"Love" and Chicago Architecture: Remembering "Love Jones."

February 12, 2010

I promise we'll get back to the normal architecture stuff next week, but I wanted to continue the Valentine's-Day-set-in-Chicago theme we began with yesterday's discussion of the old "Cupid" TV show.

After submitting that post to the good folks here at Vocalo, I went to a screening of the 1997 film "Love Jones," starring Larenz Tate and Nia Long. The movie was shown as part of the Black Romance Film Festival this month at Columbia College, hosted by Columbia film professor Vaun Monroe.‚  Directed by Theodore Witcher,‚  "Love Jones"‚ is a smart, hip, modern love story between a writer (Tate) and a photographer (Long).

The credits and opening scene above express the vibe of the movie. Witcher's Chicago is a cool, moody world of artists, spoken-word spots and vinyl record stores--"CDs are in the back," a clerk tells a character. There is the obligatory romp through Grant Park, shots of the skyline, etc., but the characters ride down South Drexel Blvd. Herb Kent throws a steppers set in what I made out to be the South Shore Cultural Center at 71st and the Lake. Two characters discuss life and love--not in a coffeehouse, but sitting along the cold lakefront outside the massive 63rd Street Beach House. Union Station hadn't been used this well in a movie since, well, this one.

When I got through marveling over the use of place in "Love Jones," I was left with one other thing to ponder: A black-cast movie in which nobody joins a gang or gets hooked on crack; where there is no mother figure in a head rag dispensing sage advice; and no racists to run from. And there isn't one--not one--6' 5" man in drag going in for cheap laughs as The Overbearing Big Momma.‚  Imagine that.