Category Archives: film

Friday Fun: Ava DuVernay Makes Fashion Fair Cosmetics Look Good–And Relevant!

By Andrea Plaid

Via chaudmag.com

Via chaudmag.com

I’ve always given side-eye to Fashion Fair Cosmetics ever since I started wearing make-up. To be a part of the Johnson Publication empire–the people who bring us Ebony (and its online equivalent) and Jet–their make-up was not only too rich for my wallet but never quite fit my skin tone. (You’d think, of allllll the companies, Fashion Fair would have a shade that fit the full spectrum of Black folks and well, right?) And, to be honest, the brand itself made me think of its relevance to my mom’s generation–the fresh-off-the Movement, up-the-corporate-ladder Baby Boomers–not mine.

Of course, it would be award-winning director Ava DuVernay who would make Fashion Fair relevent to my mom, me, and younger generations.

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Really, Spike? Filmmaker’s list of top films short on POCs, women

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For decades, Spike Lee has been a Hollywood gadfly, keeping race and the plight of black artists a topic of discussion. He has been critical of the film industry’s many biases, unabashedly saying the things most are too career-conscious to admit publicly. So when Lee published a list of Essential Films for Filmmakers to draw attention to his Kickstarter campaign on behalf of the newest Spike Lee Joint, many folks expected something beyond the typical whitewashed and testosterone-fueled canonical list. Yet, that is exactly what we got– a list featuring few people of color and zero women.

 

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See the list in its entirety here.

If Spike Lee, the dude who’s been calling out Hollywood on its racism for nearly three decades, can’t fathom an essentials list that includes, say, Oscar Micheaux, then  who can? And while I know Spike’s feminist politic is pretty weak–Julie Dash? Kasi Lemmons?

Of course, here is the spot where we talk about what belongs in canon. Essentials lists are ostensibly about greatness not affirmative action. This makes me recall, again, an online discussion I had about the Amazon Kindle’s original screensaver: revolving images of very white and very male authors, save a few. A commenter informed me that, while it was too bad about the lack of diversity on the e-reader, it was unavoidable: No woman or person of color had ever created literary work on the same level as accepted white, male greats. Anyone reading this should know that is not true. What is true is that the work of white and male artists, whether in literature or film or other media, is more likely to be supported, distributed and thought great; more likely to be lauded as possessing a universal truth.

But what is Spike Lee’s truth? In his estimation, is it that few filmmakers of color or women filmmakers have created “essential” work? If so, why? Is it because they lack the skill or the opportunity?

And for the community, what if any films by women filmmakers or filmmakers of color are missing from Lee’s list?

Open Thread: Fruitvale Station

 

 

This is the true story of Oscar, a 22-year-old Bay Area resident who wakes up on the morning of December 31, 2008 and feels something in the air. Not sure what it is, he takes it as a sign to get a head start on his resolutions: being a better son to his mother, whose birthday falls on New Year’s Eve, being a better partner to his girlfriend, who he hasn’t been completely honest with as of late, and being a better father to T, their beautiful 4 year old daughter. He starts out well, but as the day goes on, he realizes that change is not going to come easy. He crosses paths with friends, family, and strangers, each exchange showing us that there is much more to Oscar than meets the eye. But it would be his final encounter of the day, with police officers at the Fruitvale BART station that would shake the Bay Area to its very core, and cause the entire nation to be witnesses to the story of Oscar Grant. IMDB

Announcement: Yuri Kochiyama: Passion For Justice Screening, Panel Discussion At Maysles Tonight!

By Andrea Plaid

Yuri Kochiyama Passion For Justice poster

When Dr. Brittney Cooper started the #paulawontcookit hashtag during the height of Black Twitter dragging Paula Deen for her controversial comments—and my undergrad college ace Dr. Lisa Huebner Rutchti  tagged me to join in the fun–I contributed

pauladeenwontcookit--Yuri Kochiyama Cornbread

Which, I’m proud to say, met with Dr. Cooper’s approval and made Racialicious guest contributor (and my homie) Sofia Quintero say:

pauladeenwontcookit--Sofia Quintero

Why Kochiyama? She most famously held Malcolm X (who, by that point, changed his name to El Hajj Malik el Shabazz to reflect his pilgrimage to Mecca) while he was dying from assassins’ bullets. She was a member of his Organization of Afro-American Unity. And, in 1977, she joined 29 members of the New York Committee to Free Puerto Rican Nationalists Prisoners, a pro-independence group, as they took over the Statue of Liberty to protest for the return of the island’s sovereignty, ending anti-Puerto Rican discrimination, and freeing Puerto Rican political prisoners. She also became an activist mentor as Asian Americans protested the rampant racism against them that the Vietam War exacerbated as she herself agitated for reparations for the Japanese American who the US government interred during World War II.

And she—who is still alive—is known for much, much more, as the new documentary Yuri Kochiyama: Passion for Justice talks about.

CAAAV: Organizing Asian Communities and Women Make Movies are co-sponsoring a screening and a panel discussion at Maysles Documentary Center in Harlem tonight, starting at 6PM! Some of the panelists include members from Kochiyama’s family and Racialicious Crush alum and guest contributor Scot Nakagawa.  Tickets are $10 (suggested donation), and the proceeds go toward supporting CAAAV’s programs.

For more information and tickets, please check here. And I’ll let you know how the cornbread turns out!

I Saw The Lone Ranger So You Don’t Have To

By Guest Contributor Adrienne K.; originally published at Native Appropriations

 

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It’s been 12 hours since I saw The Lone Ranger, and I still have the darn William Tell Overture stuck in my head. I wonder how long that lasts. It’s like waking up with a Tonto hangover, I guess. I have so many thoughts on this film, and only maybe one of them is good. But I think we need to start off with this: The Lone Ranger is just a bad movie. It’s 2.5 hours of a film with an identity crisis, not knowing if it’s supposed to be funny, campy, dramatic, “authentic,” or what. At points, it was very hard to separate the stereotypical and hurtful from the bad script, bad editing, and bad character development of the movie itself.

So, if it even needs to be said: SPOILER ALERT–I’m about to give away everything. But you’re not going to see the movie anyway, so it shouldn’t really matter. But you know how the internet is. Here’s my review, in only six parts. I restrained myself.

Some quick overall thoughts: Like I mentioned above, this movie didn’t know what it was, and that was a problem. It was also so. incredibly. long. By the time we got to the final big train chase scene at the end, where the pair save the day (accompanied by the aforementioned William Tell) I wrote in my notes: “FINALLY! I AM SO BORED!” and then that scene drug on for another 15 minutes and I just wanted it to end. I forgot what we were even fighting for. Which I think was the problem all along.

This is also the most violent movie I’ve seen in awhile, and I’m a fan of Game of Thrones. Don’t take your kids, despite the Disney label and PG-13 rating. There is so much shooting and stabbing, and they show the aftermath.  Early on in the film the bad guy even cuts out and eats the Lone Ranger’s brother’s heart (yes, eats it). They have no qualms about shooting someone for the sake of shooting someone, and there are blood and guts and barn beams smashing people’s heads. It’s not something I would want to expose my kids to, at all.

And for those of you new to the blog or needing a refresher, here’s all my Tonto coverage over the last year or so, which covers the casting, the costume, and a whole bunch of other things: my initial reactionswhy you should care about Tonto when there are “bigger issues” out theretearing apart Depp’s reasoning over his costume choicesthe controversy I dealt with for writing about Tonto, andArmie Hammer’s comments about Indians loving the movie.

Part 1: The Opening Scene–Indians are so backward and funny, y’all!

The movie opens with a Buffalo Bill-style Wild West Show, set up like a museum of Natural History, and a little kid wanders in dressed like the Lone Ranger, eatin’ some peanuts, lookin’ at the buffalo, then, oh hey! “The Noble Savage in his natural habitat.” Guess who that is??

Spoiler! It’s Johnny Depp. In some scary-ass old person makeup. Like seriously crypt keeper style. Then OMG he moves! and reaches out! and says in a croaky old person voice, the first words of the whole film: “Kemooosabeeeh.” Then there’s this whole bit where Tonto asks the little boy to “traaaade” (sounding like zombies and “braaains”) and points to his peanuts, which Tonto exchanges for a dead mouse. Then he proceeds to eat the peanuts with the shells on, crunching through them to the boy’s disgust and wonderment, while feeding the crumbs to the bird on his head.

I won’t go this in-depth with the rest of the film, but I wanted to set the stage. The very first scene we are presented with an image of a Native person, in a museum–which presumably we’re supposed to critique, but there’s no questioning of Tonto’s position there. To me it reinforces the idea that all the Indians are dead, relics of the past, which is actually a theme throughout. This Indian is so silly and backward he trades a dead mouse for a bag of peanuts, doesn’t even know how to eat peanuts, and is feeding a bird, but it’s dead. Even the child knows that’s wrong. So this is the “new” Tonto? Definitely an improvement, amiright? (that was sarcasm. In case you missed it.)

Anyway, Tonto launches into the story of the Lone Ranger for the kid in the museum. So the whole movie is in flashback.

Tonto speak summary: Tonto in museum. Tonto old. Tonto silly and backward. You listen to story now.

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Yeah, We’re Doing This: The Lone Ranger and the Updated American Outlaw

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Armie Hammer and Johnny Depp in The Lone Ranger via. Nerdist.com

After reconciling the with myself the fact that I was indeed going to see The Lone Ranger at some point this weekend, I started reading Isabel Allende’s Zorro to remind myself that my love of masked vigilantes in what would become the American West don’t always have to come with a racist Johnny Depp-shaped kiddie meal toy.

I’d apologize to Disney for cheating my way into seeing The Lone Ranger*, but the movie isn’t worth it. It’s a two and a half hour slog that shines only in the final twenty minutes where you finally catch a glimpse of what the film –written by the team behind Aladdin, The Mask of Zorro, Pirates of the Caribbean and others– could have been. Unfortunately the film’s failings manage to go beyond Tonto’s white-washing. If you’re going to make something so incredibly racist that garners this level of backlash months before the final cut, at least have the decency to make it good.

But as a fan of the “American Outlaw” trope, this Ranger is only the latest disappointment. I’ll watch anything about The Lone Ranger, Jesse James, John Dillinger, Billy the Kid, and other (supposed) justice-seeking Robin Hood vigilante types, fictional or not. The whitening and brightening of these stories (figuratively and literally) is nothing new; there’s a long history in the genre of shaving down the truth to make these stories more palatable for the general (read: white) American audience. In The Lone Ranger it didn’t even only just apply to Johnny Depp as Tonto. Everyone involved manages to hit on a unique combination of blatant racism, missed opportunities, and straight-up bad filmmaking that makes The Lone Ranger the worst movie I’ve seen so far this year.

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Black Punks

 

A Band Called Death, a film by Drafthouse Films, debuted Friday in select cities and is also available via digital download and on iTunes.

Punk before punk existed, three teenage brothers in the early ’70s formed a band in their spare bedroom, began playing a few local gigs and even pressed a single in the hopes of getting signed. But this was the era of Motown and emerging disco. Record companies found Death’s music— and band name—too intimidating, and the group were never given a fair shot, disbanding before they even completed one album. Equal parts electrifying rockumentary and epic family love story, A Band Called Death chronicles the incredible fairy-tale journey of what happened almost three decades later, when a dusty 1974 demo tape made its way out of the attic and found an audience several generations younger. Playing music impossibly ahead of its time, Death is now being credited as the first black punk band (hell…the first punk band!), and are finally receiving their long overdue recognition as true rock pioneers. More at Drafthouse Films…

Also, Death members, Bobby and Dannis Hackney, spoke to Huffington Post about race, punk, 70s-era Detroit and their move from the Motor City to Vermont.

(H/T Shadow and Act)

Racialicious Crush Of The Week: Unlocking The Truth

By Andrea Plaid

Unlocking The Truth's Malcolm Brickhouse (l) and Jarad Dawkins.

Unlocking The Truth’s Malcolm Brickhouse (l) and Jarad Dawkins.

In the midst the Paula Deen- and Miley Cyrus-leveled foolishness this week stood Unlocking The Truth, a trio of young Black guys who’ve been unleashing slaying metal chords in New York City for a minute. Though they didn’t wipe racism’s grime from the nation’s consciousness, they’re a definite salute to what Black folks have long brought to US music–which is fitting for this month, African American Music Appreciation Month (a.k.a. Black Music Month).

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