In honor of Black History Month, The Frida Cinema dedicates our monthly series The Directors, in which we traditionally program four films by one acclaimed director, to four extraordinary, groundbreaking films which marked the feature film debuts of some of cinema’s most celebrated, visionary, and uncompromising African American voices. Join us as we present our February edition of The Directors: Jordan Peele’s Get Out, John Singleton’s Boyz n the Hood, Charles Burnett’s Killer of Sheep, and Dee Rees’ Pariah.
Director John Singleton made history as both the first Black artist to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Director, as well as the youngest at just 24, with his revolutionary 1991 debut Boyz n the Hood. When young Tre (Cuba Gooding Jr.), a bright underachiever, begins to show signs of trouble, his struggling mother (Angela Basset) sends him to live with his father (Lawrence Fishburne), a hard-nosed, no-nonsense disciplinarian, in South Central Los Angeles. There he befriends Ricky (Morris Chestnut), a burgeoning football star, and Doughboy (Ice Cube, in a standout performance), a would-be gang banger. Over the years, each chooses his own path: Tre seems bound for college; Ricky is a blue-chip running back with his pick of schools; and Doughboy is a drug-dealing gangster who drifts in and out of the county juvenile facility. When Doughboy incurs the wrath of a rival gang, the repercussions force the otherwise diplomatic Tre into considering the kind of the violence and retribution that seems to plague the streets around him – and his stern father has spent his life trying to steer him away from.
Filmed on location in South Central Los Angeles on a modest budget of $6.5 Million, Boyz N the Hood was 1991’s most financially successful film in terms of investment, with a gross of $56.1 million. A deeply personal project for Singleton, who was dissatisfied about the narrative of gang-related films at the time (notably, Colors for being a film about South Central Los Angeles in which both protagonists are white, and New Jack City for essentially being a music video ripe with style and stereotypes), Boyz n the Hood is a thematically rich, expertly directed and acted drama that manages to be knowingly cinematic – brilliantly utilized bookend references to fellow coming-of-age film Stand by Me, heavy visual symbolism from the very first frame) – while providing an intimate, palpable, street-level view of a neighborhood and community that, until then, had been otherwise relegated to six o’clock news sensationalism.
Sunday, February 11 – 3:30pm, 8pm
Sunday, February 11 – 3:30pm, 8pm
Monday, February 12 – 1:30pm, 8pm
Tuesday, February 13 – 1:30pm, 8pm
“The violence in Boyz N the Hood is neither gratuitous nor melodramatic; its aftermath is shattering. Singleton’s powerhouse movie has the impact of a stun gun.” – David Ansen, Newsweek
“Like a jazz ensemble, Singleton and his actors slowly involve us in an almost sensual melange of moods, images and situations that take us inside the ghetto in a way mainstream films almost never do.” – Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times
“Boyz N the Hood is a passionate drama shot with fluency and style, a study of what amounts to life during wartime, with people grimly used to gunfire and helicopters thudding overhead.” – Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian