Category Archives: film

Gran Torino and Hmong Gangs in the Midwest

by Guest Contributor Joanna Eng

In Gran Torino, Clint Eastwood plays a bitter old man who’s basically the only white person left in a run-down neighborhood somewhere in the Midwest. He (reluctantly, at first) gets to know his Hmong neighbors, and ends up getting intricately involved in their lives, as they deal with issues caused by a local Hmong gang that some of their relatives are a part of.

There are plenty of things about the movie that might make for great posts on Racialicious:

1. Like most Hollywood movies that are about a community of people of color, Gran Torino features a white protagonist who not only saves the day, but also has the most layers of complexity to his personality.

2. As the first major Hollywood film about Hmong Americans, how did it do at depicting this community? Does the exposure of Hmong culture and the opportunity for Hmong actors outweigh the possible inaccuracies and negative representations? (See some of the commentary about this on AsianWeek.)

3. Clint Eastwood’s character’s constant racist remarks serve as a running joke in the movie. Just because he uses outdated and blatantly un-P.C. language with an “equal-opportunity discrimination” approach, is it OK to use this deeply offensive language as comic relief?

But I don’t really want to write about those things. I want to write about another reaction I had. Continue reading

You’re The Man Now, Dog!: The Racialicious Review of Slumdog Millionaire

By Special Correspondent Arturo R. García, also posted at The Instant Callback

You could say Slumdog Millionaire is too cute by half. But you can’t say it doesn’t do cute very well.

Adapted from the novel Q and A, Slumdog follows “uneducated” street kid Jamal (Dev Patel) through a Dickensian collision of money, love, poverty and hope against all odds. It’s the kind of fairy tale Hollywood can’t do without tripping over its’ own commercialism anymore. But the relentless pace set by Simon Beaufoy’s screenplay and the direction of Danny Boyle and Loveleen Tandan sacrifices schmaltz (and practically everything else) in the name of the quest of this most improbable (implausible?) hero.

We meet Jamal, a perpetually wide-eyed call-center drone, as he’s being “questioned” by Mumbai police. The kid has been doing well as a contestant on Kaun Banega Crorepati, the Indian version of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? — too well for comfort, in fact. How could this urchin, this upstart, people are asking, be on the verge of winning the grand prize of 20 million Rupees when doctors and lawyers have fallen short? Continue reading

Is there a Bechdel test for race?

by Latoya Peterson

Today, I talked a bit about Vicky Cristina Barcelona and introduced the concept of the Bedchel Test. Here’s the original comic the test came from:

So, after rejoicing over how brilliant the test is in its simplicity, I started wondering – could we adapt the Bechdel test for race? And if so, what would the end result be?

I am interested in your thoughts on this.

(Image Credit: “The Rule,” originally published in Dykes to Watch Out For by Alison Bechdel)

Summer Movies: Vicky Cristina Barcelona

by Latoya Peterson

Have you ever watched a movie, and then wished you could have seen it from another character’s perspective?

That was the feeling I got while watching Vicky Cristina Barcelona, the most recent Woody Allen film that is actually quite enjoyable – as long as you don’t mind having two dimensional female characters and you are fine with the whole foreign locale/exotic-natives as a backdrop for the growth of the white protagonist kind of thing.

So yeah, you have to swallow a lot to enjoy the film.

Then again, I watch films like Transformers. Obviously, I don’t have problems suspending disbelief.

I sat in the theater and allowed the story to wash over me. In broad strokes, the third party omniscient narrator explains the thoughts and travels of two friends – Vicky and Christina.

(Warning: After this point, there are spoilers.) Continue reading

Another Hollywood Remake: Oldboy

by Latoya Peterson

Director Chan-Wook Park shocked the hell out of South Korean audiences in 2003, with his theatrical release Oldboy, the second film in the disturbing The Vengence trilogy.

Now, dear readers, I hate horror movies but I love psychological thrillers. Hence, I watched Oldboy. And while I really enjoyed the movie, it is definitely *not* for the faint of heart or weak of stomach. So, imagine my surprise while perusing Dramabeans to see a post describing how Will Smith is going to star in the US remake.

Javabeans, main poster on the blog, is not pleased. Continue reading

Noah’s Arc: Jumping the Broom Movie Plays to Modest Success

by Latoya Peterson

Well, look at what slipped under the radar.

In the midst of the election run up, the results, and the waves of discussion about proposition 8, Logo launched a movie based on their popular (yet mysteriously canceled) series Noah’s Arc.

The New York Press’ Armond White has a thought provoking review on the significance of the movie, titled “MEET THE BLACK CARRIE BRADSHAW – LOGO’s Noah’s Arc makes the jump to the big screen—showing a completely different African-American experience”:

Noah’s Arc’s quartet of young black men counteracts the prevailing image of gayness as a young, rich, white male phenomenon. The title refers to Noah (Darryl Stephens), an L.A.-based aspiring screenwriter whose love and social life resist Hollywood storybook cliché. Noah may dress in couture like Carrie Bradshaw (he enters Jumping wearing a Russian toque, cape and calf-high boots) but his style is provocative; he flouts ideas about masculinity, blackness and class. If you accept Noah (his gentle, gazelle-like demeanor stresses effeminacy), his friends still test your tolerance: Chance (Doug Spearman) is a snooty, over-enunciating university professor; Alex (Rodney Chester) is a plus-sized drama queen who likes to cook when not dispensing counsel at a gay men’s health center; and Rickey (Christian Vincent) is incorrigibly promiscuous. Continue reading

Film Festival Pick: Irish Twins

by Latoya Peterson

Last night, I watched the best of the DC Shorts film festival, which featured a week of short films from around the globe.

The last film of the evening was called Irish Twins, written and directed by Ryder and Shiloh Strong.

The film’s synopsis reads:

Born within a year of each other, Michael and Seamus Sullivan have become very different men. On the eve of their father’s funeral, Seamus drags Michael to the local pub in their small, logging community of northern California.

He attempts to convince his brother that they must take their father’s ashes to Ireland in tribute.

Of course, it isn’t long before Seamus’ true intentions are revealed, when his involvement with a group of local drug dealers becomes impossible to avoid, and Michael must confront how much he is willing to sacrifice for his Irish twin.

But what compelled me most about the film (outside of great pacing and drama) was the discussion of Irish identity. (Warning: Mild dialogue spoilers ahead, explicit language.)

Continue reading

Open Thread: Summer Movies

by Latoya Peterson

Readers, we have a problem.

There is no way in hell the Racialicious team is going to be able to get through all the summer movies we want to get through. There just isn’t enough time. So this thread is going to have two functions: (1) to solicit suggestions for which movies we will cover and (2) to share resources if any of our readers know of other sites who have covered these movies and discussed all the “-isms”.

Continue reading