaked about how the only reference the mainline reviewers have made to Howard's previous work is the movie "Crash". Ironically, I never heard of "Crash". But I was mesmerized by Howard's performance in the excellent 1999 film that nominally starred Taye Diggs. Howard was more than first among equals in a rock solid supporting cast including Nia Long, Sanaa Lathan, Harold Perrineau Jr. and Morris Chesnut. Armed with lethal foreknowlege that no other character has, he manipulates the reuion of old friends for a wedding like a master puppetter.
I wasn't immediately wild about "The Best Man," but I could not get his work out of my mind. The film has since grown well with me, standing out as brilliantly as it does from the horde of run of the mill "black flicks" that closely followed it into the new century.
More another time on this genre of movies in which all the characters, but none of their conflicts, are black.
Does the "Best Man" amnesia reflect the truth about just what films white people—or media crits as proxies for white audiences—have seen? Even black journalists, like Lola Ogunnaike in the New York Times and Ed Gordon on NPR's News & Notes seem to have slept on it.
All the stories I've noticed insist that with "Hustle," with it's Sundance and Jon Singleton backstory and hip-hope bona fides, will put Howard on the map of the universe, as known to white people. The arbitrary nature of such official "crossover" declarations really irk's me. I mean, how do they know what everyone knows?
Oh well. Congrats in advance to you, Terrence, and all associated.
And if half the hype on "Hustle" pans out, we can all one-up our film buff friends with... "Terrence? Man, I knew he was coming six years ago...didn't you see "The Best Man"?