CultureFilm / TV

AFROPUNK Cinema Noir: Dear Hollywood, Keep Your Hands Off These Movies 90s Black Movies, We Don’t Need A Remake.

May 24, 2023

Since no one is standing up to say anything, I feel it’s time we put a stop to the ridiculous trend of Hollywood remaking classic movies that we all love.  I can’t remember when last I went to the cinema to see an original movie from big Hollywood studios. Right now, if you were to check upcoming movies, I am sure it’s sequels, spin-offs and the unnecessary remakes that nobody asked for. I get, we all love nostalgia, and we all want to relive precious moments from our childhood, but our emotional connection to some movies is rooted in the context, culture and socio-political climate of that time, which can’t be replicated for this day & age. For example, Hype Williams’ “Belly” perfectly captures the intersection between hip hop and street life, with New York as a gritty setting that is far from what it is today. The intro scene alone sets the tone of what the late 90s felt like and that can’t be replicated by Hollywood.

Another problem I have with Hollywood’s obsession with remaking 90s movies is that, this creates a barrier for original Black stories relevant to this era, that could be told. There are plenty of exciting new Black directors, script writers and producers with amazing content, who are often overlooked for the sake of remakes because they bring money for studios. Instead of remaking classic Black movies from the 90s, Hollywood should focus on addressing the underlying issues that led to the lack of representation and diversity in the industry. By investing in new projects and supporting emerging Black talent, the industry can work towards creating more inclusive opportunities and narratives that reflect the experiences of marginalized communities today, rather than relying on past successes.

One may argue that the remakes serve as a way to introduce Gen-Zs to the culture, and i say eff that. Gen-Zs should not be subjected to “experience” a waterdown version of the 90s culture, but rather be given an opportunity to have their own classics that reflect this era that they’re are experiencing. Some of the movies in the 90s were not even that dope when you watch them now, but because of the memories attached to those times, they hold a special place in our hearts. Imagine reinventing Pookie from “New Jack City” and thinking these new age kids will relate.

With that being said, here are some of my favorite movies from the 90s that Hollywood should not touch:

Jason’s Lyric: Dir: Doug McHenry

Despite being too young and having no business watching this movie at the first time I saw it, I was blown away. It had romance, violence and touched on the after effects of incarceration young black men face when they return to society. The story about two mentally scarred brothers who choose different paths in dealing with their tragic childhood. When the older brother found love, he starts facing tough choices: continue to feel family responsibility for his younger brother, or follow his heart to be with his girlfriend.

Set It Off: Dir: F.Gary Gray

A couple of years ago there was a rumour that Set It Off would have a remake directed by Issa Rae. As much as I love Issa, I just think somethings should be left untouched. Set It Off was a unique story in the 90s because it dared to put four Black women as anti-heroes that everyone was routing for. The originality and casting was so perfect, I can’t see anyone else telling that story in a different way than what we already have. Also who would dare take on the role of “Cleo” after Queen Latifah murked that role?

Boyz n The Hood: Dir: John Singleton

Man I promise you, if anyone dares to touch this movie, I will literally find them and vigorously shake my finger at them. This is undoubtedly one of the movies that perfectly depicts themes of race, family dynamics, violence and challenges faced by Black people in the disadvantaged communities. It’s a coming of age story that shows young men trying to navigate and avoiding pitfalls of their neighborhood. A perfect directorial debut for John Singleton and I don’t think this deserves to be remade at all.

Boomerang: Dir: Reginald Hudlin

Again, I had no business watching this movie at the age of 10, but hey, these were the 90s and we had videotapes that were passed around and you wouldn’t know what was in it till you popped it in the VCR. Anyway, I believe this was the first Black romantic comedy movie I watched. Even though I didn’t understand the concepts depicted at the time, as I got older, I appreciated how they stayed away from the 90s tropes of violence and drugs in the hood. Also what made this movie memorable was the soundtrack, Boyz To Men’s video for “End Of The Road” always made me want to watch this movie. Also, seeing Halle Berry for the first time on screen…those were the best days.

Brown Sugar: Dir: Rick Famuyiwa

There are two things I really like, movies and music. Combine those two together and you have me hooked, and that’s what director Rick Famuyiwa excels in with the movie, Brown Sugar. Technically, Brown Sugar came out in 2002, but who cares, this is about movies that don’t need a remake. The story of Sid & Dre is a perfect love story that shows how two people destined for each other will overcome any obstacles to be together, even if those obstacles are themselves. The movie perfectly intertwines the music and the scenes together in such a way you can’t experience one without the other. One of the best soundtracks ever, and it gave us classics like the title track by Mos Def, Erykah Badu & Common’s “Love Of My Life”, Angie Stone’s “Bring Your Heart” and Jill Scott’s “Easy Conversation”. So why would anyone dare to try and remake this classic?

The above are some of my favorite movies from the 90s that played a pivotal role in shaping my perspective on society, love and who I am as a person. I can only pray that the Hollywood execs see this article and have a conscious to leave these classics untouched.