Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Still Jonesin'

I remember it like yesterday: March 14, 1997, when a college friend and I decided to check out a Friday night movie at the Rivertowne Theater in Oxon Hill, Maryland. A new urban, contemporary love story being advertised as "a hip when Harry Met Sally" was debuting and from what we could gather from the trailer (sorry, no social media buzz back then), it was reflecting everything we were at the time: progressive young black adults, fresh out of college, starting our careers, and navigating our first real adult relationships. From the moment the theater lights went down and Darius Lovehall--played by a still new Larenz Tate, fresh off the heels of his polar opposite O-Dog character in "Menace II Society"--began to recite his spoken word piece, "A Blues for Nina," for the gorgeous Nia Long, we were hooked. And I, for one, was never the same.

Everything about Love Jones was, in a word, authentic. From the poetry to the brother-sister-like friendships to the ish talkin' over a game of Spades to the deep chats while shooting pool to the candid conversations in the back of cabs to the lovemaking sessions and the make ups and break ups to the final mad dash through a train station to save love, Love Jones was telling the story of Black relationships, in all of its complexities and glories, and looked damn good doing it in the process (not to mention, making cheese omelettes forever mad sexy). 

That is why on today, 20 years later, it still stands firm as one of cinematic history's great Black love stories and why when it was honored at the American Black Film Festival Awards last month, it received a long overdue standing ovation, which even I gave in my own living room. Although it never became a box office hit, only raking in a little over $12 million dollars at the box office, it became something much more important: a cult(ure) classic and a reminder, every time you see it, that Black love is worth believing in, rooting for, and celebrating.

So, on that note, I'll simply say "cheers" to one of the best love stories of all time and to one of the best directors that ever did it--a then 24-year-old Theodore Witcher. Besides, the Centric Network is showing the movie in celebration of its 20th as I type this, and as Darius Lovehall would say, "...this here, right now, at this very moment, is all that mattes to me...and that's urgent like a muthaf*cka." Love you, Love Jones. Always have. Always will.