From: Subject: Date: April 21, 2005 3:53:51 PM CDT Hankblog

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Movie Retrospectives: Chicks Kick Ass
Foxy Brown

It was William Congreave who originally wrote
"Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned,
Nor hell a fury like a woman scorned."

Though Congreave could have been writing about any of the women featured in the films I am looking at this week, but I think Pam Grier's Foxy Brown fits the mold a little bit better than the rest. In the classic blaxploitation mold, this movie shows Foxy is just about everything you can imagine: tough, resourceful, beautiful, sexy, and as one of the characters in the movie says, she's a whole lot of woman.

In the beginning of the film, Foxy is just an ordinary woman. She's been waiting patiently for her boyfriend Michael (Terry Carter) to get out of the hospital. He's just undergone plastic surgery after having spent extensive time undercover on a huge drug sting. Though the sting didn't result in any convictions (for reasons that are revealed later in the movie), he did his job right, and he's getting witness protection for his work on the job.

Foxy also has to help bail her brother Link (Starsky and Hutch's Antonio Fargas) out of a jam. He needs rescue early on from a couple of thugs who are looking to beat the crap out of him for money he owes their boss. Link's been running numbers on the street using borrowed money, but a run of bad luck puts him a bind where he can't pay the money back. The conflict starts when he comes to realize that Foxy's new friend Dalton is really an old cop named Michael. He figures the crime bosses he owes money to might be willing to pay for the information. A shooting later, Foxy is on the warpath looking for who had her man killed, so that she can deliver some payback.

The dialogue in this movie is not going to be confused with any Oscar winners. And some of the action sequences are very cheesily dated compared to some of today's glitzier productions. But like other blaxpoitation films, Foxy Brown tried to deliver a message to an audience in the African-American community that had long been marginalized and ignored in the mainstream studio productions. And the message being sent was an intelligent one.

Take for instance, a scene after Foxy has rescued Link, where he goes off when she asks why he has allowed himself to get mixed up with bad parties again. He tells Foxy "I can't sing, can't dance, I'm too small to be a football star....what else am I going to do?" He speak of the frustration at having ambition for something better in life, and not having the means by which to achieve that. So why shouldn't he do whatever he can to try and have more in life?

Later in the film, we meet a group of local vigilantes, reminiscent of the Black Panthers, who are taking matters into their own hands. They see the other side of the coin that Link mentions. There is economic benefit to be had for the actions Link takes. The question is at what cost? Ultimately, the price paid is measured in loss of dignity and freedom. You choose a life of crime, and you will always be at the mercy of others, unless you wind up being the top dog. And not many have the brains, skill, and will to fight their way to the top of the underworld food chain.

But aside from all that, this is Pam Grier's movie. Her Foxy Brown is an amazing piece of work. No matter how much she gets beaten down by what the bad guys throw her way, she keeps standing back up and asking for more. And for every thing that crime bosses Steve Elias and Ms. Katherine try to take from Foxy, she takes it back tenfold. When she's not busting the chops the of some hoods, she's being a damn sexy woman, whether she's loving Michael all she can or posing as a hooker to get an inside track on Steve and Katherine's operation. She was a damn gorgeous woman in her prime, and she's aged very well. We should all be blessed with genes like that.

Foxy Brown is just a fun, fun movie. It's an interesting snapshot of a new approach to filmmaking that inspired a lot of today's writers and directors. It's a cheesy romp that never takes itself too seriously. Most of all, it's a showcase for an unbelievable woman. What more can you ask for?

For tomorrow, we'll talk Thelma and Louise. Have a good night.