Do you remember Pauly Shore? I don’t find him especially worth remembering, but I think his new project, a movie called Adopted, deserves attention. Critical attention.
It seems to me that in the trailer below, Shore enacts a common white tendency: acting racist in a way that’s supposed to signal that you know you’re acting racist. And thinking as you do so that because you’re being ironic, you don’t really mean to be racist, so the racism you’re enacting is okay. And kinda cool and funny too.
The film’s official site describes it the following way, with, presumably, a heavy dose of irony. Tongue firmly planted in cheek, as people used to say:
For hundreds of years, Africa has existed in a state of despair. Famine, civil wars and rampant disease have left the continent without hope, but for the efforts of Western do-gooders. At first, they arrived with food, bibles and the magic of penicillin; more recently they have hosted rock concerts and sent plane loads of grain. And in the last decade of the 20th century they arrived and took babies home with them. First there was Angelina, then Madonna, and now…Pauly Shore!
by Guest Contributor Alex Alvarez, originally published at Guanabee
In a press conference for his latest movie, The Pink Panther 2 (Why, God, why?!), Andy Garcia was quoted as saying, “I’m not a Latino actor, sincerely.” And, well. We think he has a point!
At the press conference, Andy said that, while he is known for being immensely proud of his Cuban heritage, he has tried (unsuccessfully, perhaps) to shed the label of “Latino” from being tacked in front of “Actor Andy Garcia.” He explains:
Everyone knows that I love my culture and that I’m Cuban, but I don’t consider myself a Latino actor, nor do I want other to classify me in that way. All actors should be classified in the same manner.
Dustin Hoffman isn’t described as “Jewish, American” actor. I don’t think heritage has anything to do with acting ability; in reality, we’ll all actors. In my case, I happen to be actor who is American with a Cuban heritage that’s given me a certain sensibility and point of view that maybe others might not have.
Andy also went on to address one of the stereotypes of Latino actors that we most love to loathe:
It’s possible that I’m thought of this way, but I’ve never accepted a script where I’ve had to play the “Latin Lover.” I’m not interested in that type of film.
You know, dear readers, I am sometimes entirely too curious for my own good.
But I’m going to blame Joseph for this latest bout of killing the cat, since it was his comment (#58) on the original HJNTIY thread that led me to the Friday matinee show.
Before I jump into my impressions of the movie, let me add a little background information. We often receive comments on Racialicious about how sometimes people just want to escape, or that movies are made for “intellectuals,” or that we critique everything and never like anything, or that we are busy judging things we haven’t seen or don’t watch or whatever.
These comments are generally incorrect. In the case of He’s Just Not That Into You :
I remember where this all started, as I watched Seasons 1 – 4 of Sex and the City, and sporadically finished out the rest of the series. (I enjoyed the series, glaring race and class issues aside – I just tend to lose patience with most shows after a few seasons.)
Not only do I remember the episode that spawned the book, I actually read He’s Just Not That Into You. The book wasn’t very memorable, but it is infinitely better than It’s Called A Break Up Because It’s Broken which made me want to gouge out my eyes with the spoon I was supposed to use to eat my break-up mandated pint of Chunky Monkey. (No, that’s in the book. The cover shot is an empty pint of ice cream.) Instead of reading that, I recommend Cindy Chupack’s Between Boyfriends. She also wrote for Sex and the City and while the book isn’t self-help, it’s probably more helpful than that mess.
I really enjoy escapist romantic comedies. Seriously. I deal with race, gender, class and activism all freaking day – what do you think I go home and do? All I ever want is a glass of wine and something funny. That’s all. However, I would prefer that comedy doesn’t actively insult my intelligence. (In another post, somewhere in the future, I’ll talk about one of my favorite romcoms – That’s The Way I Like It – and why it works using the romcom formula without becoming formulaic.)
So, I went to the movie cautious. While I hated the trailers, the alternate trailer (marketed to guys, natch) made the movie seem more interesting than I had anticipated. So after lunch, I suckered my boyfriend into going with me.
When Push won the big awards at Sundance over a week ago I posited that it would be an awesome opportunity for Tyler Perry to use his mailing list and developed audience to promote a film outside his comfort zone which is pretty much himself. Here’s what I wrote on January 25th:
Film doesn’t yet have distribution, but hopefully now someone will sign on. I think this would be a great opportunity for Tyler Perry. I know that he is pretty much focused on his own work but he has a built in list and if he (or even Oprah) would put their names and muscle behind this film I bet it could get a release. Even though I have not seen the film I would guess that from the reception and reviews and awards that the issue with this film will be its hard content especially in this market.
Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that this would happen. I am shocked and thrilled. The film was bought by Lion’s Gate for approx $5.5 million making it the biggest deal of the festival. Since it won both the audience and jury prize it make sense to me that it got the biggest deal. (Things should work this way yet hardly ever do.) Oprah and Tyler Perry are both going to put their muscle behind the film to get the word out. Props to Lion’s Gate for really thinking outside of their comfort zone on this film. They do very well with Tyler Perry and it makes sense that this film also has potential, but Tyler Perry’s films sell themselves and this one will take a lot of work.
Here’s what Oprah and Perry had to say about the film
“I’ve never seen anything like it. The moment I saw ‘Push: Based on the Novel by Sapphire,’ I knew I wanted to do whatever I could to encourage other people to see this movie. The film is so raw and powerful — it split me open,” Winfrey said.
“I am honored to join Oprah Winfrey and Lionsgate in releasing Lee Daniels’ exceptional film,” Perry said.
A couple of weeks ago the NY Timesran a piece about the lack of progress of African American directors over the last decade. It seems that African American filmmakers suffer the same issues as women filmmakers — being stuck in a niche and unable to get out. Whether it’s right or not, or desired or not, most African American directors get pigeon holed into creating stories for African American audiences which are still not seen as “mainstream.” Personally, I would rather see a film like The Secret Life of Bees directed by an African American woman like it was, because I would venture to say that Gina Prince-Bythewood (pictured top right) would do a better job than a white woman or white man. I don’t see anything wrong with that. But because women and people of color are seen as “niche audiences” anyone who is in those groups gets stuck. I don’t think the problem is with the audiences. The Secret Life of Bees was a steady earner all through the fall with black and white women. I think the word niche is evil and should be banished. Why aren’t stories like Cadillac Records which boasts an amazing performance from Beyonce (tell me why they couldn’t sell her?) seen as American stories? Once the movie business figures out that they can make money by getting people beyond the “niche” maybe we will see more opportunities for African American directors and women directors.
Some points from the article:
You could now literally count on one hand (using two fingers) the number of black directors who can get their projects made and distributed at a steady rate. One is (Spike) Lee…while the other is Tyler Perry.
Momentum for African-American cinema, it would seem, has been curtailed or at least stalled in part by studio executives’ preconceptions that black films are “niche product” with limited appeal. Yet at the same time black directors and producers still express optimism that they not only can continue to cultivate their black audiences but also can reach out further and wider to the mainstream…
Darnell Martin, the director of Cadillac Record is a cautionary, yet surprisingly typical tale of what happens to women directors:
Ms. Martin places much of the blame for her sporadic career in the feature-film business on the conflicts she had over the promotion of “I Like It Like That.” “They insisted on making me the poster child for the film, the ‘female Spike Lee,’ and I said, ‘Look, I don’t mind that. I’m proud to be a black woman director, and I want that out there.’ But we’d gotten some great reviews, and I felt that was what they should be leading with. If it had been a white director, they would have emphasized the reviews, but instead they were trying to get people to see it only because I was black.
Editor’s Note – While checking out tips from readers, evaluating episodes of Daddy’s Little Girls, and checking up on The Real World, something kept grating on my nerves. The heavily promoted Bromance dances into decidedly homo-erotic territory – but the wink and nudge protestations from the cast members (complete with “Dude, that’s so gay” remarks to keep people in check) I started to wonder what was up. I asked Arturo to take a quick peek at the show. – LDP
The question of male friendship and how “gay” it may or may not be is getting a little extra scrutiny these days, with new projects from Brody Jenner and Paul Rudd.
In the wake of Prop. 8′s passage in California, Jenner’s Bromance is taking MTV’s new approach to dating shows: same-sex humiliation. Produced by Momma’s Boy’s mastermind Ryan “I was Metro when that was still another word for subway” Seacrest, the show is Entourage by way of The Bachelor, with several dim-witted if sort-of-well-intentioned young men competing for a spot at Brody’s side. And really, who wouldn’t want to hang out with a professional do-nothing and his friend Sleazy T and Frankie Delgado — especially after their “initiation” involved getting dragged out of their beds wearing nothing but their boxers (or less) and a black bag over their head? My buddies and I play Gitmo Gotcha all the time!
The show’s challenges answer that question: money, and random women. Each of the show’s skill challenges features two or three random white female ornaments. The lone exception, of course, was the “Dating Game”-style game which cross-promoted Lauren Conrad – she’s random enough on her own. The contestants’ first task, in fact, was to bring “hot chicks” to a lingerie party. (It also should be noted that seemingly 75 percent of the women who were convinced to go were Caucasian blondes.) Continue reading →
by Guest Contributor SLB, originally published at PostBourgie
In grad school, I took an elective called Autobiografiction in Black, a course in first-person narratives illustrating a broad pastiche of Black life. The first novel we were asked to read was Sapphire’s Push. I read it in three days, growing more and more uncomfortable by the page. I had to take long, cleansing breaks after certain passages. Other times, I sat covering my mouth in disbelief at the central character’s myriad disfortunes. When the book finally ended, I wanted to hurl it across my apartment. My skin crawled for days and I felt betrayed by my professor. What possible reason could she have had for choosing this novel as the initial reading for her course?
Push is the story of Precious Jones, an obese and illiterate teen whose mother and father are sexually, physically, and emotionally abusing her. As a result of routine father-daughter incest, she is the mother of one child with Down’s Syndrome and is pregnant with a second. These horrifying occurrences are just the beginning of Precious’s troubles, but it’d behoove you to read the book to find out what else is going on.
Suffice it to say: Sapphire is relentless in her portrayal of this girl, who joins a literacy class and begins to slowly peek out from the cracks of her dark, shattered life and find a few rays of light.
People who love this book will tell you that it’s a triumphal story of hope in the face of brutality and despair. And it is. But for me, hope appeared too late in the work and retreated without a satisfying enough redemption for our heroine. I couldn’t stop mourning her abundance of tragedies, no matter what brief victories she won.
So when I found out Push was being adapted for the silver screen, I cringed at the prospect of revisiting Precious’s bleakly rendered world. I dreaded watching in technicolor all the awful things I’d imagined while reading. And I reeeally didn’t want to return to the hollowness that haunted the ending. What possible reason would Hollywood have for further dramatizing an existence as heinous as Precious’s? Continue reading →
Cherien Dabis is having one of those dreamlike weeks. She was named one of Variety’s 10 Directors to Watch in 2009, and her film Amreeka had its world premiere at Sundance this past weekend to a standing ovation and positive reviews. Now all she needs to do it sell the film and get an agent.
Not being in Sundance, I haven’t seen the film but if I were there, it would been tops on my list. Here’s the description from the catalog:
Director Cherien Dabis’s auspicious debut feature, Amreeka, is a warm and lighthearted film about one Palestinian family’s tumultuous journey into Diaspora amidst the cultural fallout of America’s war in Iraq. Muna Farah, a Palestinian single mom, struggles to maintain her optimistic spirit in the daily grind of intimidating West Bank checkpoints, the constant nagging of a controlling mother, and the haunting shadows of a failed marriage. Everything changes one day when she receives a letter informing her that her family has been granted a U.S. green card. Reluctant to leave her homeland, but realizing it may be the only way to secure a future for Fadi, her teenage son, Muna decides to quit her job at the bank and visit her relatives in Illinois to see about a new life in a land that gives newcomers a run for their money.Dabis weaves an abundance of humor and levity into this tale of struggle, displacement, and nostalgia and draws an absorbing and irresistibly charming performance from actress Nisreen Faour as Muna, who stands at the heart of this tale. Amreeka glows with the truth and magic of everyday life and signals the arrival of an exciting, new directorial talent.
She took a couple of minutes to discuss the film and her Sundance experience.
Women & Hollywood: What made you want to make this film?
Cherien Dabis: The story is quite personal, inspired by my family and loosely based on true events. I grew up in a small town in Ohio of about 10,000 people. I actually grew up between Ohio and Jordan but most of my time was spent in this small town where as Arab Americans we were isolated because there was no Arab community and not a whole lot of diversity. For a while everything was fine and we fit in relatively well until the first Gulf War when my family was scapegoated and overnight we virtually became the enemy. All kinds of absurd things happened. My father who is a physician lost a lot of his patients because they wouldn’t support an Arab doctor and then it came to a head when the Secret Service came to my high school to investigate a rumor that my 17 year old sister threatened to kill the president.