Moments of escape can be moments of clarity!

"Oh, had I but followed the Arts"-William Shakespeare

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

"LOVE IS THE OPENING DOOR"




                                                photo courtesy of Wikipedia


This week's reel is 2017's "EVERYTHING, EVERYTHING":

Maddy (Amandla Stenberg) leads an extremely sheltered & insulated life due to a rare auto-immune disorder. Her only daily companions are her mother/Doctor (Anika Noni Rose) and her nurse, Carla (Ana de la Reguera), until Olly (Nick Robinson) moves in next door.
Funny, awkward, forward Olly, whose life, like Maddy's is a bit sheltered and cracked, opens up a yearning and a hopefulness that's both exhilarating and frightening for both of them.
Maddy & Olly embark on a journey to discover if their budding romance can survive the glass between them.

EVERYTHING, EVERYTHING was uplifting, sweet, romantic and delicate. It made me breathe deeply and wax nostalgic. I was able to forget what lay beyond the movie theatre...at least for an hour and half. EVERYTHING, EVERYTHING was mesmerizing and the chemistry between the two lead actors was palpable.
EVERYTHING, EVERYTHING was...everything.

 I was excited to get out there and support a Film directed by a WOC. It's so important to put your money where your mouth is when it comes to this issue. Currency is what Hollywood understands. It was worth it and I look forward to Stella Meghie's next project!

Sunday, March 26, 2017

THE RAGE IN THE MIST

I finally managed to stay focused enough to get a Reel out this week. I'm gonna try to be more...ah never mind.  This week's Reel is 2016's "SPECTRAL"


In some not so distant future, America still finds it self involved in wars and civil unrest. In "SPECTRAL" the latest incarnation of the Army, has been called in to quell unrest in the country of Moldova. During recent skirmishes, soldiers and some civilians have been killed by an indescribable and brutal entity.
The Army is baffled and left with no defenses against this new enemy. They call in Dr. Cline (James Badge Dale) a brilliant and innovative scientist who has come to the aid of the Armed forces in the past. Dr. Cline must unravel the origins of the SPECTRAL force so he can turn the tide, before there is no one left to save.
Although a bit formulaic and having casting flaws, I quite liked SPECTRAL.  It was fast-paced, scary and suspenseful. It definitely took a page from the God of all Sci-Fi franchises, ALIEN, but that wasn't necessarily a bad thing. Now did it pass my WMWOCA (Where my Women of Color At) test? NO! There were no women of Color at all. It's ridiculous and frustrating that WOC are still rarely cast in Sci-Fi & Fantasy movies. There were a few white women. One who worked for the Army, but not as a soldier. The fact that there were no female soldiers was really strange. There were two Black male characters (But we all know what that means...at least Black people do...) I guess I wanted to hate SPECTRAL, but as far as being an entertaining Sci-Fi movie? It was. Does that mean that I have officially lowered my expectations for mainstream films?  Yes, but indie films had better get on board & take up the slack. Anyway, I'm looking forward to whatever Ava & Amma have coming up. They always pass the test! "Wrinkle In Time" anyone?

Monday, February 13, 2017

A TENTATIVE CIRCLING TOWARD UNDERSTANDING

Hunkered down and in semi-hibernation, so I have no excuses left to continue to avoid writing my first Reel of the New Year. Also if I can avoid looking out the window at the 18+ inches of snow, it's a win-win. I also need a little "kitten" time away from the daily battle of activism.

This weeks Reel is 2014's "LILTING"


When Kai (Andrew Leung) , a young man of Chinese-Cambodian descent dies, his mother Junn (Pei Pei Cheung) struggles to adjust to her new life in an assisted Living facility. When Richard (Ben Whishaw), Kai's lover of 4 years comes to visit Junn, she is reluctant, confused but also curious about his motives. Junn sees Richard as an interloper and the reason her son had been distant before his death. Richard, still grieving his lover's death, seeks connection and feels an obligation to Junn and to Kai's memory. Richard and Junn must find a way past, not only a language barrier, but also Junn's pain and her dawning realization that she only really knew about a very small part of her son's life.

"LILTING" is a story of love, compassion and understanding how the human condition connects us all. Although I am a closure,  happy ending, please tie up all the loose ends type person and "LILTING" lacked all that.  I loved it for it's warmth and truthful story telling.  If you are not a fan of sub-titles, soldier through anyway.  It's well worth it!

Sunday, December 4, 2016

BITS & BOBS AND MUCH NEEDED DISTRACTIONS

I had planned on writing a special Blog post on the apocalypse to come, after the election of "he who shall not be named." But, I felt I needed a break from all the cluster-fuck-ed-ness going on. So in the interest of self-preservation, I just needed to step back. In the near future,  I will be writing a piece on  how I will be moving through these next 4 years (ugh) and trying to stay healthy and safe.  But, for now I have retreated to my favorite self-care distractions, Books and Music..also Movies, but that's for Reel of the Week.

I have been reading almost non-stop, which is nothing unusual. I have recently become a fan of John Sanford's character Lucas Davenport. His Prey novels are fast-paced mystery  thrillers and SECRET PREY didn't disappoint:


Lucas Davenport is still reeling from his breakup with his fiance Weather Karkinnian and losing his battle to stave off depression, when he is called in to help in the investigation of a  shooting near a hunting cabin.  At first glance , the local PD sees it as a tragic accident, but it doesn't take long for Lucas to find the inconsistencies , changing this from accident to murder.
The victim is the CEO of a bank that's smack in the middle of an important merger. As Lucas digs deeper, the playing field for suspects grows ever larger as the list of people jockeying for power gets longer.
Lucas quickly finds out that power and money are a lethal combination and a Killer with money holds all the cards and has time on his side.

I think the most that I expect from a book is to be transported, especially at this particular time.  Also to be entertained and if it's a really good mystery, to be surprised by the ending.  it's a tall order and maybe a lot to ask, but most times I at least get two out of three. SECRET PREY gave all three. I did have to slog through a boatload of suspects, but it worked. I wasn't able to guess the ending. So if you are a fan of Murder & Mayhem, the PREY series may fit the bill for you.

This is only the second PREY novel for me. There are 27, so I have a long way to go and I'm reading them out of order. Maybe I should have stated from the beginning?


Since the Holidays are upon us, I've decided to post some of my favorite Christmas songs.  I love the Hope in Christmas songs and how they yearn
 to invoke in us humanity & compassion. So...

"Ain't no Chimneys in the projects"- Sharon Jones & The dap Kings
"Merry Christmas, darling"- The Carpenters
"Every year, every Christmas- Luther Vandross
"O'Holy night"-Mahalia Jackson
"have yourself a merry little Christmas"- Leslie Odom, jr

These are just a few of my favorites. So as we finally and Mercifully bid adieu to 2016, Happy Holidays and remember to #StandWithStandingRock and that #BlackLivesMatter , to #Resist and  that  #HesNotMyPresident...


  

Monday, October 10, 2016

London has fallen...into Deja Vu

                                         photo courtesy of independent.uk

So I had started out, writing a Bits & Bobs, but it was going down wonky road, so I decided to watch a movie. Which brings me to this unplanned Reel of the Week. I decided to go out on a limb and watch 2016's LONDON HAS FALLEN.
To be clear, I harbored no illusions. I knew this was going to be a same ole, same ole tired, racist, Brown people as terrorists narrative we've seen over and over. Okay, maybe I had a tiny illusion, because Angela Bassett and Morgan Freeman were in it. I needed to be sure...or tortured...or proven wrong...

A funeral for the Prime Minister of London, brings together leaders from all over the world, including the president of the United States (Aaron Eckhart). This forms a perfect storm for a terrorist attack with the President of the U.S. as the main target. It's up to his Security Team, Lynn Jacobs who is the Director of the Secret Service (Angela Bassett) and his right hand man, Mike Banning (Gerard Butler) to guard his life and traverse the streets of London to get to safety.

POC have to constantly walk a tightrope when it comes to Diversity in Film.  It is so rare to see ourselves on screen, we are hungry for it and want to support Films that have POC in non-stereotypical roles.  Angela Bassett's character was strong, intelligent and in-charge. The sad part is, they took that character and literally threw her away, for no reason.  It was not something that had to be done to move the plot forward. It didn't make sense, in fact it would have added more to the plot had they not done it. They brought in a white woman who added absolutely nothing to the plot, had maybe three lines and was just confusing.
Morgan Freeman, who played the Vice President, gave his usual, understated, dignified performance.  He has presidential down to an art. Gerard Butler gave an adequate white guy hero performance, predictable, but solid. Aaron Eckhart was suitably overly patriotically Presidential.
I made it through LONDON HAS FALLEN because I have to admit it was exciting and had some very tense moments. They did throw in a few white terrorists, which did keep my umbrage down to a manageable level. So, I guess I have Angela, Morgan, a few nail-biting moments and the fact that it was only  an hour and a half to thank for my feeling a little less angry...and bamboozled. I'm tired of saying the Film Industry has to do better. Maybe they are incapable of it.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

The Dichotomy between Then & Now is very thin indeed...

I am back, trying to squeeze in one more post before the end of the month to feel productive, instead of like the lazy summer slug I feel like. For this weeks Reel, I hit the theater, which is a rarity for me.
This weeks Reel is 2016's FREE STATE OF JONES



Farmer, turned reluctant Confederate soldier, Newton Knight (Matthew McConaughey)is sick of fighting a war in which he has no stake.  He owned no slaves and didn't grow cotton. He is also repulsed by both the killing and the looting of local farms by the Confederacy, which they called a "tax", but left women and children with no food stores for the winter. During a particularly bloody skirmish, Newton flees, and with the help of Slaves and other deserters both Men & Women, waged a Rebellion. In 1864 they took over the town of Ellis and renamed it FREE STATE OF JONES. 
Knight began a relationship with his grandfather's former slave Rachel (Gugu Mbatha-Raw). His wife Serena (Keri Russell), after being burned out of her home also moves to JONES.
Newton and his rag-tag group not only become a town, they become a family of sorts. They continue to fight against the until the fall of the Confederacy. Even with the end of the War FREE STATE OF JONES has to fight the ashes of the Civil War, in the form of the KKK, Reconstruction, sharecropping and the Black Vote.
For a lot of Whites in Mississippi, the fact that Newton lived and worked side by side with the Black people of JONES was more of a betrayal than fighting against the Confederacy.
His descendants feel the sting even today.  His children by Rachel are shunned by both sides of his family and called Newton's Negroes.

FREE STATE OF JONES was surprisingly  balanced and thoughtful. More shocking was Matthew McConaughey's portrayal of Newton Knight. He softened his usual over the top drawl and delivered a believable performance. Normally I tend to be reluctant when it comes to movies about Slavery. Gugu Mbatha-Raw was a huge selling point for me, because she's an incredible actor. That being said it's still very much a double edge sword.  You want to support movies with POC, but at the same time we want to see all sides of who we are. Diverse, complex, multi-dimensional. We have other stories besides the Slave narrative. Not only that, it's painful to watch.  A comedian once said "Black people watching movies about Slavery is like a Cow watching how Beef is made". That is so true. POC have a myriad of stories to tell. Native Americans are more than the stoic Warrior or Shamans or living in the past. Asians are more than Mystics and Martial Arts.Those stories are only part of POC's Rich & varied human tapestries.
That being said, FREE STATE OF JONES was an important story and one I had not heard. For that alone, I recommend it.

Monday, July 11, 2016

THAT'S NOT A SOLUTION? THINK IT THROUGH!


Finally my latest Blog.  With Summer and all the other "events" happening, I have needed the distraction of Films and Books more than ever. I've probably seen at least 10 movies and read at least that many Books in the interim, so I've plenty of reviews waiting in the wings. I just need to stop procrastinating...yeah, like that's gonna happen.
This weeks Reel is 2011's STAND OFF.

Jimbo (Martin McCann), who lives in a small town in Belfast, Ireland, can't seem to get his life on track.  It's not from a lack of trying. He tries to be a good dad and a good mate to his son's mother, but can't pull himself away from old habits.  He spends his days hanging out with his childhood friend and gambling away what little money he has, hoping for that big pay-off. Jimbo gets in serious debt by borrowing money from Mad Dog Flynn (David O'Hara) the local Irish Mob Boss, who lives up to his name. He has one day to pay his debt to Mad dog. With misguided youthful abandon, Jimbo decides the solution is to rob the local fish market. After his bumbling, inept crime is complete, he finds out too late that the Fish market is a front for the Irish Mob. Now, Jimbo finds himself on the run from not only the police, but Mad Dog is also out for blood. To make matters worse, Jimbo has holed up in a local Antique store with the owner Joe (Brendan Fraser), his girlfriend Sophie(Yaya DaCosta) and two stowaway kids as hostages. Jimbo's solution to his debt problem has quickly become a snowball headed over a cliff with Joe in it's path.

When I decided to watch STAND OFF, I thought it was an action movie. It was devoid of any action what so ever. I'm really not even sure what genre it was. There was comedy, but it was in strange places and decidedly unfunny. It wasn't like the macabre humor of "Fargo", it was just misplaced and a bit uncomfortable. There was nobody you wanted to root for. I had a brief moment of joy, when I saw there was a Black woman (Yaya DaCosta) cast as a shop keeper & later Joe's girlfriend. She didn't pass my "Where my Women of Color at" test, which is like the Bechdel-Wallace, but geared toward women of Color: 1. More than one woman of Color 2. they must talk to each other about something other than a man. 3. They must have a life outside of listening to a white woman's problems. 4. They must have a name. 5. they must survive past the first 20 minutes of the film.
Sophie only passed  #4 & #5. The only thing you knew about her was she came to Ireland from Africa, but we knew EVERYTHING about Joe and it was boring as hell. I was hoping for more because I love David O'Hara but, STAND OFF left me bored and a little disgruntled at not being able to get that hour and a half of my life back...