Throwback Movie of the Month: She’s Gotta Have It (1986)

People assume that because I am a film critic I have seen every movie ever made. Contrary to popular belief, I have not! Matter of fact, I just watched Scarface (1982) for the first time this past week. And this whole time I thought it was an Italian mafia movie, but really it follows a thuggish Cuban on his way to the top of a drug cartel.

I know it looks like I know all things related to movies, but I don’t. And that’s the beauty of this job! In my free time, I am able to watch some of other people’s favorite movies just to form my own opinion about it. This month’s throwback movie is Spike Lee’s very first feature-length film, She’s Gotta Have It.

She's Gotta Have It

Nola Darling (Tracy Camilla Johns) is young, sexy, and terrorizing local Brooklyn men with her bold moves and striking confidence. Her boldest move was juggling THREE at one time. Her manly roster included:

(1) Jamie (Tommy Redmond Hicks): The Stand-Up Guy. After falling in love with Nola, Jamie fights for her commitment, but quickly realizes that her judgement is clouded with sex and attention.

(2) Greer (John Canada Terrell): The Show-Off. Materialistic and self-centered, the over-the-top model was concerned about what he could do for Nola rather than what he can do with her.

(3) Mars (Spike Lee): The Silly Boy. Begging reached a whole new level with Mars, a goofy small-time guy willing to share his beloved Nola.

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Spike Lee, who employs his sister, Joie Lee, for a role in She’s Gotta Have It, is like the Black Adam Sandler. Other than his sister, actors like Denzel Washington, Samuel L. Jackson. and Giancarlo Esposito have all been in more than one Spike Lee film. I love the fact that he keeps the circle tight, but he’s also willing to step out on a new actor. Overall, Mr. Lee keeps good, consistent actors in his movies.

The Morale of the Story

Ladies, we have all been there. Very rarely do women marry straight out of adolescence. As an adult, there’s some fishing around that has to occur before you find your prized trout. With all of its complicated elements, the dating field means having a few men on the bench AND on bases in order to find the all-star. I’ve been Nola Darling a few times and making those commitment decisions comes with maturity and trust. There’s no need to put all my eggs in a raggedy basket.

Let’s address the double standard too! If a man shuffles more than one woman then he’s labeled as a bachelor, pimp, or gigolo. But if a woman even lusts after more than one man, she’s cursed as a hoe, slut, and home wrecker. Every man is curious about the promiscuity of a woman with multiple male options. On the other end, fellow women scold her with a scarlet letter and put an all-points bulletin out about the new town whore. It’s not fair!

3 Stars: I gave Spike Lee an extra star because it was his very first major film project. She’s Gotta Have It clearly shows Spike’s amateur ability; however, the film sets the foundation for even better movies to follow like Do The Right Thing (1989), Malcolm X (1992), and Crooklyn (1994). I particularly enjoyed the color contrasts of different scenes. For the most part the movie was in black and white, but occasionally, we got a splash of color.

Throwback Movie of the Month- Just Another Girl on the I.R.T. (May 2013)

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Reed and Roberts, D Building. Aunt Angie’s Apartment. 7 Years Old. Everybody knew that my Aunt Angie had all the movies. Remember, when you had to sometimes untangle the film with the VHS movies or blow it like a Nintendo game because the movie was messing up. Not at my Aunt Angie’s house. All the movies were in order, they were crisp, and they were clear!

I was never too fond of her scary movie collection like Nightmare on Elm Street or Friday the 13th, but at the tender age of 7, I fell in love with the 1992 film Just Another Girl on the I.R.T. Written and directed by Leslie Harris, the movie is about a Brooklyn teenager whose college bound dreams are derailed with a pregnancy.
Like most little girls in the projects, Chantell Mitchell (Ariyan A. Johnson) aspired to be something greater than her current situation. Her, her parents, and her two little brothers were packed into a small 3 bedroom apartment in the projects. Chantell is clearly very intelligent but her capability is quickly overshadowed with her boisterous, outspoken demeanor.

While in a relationship, Chantell meets a new boy toy, Tyrone (Kevin Thigpen). Ty, as she called him, seemed to have it all; a car, money, and the freedom to do whatever he wanted. Captivated by Ty’s life luxuries, Chantell fell for him instantly. She gets pregnant and goes through many lengths to hide the pregnancy by alienating her family and friends and wearing big clothes. Chantell undergoes a traumatic baby delivery on Ty’s bed. Ty pulls a Brenda’s-Got-A-Baby move and places the baby in the garbage can. Full of remorse, Ty removes the baby from the garbage can and returns to the house. In the end, she keeps the baby and enrolls into the local community college.

Where’s Ariyan?
What happened to Ariyan A. Johnson? She was young, beautiful and talented. After Just Another Girl on the I.R.T., it’s as if she fell off the face of the Earth. I stumbled across her website and it seems as if she’s continued to work as an actress, writer, producer, dancer and choreographer. But I’ve only seen her on the Steve Harvey Show as Romeo’s girlfriend. Ariyan Johnson could have been the next Halle Berry. I guess we’ll never know. Good luck to Ms. Johnson!!!

5 STARS: For this movie to be an independent film, I thought Leslie Harris did a beautiful job of depicting the everyday challenges of young Black girls. It doesn’t matter your economic status, Black teenage girls problems are synonymous across the world. Great Movie!

(If you want to see Just Another Girl on the I.R.T., you can borrow my copy for $5.35 per night (tax included) or you can grab it off of Amazon.com for $9.99)

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