Keith Knight’s Picks (Executive Producer & Creator)
Thunder Soul (Amazon)
A wonderful doc about an amazing high school band teacher whose final exam for his students got pressed into vinyl every year. Vinyl that became gold to music producers decades later.
A Band Called Death (Amazon)
What happens when you’re young, Black teenagers growing up in the shadow of Detroit’s Motown label? Start a punk band, of course!
The documentary that started a movement. What happens when you’re the one Black kid in the moshpit?
Marshall Todd’s Film Series Picks (Executive Producer)
Two movies that have influenced me? Easy. The Godfather and Star Wars. These movies inspired me to want to be a filmmaker/storyteller in the first place. Both films are clinics on the art of story, character, and film as spectacle. I watch both films, almost ritualistically, two times every year.
Jay Dyer’s Picks (Executive Producer)
Sure, it’s dated, and sure, it’s easy to take issue with the “perfect Negro” character Sidney Poitier was forced to play over and over again during his mid-60’s heyday. BUT the cat-like grace, the righteous indignation, the magnificent delivery of the greatest line in movie history… If you don’t know what line I mean, you’ll know it when you hear it cause your butt will be halfway off the couch the second he says it. All right, here’s a hint: “They call me….” Why it’s here: I like to think Virgil Tibbs would be proud of the way Keef stands up for himself at the Beer Summit. Fun fact: the line had such a deep impact on the culture that when United Artists couldn’t come up with a name for the sequel, TPTB said, “F**k it, let’s just call it [the line.]”
Movies should be cool. This movie is beyond cool. If you don’t like subtitles, there’s a spectacular chase sequence halfway through that’ll get your blood pumping, plus two or three additional heart-stopping suspense sequences. The film is about Parisian bike messenger/#1 fan Jules who finds himself in over his head when he tries to protect the Black American opera singer of the title. I’m spoiling the joke that comes in the film’s opening moments, but the bit in WOKE where Keef asks the man on the bus to turn his radio down is a direct homage to the moment that earns Diva its first unexpected laugh.
Sometimes a hat is just a hat, and sometimes the beautiful Black jazz singer who witnessed you murder her boss is death stalking you. There’s definitely a degree of racial fetishization in both Le Samourai and Diva. Perhaps because the movies are French and the filmmakers self-aware, I didn’t find the portrayals troublesome. Diva, in particular, has a hilarious bit where Jules steals the diva’s dress and has to find a substitute to model it for him. Both films popped into my mind during the creative process when we discussed issues surrounding racial fetishization.
Yes, more subtitles. It takes a lot to surprise me. This movie surprised me every step of the way. You think it’s gonna zig, instead it zags in one bizarre direction after another. Never seen social commentary delivered so deftly and entertainingly. Don’t know if it will still hold up in ten, twenty years, but for now, it’s just about perfect.
I mean we’re assuming you’ve already binged WOKE three times since it was released last Wednesday, BUT, just in case you haven’t gotten a chance to check it out, here’s the link conveniently located in this nifty newsletter. Inspired by the life and work of artist Keith Knight, WOKE takes an absurdly irreverent look at identity and culture as it follows Keef, an African-American cartoonist finally on the verge of mainstream success, when an unexpected incident changes everything.
Official Woke Spotify Playlist – all your favorite Season 1 tracks
The Lamorning After Pill – Lamorne Morris’ fire comedy-rap album
Got ‘til It’s Gone – Janet Jackson (JD)
808s and Heartbreak – Kanye West (JD)
How High the Moon – Ella Fitzgerald – Specifically this live rendition. At about a minute and a half, she starts to scat. At about five and a half minutes, she goes into some freaky interplanetary ZONE that has to be heard to be believed. (JD)
Mississippi Goddam – Nina Simone (KK)
It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back – Public Enemy (KK)
Mandy – Johann Johannsson (MT)
Everything by David Bowie (MT)
Everything by Prince (MT)
Keith Knight’s Youtube Hole Rec: James Baldwin