Down in the Delta
I'll bet you a million dollars that if James Cameron or Steven Spielberg wrote a book of poems that hit the bestseller list, Maya Angelou would be first in line to declare something to the effect of, "Poetry is a challenging art that requires a lifetime of refinement and no rank amateur could possibly produce something worthy of such attention with so little experience." Then she'd take a big, steaming crap on the book.
That assumed, Angelou apparently thinks that her gift for molding words into mental images is enough to qualify her to get behind the big bad camera and drive. This would be great if all filmmaking consisted of were images. Unfortunately, there's also this stuff called "cutting" and "editing," and when it comes to that, "Down in the Delta" looks more like an "Afternoon School Special" without the blessed release of commercial breaks.
It's the story of how Loretta (Alfre Woodard) discovers her roots in the Mississippi Delta and changes her life. Loretta is irresponsible, does drugs, and lives unemployed in Chicago, where the only thing her oldest child Thomas (Mpho Koaho) has to look forward to is owning his first gun. Then there's her daughter, Tracy (Kulani Hassen), who spends the first half of the movie screaming. This is later explained as autism, as opposed to my first assumption, "exposure to the voice of Melanie Griffith."
Loretta's mother (Mary Alice) sends her down to Mississippi to stay with her Uncle Earl (Al Freeman Jr.). There he teaches her the importance of family, and before you can say "Kathy Lee Gifford," she becomes a perfect mother and gets her life back together in just one summer. Then Loretta hops in a space shuttle to stop an asteroid fragment from smashing into Earth. Isn't it great what you can do when you discover the importance of family?
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