An Affair to Rememblack / Dustin Rowles
Film Reviews | July 15, 2009 | Comments ()
I’m not usually a fan of remakes, especially remakes of classic movies (and An Affair to Remember is considered by many to be the most romantic movie of all time), but there’s something surreally amazing about John Singleton’s modernized version. What makes A Blaffair to Rememblack work is its discordance — the individual parts are wildly bizarre, but the sum of them is like combining a Vanilla Frosty with McDonald’s French fries. No. It shouldn’t work. The thought of it, in fact, is remarkably repulsive. But the combination of sweet and salt is like Rememblack’s combination of old and new, black and white, classic and crass. It’s divine, nothing short of inspired. Singleton has created an almost perfect cinematic dish.
The success of A Blaffair to Remeblack starts with its star, Tracey Jordan (Honky Grandma Be Trippin’, President Homeboy), who takes on the role that Cary Grant made famous. It’s the role of Jordan’s lifetime, and the only thing that stood between him and an Oscar statue that year were racist white men and Gordon from Sesame Street (the Academy also didn’t look favorably on Jordan’s personal life — you’ll recall that A Blaffair to Remeblack was released the same year Jordon mistook Conan O’Brien for a robot and stabbed him). Jordan, whose modernized version of Nickie Ferrante is a hip-hop producer and vampire, fits in the role as well as he does into the black-leather track pants his character wears throughout most of the film. Surprisingly for a guy known more for his comedy (notably, Fat Bitch), he plays the character straight, but there’s something in Jordan’s eyes that takes his Nickie to a different level, a glimmer of pure crazy, perhaps. He walks through the film as though he learned fried chicken at the school of hard knocks. But there’s also a deep sadness to his character — Nickie is a vampire convinced he’s a great golfer, but he’ll never get to prove it. A nocturnal creature, he’s forced to spend his life in dance clubs and 24-hour diners.
Although he’s engaged to another vampire (his real-life wife, Angie, in a small cameo), Nickie has his meet cute with Terry (Jordan’s Sumarai I Am Awry co-star, Bai Ling) after hours at an IHOP. Unbeknownst to Nickie, Terry is a prostitute, who is engaged to her pimp (Terrence Howard). Drunk and exhausted after a night’s worth of tricks, a disoriented Terry returns to the wrong booth after a trip to the restroom, and before she’s realized it, she’s half an hour into a conversation with the charming Nickie. The two hit it off immediately; they spend most of the night walking the streets of Manhattan — he never mentions he’s a vampire, and she never works up the nerve to tell him that she fucks strange men in ski masks for a living. As day breaks unexpectedly, Nickie hastily makes excuses so that he can get back to his windowless penthouse, and they agree to meet each other the next night, Ludachristmas, on top of the Empire State Building at midnight.
You probably already know how the plot unfolds from there — Terry’s fiance/pimp discovers that she’s been with another man, and throws her down a flight of stairs, breaking her leg. Nickie shows up at the Empire State Building the next night and is crestfallen when Terry doesn’t show. It’s devastating for him. Meanwhile, wheelchair bound after the fall, Terry takes the opportunity to get out of the business, becoming an adult video-game designer. Terry and Nickie don’t meet again until a year later, at a Chuck E. Cheese’s in Korea town. Nickie can only bring himself to say “freaky-deekies need love to” before slinking off.
I don’t want to say anymore and spoil the ending (let’s just say it involved a lot of cornbread and blood), but I will say this: A Blaffair to Rememblack may not be ultimately as romantic as An Affair to Remember, but it’s less tedious, thanks to the presence of Jordan. He breathes more life into the story than a thousand Meg Ryan crocodile tears. And when Jordan peeks around the couch and realizes that Terry is injured during the final scenes … well, if it doesn’t tug at your heart just a little bit, then you’re either dead inside, part of the Black Crusaders, or Dakota Fanning.
Dustin Rowles is the publisher of Pajiba. He lives withi his wife and son in Portland, Maine You can reach him via email, or leave a comment below.