TO SLEEP WITH ANGER
1990, Sony Repertory, 101 min, USA, Dir: Charles Burnett

Charles Burnett’s beautiful, poetic masterpiece is novelistic in its narrative density and richness of characterization. Harry Mention (Danny Glover), an enigmatic drifter from the South, comes to visit an old acquaintance named Gideon (Paul Butler), who now lives in South-Central Los Angeles. Harry’s charming, down-home manner hides a malicious penchant for stirring up trouble, and he exerts a strange and powerful effect on Gideon and his thoroughly assimilated black, middle-class family. The household was already rife with conflict when the devilish guest arrived, and Harry’s grab-bag of folktales, lucky charms and foul magic only deepens the family rift. Sickness and insanity gradually descend upon Gideon’s home, and it soon becomes evident that something will have to give.


TALES FROM THE HOOD
1995, Universal, 98 min, USA, Dir: Rusty Cundieff

Chill or be chilled! Executive produced by Spike Lee, this horror anthology with an African-American focus centers on a mortician (a wonderfully creepy Clarence Williams III) who regales a trio of would-be drug dealers with tales of the deceased at his funeral home. Crooked cops, gangbangers and racist politicians rub shoulders in these four stories to create a highly entertaining mix of terror, humor and social commentary. The solid ensemble cast includes David Alan Grier, Corbin Bernsen and Joe Torry.


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