Moments of escape can be moments of clarity!

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

Sunday, February 19, 2012

"The Red Tails were Black"

My Reel of the week is 2012's "Red Tails" a George Lucas film about the Tuskegee Airman of WWll. It hasn't received much in the way of advertising in my area. It was also relegated to the smallest theater in the cinema. I think George Lucas had to pick and choose where he would spend his advertising dollars . He had no major Studio that wanted to back this film because "movies with an all Black cast have no audience overseas" which is 60% of a movies revenue. So  George Lucas took on the film himself and made it truly a collaboration with Black talent in front of and behind the camera (In for a penny in for a pound I guess). It took 20 years but he brought it to the screen.
"Red Tails" is the true story of the first all-Black flight squadron of WWll. It was started after pressure from black newspapers to start the" Tuskegee Airmen Experiment". Because the common belief at that time was that Blacks didn't have the intelligence or bravery to pilot planes and to be of any help to the War effort. The experiment was actually set up to to prove the government right, they were set up for failure. Lukas felt this story, of heroism, perseverance and heart needed to be told. These men who faced racism at home and abroad,still believed in America.
The filming was reminiscent of the War Reels shown before movies in the 1940's. The acting was admirable. Terence Howard who played Colonel AJ Bullard knocked it out of the park. We were shown small snippets of the pilots lives and personalities, enough to care about their fates. The dogfights were exciting, some edge of your seat aerial stunts.
The story of the Tuskegee Airmen is a huge story "Red Tails " scratched the surface,and I thank them for that, Some critics take umbrage at the depiction of the Black pilots drinking and not following orders. We have to be careful to not Whitewash (Hmmmm) true stories about African-Americans,then it does become cartoonish, The truth is the Tuskegee Airmen were just like all the other regiments, scared boys in their teens and twenties facing death everyday, drinking was a part of life during war. The real Tuskegee Airmen were a part of the project from the beginning. They were happy with the finished product, that is good enough for me. My father served in Korea and WWll, were he still alive I know he would have loved "Red Tails". 
I wish it would have been promoted more for family viewing (13&up) during Winter break. A great history lesson, but I guess the remake of the 3 stooges will sell big in Europe.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

"Yes, said the rider that laid down his gun"

My Reel of the week is 2005's "The Proposition". It's a Western in the purest sense of the word. Taking place in Australia, where the vast and unforgiving landscape plays as much a role as the actors who speak the lines. It is a heartbreaking story of human suffering, cruelty, and history that makes a happy ending impossible. It's a story that at it's epicenter, mirrors America's history. The story of one culture trying to conquer another through violence and oppression. Within that story is another, about love and choices. Charlie Burns (Guy Pearce) is an outlaw, no doubt about it, but in the Australian outback of the 1780's the line between good and bad is unrecognizable. Charlie is captured in a fierce and bloody gunfight and given an agonizing choice. Kill his brother Dan (Dan Huston), the leader of the Burns gang or his fourteen year old brother Mike (Richard Wilson) will be hanged on Christmas day.
This was a brutal time in Australia's British & Aboriginal history so be warned this film does not shirk from it's responsibility to that history, but ultimately this is a dialogue driven film, and the dialogue brilliantly tells a sad, mesmerizing and disturbing story. My heart was left heavy, but this  film spurred  conversation and curiosity in this viewer also a hunger to gain more knowledge. I wish you the same.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Bits & Bobs

I have been naughtily absent from my blog. I have been very busy (said petulantly and whiny),and I'm in school (tone much the same). Seriously I had no inkling that school would make me avoid all other writing. I've tried to regain a bit more discipline and pen a few words. So, now that we are past that, on to my Bits and Bobs.
I'm working hard on my Linguistics studies, and have a few more courses to take before taking on my Interpreting tests. I have also been diligently channeling my inner Nigel Olsson, my own personal drum God! I only dream of touching his greatness.
The music that's playing in my ear while attempting to resemble someone doing homework is all things jack White. he is a modern day musical minstrel and a fearless collaborator, pushing those he works with to view their abilities through new eyes. He has worked with Loretta Lynn (Van Lear Rose) a great CD. Also Jimmy Page and of course his sister with their band "White Stripes" There is so much to choose from you will have no trouble finding something that resonates with you.
I did manage to finish a book to review for you., but this book made it easy because I could not put it down.
I'm speaking of James lee Burke's "Tin Roof Blowdown" written against the backdrop of Hurricane Katrina, Detective David Robicheaux must solve the murder of two young black men shortly after the Hurricane, add to that wiseguys, gamblers and mercenaries and you have a jarring, taut tale, that had me guessing 'til the very end. I fine tale from a fine storyteller. Detective Robicheaux is a recurring character like one of my other favs Detective Charlie Parker by another of my highly recommended writers John Connolly.
Pick up a book by one or the other and you will not be disappointed.