Tribeca 2023: Cinnamon (2023)

Directed by: Bryian Keith Montgomery Jr.
Distributed by: Tubi


Written by Alexander Reams

Blaxploitation is a genre that’s as synonymous with its crash zooms as it is memorable dialogue and sharply dressed characters who populate the traditionally sleazy setting. Since the movement lost steam there have been countless attempts to capture the lightning-in-a-bottle energy that classics like “Dolemite” and “Foxy Brown” had. Clearly a student of these films and many more, Writer/Director Bryian Keith Montgomery Jr. manages to pull off those high-energy scenes with the skills and tools of a modern director, but with the spirit and culture of those that came before. Montgomery’s debut makes the (dangerous) decision to follow a non-linear narrative, especially during the first act, a sensibility that modern movies love, but can take away from the classic vibe of Blaxploitation. 

Montgomery quickly puts any concerns at ease as he smoothly transitions from flashbacks to the present, which provides a sense of urgency to the plot, which yields incredible intrigue. Jodi Jackson/Cinnamon (Hailey Kilgore) and Eddie (David Ianoco) are not traditional throwaway characters that are only there to get two attractive people in the same movie. Instead, there’s real chemistry between the two, and countless scenes of just the two of them. Montgomery again makes a risky decision to leave a majority of the screentime to these leads but it pays off. Kilgore and Ianoco bring great depth to their characters, even down to an early scene in a recording studio where Eddie and Jodi say so much just through facial expressions. The greatness of “Cinnamon” comes down to its leads, who provide such nuanced performances that it actually is enough to distract from various performers who show up for a paycheck. Or that ultimately by the end I wanted more time with this pair, either way, it makes “Cinnamon” a nice legacy film for the Blaxploitation genre.

“Cinnamon” Trailer

“Cinnamon” was screened as part of the 2023 edition of the Tribeca Film Festival.

You can connect with Alexander on his social media profiles: InstagramLetterboxd, and Twitter. Or see more of his work on his website.

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