Review: THE COLORED FOLKS GOOD TIME HOUR at Vincent Victoria Presents

a dazzling new movie from Vincent Victoria Presents and Brave Roots Films

By: Dec. 15, 2022
Review: THE COLORED FOLKS GOOD TIME HOUR at Vincent Victoria Presents
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THE COLORED FOLKS GOOD TIME HOUR is the second feature film from the Vincent Victoria company, and based on his previously produced theatrical play STARRING CHERRY COLA PITTS. It's a biting satire that imagines a world where an unapologetically queer black man is host of a television show that tops the ratings in 1950s America. The character initially emerged from a fever dream sequence of his production company's first feature film BLAQUE TCHERIE. He's a curious chap... a man who presents himself in male clothing with a booming voice, but one that also has a penchant for full make-up and wigs. He's not a drag queen, but a man that lives halfway between male and female. He speaks directly about gay issues, black issues, and any kind of issues you can imagine. He's funny as all heck and has a sly sexuality that will take you by surprise. I find him delicious, and hopefully movie audiences will as well.

There is something freeing about seeing a black man in a wig talking candidly about racism and homophobia, and that is the central conceit for THE COLORED FOLKS GOOD TIME HOUR. The narrative around this character is simple... he's at the top of the ratings right now, and a handful of people want him to take a tumble. Some threats come from inside his own cast and crew, while others are disgruntled studio execs who don't understand why Cherry is so damn popular. It seems everyone would be more content to have someone who is more "assimilated" into the fabric of white American 1950s culture. Even Cherry knows this simple truth, and in fact performs a show stopping number about this very topic.

The film concentrates on the Cherry character mostly, but there are moments when the ensemble emerges and takes centerstage. There is a very sweet romance between a dancer and a production member that is charming. Reyna Janelle is the dancer, and she has an amazing screen presence that pops right off the screen. Some funny bits include Lucille Ball (CarrieLee Sparks) wondering what is happening, and a scheming studio exec fuming at the ratings (Wes Kreitz). The ensemble is not as showcased as they were in the stage production, but part of that has to do with translating this piece to a motion picture format. I did miss the crew around Cherry getting their spotlight, but was happy to see them swirling around him still on the big screen.

THE COLORED FOLKS GOOD TIME HOUR sometimes feels more like an extended skit rather than a feature film, but Vincent Victoria has some tricks up his sequined sleeve to make sure you recognize why he wanted a movie. Technically this piece is light years ahead of his company's first feature. Director of photography Okay Iwundu masterfully jumps from wide to tight, and even from color to back and white at the drop of a hat. He has captured the world perfectly, and it all looks far more grandiose than it ever could on a stage. Sound design by Princess Darlene Murray is also a revelation with every line of dialogue and action perfectly orchestrated. The music provided as well from Princess Darlene Murray is top-notch. This is a fully realized film, and Vincent Victoria has finally figured out how to translate his love of stage to a screen. It makes sense, because Vincent's directing style has always been fantastically filmic.

After seeing this film, I can't get Cherry Cola Pitts out of my mind. He haunts me in the best of ways. Vincent embodies the character so well, and there are moments where you can see a sadness emerge from behind the otherwise leering prankster. In the stage show this was harder to see, but on film it comes to the surface beautifully. For all his vitriol, silliness, and gender play... somewhere underneath is a soul that aches for something more. That is probably the most ironic part of THE COLORED FOLKS GOOD TIME HOUR. It shows you a dichotomy that is a reality for anyone enraged at the state of the world right now.

THE COLORED FOLKS GOOD TIME HOUR only screens one weekend at the Midtown Arts Center adjacent to the HCC campus. It will be presented on the weekend of December 16th with evening shows Friday and Saturday and a matinee on Sunday. Follow the ticket link for event admission.

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