Samuel L. Jackson
Timberlake isn’t even the film’s most pleasant surprise. No, that would be Samuel L. Jackson, who decided to actually act again! Jackson owns the character of Lazarus in a powerful way, a role that’s the best suited for him—and provokes his best performance—since PULP FICTION. The scene where he belts out the title song as a storm brews in the background, gives me chills every time. On the flip side, Christina Ricci holds her own as the sexy, yet severely damaged Rae. It would be easy for an impenitent sex addict to be a one-note character, but Ricci brings enough depth to her performance to make her condition realistic and her sobering transformation feel natural. And luckily her chemistry with Jackson is fantastic, which is a big key to movie’s success.
BLACK SNAKE MOAN is easily one of the best combinations of music and film I can remember. (If there is fair and just God, Samuel L. Jackson will perform at next year’s Oscars.) And not just in its soundtrack, but as a story that’s deeply rooted in the genre and culture of blues; every frame oozes a Southern Gothic feel and the music only heightens the pseudo-realistic mood. This makes the story seem like a parable for adults, full of metaphors and life lessons, and revolving around a really interesting dichotomy of gritty sexuality vs. religious redemption. It thankfully also has its fair share of humor, which is welcome given the controversial situation. As a whole, everything just comes together perfectly; the acting, the songs, the positive outlook, even the archival footage of Son House.
If you’re looking for a sleazy, cheesy sexploitation movie like the title and poster might suggest, you’re going to be disappointed. Brewer endowed every inch of BLACK SNAKE MOAN with compelling characters and a flat out good story. And aside from a couple raunchy scenes here and there, the movie works solely as an intimate character piece about two people who come to need each other in unexpected ways. And that was definitely more than I was expecting.
Commentary by writer/director Craig Brewer: The film obviously hits close to home for the filmmaker, as both a native of the blues scene and Tennessee (Ronnie’s trailer is actually Brewer’s aunt’s real trailer). The man has plenty of on-set stories and knowledge to share about the music and setting, enough so that to keep my interest the whole way through.
Conflicted: The Making of BLACK SNAKE MOAN (27:52): “This is some revolutionary shit. We’re tying up white women in Mississippi.”- producer John Singleton. Who can argue with that? All the cast and crew turn up here to give an overall look at filming. Since it’s a small production, it’s a lot of personal stories and not just your typical “I loved working with him!” PR fluff.
Rooted in the Blues (12:38): A fascinating look at what went in to selecting and creating the film’s music, from recording to mixing to teaching Sam Jackson the guitar. As a big blues fan, I can attest that Brewer and composer Scott Bomar know their stuff. Bringing in authentic local musicians, including R.L. Burnside’s grandson, accentuated the “down home” feel and makes for plenty of good stories.
The Black Snake Moan (9:02): A specific look (filming, editing music) at filming the title song sequence, which is probably my favorite part of the whole movie.
Deleted Scenes (12:23): These five scenes mainly delve a little deeper in to the relationship between the main characters, as well as Jackson’s romance with S. Epatha Merkerson.
A sultry Photo Gallery and some Previews.
Extra Tidbit: Not only did Samuel L. Jackson learn to play guitar for this movie, but he also did his own singing.