GANJA & HESS (1973) AND CAN YOU EVER FORGIVE ME (2018)
GANJA & HESS (1973)
This forgotten gem of indie cinema much more than a black dracula pic. It’s trippy and modern, droll and sexy. After being stabbed by his assistant (the director himself) archaeologist Hess Greene resurrects (if he even died in the first place) with a thirst for blood. Soon enough the assistant’s widow Ganja comes riding into town and the two become lovers, playing house in his colonial estate.
Gaja & Hess is fragmented and chaotic, the tattered quality resulting from the bozo studioheads that eventually recut it into a titillating blaxploitation flick. But at its swooning heart, are bigger ideas: a blood-as-addiction metaphor, the contradictory impulses of Christianity and African tribal traditions, faith vs magic, curated suburban luxury and urban poverty.
BONUS: These inner conflicts, faced daily by Black Americans, are synthesized into aural stunners — tribal chanting, gospel-rock, even industrial mechanical noise — thanks to Sam Waymon aka Nina Simone’s brother (!!) who composed the film’s original soundtrack.
WATCH GANJA & HESS ON AMAZON PRIME
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CAN YOU EVER FORGIVE ME? (2018)
Based on the true story of Lee Israel, a writer/biographer who truly did not give a fuck. Melissa McCarthy plays against her usual type (jolly, affable) as a frumpy disgruntled lesbian who prioritizes wit over friendship, which is always bound to end poorly. So is forging letters written by famous writers (Dorothy Parker, Noel Coward) and selling them to autograph dealers in dingy but alluring Upper West side bookstores — all of which thrill Lee and give her a deep swell of pride.
She also becomes best friends (her only friend, really) with a jaunty Englishman (Richard E. Grant: formerly Withnail, a Star Wars general, and currently owner of a two-foot statue of Barbara Streisand’s face), who has mischief and charm in spades to make up for her lack of it. They make prank calls and walk around eating three-foot baguettes from Zabar’s in the cold.
WATCH CAN YOU EVER FORGIVE ME? ON HULU