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Black Snake Moan 

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If you're gonna make a hootin'-and-hollerin' sex- and race-tinged exploitation feature, just go for it. Writer-director Craig Brewer has all the ingredients cookin' on the stove: a steamy Tennessee hamlet; a Bible-fearin' black farmer (Samuel L. Jackson), undone by raw blues in the night; and a nearly naked, sassy nymphomaniac (Christina Ricci) chained to his radiator. But Brewer won't commit, and unsuccessfully splits the difference between straight-up drive-in potboiler of yore and semi-serious redemption narrative. In 2005's Hustle and Flow, Brewer made us believe in a low-rent pimp, but that film had the strength of soulful performances. Snake offers caricatures: Jackson in flaring-nostril mode, and Ricci flashing annoyingly between unquenchable sex freak and little-girl-lost. Brewer's affection for the rural South's color and blues music is palpable, but he should have taken a page from Russ Meyer and really rolled around in the muck. Save the lessons for church. Starts Fri., March 2. (AH) [capsule review]

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