What the world of racism does to a man.
“The Sleeping Negro” is a short movie that runs for an hour and 12 minutes, but it still wisely tackles on one African-American man’s hated for the past and present when racism threatens to destroy his life. We’ve been able to acknowledge that harsh world through such recent films as “Get Out” and the new “Candyman,” and while not everyone can understand that the feelings, there are those who still want to support the good guys the best ways they can. And by “good guys,” I mean the ones who fight against racism.
Skinner Myers writes and directs himself as an African-American man in Los Angeles, who is set to marry the white cousin (Julie McNiven) of his boss (David Fumero), who also asks him to handle a forged document. But those things are the least of his worries. He’s also recovering from an injury from a Trump supporter (which he tells others fabricated stories about what happened), his old friend is a Republican (Nican Robinson), who wants to forget about the past, and he feels like a trained monkey for a broken system.
His nightmares feature himself getting hanged by white people, including his fiancee. He’s worried if he’ll be trapped in a “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” and “Get Out” when he meets her white parents, and he believes his fiancee have better advantages since she’s not of color. That’s why he calls off their engagement. He’s not remorse about that, but rather, his hatred is consuming him.
Twice this year, I’ve seen floating people in artisan features. In “About Endlessness,” two lovers were levitating over a city, and in “The Sleeping Negro,” the main protagonist is sleeping over his coach. They’re both dazzling in the ways they’re photographed, and they can be creepy if you see them in a certain aspect.
Myers reminds me of John David Washington and Lakeith Stanfield, two of our finest young African-American talents, with his tone, dialogue, and mannerisms. And he also has a character study about how he observes himself and society. He also writes and directs “The Sleeping Negro” with a vibrant and gripping tone. I did feel that certain scenes are a little flimsy with its editing choice with a spirit popping in an out of the man’s area, and how the cinematography is a little foggy. But I was more interested in how this character succumbs to what society can do to a man, based on the past and present.
Like I’ve mentioned, it is a short movie, so I don’t want to spoil much details. But what I can do is acknowledge where the movie is heading. Where will the main character head into if he lets racism consume him? And how will the man live his life. He’s letting the fear and prejudice turn against even the good white people, and that’s really haunting.
“The Sleeping Negro” has no famous people (not yet at least), but you still should see it for its poetic values, visionary sequences, and how well Myers delivers in front of and behind the camera.
In Select Theaters This Friday