Saturday, Oct. 26, 3 p.m.
Lincoln Theatre, $9
Films about racial dynamics too often degenerate into Rasta vs. Aryan, distracting from the reality of racism’s ubiquitousness and letting those of us who don’t fit either of those categories off the hook. Complete Abandon‘s () two leads are a politically enlightened African-American student named Kenton and a predatory, white Californian cop named Paul. It’s obvious from the get-go that this is a really bad date waiting to happen when Paul pulls the bicycling Kenton over for a minor infraction and lets him go with a warning, establishing the power structure right off the bat. Paul courts Kenton aggressively via cruisey behavior and the occasional racist remark — remarks which Nerf right off of the supposedly progressive Kenton who, for unexplained reasons, doesn’t write the cop off as a complete schmuck.
A bit cut-and-dry for so complex an issue, the film nonetheless accomplishes a lot in just twenty minutes. Eric Newton is convincingly slimy as Paul, and Hasani Ali plays a likable, charming Kenton. But ultimately, both are so caricaturized — Kenton as the laid back, good-natured minority, Paul as the power-corrupted, abusive L.A. cop — that both characters come dangerously close to slipping into rigid parody, diluting what should be a sharp message.
That’s My Face
Much more effective at conveying its message is That’s My Face (), an poignant documentary about growing up in the Bronx in the Sixties, moving to Africa to find one’s roots, and finally, the surreal experience of returning to America. The old home movies that tell the story give the film a gorgeous authenticity — grainy, dull-colored celluloid images of the 1960s New York borough show intimate family occasions, street scenes and skylines. An intriguing — if, at times, sluggish — look at black America in the Sixties by someone who’s seen it from both sides of the ocean. — WD