John Singleton Movies

Thursday, July 21, 2011 at 4:33 pm

Films Directed by John Singleton

John Singleton exploded over Hollywood like an inner-city atomic bomb, specifically one that looked like Ice Cube and talked like Laurence Fishburne. His debut film, Boyz n the Hood made him the youngest person even nominated for a Best Director Oscar, as well as the first African-American to earn such an honor. His star was rocketing towards the heavens at an unparalleled speed, allowing him to impregnate Ghanaian princesses and date Tyra Banks.

Fast forward 20 years later, and you’ll notice that John Singleton movies never quite rose to the expected levels. He’s still around, of course, but his career path has somewhat followed that of Spike Lee: a hot start following by a lengthy cooling period. Unlike Spike, though, Singleton has the good sense to keep his mouth shut about Clint Eastwood and the Jews who run Hollywood.

John Singleton movies

The man behind each and every one of the John Singleton movies on this list.

Below, I’ll be discussing the John Singleton films I’ve seen, as well as offering thoughts on those I’ve yet to watch. Whether you agree or disagree, feel free to make your opinions known in our comments section. After all, that’s what it’s there for.

John Singleton Movies I’ve Seen

I’ve seen the following John Singleton movies at the theatre or on DVD:

Boyz n the Hood (1991) – Singleton’s debut film remains his best, and this tale of hardship and violence in South Central Los Angeles has inspired numerous filmmakers to pursue their own visions of life on the streets (Antoine Fuqua, for example). Before he was known for acting like a fool at the Oscars and starring in Boat Trip, Cuba Gooding, Jr. delivered a strong performance as a boy learning to be a man. One of the film’s most notable accomplishments was launching the film career of rapper Ice Cube, who’s since branched out into screenwriting and producing.

Poetic Justice (1993) – Janet Jackson got back into acting after taking a long break from Good Times, and this follow up to Boyz in the Hood finds Singleton putting his characters (including Tupac) in a USPS truck and sending them on a trip across California. I saw this in the theatre, and I remember being disappointed by the lack of gunplay and general gangsta activity. I also remember two elderly white ladies sitting in the row in front of me, laughing their heads off throughout the film. Clearly, they were watching a different movie than I was.

John Singleton moviesRosewood (1997) – Loosely based on real events that occurred in 1923, this film details the death and destruction in a small black town when a white woman accuses one of the locals of rape. Before you can say “Birth of a Nation,” the KKK is on the prowl and stringing up any dark-skinned person they can find. Ving Rhames plays a WWI vet and all-around badass who returns to Rosewood to rescue the woman he loves, and I was especially fond of Jon Voight as the semi-racist store owner who’s reluctantly drawn into helping out. The film’s action-packed climax never happened, but fiction is often more exciting than the real thing.

Shaft (2000) – I thought the original Shaft was overrated, so I didn’t expect much from this updated version starring Samuel L. Jackson as the nephew of Richard Roundtree’s legendary private dick. Man, was I wrong. Christian Bale is perfect as the handsome rich boy who thinks he can get away with murder, and Jeffrey Wright chews the scenery with abandon as drug lord Peoples Hernandez. Jackson isn’t nearly as cool as his predecessor, but he manages to keep a straight face while allowing his more talented co-stars to carry the bulk of the acting responsibilities. The film also includes a high level of old school violence, which is always a major plus in my book.

John Singleton Movies I’ve Missed

While I’ve enjoyed viewing several John Singleton movies, there are some that I’ve missed. These include:

Higher Learning (1995) – The entire time I was in college, I never attended a class taught by an inspirational West Indian professor or had a gang of skinheads try to recruit me. But I went to college in Texas, and apparently this kind of thing must be reserved for universities in the Los Angeles area. I might see it at some point to get my Kristy Swanson and Jennifer Connelly fix, but it looks awful preachy.

Baby Boy (2001) – I’ve already watched Boyz n the Hood, so I saw no reason to shell out money for a rehash about life in South Central Los Angeles. While the inclusion of Snoop Dogg and Ving Rhames in the cast are appealing, pretty-boy Tyrese Gibson riding around on a pimped-out bike doesn’t get me excited.

John Singleton movies

Not all John Singleton movies involve inner-city struggles. 2 Fast 2 Furious is one example.

2 Fast 2 Furious (2003) – I’ve seen all the Fast & Furious films starring Vin Diesel, but I missed this one and Tokyo Drift. I’m sure my friend Randy would be interested in this one, as he at least claims to be a fan of the thespian skills of Chris “Ludacris” Bridges (although he couldn’t name one of his songs). And while I certainly wouldn’t kick co-star Devon Aoki out of bed, am I the only one who thinks she looks kind of weird?

Four Brothers (2005) – When their adoptive mother is gunned down in a robbery, Mark Wahlberg, Tyrese Gibson, Andre Benjamin, and Garrett Hedlund reunite to get revenge. I don’t have anything against the lead actors, and supporting guys like Chiwetel Ejiofor and Terrence Howard are always solid. Four Brothers is just one of those movies I haven’t got around to watching, although it has a much higher priority than most romantic comedies.

Abduction (2011) – Taylor Lautner tries his hand at the action movie genre, with supporting roles from Alfred Molina, Maria Bello, and Sigourney Weaver. I’m not expecting much from this one, especially since Lautner doesn’t get to act opposite Taylor Swift or spend the entire film without a shirt. While some Twilight fans will flock to see it, I don’t anticipate adults will do the same.

If you’re looking for commentary on race relations and inner-city life, give one or more of these John Singleton movies a try. While his career may have fallen short of the expectations set by his debut, Singleton remains an inventive filmmaker capable of turning out entertaining and thought-provoking motion pictures (with the former becoming increasingly the case).

This entry was posted on Thursday, July 21st, 2011 at 4:33 pm and is filed under Good Movies, Thoughts on Film. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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