Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Today's Locals Best Bet: Good Hair

[Film Fest] If you're a Locals Quick Pass Holder--or just a local movie-lover deciding what to wait-list--you've got some good choices tonight. Jeremy Mathews commented earlier today on The Cove, and I touched on the documentary Burma DJ over the weekend.

But you'll probably have the best time if you make a run at Good Hair (tonight, 9:30 p.m., Rose Wagner Center) – and not just because of the off-chance that Chris Rock might show up at the Rose. Rock serves as tour guide through a documentary exploration inspired by his young daughter’s question: “Daddy, why don’t I have good hair?” What follows is a frisky, enlightening 90-minute trip through the multi-billion dollar industry that caters to (primarily) black women, selling them toxic chemical “relaxers” and weaves that can cost thousands of dollars a year to maintain because “if you’re nappy, you’re not happy.”

As a piece of filmmaking, it’s somewhat uneven. Director Jeff Stilson spends an inordinate amount of time on a bizarre hairdressing competition at an annual expo for black hair-care products, a freak show with little to do with the actual subject at hand. And Stilson and Rock ultimately go a little – okay, a lot – easy on the question of whether this obsession with long, straight hair is actually a problem. But did you know that most hair-weave hair in America comes from a temple in India, where it’s ritually sacrificed by Hindus and becomes a pure-profit industry? Or that the artificial nature of so many black women’s hair makes it, er, problematic during sexual relations? I sure didn’t – and I sure didn’t expect to laugh so much while discovering it. (Scott Renshaw)

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