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NOLA DARLING, a Spike Lee-inspired joint on Netflix


Spike Lee's first films are his best work: sensual, ballsy and colorful. She's Gotta Have It was, alongside with Do The Right, the two SL joint that made me want to see and know more about his view on the world. Now, many years later Brooklyn, as seen by Spike Lee, is back under the skies and view points of Nola Darling, produced by Netflix, the streaming network taking over our minds. No worries, Amazon, Billions is also cool and well-written.

Nola Darling is not without flaws - a bit cheesy, a tad obvious -, but its nonetheless insightful, musically rich, and sensual as ever. All wrapped in a character interpretation that can handle it all.

“I consider myself abnormal,” she says, in a direct-to-camera monologue that takes a bit of getting used to, “but who wants to be like anybody else?” But why this kind of abnormal, the world around her asks. Doesn’t she ever feel like “giving [her] coochie a rest?” (from her best friend). Is she a sex addict? (from Childs).

Contexts change, contexts remain the same: “She is a woman who is juggling three men, and I think there are more women like that now,” Lee said in an interview with feminist scholar Salamishah Tillet, “but the way those women are judged hasn’t necessarily changed as far as men go.” (via The Guardian)

"Brooklyn has changed, but that film’s resonance hasn’t; if anything, as the rest of the world has caught up to the radical independence of Nola Darling (Tracy Camilla Johns in the film; DeWanda Wise in the Netflix series), her quest to live free, bold, and unencumbered as a black woman feels more relevant than ever. The 1986 film climaxes on a brutal scene, before depicting a Nola that goes on to live her unattached, artistic existence with or without the men who try to keep up with her. The 2017 series introduces a millennial Nola Darling, with the same three lovers and the same refusal to be tied down. But thanks to changing times, many of her other concerns are different. In 1986, Nola never worried about rent; in 2017, staring down encroaching hipsters, she’s struggling to make ends meet every month. Wise’s Nola describes herself as queer and polyamorous; she knows her lexicon and her rights, and she engages with her own struggle through both articulated ideals and an enveloping, progressive art scene. In a hilarious early moment, she shies away from therapy, but throws herself into psychic consultations and spiritual healing with the kooky dedication of an arty bohemian. Nola is wearing a $500 dress and worried about her electricity being turned off; she is on friendly terms with both the homeless black man on her steps and the new white homeowner next door. She is smoking joints in bed and staggering home drunk and crying during an especially transporting orgasm; she is very, very Brooklyn." (Variety)



nola darling

"he series’ blend of humour, drama and social critique would probably curdle in the hands of anyone other than Lee – not to mention its audacious set-pieces (there’s a musical number, lyrics on-screen, about the “klown” Donald Trump). But Lee manages to make the whole thing magnificent. Newcomer DeWanda Wise is stunning too, with a wit and steely warmth that defies you to judge her character’s life decisions. [...] for all its supporting characters, this is Nola’s story, and she has more pressing things to worry about than her lovers’ insecurities. Her art doesn’t pay the rent for her Fort Greene apartment, so she has to work a handful of side jobs in the increasingly gentrified Brooklyn neighbourhood in which she grew up. Gentrification is clearly at the forefront of Lee’s mind here – at one point Nola compares it to the colonisation of Native Americans. So too is society’s treatment of women – particularly black women – from subtle micro-aggressions to full-on assault. Nola experiences both, but channels these incidents into paintings and anonymous street art." (Telegraph)

"It would be a kiss of death to call this an “issues-based dramedy”, but it is a drama, it is comic, and it does have issues. When female desire is acknowledged as a force in its own right, which it almost never is, why is that still so threatening? Why is it pathologised and what does that do to female autonomy? Alongside that, before “intersectionality” had been coined (though not long before), the original film had this driving curiosity: what happens if you take the gender who aren’t allowed erotic agency (women) , and the race who aren’t allowed sexual expression (people of colour) , and you unite those in one lascivious character?" (The Guardian)

Tags:   netflix, news, television, Spike Lee, film news, Nota Darling

Related:   She's Gotta Have It



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