In celebration of Black History Month, we’re making daily movie recommendations, presented in chronological order of the films’ stories.
Stay tuned to Noovie every day as we highlight an original, landmark film worth revisiting or discovering for the first time.
February 29 – Sorry to Bother You (2018)
Rapper-activist Boots Riley makes his debut feature as the writer-producer-director of “Sorry to Bother You,” a “magical realist” tale about a down-on-his-luck African American telemarketer who punches his way to the big leagues when he discovers and develops his “white voice” on business calls.
Debuting at the Sundance Film Festival on January 20, 2018, the film was later released to wide critical acclaim and box office success by Annapurna Pictures, recouping $18.2 million on its $3.2 million budget, and eventually winning the Indie Spirit Award for Best First Feature for Collins.
Rising superstar Lakeith Stanfield (“Get Out,” “Knives Out,” “Uncut Gems,” “The Photograph”) excels here in the role of Cassius “Cash” Green, who works with his girlfriend Detroit (Tessa Thompson) at a telemarketing company called RegalView.
Cash isn’t having much luck at all at his job until he receives an important tip from veteran employee Langston (Danny Glover) – tap into his “white voice” and see what that does. His inner, now outer, white voice (provided by David Cross) shoots Cash to the top of the ladder, and the “Power Caller Suite.” As Cash climbs up, pays off his debt, and begins to enjoy the surface fruits of success, he drifts apart from his former colleagues, who are underpaid, underserved and unionizing behind the efforts of fellow employee Squeeze (Steven Yuen).
Things get more complicated, and take a turn for the absurd, when Cash learns that RegalView is in cahoots selling arms and slave labor for corporate behemoth WorryFree and their corrupt CEO Steve Lift (Armie Hammer). Even more absurd, bordering on fantastical, is the experiment Lift is conducting – turning oppressed workers (via a snorted cocaine-like powder) into half-horse, half-human slave labor called “equisapiens.”
That last third of the film morphs the comedy/drama into an all-out sci-fi/action free-for-all, with Cash and his co-workers, along with the equisapiens, fighting the police and their RegalView and WorryFree overlords to turn the tide and spark the revolution.
“Sorry to Bother You” is an entertaining, thoughtful, and defiantly original social comedy. While some audiences are likely to balk at the turn of events in the film’s final act, it’s still great to see the filmmaker stick with his creative vision.
Besides his Indie Spirit for Best First Feature, he was nominated for Outstanding Directing for a First-Time Feature Film by the Director’s Guild of America, and the film was included by the National Board of Review as one of the Top Ten Independent Films of 2018.
Where to Watch
Sorry to Bother You
Comedy / 2018 / R
In an alternate reality of present-day Oakland, Calif., telemarketer Cassius Green finds himself in a macabre universe after he discovers a magical key that leads to material glory. As Green's career begins to take off, his friends and co-workers organize a protest against corporate oppression. Cassius soon falls under the spell of Steve Lift, a cocaine-snorting CEO who offers him a salary beyond his wildest dreams.