If there seems to be twice as much buzz about the critically hailed Menace II Society as a low-budget, no-name movie would ordinarily get, there’s good reason. It has two directors: 21-year-old identical twins Allen (”I’m the extrovert”) and Albert Hughes, who crafted Menace — their first featur — from their observations of L.A. inner-city life. Here, the filmmakers speak out about racism, role models, and Bruce Willis movies.
Menace II Society is being compared to Boyz N the Hood. Are you flattered or annoyed?
ALLEN: That movie wasn’t dealing with the ghetto, it wasn’t about criminals. In our movie, we go deep into the psychology of a hustler. People say, ”Oh, that’s another one of those homeboys-of-the-’90s films.” That is just straight-up racist. We don’t follow anybody’s trend. The few black filmmakers that there are come out with their own stories and get questions like, ”Why are you boys making these ‘hood movies?” What do you mean, why? What are we ) supposed to make, movies with Bruce Willis jumping out of planes and s—? They can make a million bulls— cop movies and [they get] no criticism, no questions. Those cop movies. God damn — god damn. Stop with the cop movies! [They laugh together.]
What movies do you like?
ALLEN: Raging Bull, Scarface, Taxi Driver, GoodFellas, The Untouchables. Scorsese is the one. And there’s Oliver Stone, Brian De Palma and some of Francis Coppola’s movies.
Being brothers as well as creative collaborators, do you fight?
BOTH [in unison]: In preproduction.
ALBERT: That’s when you have to iron everything out, get everything straight, and sometimes we come to blows.
ALLEN: Yeah, but we get past that. I mean, we have to go home with each other.