Welcome Message - From Filmmaker Tim Alexander

Welcome to the "Diary Of A Tired Black Man" Movie Blog. Please visit: www.tiredblackman.com for more info.

I created the "Tired Black Man" (TBM) Blog to focus on the impact this film has on people after viewing it.

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Thursday, March 5, 2009

Film Review - AllMoviePortal.com

Diary of a Tired Black Man (2009)
Doug MacLean

Documentaries are a very special branch of the art of cinema. It’s purpose can range from entertainment to instruction usually based on some true events or controversial subject. The documentary can put you in the middle of history or show you the lives of regular people that otherwise you would never be aware of. The genre grew out of the old theatrical newsreels. Back in the day long before television took hold of almost every home in the country, people would go to the movie houses and stay for the entire evening. During that time you would get to watch a feature film, a secondary flick, a few cartoons and a newsreel. This was the way that facts and opinions were expressed, and lead directly to a lengthier version that we now call the documentary. Now it is one of the only genres to get it's own category in many award shows - including the much lauded Academy Awards; the genre is that special and different. Over time, the documentary would take on many varied forms. Some documentary film makers keep a distance from their subject. Others insert themselves directly into the action. It may seem that the format has become routine and some may say even hackney, but there is hope in the horizon. Independent film maker Tim Alexander has come up with an extremely fresh and novel approach to this type of film with his work ‘Diary of a Tired Black Man’. He uses professional actors to play out a situation to invoke an emotional response in his audience. Many documentaries have used actors for reenactments of scenes that occurred in history but this movie combines the documentary with the comedy drama with stunning results. The uniqueness of this film does not stop with its construction and presentation. The marketing involved a model that will certainly become heavily used as time goes on. A three minute clip was posted on the internet and soon made its way around the world. This served to tease the viewers and greatly increase the anticipation for the full film. The film had some showings in various Indy film festivals but its wide release will be through its DVD premiere handled by Magnolia Home Entertainment. They have always managed to locate the little gems out there in the independent film world and bring them into the house of movie buffs everywhere.

This is the first film for Tim Alexander and like many new film makers has taken on more than one hat for the production. He is a true renaissance man capable of handing just about every job function needed in a film crew. It is not unusual for one person to take on writing, direction and production but that is only the tip of the iceberg for Alexander. He wrote the musical score, designed the sets, handled the makeup, wardrobe, sound and worked the camera. It isn’t mentioned in the credits but I would not be surprised if he also cooked and served at the craft service table. To say this was an ambitious undertaking for Alexander would be a gross understatement and a disservice to the man. What is most amazing is this was his initial foray into all of these jobs. If you looked at his resume with all these jobs on a single film you most likely wouldn’t believe it at all. The most incredible thing is the fact that Alexander wildly succeeds in each of these functions; he is a one man film school. Needless to say this movie is a work of love for him. This is something that jumps off the screen and pulls the audience in; the sheer love for cinema that Alexander possesses. This is completely his project.

As the title of the film lets on, this movie focuses on relationships in the African American community. While the viewpoints are somewhat specific to this portion of our society, the issues at the heart of the film are universal in nature. No matter what ethnic group you happen to belong to themes such as passion, love, hate and revenge are part of your emotional makeup. The movie examines the difficulty between black men and women in maintaining a healthy relationship. It does touch on some of the unique and very specific circumstances, history and obstacles that face African Americans, but can be translated to one degree or another to anyone. It treads the fine line between being so general as to lose its impact and being overly critical of a single group. This is a raw and at times an emotionally draining film to watch. There is purity to the way the actors let loose on each other that are captivating even if painful at times to view. Alexander certainly knew that he was going to stir up a hornet’s nest with the release of this movie. Members of the black community are sure to be divided with what they take away from viewing this film. The part of the focus that is less universal in the most important to the production in many ways. Alexander wanted to expose the effects of tradition, media expectation and prejudice on the black relationship. While all groups have their own variations and will be able to use that to appreciate the film it is targeted and acts as magnifying glass to bring all the harsh details to light. It is this juxtaposition of the highly specific to the general that makes this a brilliant work.

The film stars Jimmy Jean-Louis who plays the mind bending superhero Haitian on the NBC television series ‘Heroes’. Here he portrays James, a black man who is just trying to navigate the murky waters of relationships. The first shot of him is James sitting back having a cup of coffee as he reads an entry from the titular diary. In the time in point he went to pick up his daughter from the home of his ex-wife, Tonya (Paula Lema). Also there, however, were Tonya’s three friends. The big mistake that James made in the eyes of his ex and her friends was to show up with a white woman in the car. This is shown in the original three minute clip presented in the film window box format for effect. As Tonya meets James at the door, the attack immediately escalates. She is resentful not only that he dare to bring another woman to pick up his daughter but the fact that she is white is too much. Tonya taunts him saying that he couldn’t find a black woman who would lay down and let him walk over her. James does try to keep his composure throughout the heated exchange as the friends begin to chime in with their own sharp barbs. James does point out a bit of possible hypocrisy since one of Tonya’s friends is dating a white man. They twist that around on James in short order.

The film stays true to the documentary style throughout. It is gritty and realistic, with a power to it that is amazing. Some may argue that this is just another drama but it is far more. It is a documentary in the sense that it takes a real situation and presents it through the perception of the filmmaker. While the characters may be portrayed by actors and extremely talented ones at that, there is a reality here that is rarely if ever caught in a standard film. This is an important piece of cinema and one that should not be missed.

© Doug MacLean


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