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Back Seat Producers

We Don’t Make Movies, But We’ll Let You Know What Is and Isn’t Working in Hollywood.

BSP Episode 221: She’s Gotta Have It

ByTony

Mar 19, 2012

Release date:                           8/8/86
Island Pictures

Directed by                             Spike Lee
Written by                               Spike Lee
Produced by                            Pamm R. Jackson
                  Spike Lee
                  (Credited as Shelton J. Lee)

Cast
Tracy Camilla Johns                Nola Darling
Tommy Redmond Hicks         Jamie Overstreet
John Canada Terrell                Greer Childs
Spike Lee                                Mars Blackmon

Welcome back, David!

Initial comments by the hosts (short and sweet):

David liked the movie, although he expected not to.  Jill liked it, and she’s also a fan of Spike Lee movies.  Sam didn’t like the movie.  Tony thought it was good for an indie movie, it had flaws but it was an interesting character study… he thought he would end up liking the discussion more than the movie itself.

Tony was disappointed in the fact that the three men, who all knew they were in a relationship of sorts with Nola, were “babies” about it.  Each thought they had something more important than the other, some kind of power/control over her, but none of them did.  None of the hosts agreed with Tony, though.  They didn’t see any of the male characters as thinking or feeling as if they “owned” Nola in any way.

While Greer seemed to treat Nola more as an accessory or a trophy than a partner and Jamie seemed to be more the female counterpart of his relationship with Nola, he is also the only one who took a stand and told Nola that she had to make a choice or he was leaving.  Mars appeared to be the only one who had the most realistic view of the relationship, although he also wasn’t too happy about it.

The hosts also discussed the “rape” scene… was it truly a rape scene at all?  Nola never said no to Jamie, never moved to stop Jamie.  She took on the submissive role, for the first and only time in the movie.  Did she force Jamie to play that more violent hand by calling him over in the middle of the night for sex (while he is already in his bed with another woman)?

The hosts discuss what IT might be, but there isn’t a clear answer.  Is it sexual satisfaction, is it a general satisfaction with her life, is it a singular relationship, is it power or control, is it independence?

David brought up the fact that the movie is not presented in a way to portray Nola’s sexuality as negative and was hard pressed to think of other characters treated in the same way.  The only other comparison that was brought up was Samantha Jones in “Sex and the City.”

Tony found it interesting that Nola went to a sex therapist, considering she didn’t have any personal issue with her relationships.  Then Sam brought up the fact that Nola also entered a phase, albeit short-lived, of celibacy.  For someone who seemed so steady in her beliefs and in how she lived her life, she still took in the judgments made by the people in her life and took time for self-examination before returning, again, to knowing that she is who she is.

Tony compared Nola Darling’s character to a precursor to “500 Days of Summer” in that she was always honest and upfront about who she is and how she leads her life.  Sam saw a little bit of a “Chasing Amy” comparison.

Darrell (from the chat room on this night) liked the fact that the actors constantly broke the 4th wall.  David didn’t like that, reminding him too much of current reality TV.  Tony said it was done in “mockumentary” style.

Tony asked if, at the end of the movie, was Nola truly happy with her life?  David and Jill thought so, even though they show Nola being alone at the end, she is ultimately living the life she wants to live.  She has always known, and after looking deeper into herself, reinforces the fact that she does not want just one man in her life, she is not a sex-addict, she is perfectly fine as she is, and any problems that arise from her multiple relationship are caused by these men, not her.

Jill brought up that, because the film’s budget was so tight, there were no second takes of any scenes.  Also, whenever the cast broke for a meal, Spike Lee instructed them to save their soda cans so they could be turned in for recycling money.  The film was shot in twelve days on a budget of $175,000.

Spike Lee wrote a book detailing the making and distribution of this film, entitled, “Spike Lee’s Gotta Have it: Inside Guerilla Filmmaking.”  His father, Bill (who was also cast as Nola Darling’s father) wrote the jazz score for the movie.

This movie won the “Award of the Youth” Foreign Film award at the 1986 Cannes Film Festival, the “New Generation Award” at the 1986 Los Angeles Film Critics Awards and the “Best First Feature” award at the 1987 Independent Spirit Awards.

Your Producers for this episode were:

  • Tony
  • Jill
  • David
  • Sam

This episode was recorded: 3/7/2012

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