Shit n’ Grits: The Raw Style of Lee Daniels

It’s not very often that I go back on my morals. I’m very stubborn — I believe I get that from Mumsy. But on that rare occasion that I find that I may have been too hasty in my general assumptions, I’ve the class to admit it. This is such a case.

This Black History Month, I’ve been focusing mainly on those aspects of modern Black history. As such, I think it’s fitting to include this director in my praise of the silky-hued specimen of human known as Black. Lee Daniels was a director who I’d put on my (no pun intended) Blacklist of directors that piss me off. You don’t need to know who tops the list, but let’s just say I made the mistake of assuming that the latter and former had similar directorial goals. Oh, how wrong I was.

Lee Daniels

Daniels is a rare breed of director, akin to the likes of Guillermo del Toro (of whom I’ve written previously) and Takashi Miike. That is, his goal is to expose beauty in its most honest form — without affectation, but stripping back the layers in order to give way to the guts and the glory and somehow elevate it from the bowels. These three directors take very different approaches to exposing this beauty, but nonetheless they have the eye to notice something wonderful in something mundane or grotesque. What Daniels does with a camera is nothing short of miraculous. He also has the ability to transform a script into something so close to the skin that it penetrates just enough to leave the soul sore.


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