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Brown Sugar (2002)

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Commentaries on this disc:

Commentary 1: Director/co-writer Rick Famuyiwa and editor Dirk Westervelt Rating:5.0/10 (1 vote) [graph]Login to vote or review
Reviewed by openingcredits on May 28th, 2020:Find all reviews by openingcredits
This is a really sweet commentary. At some point Mr. Famuyiwa mentions that since they had a really challenging post-production process on the movie he wanted to bring in the editor, Mr. Westervelt, to do the commentary with him. – And I love this refocusing or reframing of the process of filmmaking as a democratic, and collaborative one. So often the film business spotlights directors and to a lesser extent producers in a way that makes it seem to the public like they’re the only ones that made the movie, but this commentary was really a dialogue between these two collaborators, and Mr. Famuyiwa really drives home that it’s as much the editor’s film as it is his own.

Brown Sugar is a very musical film, and you can hear that in the commentary, too – from the very beginning in the documentary-style opening, and later on in the two talking about how they decided to use the signature jump cuts in this movie to convey the style of hip-hop music, which the lives of both of these characters revolve around.

And Mr. Famuyiwa mentions his inspirations behind the look of the film, which interestingly also comes from a musical background.

They talk about their fight with the MPAA, and having to make cuts to get a PG-13 rating despite there not really being anything in the movie to begin with to warrant an R.

And their fights with the film lab, which kept overexposing their dailies and tried to kind of put the filmmakers in a box.

One of the more interesting things about the commentary is how it gives context to the time in which the movie was made. They mention the commentary was recorded the day after the film’s premiere party, and they discuss what it was like to be the first production to shoot in New York City, just a month after the September 11th attacks in 2001. They talk about having a very tight-knit crew, and mention how they pay homage to the city in the film in different ways.

It’s a great commentary filled with many many more interesting stories and bits of trivia from the making of the movie. The filmmakers are smart, passionate, funny, nerdy, and really love the movie they made.