God bless the Mary who squealed, “I don’t believe this shit!” during the press screening of the hysterical Cover, a film that purports—without a shred of artistry, wit, or compassion—to blow the lid on all the mens living on the DL in Philly’s luxe African-American community. The batshit craziest film any of us will see this year, Cover seems to have been made in reverence to the cultural writings of bell hooks, but Bill Duke’s latest doesn’t have a clue: Fo shizzle, if it doesn’t attain the well-deserved status of a camp classic, only the straight-to-video aesthetic will be to blame. Ladies and gentleman, BET’s answer to Citizen Kane, beginning with frazzled housewife Valerie (Aunjanue Ellis) declaring, “I’m a Christian, not a murderer,” and recollecting for a mortified Louis Gossett Jr. and embarrassingly overzealous Clifton Davis the events leading up to her hilarious interrogation. Important to the filmmakers is how Valerie’s fingerprints ended up on the murder weapon, how Valerie caught her husband with another man (gay doesn’t mean sucking cock here, only soaping up another man’s back), and the role the twitchy woman in her church group plays in her salvation. Important to me, though, is how Patti LaBelle, bringing it to church in one of the un-churchiest church scenes you will ever see, makes a case for why a gay man should be part of her support group for women with problems with cheating partners, only to then say to Miss Thing, “My son Randy just came out of the closet, do you know him?” Also close to my heart is how a clueless white person is hidden in the background of every scene (it would make a great drinking game: Where’s Honkey!), how Vivica A. Fox’s performance suggests a say-no-drugs advert, and how Mya—oh my God—acquires HIV, and how Valerie’s sojourn to room 3118 inside a Philly hotel tries to be scarier than John Cusack’s trip to room 1408, and how Roger Guenveur Smith tries to do Al Pacino (or Thurston Howell III) during one exterior scene, and how every man in the film macks on other men the same exact way (something about dust being caught in one’s eye), and how I will never hear the words “get on your knees” again without thinking of Valerie waving a wooden cross in my face. Lionel Ritchie’s corny-as-shit “Hello”: consider yourself served!
- American Cinema International
- 96 min
- Bill Duke
- Aaron Rahsaan Thomas, Aliya Jackson
- Aunjanue Ellis, Louis Gossett Jr., Clifton Davis, Raz Adoti, Vivica A. Fox, Roger Guenveur Smith, Paula Jai Parker, Leon, Johnnie Hobbs Jr., Karen Vicks
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