THE OBENSON REPORT

Covering Cinema From All Across The African Diaspora

You'll Never Work In This Town Again? - Part 2 - Theodore Witcher

I started this series almost 3 weeks ago as a sort of homage to those black filmmakers who enjoyed success (whether critically, commercially, or both) with their first feature films, and haven't been heard from since - a kind of "milk carton" alert you could say.

As I said in that initial post, I sometimes wonder what some of these filmmakers are doing today - whether they lost interest in filmmaking, whether they are indeed still productive, but are maybe creating work that I simply just don't know about; or whether they are putting their talents to work in other areas of the business. You can read that entire initial post HERE, where I started off by profiling Christopher Scott Cherot, the writer/director star of the 1998 indie hit, Hav Plenty.

I continue the series this week with a filmmaker whose one and only film is said to have helped start the trend of the so-called "buppie, urban" romantic comedies we saw in in the late 90s through the mid-2000s. Of course I'm referring to Theodore Witcher, and his 1998 forever loved opus, Love Jones.

I actually didn't see Love Jones until several years after its initial release - I'd say 2003/2004 - and I think that was to my detriment (and maybe the film's as well) because I had seen almost all the children it helped give birth to - I'm referring of course to films like The Best Man, Brown Sugar, Love And Basketball, Disappearing Acts, and some could even argue that my film, Beautiful Things belongs in that group). So, it felt dated. I tried to mentally place myself in 1997/98 when the film was initially released, hoping to embrace the zeitgeist of the time, so that I could maybe really understand the film's significance - at least as suggested by many cinephiles. But my attempts failed. That's not to say I thought it wasn't a decent film. I actually quite enjoyed it... but just not as intensely as others seem to have, or as I may have if I experienced its "novelty" in 1998.

But I suppose one can't deny that, what Boyz In The Hood did for "hood" movies in the early 90s, Love Jones did the same for "urban buppie romance" flicks of the late 90s through the early 21st century - a crown that I think Spike Lee's She's Gotta Have It certainly could have worn in its day, but had very little follow-through to afford it such a title.

Even though I do wonder if we're giving the film too much credit for the trend it supposedly started, I think it's obviously made its mark on black cinema, given how much I read and hear it referenced by black cinema lovers alike, constantly showing up on top 10 lists and such. And it will probably continue to be referenced for years to come.

So, certainly not what I'd call a flawless film, but one that could have gotten me excited to see what the filmmaker would have followed it up with. Too bad he never quite took advantage and satisfied the hype that accompanied Love Jones after its release.

A Google search turned up very little on Theodore Witcher - mostly Love Jones mentions as one would expect. On his IMDB page, he's only other credit is as writer of a film called Body Count, also a 1998 film which starred a post-NYPD Blue David Caruso, Ving Rhames and Forest Whitaker. Nothing to get excited about, from all I read about it. Like Chris Cherot, I could only find 1 single picture of him - the one you see above. Granted I didn't search too deeply, meaning there might be some information about him online that I missed altogether. So, if anyone has any knowledge of Theodore Witcher's current whereabouts and dealings, please let the rest of us know. I'd like to have seen where his talents would have taken him - hopefully Body Count was strictly a paycheck job.

4 comments:

  1. The Sujewa said...
     

    Hey Tambay,

    Got yer e-mail re: The Indie Film Bloggers doc, sent a reply (if you don't see it, let me know), get back to me re: it when you can. Thanks.

    - Sujewa
    Director, The Indie Film Bloggers

  2. UK Black Chick aka Wendy said...
     

    I remember seeing this when it came out! It had a theatrical release over here - OK, not a particuarly wide release (doubt it showed anywhere outside London), but it showed in a cinema near me for a couple of weeks, at least - no mean feat, that!

    People kept telling me I MUST see this movie, pretty sure that I'd love it. I certainly liked it a great deal! After all the hood movies this was a breath of fresh air and something I could relate to. At this juncture I must confess that, whilst I did watch perhaps all the hood movies, they were mostly alien to me - fascinating, yet alien.

    Sadly, the follow-ups from the genre that 'Love Jones' is generally given credit for spawning didn't leave too much impact on me. Perhaps because I only got to see many of them on TV some many years after their initial release.

    And you mention that 'She's Gotta Have It' should perhaps have worn the crown as the forebear of the genre but for lack of follow-up. Perhaps. But, for its proximity in time, I think that crown should maybe have gone to 'Poetic Justice,' a movie I got to see in the cinema on a visit to the US, but which I found somewhat disappointing - it didn't help that I'd convinced friends to see it with me instead of whatever the Hollywood blockbuster offering at the time was, and they thought it was a waste of time. I do remember being impressed with Tupac... Maybe I should watch that again.

  3. LOVE MAKI said...
     

    The Making of 'Love Jones'

    Fifteen years later, director Theodore Witcher discusses his first film and why he's never made another.
    By: Hillary Crosley | Posted: March 13, 2012 at 12:04 AM

    http://www.theroot.com/views/love-jones-director-remembers-beloved-classic

  4. Cristina Sasso said...
     

    I can't wait to see another film like this in theaters!

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