In Memoriam 1942 – 2013 “Roger Ebert loved movies.”

RogerEbert.com

Thumb_mv5bmtq1mze4mte3of5bml5banbnxkftztgwotcyndm3nte_._v1__sx1216_sy640_

Amy

Sometimes, it feels as if we are eavesdropping on day-to-day conversations rather than just hearing the usual litany of platitudes and regrets.

Thumb_large_nxcfdsanskih09xq74fjnyhw4g0

Stray Dog

"Stray Dog" largely succeeds because Granik's technique complements her subject. Both he and the film are modest in their goals and cherish the value of…

Other Reviews
Review Archives
Thumb_xbepftvyieurxopaxyzgtgtkwgw

Ballad of Narayama

"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

Thumb_jrluxpegcv11ostmz1fqha1bkxq

Monsieur Hire

Patrice Leconte's "Monsieur Hire" is a tragedy about loneliness and erotomania, told about two solitary people who have nothing else in common. It involves a…

Other Reviews
Great Movie Archives
Other Articles
Channel Archives

Reviews

Part 2, Sounder

  |  

It's hard to believe "Part 2, Sounder" is the work of the same people who made the original "Sounder." The first film was so immediate, so real and, affecting, that the sequel seems all the more flat and contrived. It's not a bad film - it looks good and was made with care, and the actors are convincing - but it's simply not a compelling experience. Events move so slowly and the film's structure is so loose that we finally lose interest. 

Perhaps some of the problem is with the screenplay, which is by Lonne Elder III - who wrote the original "Sounder." This time his story seems to take place in a vacuum. The problems don't seem as urgent, the emergencies seem contrived, and the movie tends to come to a dead halt every 15 minutes or so for a musical interlude. 

The story gives us the same basic characters - poor black sharecroppers in the rural South of perhaps 40 years ago - but it doesn't seem to place them in the same context. In "Sounder," they were part of an organic society. In "Part 2," they tend to be symbols. The movie's focus, as in the first film, is on the oldest son in the sharecropper family. He's David Lee, bright and articulate, and this time he's concerned because the school has just closed down. The teacher is set to accept a job in Cleveland, but David Lee makes it his business to encourage her to stay - and David Lee's father, Nathan, convinces the neighboring sharecroppers to pitch in and build a new schoolhouse. 

The problem with this situation is that it's so obviously contrived. There is, for example, a perfectly sound church building that could be used during the week for school classes - but the owner of the church, a white man, refuses to let the sharecroppers use it. Why? The movie never says, and the sharecroppers never ask. If the question were confronted, you see, the story would move in a different direction. The school has to be built in a hurry because the teacher has just four weeks to decide on her job offer from Cleveland. But this is contrived, too - it's as if Elder created these fictional difficulties in an attempt to get suspense into his story in any way possible. Some of the film's problems may come from the fact that it started out as a made-for-TV movie. The story seems to halt at arbitrary intervals (intended for commercials?) and there are too many scenes in which Taj Mahal, as a guitar playing neighbor, plays and sings while everyone sits around. As a result, "Part 2, Sounder" is awfully slowly paced. It would make a perfectly acceptable TV movie, but as a feature film it's just not in the same class with its namesake.

Popular Blog Posts

Why Can't Sad Be Fat?

A rebuttal to Joni Edelman's piece on "Inside Out."

Who do you read? Good Roger, or Bad Roger?

This message came to me from a reader named Peter Svensland. He and a fr...

The Unloved, Part 19: "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford"

The July 2015 edition of The Unloved looks at Andrew Dominik's "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert...

Magic Lantern Show: The Sensual Pleasures of "The Third Man"

On the look and sound of "The Third Man."

Reveal Comments
comments powered by Disqus