Steady are you ready, hold onto your Rottweiler privates and meet me on the steamy couch for sloppy banana eating lessons. Join us as we pay tribute to Earl DMX Simmons. This week we navigate the streets with the 1998 film, Belly. Patron shoutout to Jamie Russell!
Director: Hype Williams
Writers: Hype Williams, Anthony Bodden, Nas
Stars: Nas, DMX, Taral Hicks
Worldwide Gross: $9,639,390
Breakdown and Analysis
- DMX was Oti’s introduction to rap. First cassette tape he owned. Official not bootleg.
- Hype Williams had a major influence on music in the 90s and this was clear to Oti in watching the film.
- There is a lot of our frame of reference we leave at the door in order to enjoy a film. This includes getting hype over the opening scene. It set the tone. Visually it was tantalising and did a brilliant job in setting up the tension of the film.
- We are introduced to Bundy, Sincere and Knowledge and the differences in their motivations and aspirations.
- KT is generally not a fan of narration and this rings true for this film. Oti offers Million Dollar Baby but also agrees it doesn’t work here. Having both Bundy and Sincere felt disjointed for KT and didn’t feel like it added anything. Any exposition was not needed because it was obvious what was happening in the scene.
- Oti felt similar to his experience watching Uncut Gems struggling to find moments of serenity. The Safdi brothers must have taken inspiration from Hype Williams. Oti felt as though he was being catapulted from scene to scene without being able to follow along with the characters and build that bond.
- We all come to a point in a film where there is nothing that can be done to make us care anymore than we do. Anything laid out is already too late.
- KT gives flowers to Regina King on her work in One Night in Miami where we were able to digest the previous scene and cleanse our palates for the upcoming scenes.
- There was a lot of story but not enough time to resonate.
- We didn’t feel the blue overlay was effective with Kisha and driving through Omaha.
- KT gives accolades on the sex scenes: the art of making love and fucking.
- Sincere seems to have decided he was done with Bundy but this was not conveyed to the audience even as exposition through narration.
- Stories about getting rich in the drug game. Films with rappers involved in production and casted is not new. KT feels like this film could have been better. It’s important for people to tell their own stories however we need to have all the elements that make a story.
- We need to be succinct in how we resonate with characters.
- Bundy and Sincere’s dynamic was the grappling hooks for the film but also was the demise. KT continued to be disappointed when this dynamic failed to deliver. Examples: Avon and Stringer (The Wire), Ghost and Tommy (Power), Franklin and Leon (Snowfall), Abbas and Tony (4 Blocks).
- In the way we get bought into their way of life, we never have a satisfying payoff.
- Bundy did not care for any unspoken rules. Offered nothing to Ox to have him as the connect. We get to see what Dundy stands for, life is about paper and we’re all destined to die.
- There was an inconsistency with Bundy’s motivations because it was established very early that he was all about survival. Yet his downfall was him having enough and being tired.
- Are you able to separate the musical artist from the acting?
- Sincere is still benefiting from the game but mentally feels like he is out.
- Oti shares his thoughts on Sincere wanting to go back to the motherland and naming his daughter Kenya.
- Bundy did not care but self preservation also includes being smart. Knowledge had suspicions the phones were being tapped yet still called Bundy/Kisha. Oti drops East African knowledge explaining characters were named the opposite to their nature.
- Tionne was KT’s favourite character because she was aware of the world she was in and made no illusions about it.
- We discuss Ox’s speech on Kingston being a ghetto not a slum. KT was equipped with her archaeologist tools and felt the depth of Ox’s sentiments. There is a guilt and pain Ox feels for those left behind that aren’t as fortunate as him. The way his people were living and struggling was something he was conscious of. Oti believes that Ox is culpable for all the destruction. His success was standing over a pile of dead bodies he killed to get there. Oti draws comparisons on African dictators that act in the same way and muses where we draw the line. KT believes it is possible for a terrible person to have a moment of vulnerability.
- Oti’s favourite scene was the ending with the Minister. He was building layers that Bundy wasn’t aware of. It becomes more frustrating because the quality of the final scene means the film was capable of much more.
- Oti recommends people watch this film.
Unrelated but vital points
- We reference DMX a lot through the podcast and his life and legacy will live on.
- It almost qualifies as an Oti Blue film.
- Merch: If you’re fapping with a monocle, it is a film.
- KT can take all of Method Man.
- Russell Crowe reference.
- Method Man is a sovereign nation.
- Akoncity reference.
- Insincere produced and written by Issa Rae starring Nas.
- Don’t stick around with someone hoping they will change. Any resentment belongs to you. That is your checked in baggage.
- Hunter x Hunter reference.
- KT would watch Method Man play himself.
- Oti makes a Limp Bizkit reference, proudly.