Director(s): John Sayles
Available Quality: DivX, DVD, iPod
IMDB Rating: 6.7 out of 10 (1140 votes)
1950. Rural Alabama. Cotton harvest. Its a make-or-break weekend for the Honeydripper Lounge and its owner, piano player Tyrone Pine Top Purvis. Deep in debt to the liquor man, the chicken man, and the landlord, Tyrone is desperate to lure the young cotton pickers and local Army base recruits into his juke joint, away from Touissants, the rival joint across the way. After laying off his regular talent, blues singer Bertha Mae, Tyrone announces to his sidekick Maceo that he has hired the famous electric guitar player, Guitar Sam, for a special one night only gig pack em in and save the club. On the day of the show, the train arrives and Guitar Sam is no where to be found. Tyrone is forced to take drastic action. He makes a deal with Sheriff Pugh to release Sonny, the kid who hopped off a freight car here in Harmony, and turned up in the club claiming he could play the guitar as well as any Guitar Sam. Tyrone cleans Sonny up and launches a last ditch scheme to pass off the young guitar picker as Guitar Sam just long enough to cut the lights and run off with cash box. When Sonny takes the stage and launches into his first scalding electric licks, Tyrone will learn if its lights out for the Honeydripper or if his luck has changed he might just be another man saved by rock n roll.
hl123mthd (19 May 2013)
I was a bit confused before seeing this movie about what exactly I wasgoing to see. The reviews I could find seemed unanimous in that it wasa musical. But was it a highly fictionalised biopic of a black Rock andRoll pioneer, was it a whimsical look at the history of the blues, wasit a downbeat story of how a hard-nosed juke-joint owner with a heartof gold saves his place from falling into the hands of the local mob?Could it even be a subversive story of a stage in the emergence ofrebellious black culture from the institutionalised dominance of aracist state in a way which was to capture the imagination of youngpeople all over the world and send seismic tremors through the"civilised" world? That too. The truth is this I ended up agreeing witheveryone. It's all of these and more.More or less.I loved this film. It was great to see some of the great emblematicimages of the blues woven together in such a natural way. I wasdelighted to see Danny Glover as the juke-joint owner, and Keb' Mo' asa blind blues street singer, "reunited" like this (I'm talking aboutPeter Meyer's docudrama "Can't You Hear The Wind Howl" on the life ofRobert Johnson). And the newcomers (to me) were also great, Gary ClarkJr, who occasionally does resemble a very young Chuck Berry, and YayaDa Costa are revelations, veterans like Stacy Keach as acorrupt-but-benign sheriff, Carles S Dutton as Danny Gover's friend and"go fer" , impeccably cast ... as was everyone else. The script isstrong and well directed. Some have commented on the slow build but Ican't say I noticed it. Nor did I think the film overlong. The storydoes moralise ever so slightly, but not in the normal "HollywoodEnding" sense. Only the young are permitted their idealism, everyoneelse has to deal with the cares of the world, which most often seems tobe about choosing the lesser of two evils. The direction is neverheavy-handed. The characters appear all the more real because they aretaking time to think before they act. I hadn't realised until I sawthis how much that was missing in so many movies these days with theirimpossible spontaneity, rapid fire dialogue and appetite for action orraw sensation. John Sayles' direction has more than once been accusedof being loose but it is never languid. I hardly even noticed the useof flashback - a device I don't really appreciate. I especially liked the take on the emergence of R&R as the baby of theblues. When people, even fans, talk about it, there is always Elvis,and there is always lip-service to hillbilly, country, folk roots. NowI love Elvis - he's never off my CD player for long - but everybodyshould know by now that it was because of his love of the blues that hesang and performed the way he did. If Howlin' Wolf had been white (whata terrible thought) there would have been no need for Elvis (an equallyterrible thought). In one sense, "Honeydripper" gently sets the recordstraight from a blues point of view.I sincerely hope as many people as possible get to see this film. Theblues as a musical form is surprisingly healthy these days, but it hasbeen badly misunderstood culturally in recent years. The consumers, ifnot the artists of rap/hip-hop culture tend to see previous blackmusical forms as tainted by an association with slavery andUncle-Tom-ism. But the blues was not about being told what to do by aslave-owner. The opposite, if anything. At the particular time when"Honeydripper" takes place, 80plus years after the abolition ofslavery, the blues was "about" how far you could escape from slaveryand still not be free, among other things (like just having fun)! But Ihope they watch it not just from the point of view of the music or thestory but because it is a damn good film that takes us a step closer tounderstanding why so many of us behave as we do today.
(18 May 2013)
I was looking for a musical when I came across this and started to watch. Was surprised to find it a story about how music saved a man, his family, his business, and a drifter. It's a very good depiction about the times and the struggles the blacks had and that they could make it by sticking together. I gave it 5 stars only because that's as high as it goes. Oh, and by the way, I'm white.
eckerry (15 May 2013)
I was able to see this wonderful little film at a special screeningprior to its release in New York. I was charmed from beginning to endby the characters, situations, and John Sayles' great ear for dialog.It is 1950 in a small town in the South. Segregation is still the normexcept for the recently reopened Army base nearby, which has integratedits barracks in response to Presidential order and is preparing youngblack and white soldiers for the newest war, in Korea. Danny Glover, inan understated, effective performance, plays Tyrone,the owner of asmall blues club on the outskirts of town. A former blues pianisthimself, he stays loyal to the old blues musicians who still performthere, to an almost empty house. You see, the times, they area-changing, and the young people are drawn to the hot music availableon the juke box at the bar next door. Broke and desperate, alreadystealing electricity because he can not pay the bill, Tyrone and hisloyal friend Maceo (Charles S. Dutton) come up with a crazy plan.Advertise a Saturday night appearance by Guitar Sam, the local musicalicon, charge admission, sell all the drinks he can, pay his debts, andretire into the night. Simple, right? At the same time, a young drifterwanders into town carrying a new fangled electric guitar, and setsabout wooing Tyrone's lovely innocent young daughter. Add the corruptlocal sheriff (Stacy Keach) who smells profit: Tyrone's tired,disappointed wife, flirting with evangelism to salve her unhappiness,and a wise and witty blind musician who comments on the action like abluesy Greek Chorus, and the stage is set for a very eventful Saturdaynight. John Sayles has always excelled at portraying his characters asreal people with real lives. His dialog rings true without clichÃ©s bornof racial stereotypes. His men sound like real men, his womenauthentic. The film takes its time but is never boring; the musicthroughout and the highly entertaining acting are all the moreenjoyable for being leisurely. Sayles is evoking a different time, anddoes so with wit and precision. The critics missed the boat on thisone, and that is their loss. See it early and often.
filmflamflim (15 May 2013)
Reading other reviews of this, I was quite looking forward to watchingit. I was expecting interesting characters and lots of good music.After t started, I kept waiting for the music. There was talk and sillydramatic events. Then there was more talk and more silly dramaticevents. This continued for quite a while. There were characters whoreally had very little to do with the story of the film. A couple ofscenes take place in a church, for example, and they go on for severalminutes each, but, in the end, they have nothing to do with the story.Then, finally, the climax of the film: the music came and after only afew minutes, the film was finished. I cannot recommend it.
(15 May 2013)
This review is from: Honeydripper (2008) (DVD) I loved the concept of this movie and was pleasantly surprised that it held my interest. I was excited at scene after scene and the script was very well written. It was a bit short, but it ended well. I have purchased this movie to send to a friend. I watched it from a Netflix rental after seeing about 6 minutes of it on a recording following a movies that I taped on television. I wished that I had set the tape time to continue but I saw enough to know that I wanted to see more and so I rented it. The movie covered many areas of life in its depiction of the down home south backwoods of the south. The wooden juke house, lazy dialogue, injustice, death, laughter, music, flashbacks, hominess, church and everything country was a delight. I grew up in the dirt of the country in the Delta of Mississippi and the word "Delta" is mentioned in the movie. I never experienced all the things like in the movie, except I know what a field of cotton feels like and looks like (I was there once or twice) and I know how hot the sun is in those fields. This movie is refreshing because it's not really predictable, but it is a little bit mainly because the scenes aren't predictably set up, but if you comprehend what's going on you will nod your head to what happens next.
(14 May 2013)
This is the first film I've seen by John Sayles, whom I've heard good things about over the years. Unfortunately it will be my last. Other reviewers refer to this film as "leisurly paced" and "takes time with character development." The scenes ARE played far too slow, the actors need to pick up the pace, the edits need to move faster. I gave it a chance, I sat through the entire thing, but not only was it boring, it was predictable. I was drawn to this movie due to the subject matter, but it was highly unrealistic. Despite its PG13 rating this IS a family picture, pure "fabricated history" ala Walt Disney television movies from the early 60s. This is a good movie for families with young children who wish to create revisionist history for their kids to protect them from the harsh realities of the Black experience in the American Rural South of the early 1950s. Overall the acting is good, the characters are well cast, but it's obvious they were encouraged with their slow delivery of lines to the point where it almost seems Gary Clark Jr. is actually trying to remember his next line. During the opening credits it says written, directed and edited by John Sayles...it would have been better if someone else had edited the film and would have been better still if someone else had directed it.
Mark Specht (05 May 2013)
This film is painfully slow and uninteresting. The dialog is brutal.The characters uninteresting. I have seen thousands of films, and thishorrendous product should have ended the career of John Sayles. Sayles'Eight Men Out is among the most boring modern baseball films, butHoneydripper is at the very bottom of its genre.... and of all filmmaking. There are countless good films about race relations in thesouthern United States, and this is not among them. Young directors andwriters should watch this as how *not* to make a film. Danny Glover,Charles Dutton, Lisa Gay Hamilton, Stacey Keach, Sean Patrick Thomas,what *were* you thinking? There are always other movies to see insteadof this one. See them all, then hesitate before renting Honeydripper.
(05 May 2013)
This review is from: Honeydripper (DVD) This movie is very good. It has good music and it is a reminder of how far we have come.
(04 May 2013)
In an era when the southern blues are giving way to rock and roll,this is a story of a small cotton town.The young guitar player comes in riding the rails, the older piano player is running (badly) the honeydipper club.The story is about the coming together of the forces in the town to make something new."Time to make way for what is coming next."I liked the plot and the music here.
ShootingShark (03 May 2013)
In rural Alabama in 1950, Tyrone "Pinetop" Purvis is struggling to makeends meet at his club, The Honeydripper. With too many bills due, hepins all his hopes on promoting a show by the popular Guitar Sam. Butwhen Sam doesn't turn up, Pinetop hatches a crazy scheme to run theconcert anyway Â Another richly observed, well written and beautifully acted perioddrama by Sayles, sort of a companion piece to Matewan. Its strengthsare many; an interesting story with great characters - we want Pinetopto come through despite his faults - excellent photography and terrificmusic from that great shifting period between blues and rock and roll.Best of all is the incredibly talented cast, all of whom bring a richindividuality to their roles; I especially like Dutton and Hamilton,but contemporary bluesman Keb' Mo' pretty much steals the show asPossum, the mysterious blind geetar-picker. It's one of a few movieswhich successfully mixes actors and musicians in the cast, eachbringing out the best in the other, and Sayles' regular composer MasonDaring's music is a enchanting mix of old standards cleverly interwovenwith new material. There are many terrific scenes - Delilah swaying inthe revival tent as she struggles with her faith, Pinetop's story ofthe servant left alone with the master's piano, Sonny singing MidnightSpecial in his jail cell, all the cotton-fields scenes. Artfully shotby British cameraman Dick Pope in authentic Alabama locations, this isone of those well-crafted, truly American movies, which provides a richhistorical escape into a colourful and fascinating landscape. Thedirector appears in one of his usual minor roles as theclipboard-carrying no-nonsense liquor salesman.
(01 May 2013)
I love movies that provide insight in how 20th-century American music developed in the transitional period between the heyday of blues and the coming of rock and roll! It's fascinating to see, looking back, how people were dumbfounded at the idea of an electric guitar ("How does it make a sound? There's no soundhole!") The 50's and 60's were definitely the most exciting decades for being a musician--new ideas, musical styles and technology were developing at rapid speeds all over the place. What this movie does is provide an insight in how these kind of changes impacted a smalltown community in the south in 1950. The famous Guitar Sam (a character very obviously inspired by real blues artist Guitar Slim) backs out on a gig at the Honeydripper. No problem, some local upstart kid with an electric guitar can fill in for him--as Guitar Sam! The people in the community are so technologically deprived that they don't even know what Guitar Sam looks like, even though they eagerly flock to the club to see him perform!Danny Glover does a great job in portraying the down-on-his-luck club owner, who needs to free himself of debt and his own demons stemming from an incident in his past. Keb Mo also does a great job in playing the guitar-playing character who embodies these demons.Great music from Keb Mo and the other artists who supply the music. The piano playing during the end credits is some of the best blues piano playing you will ever hear! Fantastic! Great movie! HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
(30 April 2013)
This review is from: Honeydripper (Amazon Instant Video) A feel good movie. Don't let the devil get you in this one. Great music and story line. Great acting.
Cliff Sloane (28 April 2013)
This is a story right out of the "Hey, kids, let's put on a show!"clichÃ©. One implausibility piled on top of another in a "feelgood"/"right will triumph" pattern that is SO OVERWHELMINGLY dominantin American movies. John Sayles has long been one of my favoritedirectors/screenwriters, so the foolishness of this movie came as ashock.What happened? Where has the creator of "Casa de los Babys" and "LoneStar" gone? What happened to the creator of such exhilarating plots as"Limbo" and "Passion Fish"? I can only guess that he farmed it out toone of his kids, or an intern, or something like that. This movie fitsin more with the rush job of the Scorcese-produced blues films thanwith a Sayles project.Here is my "disclosure" statement. I have been a working musician andhave spent most of my adult life in the company of musicians. Thismovie reveals some of the biggest complaints musicians have about theirportrayal by non-musicians. The biggest is that non-musicians don'tunderstand the role of rehearsals, individual practice and the hugeamount of work and effort it takes to seem "talented." This movie isanother example, and a rather extreme case at that.I also have a question for Keb Mo. Why do you sign on to so manyprojects that undervalue your efforts? I am thinking of the NPR BluesHistory radio series and now this. Don't you have more leverage thanthat?
Chas (28 April 2013)
While a lot of people may not know Gary Clark Jr. out of Austin,Texas,this sort of helps to get his name out there. He is a "awesome"guitarist. Still in his early 20's and self taught. If you ever get thechance to see him perform, don't pass it up. He is a true blues man,and a "VERY" good one. It would be nice to see Gary showcased in a goodblues movie.While the actors in the movie are well known and most Ithought were very good. The movie itself was just OK for me. I wouldhave liked the movie to center more about the blues and Gary as atalent.Keb Mo was very good as the blind guitarist seeming to show upeverywhere abound town. Now, I am still very glad to see any movie thatshows some blues and the struggles and problems that goes with theblues. I know there are a lot of people that like to listen to blues.This venue of music is a true American art that should be morerecognized and showcased.
johno-21 (26 April 2013)
I recently saw this at the 2008 Palm Springs International Festival ofFilms. Director John Sayles was on hand and did a thirty minute seatedinterview on stage with an LA Times film critic following the screeningand then did a 30 minute Q&A from the audience. Veteran Independentfilmmaker and screen writer Sayles wrote, directed and edited this filmas well as a cameo screen role. The imagination of Sayles and thecinematography of Dick Pope, set decoration of Alice Baker, artdirection of Eloise Crance Stammerjohn and costume design of HopeHanafin make this a beautiful looking film but while its heavy on looksits light on substance. Set in 1950, this is the story of Tyrone'Pinetop' Purvis (Danny Glover), a big band touring piano player whonow is the proprietor of a sleepy little roadhouse called TheHoneydripper in Harmony, Alabama, a cotton center and home of amilitary base. Pinetop wants quality entertainment like Bertha Mae(Mabel John) but the roadhouse next door swings with the latest jukeboxhits and draws all the young cotton pickers and black servicemen. Facedwith unrelenting bills Pinetop gives in to modern times and hires a NewOrleans recording star Guitar Slim to play the Honeydripper and get himout of the red. Charles Dutton is Maceo, Pinetop's faithful sidekickwho wants to see the Honeydripper as a rocking' juke joint. Lisa GayHamilton is Delilah, Pinetop's wife, who works as a maid for thewealthy white Amanda Winship (Mary Steenburgen) and cooks the dinnermenu at the Honeydripper. YaYa DaCosta is Delilah's beautiful 16 yearold daughter China Doll whose delicate name reflects her delicatecondition of being born with a heart defect. Stacy Keach is the whitecounty sheriff who gets a cut from cotton farmers by sentencingvagrants to work the fields to pay off their jail sentences and bygetting a little side money from black owned businesses such as thelittle roadhouses. Keach, who has beefed out a little and wears a thinmustache looks like Jackie Gleason in Smokey & the Bandit and is kindof a watered down bad guy role so it was hard for me to take himseriously as a threat to anybody in Harmony. Gary Clark Jr. is SonnyBurke, a rail hopping drifter who handcrafted his own electric guitarand knows all the current hip tunes on the radio and finds himself inHarmony, both on the wrong side of the law and with the potential torescue Pinetop from his monetary woes. Of course we see this comingfrom the second he appears on screen. Keb' Mo' is Possum, a blindguitar player who apparently is visible to only Pinetop and Sonny andrepresents their musical conscience. The film is slow and predictablewith far too many cast members most of which I haven't even mentionedhere. Some great music here and a good looking period piece but itfalls far short of being a memorable film. Everything, including thetown, is just too tidy, neat and clean looking too. I would give this a7.0 out of 10.
hcoursen (26 April 2013)
I tuned into this one while trolling for a film and became immediatelyabsorbed. The film interlocks several plots, as 'The Waltons' used todo -- the problem of keeping the night spot out of the hands of thecriminal creditors, the issue of the unfulfilled wife (nicely mirroredby the alcoholic white woman for whom she is a servant), young lovedeveloping between the guitar player and lovely China Doll, a disputebetween two cotton pickers (one a city slicker, the other a local fieldhand), the sheriff who, of course, is a racist but who loves un-spicedfried chicken, the inevitable tug of fundamentalist religion on theunderclass of a rural town, and two waifs who end the film with a mimeof the musicians they hope to be. I confess that I was stationed insouthern Georgia a little after the time of this film and found my ownexperiences coming back vividly. It is a warm film, drawing on anominous set of possibilities lurking behind the action, and it doesn'tcheat with its interlocking happy endings. What a surprise!
lastliberal (22 April 2013)
Good movie to watch on the anniversary of our involvement in Korea, anda new base opens down the road to prepare troops to be sent to the warthat will apparently never end. But, this movie is worth watching forthe music alone. If you like blues and early rock and roll, this is thefilm for you.But, it isn't just about music. It is also about relations betweenBlack and White in the 1950s South. There are some powerfulperformances by some powerful actors like Danny Glover, Charles S.Dutton, and Stacy Keach; and interesting new faces like Yaya DaCosta(Take the Lead).A good story with an great backdrop. Maybe just a little long.
(21 April 2013)
Yes it was a little slow in parts, but I just couldn't turn it off once it started. I loved the characters and really cared about them. I never was in the rural south during the 50s, although I spent some time in Fort Benning, Georgia in 1951, but it sure felt like I was there during this movie. Danny Glover was made for the part and Stacy Keach was unforgettable as the sheriff. I would put this in a class like "Cinema Paradiso", just a gem of a movie. I loved the music also.
Seamus2829 (12 April 2013)
John Sayles has done it again. He has taken a world class cast(including Danny Glover),some crisp photography,a very well written &directed script & a music score to die for, and has made screen magic.The story concerns an embittered juke joint owner (Glover),an exmusician himself,trying to make ends meet with a club on the outs,whois trying one last move to avoid closure by hiring a well knownmusician named Guitar Sam,to try & fill his club. Add a few otherelements (a wife who is serious about re-connecting with her faith,acorrupt sheriff,and other elements),and the formula for a successfulstory is all set. The story is set in the racial segregated South of1950. Although the film was shot in 2007, it is now just getting somescattered distribution. This film deserves far better than it'sgetting. The music score (composed and/or arranged by Sayles' favouritecomposer,Mason Daring)is a out & out toe tapper (which includes DeltaBlues,Stride Piano,Gospel,Rhythm & Blues--years before it would becoined 'Rock & Roll' by Alan Freed). Honestly, Honeydripper (the nameof the juke joint coined by the films title) is one for anyone who isinterested in early creative black music(s).
hairless_joe (12 April 2013)
Don't miss this movie. Is is an excellent portrayal of an old time juke joint and the way things were back then. The soundtrack is excellent and Gary Clark Jr. doe a really good job in his I believe first role.
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