Best movies: Eve’s Bayou (1997), Talk to Me (2007)

When actress-turned-director Kasi Lemmons’ critically adored, hugely impressive Eve’s Bayou premiered in 1997, the emergence of a new, exciting voice, one both black and female, seemed imminent. Fifteen years later, though, Lemmons has only helmed a miniscule total of three motion pictures, and one of them, 2001’s The Caveman’s Valentine, wasn’t anything special.

But her other two features, the aforementioned Eve’s Bayou and the underrated Don Cheadle/Chiwetel Ejiofor dramedy Talk to Me (2007), are both excellent. Having captured the drama, fragility, and fears of a pre-teen girl in Eve’s Bayou, Lemmons shifted gears into a more comically rich territory for the Petey Greene biopic Talk to Me, balancing genuine laughs with deftly handled social relevance and historical, civil rights era resonance.

Next up for Lemmons is Nativity Story, a musical set to star Samuel L. Jackson and Jennifer Hudson that’s based on the Bible’s account of baby Jesus’ birth. As cautious as we are around song-and-dance flicks, we’re more than willing to give Lemmons’ addition to the genre a chance.