Walking in, I thought I had Filly Brown pegged. The trailer gave me the impression it was like every other hip-hop movie I’d ever seen:
Young kid from the hood trying to make good? Check.
Prerequisite positive rap song that feels like it was pulled from Ghostwriter? Check.
Street pressures that are easily overcome? Check.
Mandatory plot for women, involving sexing up your image to get signed to the majors? Check.
But hey, I had just gone through three really depressing movies about the fall out of the drug war. I needed something to lift my spirits, and I will shamelessly admit that I enjoyed Brown Sugar. On the real, Filly Brown could have been a Lifetime produced version of the Somaya Reece story, and I still would have watched it!
Luckily, I was wrong.
Okay, on second thought, I wasn’t that wrong. Two and a half of the four I listed above were in the movie. But the team behind Filly Brown managed to add enough new elements to make the standard tropes feel fresh. Continue reading →
So the fact that Rashida Jones nailed both her performance and her part of the screenplay entire movie is something very special.
Celeste and Jesse Forever follows a long-term couple in the midst of a breakup. Having been best friends for the past twenty years, Celeste (Rashida Jones) and Jesse (Andy Samberg) find themselves divorcing–in spite of their continued chemistry. Celeste, a trends analyst and pop-culture commentator, is the epitome of a responsible business woman. Jesse is an unemployed artist, who spends more time scheming on surfing than actively planning out his life. They bond through some strange shared loves (like masturbating lip glosses, baby corn, and other things that look like tiny penises) but Celeste initiates the divorce since Jesse has failed to grow up. Continue reading →
“By healing, you resist oppression. – Emad Burnat”
5 Broken Cameras is a story of living in the shadow of oppression, a moving portrait of vibrant resistance through the unapologetic embrace of life itself. Set in the small Palestinian village of Bil’in, the story and narrative belongs to Emad Burnat, who became the eye of the village and ultimately chronicled over five years of activism. The people of Bil’in found their lands being encroached on by the building of a new settlement, and the wall to protect that settlement. They protest peacefully, marching up to the wall each Friday and thinking of new actions and demonstrations to stop the advancement of the settlement.
During this time, Emad also had a son, Gibreel, which brought his total brood to four. Emad mentions that each of the boys knows a slightly different world. The eldest was born during the Olso Accords which meant that he grew up with more freedom and mobility. Gibreel, on the other hand, mixes his first words of “mommy” and “daddy” with “army,” “cartridge” and “run! run!” If it weren’t for the ever present undercurrent of violence, Emad’s life would almost be seen as idyllic: a loving family; a large, involved village; numerous dances and celebrations are cornerstones of the life they create. Their marches are also full of hope and some humor. At one point, tired of the late night raids on the village, a group of children march up to the wall, chanting “We want to sleep! We want to sleep!” The situation in Bil’in gained international attention, and groups of Israeli, German, and other activists come at various points to show their support and solidarity. However, violence is never far enough away, and the promise of more hangs over Bil’in like a cloud. Continue reading →
“Though we tremble before uncertain futures/ may we meet illness, death and adversity with strength/ may we dance in the face of our fears.” ― Gloria E. Anzaldúa
Mosquita y Mari is a slow paced exploration of being a teenager peering over the brink of adulthood. Set in a Mexican-American neighborhood in Los Angeles, Mosquita y Mari follows the lives of two very different Chicana teenagers. Yolanda (Fenessa Pineda) is a studious high-achiever, a dutiful daughter from a loving home. Mari (Venecia Troncoso) is rebellious and volatile, with a chip on her shoulder that crowds out most of the world. Circumstances toss them together again and again, and they embark on a deep and intense friendship.
In her press kit, writer/director Aurora Guerrero writes:
The inspiration behind my debut feature-film, Mosquita y Mari, was my own adolescence. Initially, when I decided I wanted to write a feature-length script I kept coming back to a series of complex, same-sex friendships I had while growing up. When looking back, long before I identified as queer, I realized my first love was one of my best friends. It was the type of friendship that was really tender and sweet but also sexually charged. Despite the fact that we had the makings of a beautiful teen romance we never crossed that line. The beginnings of Mosquita y Mari was reflecting back on that time and asking myself the questions, why didn’t we cross that line and what kept us in “our place”? I didn’t grow up in a household where my parents forewarned me that if I turned out to be gay they would disown me. They didn’t wave the Bible in my face saying it was wrong. Instead the message was subtle. It was hidden in the silences around sex and desire; it was implied in society’s expectations, you know, like you only experience those feelings of love and desire with the opposite sex. I think all of us are subject to society’s rules so I think many people can relate to this story of censored friendship. That was the initial inspiration. [...] Continue reading →
Movie theaters used to hold a special kind of magic.
Lined up with my friends, clutching the occasional purchase of popcorn and a soft drink, or sneaking smuggled in snacks, we would watch in awe and horror as teenagers paraded around on screen, seemingly oblivious to the threat of violence lurking around the corner. When I was about thirteen years old, I sat through the original Scream. The rules of horror movies, as articulated by the character Randy, were clear and concise:
Randy: There are certain RULES that one must abide by in order to successfully survive a horror movie. For instance, number one: you can never have sex. [crowd boos] Randy: BIG NO NO! BIG NO NO! Sex equals death, okay? Number two: you can never drink or do drugs. [crowd cheers and raises their bottles] Randy: The sin factor! It’s a sin. It’s an extension of number one. And number three: never, ever, ever under any circumstances say, “I’ll be right back.” Because you won’t be back.
But there were some rules that we knew that never were articulated.
1. The black character always dies, normally first. This is normally related to not being lead characters, but easily dispensable side characters. Sure, we had Tales from the Hood, but we knew the score. I think that’s why all of us at the local participatory theater screamed the whole way through I Still Know What You Did Last Summer. “Run, Brandy, Run! You gotta make it because they already killed Mekhi!”
2. Upper middle class white kids are the stars of these things. In general, no matter how big and bad the villain is, they are still hanging out in pastoral campgrounds or tony neighborhoods, waiting for their victims to sun themselves on their cabanas. The only exception I can think of was Candyman who was black and haunted the Cabrini-Green housing projects. And later, came a few other things we need not name. But in general, horror film villains and heroes alike were in the providence of “not us.”
So when Moses and his crew took to the screen, defending their tower block from alien invasion, my inner fourteen year old wanted to jump up and start yelling.
Unfortunately, my 28 year old self knows we don’t do those things at the Museum of Modern Art, even if we really, really, want to.
Randomly watching TV, I was shocked to see this ad for The Warrior’s Way:
Wait a minute – that was an Asian male lead. Who has a love interest. That he kisses. And she’s white!
There are a couple different reasons why this is remarkable.
One, in many American made films, the Asian guy is supposed to be the sidekick – even if they happen to be in the lead role. Therefore, no need for a love interest, much less one that reciprocates his feelings.
Two, we have an interracial couple kissing on screen in the promotional marketing material . This should not be a rare sight in 2010. Yet, here we are.
Not sure how I feel about the East meets West plot construction – this could be a really awesome, somewhat subversive way to acknowledge that there were more people in the American West than just outlaw settlers. Or it could play right into the stranger from a far away land cliche. The flying ninjas invasion scene makes me lean toward the latter, unfortunately.
There’s been a lot of buzz amongst friends and colleagues about the film Reel Injun. The title itself says a lot. “Reel” —a reel of film—and “Injun”—a derogatory word for Indian—but the title also points to what is missing from film and from children’s and young adult literature: real Indians.
Saying the phrase, “real Indians”, makes me cringe. First, it is the year 2010, and we—people who are American Indian—encounter people who think we were all wiped out by enemy tribes, disease, or war. Or, people who think that in order to be “real Indians” we have to live our lives the same ways our ancestors did. Course, they don’t expect their own identities and lives to look like those of their own ancestors… In principle, we are a lot like anyone else. We have ways of thinking about the world and ways of being in that world (spiritually and materially) that were–and are—handed down from one generation to the next. Though we wear jeans and athletic shoes (or business suits and dress shoes), we also maintain clothing we sometimes wear for spiritual and religious purposes. Just like any cultural group, anywhere. Continue reading →
by Guest Contributor Angry Asian Man, originally published at Angry Asian Man
For all my friends in the Bay Area, don’t miss the theatrical premiere of Eric Byler and Annabel Park’s 9500 Liberty, a documentary on how Prince William County, Virginia became ground zero in America’s explosive battle over immigration policy. Here’s the synopsis:
Prince William County, Virginia becomes ground zero in America’s explosive battle over immigration policy when elected officials adopt a law requiring police officers to question anyone they have “probable cause” to suspect is an undocumented immigrant.
9500 Liberty reveals the startling vulnerability of a local government, targeted by national anti-immigration networks using the Internet to frighten and intimidate lawmakers and citizens. Alarmed by a climate of fear and racial division, residents form a resistance using YouTube videos and virtual townhalls, setting up a real-life showdown in the seat of county government.
The devastating social and economic impact of the “Immigration Resolution” is felt in the lives of real people in homes and in local businesses. But the ferocious fight to adopt and then reverse this policy unfolds inside government chambers, on the streets, and on the Internet. 9500 Liberty provides a front row seat to all three battlegrounds.
Here’s the trailer:
It’s a powerful film, telling a very real story about one community’s culture war over immigration — a struggle more relevant than ever with what’s happening now in Arizona. Here’s a scene from the film:
The film opens this Friday, June 11 at Rialto Cinemas Elmwood and Landmark Lumiere in San Francisco. Some details:
“9500 LIBERTY” Bay Area Theatrial Premiere
Berkeley, CA Starts Friday, June 11 Rialto Cinemas Elmwood Daily Showtimes TBA 2966 College Avenue at Ashby Berkeley, CA 94705 (707) 539-9771 Co-director Eric Byler in person at Friday, June 11 evening shows. Co-director Annabel Park in person at Saturday, June 12 evening shows.
San Francisco, CA Starts Friday, June 11 Landmark Lumiere Daily Showtimes TBA 1572 California St. (at Polk) San Francisco, CA 94109-4708 (415) 267-4893 Co-director Annabel Park in person Friday, June 11 evening shows Co-director Eric Byler in person Saturday, June 12 evening shows and Sunday, June 13 afternoon shows.
Think what’s going down in Arizona is crazy and insane? Guess what? It already happened in Prince William County, and it tore apart an entire community. For more information about the film, go to the 9500 Liberty website here. Also read this piece by Eric in the Huffington Post: Arizona, Immigration, and the Coming Shake-Up.
Race, Culture, and Identity in a Colorstruck World