TROUBLE CITY

MANDALAY LOOKS SOUTH

Movie NewsRuss FischerComment

 With Ice Cube and Tyler Perry as the loudest voices of the moment, the state of mainstream black filmmaking is so rancid that any new venture is likely to be met with either open arms of joy or deep suspicion. (Spike can't carry an entire culture on his shoulders, though I know he tries, and love him for it.)


So when I read in Variety that Mandalay Alliance Entertainment has implemented a plan to produce films representing a ‘young, multicultural lifestyle’ I’m split between conflicted approaches. But mostly, I feel like that guy standing at the back of the room when an unknown stand-up hits the stage, looking serious and waiting to be won over.

The effort is getting under way with two films. One, a romantic comedy written by and starring Omar Epps – an actor with a certain reserve of goodwill, memories of The Mod Squad notwithstanding – called Love Can’t Hide. The other, Sundays In Fort Greene, stars and will be produced by the increasingly ubiquitous Meagan Good, and directed by Ty Hodges, who also wrote and called the shots on Good’s Miles From Home.

Say what you will about the increasingly tired romantic comedy (usually, I’d say lots) but I’ll take a half-dozen more over Tyler Perry’s recycled chitlin cinema in the same way I wouldn’t pause before kicking Perry off a cliff.

Here’s the thing, though. Guys like Tyler Perry have done good for regional filmmaking; I know a good number of crewpersons and several business ventures in the Atlanta area who’ve made a good living filling out the roster on one Perry production after another. So I’m psyched to see that one of the minor financiers for Mandalay’s output is Candescent Pictures which is affiliated with Lab601, one of Atlanta’s biggest post-production houses. The plan is currently to put these films through post there. That makes me suspect one of two things: either there’s a genuine commitment to making a handful of films with a real voice, or Peter Guber, from his Mandalay Entertainment Group chairman’s desk, has realized that Tyler Perry is making money hand over fist and wants to clone the process.