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June 2005
BLACK SNAKE MOAN preview: An Interview with Director Craig Brewer

BLACK SNAKE MOAN preview: An Interview with Director Craig Brewer

By Wilson Morales

While talking about his upcoming film, Hustle and Flow, which is now coming out on July 22nd, Director Craig Brewer gave me an insight as to his next film, Black Snake Moan. The film will star Samuel L. Jackson, Christina Ricci and Justin Timberlake.

Harry Knowles of www.aintitcoolnews.com had reported earlier that the film you are about do next, Black Snake Moan, is something similar to the cult classic I Spit on Your Grave? Is that true?

Craig Brewer: Yeah, I want to clear that up because Harry's right to report that but it's really in the visual esthetic. What blaxploitation movies were to Hustle and Flow, your dry then mud-slap honey moon shiner southern girl in daisy dukes shorts, that gator bait, I spit on your grave, that's kind of a visual esthetic, but I'm not doing a revenge pic. It's not like "Kill Bill" or anything like that. This is a movie where we are taking some of the most sexual and racially charged imagery and putting it into a movie where you look deeper and you find that these are human beings, but it is a movie that deals this wave of sexual addiction; this wave of heat that hits this character that Christina Ricci plays. At its core come fear and a place of addiction that she feels comfortable with; and then you have this old black man named Lazarus who used to play the blood buckets back in the day. He used to play the juke joints and he used to be a bluesman that would drink and would really go to dark places, but he's put that behind him now, and now he's found this girl, sort of beat up, on the side of the road and it's about him keeping her prisoner so she won't go out and have the whole town use her like a dusty doormat. Even though you think he has these good intentions in doing what he wants to do, he still wants to control the woman and his woman just left him and he's feeling a little bit cut off at the gut and he's angry and he wants to tell some little run around switch that you can't be doing that shit. It's this war where two people are looking at each other and they are chained to each other. Literally, he chains her on this long chain with about 20 foot of slack to this radiator and she can't leave. She can walk all throughout the house but she can't leave this little house in the country. So you look at the imagery of this old black country man with a white hot redneck girl on the end of a chain, and you are going to go "What?" But the same thing was said about a black pimp and a white hooker trying to make rap music. That's not all what the movie is about. The South is a collision course. There are so many things that have collided but that is ultimately what makes us all family. It makes us connected to each other where normally we wouldn't be connected. Music is very important in my work. The film movie I made was on DV and I was inspired by classical music even though it had a blues and some rap in it, it was primarily about classical music because it was about a car thief who stole a car from a girl who was a cello player and when he took her car she had this tape of cello music that she made; so he's a bouncer at a strip club and he's seen all these strippers dancing, and now he bought a walkman and listening to this classical music and his world has changed. He's like seeing it through a different soundtrack; and it's almost making him see the art in life. So if that film, Poor and Hungry, was about discovering art, then Hustle and Flow is about discovering creativity about making art. Black Snake Moan is about being caught in that wicked place. Everybody's thinking that the title is sexually suggestive, and sure, there is that twinge to it, but it an old Blind Lemon Jefferson Blues song called "Black Snake Moan" and "Black Snake Moan" is one of the wickedest blues songs ever. This is a song from back in 20s with,

I - I ain't got no mama now She told me late last night, "You don't need no mama no how" Mmm, mmm, black snake crawlin' in my room Mmm, mmm, black snake crawlin' in my room Some pretty mama better come and get this black snake soon

It's this thing that's in your mind; that's in your soul, that's in your gut, that's coming to get you because it knows yourself; and that what both of these characters that Sam Jackson and Christina Ricci play and they are battling their black snake moan.

What led you to cast Samuel Jackson? Was it the initial critical success of Hustle & Flow?

CB: You know what's interesting? Actors and actresses, especially actors and actresses of Samuel Jackson's and Christina Ricci's stature... Granted Samuel Jackson is one of the most successful stars of all-time. His movies gross more money than any other actor of all-time, but the man is an actor. He comes from the stage. He knows his shit. They want roles. They want to look at a role and go, "I going to make their mind. No one would be able to think of this role without me playing it." And actresses want the same thing. They all want challenging roles. The question is not if they want to do it; the question is "Is someone going to pay for it?" We can look at a "Monster's Ball" and of course, every woman wants to play Halle Berry's role, but that doesn't necessarily mean that the studio is going to want Halle Berry in "Monster's Ball". Now they would because they have to see it to believe it. I think what happened with "Black Snake Moan" is that that is a script that I thought nobody would want to make, but we found a really good home with Paramount. Paramount is really going in a really bold direction; in all directions, with high concept movies, but also consider the investment they made in "Hustle and Flow". That's something to be applauded because studios aren't putting that kind of muscle behind a movie with this subject matter or with this cast makeup. You don't think about that. It's something to be commended that they are pushing "Hustle and Flow". It's the battle cry of a new set of movies coming out.

When do you go into production?

CB: We start shooting in another 2 months.


BlackFilm - Black Snake Moan Page


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