August 8, 2005
THIS IS A BETTER REVIEW OF DIARY OF MAD BLACK WOMAN
Now Playing: ARMOND WHITE'S REVIEW
Topic: Movie Reviews
BV Reviews: 'Diary of a Mad Black Woman'
By Armond White, AOL BlackVoices
"Everybody needs love," Martha and the Vandellas sang back in the '60s. That knowledge is the key to the successful Tyler Perry phenomenon. Writer, performer and entrepreneur Perry combines humor and soap opera, expressing the need to be loved in the new movie 'Diary of a Mad Black Woman.' His winning formula has been seen in the seven stage plays he has toured across the United States and in several direct-to-video releases. So far his productions have grossed nearly $75 million. Black music video veteran director Darren Grant now confirms it for a new medium.
Break It Down: Perry's comic gimmick is downscale but delightful.
'Diary of a Mad Black Woman' feels like the first black-movie soap opera because love stories geared to the experiences and ideas of the black community are rare on the big screen. Nothing in either the blaxploitation movement of the 1970s or the hood movie movement of the 1990s fulfilled the popular taste that Perry sets his sights on in 'Diary.' The story of how Helen McCarter (Kimberly Elise) pulls herself together after being thrown out of her Atlanta home by her cruel, cheating husband (Steve Harris) makes an appeal to a totally different set of audience emotions.
Previously, successful black filmmakers have concentrated on action genres aimed at black male ticket buyers. Perry realizes that there is a vast audience of black female ticket buyers who want another approach to storytelling. 'Diary of a Mad Black Woman' capitalizes on romance the way 'Superfly' or 'New Jack City' capitalized on crime. Helen McCarter's story is about a black woman's personal fulfillment and self-realization, not a black man's egotistical demonstration before the world that he can control his own finances and destiny. The stage plays Perry has written, produced and performed in prove that his concept has grassroots appeal. But what makes it unusual -- and universally successful -- is that this appeal isn't limited to gender.
Part of Perry's secret is that women and men both share the same desire, as Martha and the Vandellas knew -- even if men and women rarely confess it to each other (and certainly not in public). 'Diary of a Mad Black Woman' makes those feelings public cinematically. It starts out like a psycho-dramatic version of 'Waiting to Exhale': Helen narrates about her rich lawyer husband's infidelity like Eve recounting how she was thrown out of the Garden of Eden.
Grant directs the early scenes of paradise lost with a sure knack for soap opera extravagance and pity. No episode of 'Dynasty' or 'The Young and the Restless' is more shamelessly compelling. The image of Helen in a red evening dress being dragged across a marble floor and tossed between the columns of a Southern mansion is so full of drama it verges on being irresistibly campy.
Perry's show biz expertise is in knowing how to maintain that careful balance. It is just at that point -- when Helen's heart can break no further -- that the movie shifts tone. 'Diary' stops being a pity party and becomes a comedy of self-resurrection. It is no accident that this shift is accomplished by the introduction of a new character, Madea, who is Helen's grandmother and the community Big Mama. Large breasted, loudmouthed, strong willed and with a pistol packed in her purse, Madea almost emanates from Helen's subconscious. But she is also a mythic figure from the bosom of the Southern black family.
Madea is bodacious, outrageous and courageous. She is also played by a man -- Tyler Perry himself -- in an audacious act of showmanship. This black Mrs. Doubtfire is Tyler's tribute to the black matriarch as well as to the tradition of black drag performers. He brings both traditions together through the good-hearted notion of celebrating everyone's need to be loved. Helen learns how to respect herself, earn the devotion of a good man (Orlando played by Shemar Moore) as well as the proper handling of an abusive mate. Madea guarantees that these lessons are learned through humor but Perry is sincere when he backs Madea up with another matriarch figure, Helen's wise mother Myrtle played by Cicely Tyson.
In 'Diary,' Perry realizes that the emotional torments used to sell millions of black romance novels also have a restorative, comic flip side. His ingenious gimmick as a cultural impresario is to tickle that funny bone by going back to the roots of folk culture -- the front porch story, the chitlin' circuit revue, the gospel epiphany. 'Diary of a Mad Black Woman' is not profound art, but it combines the great pleasures familiar from the most popular forms of black public expression.
Break It Down: Perry's comic gimmick is downscale but delightful.
Feb. 18, 2005
Find Armond White's Review
by clicking here.
I Guess I'm Not Really A Bougie Black Woman After All--Maybe
Now Playing: Diary of a Mad Black Woman
Topic: Movie Reviews
To get a better understanding of this post click: What is BOUGIE?
Today I saw Diary of a Mad Black Woman
on DVD. It is based on one of Tyler Perry's
highly popular "chitlin' circuit/gospel" play featuring his most infamous/famous character, Madea (played by Mr. Perry himself). In New York City, all of these so-called "gospel plays" are shown at the Beacon Theater.
It is almost a joke among Black New Yorkers, because the plays/musicals follow a very traditional pattern. It usually stars a former B-list R&B singer (like Christopher Williams or Me'lissa Morgan) or B-list Black TV star (like Malik Yoba). A woman is usually extremely wronged by a black man. And said black woman usually learns a lesson from the wisdom of her female peers and this lesson has a big walloping dose of God and Jesus in it. Most times, the men are also redeemed. And they always most certainly will play at the Beacon Theater
It is also a joke, most secretly and sometimes not so secretly, because Black folk associate those who see these plays as "ghetto" or too poor/ignorant to see something more highbrow (so-to-speak). Half my heart believed this although I saw the last of the Mama I Want to Sing
trilogy nearly ten years ago. (Oddly enough it wasn't at the Beacon Theater but an off Broadway theater in the Village.) Somewhere, somehow, or something convinced me that I was beyond "Chitlin Circuit" plays, musicals or movies (i.e. Soul Plane
). Maybe it's because I never flocked to them to begin with or maybe I started to believe that once a Black man or woman reached a certain educational or financial status, he or she became less ghetto, more white, and thus Bougie and was or should above these things.
I can't go in "da hood" now where I grew up , and expect to somehow be down with folk. I'm a woman with a graduate degree and a seemingly middle class existence that clashes with where I grew up. I often have conflicts within myself on definitions of what it means to be Black or Bougie. I also have conflicts about whether or not growing up in the ghetto makes me ghetto. I don't fit into any pre-determined category. I fit into many yet I don't fit into any. This, on occasion, bothers me.(More posts on this later, I suspect.) No one wants to be the oddball.
And speaking of oddballs, lets get back to Diary of a Mad Black Woman
...It is not your typical middle-class Black movie genre (see movies like The Brothers, The Wood, The Best Man, Love Jones...
) of the past ten years that are geared toward Black people who don't see themselves in the gangster, inner-city, tough reality films like Menace to Society or Boyz In DA Hood
. These "hood" Black flicks and "bougie" Black flicks have a tendency to be extremes of how Black people either see themselves or wish to see themselves (Love and Basketball
may be the exception). Diary...somehow brings both elements together into a cohesive and entertaining film without beating one over the head with its "I'm so Street" or "I'm so Middle Class" pathos. It also retains all of the characteristics and charm associated with the Gospel plays, but it is done so with a light hand.
My favorite part of this movie is its blatant Christian and/orMoral (by Webster's Definition)
moral message about Forgiveness
. It is wonderful that this message is delivered in such a non-Pollyanna fashion. It also is delivered without being a conservative, boring, dull or condemning flick. It serves the medicine with a bit of sugar. I think Diary is a movie that can appeal to nearly all Blacks despite their actual or perceived socio-economic-cultural levels, and appeal to Christians or God-believers who don't consider themselves Holy Rollers.
With all that said, you still probably won't find me up in the Beacon Theater anytime soon. :-)
July 29, 2005
No Jeans, No Polo Shirt, No Birkenstocks, No Service
Now Playing: The Retirement of the Wannabe Fashionista
As I hitched my knapsack onto my shoulder and re-laced my sneakers, I realized that becoming a parent has both its advantages and disadvantages. On the plus side, you get to tax write off. lol. On the second hand, you cannot dress hip, cool, or very fashionable anymore. And I'm not just talking about the cost of clothing either. It doesn't help either that I'm at a job working with the public and have to be on my feet often.
Last night, I was cleaning out my closet. Rather I was sorting out my closet. Heels, pointy-toe boots, and platform flip-flops? Hell no! How can you balance yourself on those shoes with a 15-lb baby dangling from your front carrier? Forget about the children's library...you cannot do the hokey pokey in a pair of stilettos. (I actually need a sports bra to do that, now.)
Forget about dangly earrings, long necklaces, and ruffled blouses. If you like them you need to forget about them, because a 5 month old baby doesn't have the release reflex. A 5 month old baby has the grab, pull, shake, poop, pee, and drool reflex. A torn earlobe, a broken necklace and a ripped blouse is not worth the pain and repair of trying to look cute.
White pants? Ivory skirts? Fancy hose? *Sigh* It's all in the past now. Dirty books, sticky hands, and bookcases with snags put those dandy items in the hope chest. Also, try carrying a baby in one arm and trudging a dirty-wheeled stroller up 3 flights of subway stairs in white pants, an ivory skirt or fancy hose. There will be rips, tears, tire skid marks, and dirt splotches.
Showing cleavage? Better zip it up or baby will pull the girls out. Even worse, teenage boy patrons will keep looking down your blouse. The worst, you'll make the Hokey Pokey the most obscene song ever with your boobs bouncing up and down with every shake. Can we say "put your left tit in?"
Six years ago I had no style. I dressed corporate. I changed jobs, reinvented myself. Navy blue slacks, pinstripe blouses, wool blazers and black oxfords were given to the charity Dress for Success
. Over the course of 5 years, I paid attention to fashion and make-up. By last count, I had over 60 pairs of shoes including 4 pairs of faux Ugg Boots, 3 pairs of black heeled boots, 2 pairs of mock-croc loafers in pink and red, a pair of bright green pumps, a pair of tweed pumps and a pair of leather kitten heel sandals with a yellow seahorse patchwork. I don't know what happen, but aside from the sneakers, none of those shoes are relevant to my lifestyle anymore. Neither are my purses because they can't fit baby baby bottles, diapers, and
the least issue of In Style magazine.
What should I do? Do I need to simplify my wardrobe and donate all my fancy shoes to Dress to Success or another worthy charity? I dunno. It's a slippery slope. I don't want to be that dull dresser I was before. Yet, how stylish can you be in sensible shoes and wash-n-wear shirts?
At least I can still rock my eye glitter and red lipstick.
July 26, 2005
My Bizarre Hatred of Random Celebrities, Part 1
Now Playing: Been Long Time Shouldn't Left You...
Topic: Celebrity News/Thoughts
Yesterday, I was watching MTV Hits channel (you know, the one MTV channel that actually plays music videos) and I saw the video for Justin Timberlake's "Senorita" all the way through for the first time. All of a sudden, I found myself in a quandry because I really liked Justin's album Justified
. I like his little blue-eyed, Usher cum Michael Jackson style of R&B/Pop. I'm also looking forward to his new album if he can get up from under Cameron Diaz long enough to do it. However, I hate Justin Timberlake. Currently, he's number 1 on my Bizarre Hatred of Random Celebrities List (BHoRC).
1. Justin Timberlake
because he turned out be such a poseur. He so lusted after and idolized Janet Jackson so much that he let her swing after the Tittygate fiasco. Also, he's supposed to be so diverse and so real that once he went Hollywood, he gets himself the 100% embodiment of your typical Hollywood beauty--tall, skinny, blonde, and airheaded--as a girlfriend. I'm speaking of Cameron Diaz folks.
2. Cameron Diaz
because she's not that pretty or that hot or that great of talent yet she's the highest paid actress in Hollywood? I don't get it.
, of America's Next Top Model and Celebrity Fit Club 2
, because she's a silly chickenhead. CFC2 has shown and proved it to me. So much for getting another plus-sized model for all us big girls to look up to. Here's a tip for Toccara, girlfriend, get a sport bra.
My celebrity ex-boyfriend, Ricky Martin wants to stop the stereotyping of Arab children. Bless his goodwill doing heart. I also like his new song, "I Don't Care," which sounds an awful like it should be on Usher's damn-near-if-not-already-Diamond-selling album, Confessions
.Ricky Martin Seeks End to Arab StereotypesDiversityInc.com news briefs are purchased from The Associated Press or written by the staff of DiversityInc.com. They cannot be duplicated or reproduced in any way. Our in-depth articles, published six days a week, are reported and written by our staff of full-time journalists.
On his first visit to the Middle East, Ricky Martin declared he will try to change negative perceptions of Arab youth in the West.
"I promise I will become a spokesperson, if you allow me to, a spokesperson on your behalf. I will defend you and try to get rid of any stereotypes," the 33-year-old singer told youngsters from 16 mainly Arab countries at a youth conference on Monday.
The children, ages 14 to 16, expressed concern about being labeled as "terrorists" by the West.
"I have been a victim of stereotypes. I come from Latin America and to some countries, we are considered 'losers,' drug traffickers, and that is not fair because that is generalizing," said Martin, who was born in Puerto Rico.
"Those comments are made out of ignorance and we have to sometimes ignore the ignorant, but we also have to educate the ignorant. You have me here as a friend," he said.
Martin, who is a United Nations Children's Fund goodwill ambassador, said he wanted to get to know the youth and their cultures better.
He said he planned to do a concert tour of the Mideast and North Africa, including Jordan and the Palestinian territories, tentatively scheduled for May 2006.
Martin, whose hits include "She Bangs," "Shake Your Bon-Bon" and "Livin' La Vida Loca," posed for photos with fans, at one point draping over his shoulders a traditional Arab kaffiyeh headscarf with the slogan "Jerusalem Is Ours" written in Arabic on it.
"I had no idea that the kaffiyeh scarf presented to me contained language referring to Jerusalem, and I apologize to anyone who might think I was endorsing its message," Martin said in a statement released Monday by his New York–based publicist, Ken Sunshine.
"My role is entirely humanitarian, and I will continue to promote the elimination of stereotyping anyone—be they from Latin America, the Middle East, or anywhere across the globe," he said in the statement.
Martin attended the silver jubilee of the Arab Children's Congress set up 25 years ago by Jordan's Queen Nour, King Hussein's widow, to promote creativity, peace, cross-cultural understanding and tolerance. He said he would like to promote a similar youth congress for his native Latin America.
Martin said he would travel later Monday to Thailand where his organization, the Ricky Martin Foundation, had built 225 homes to protect children orphaned by the Dec. 26 tsunami that swept through South Asia.
"I couldn't stay at home with my arms crossed," he said.
Martin said his foundation also is working to combat child pornography and prostitution worldwide. (AP)
More On Ricky's New Single: I Don't Care
July 16, 2005
I'M ABOUT TO HAVE A GEEKY MELTDOWN
Now Playing: The Fountain and Love for Darren Aronofsky
Shut fuck up! My secret celebrity boyfriend's movie is starting to get good buzz. Read up. Comic-Con 2005:
The Fountain Trailer First Look
Con attendees get a glimpse of Darren Aronofsky's next.
July 15, 2005 - We love Darren Aronofsky. With just two features under his belt (Pi and Requiem for the Dream), he has established himself as an impressive visual stylist with slavish devotion to story and concept. For the past six years, he has been toiling away on what he calls his "personal passion," the amazing looking The Fountain.
The film has had a rocky start, almost lifting off in 2002 with Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchet in the title roles, but was shelved due to the good ol' standby: "creative differences." Aronofksy seems to have found the perfect cast though with Hugh Jackman as Tom and Rachel Weisz as Izzi. Praise for Jackman has been effusive. Says Aronofksy, "You haven't seen anything from Hugh Jackman yet."
Set in three time periods, 1500AD, 2000AD, and 2500AD, the film follows Tom and Izzi throughout history as they experience love over 1000 years, gaining strength presumably from a fountain of youth represented by a tree. OK, we may be off there, but that's what we gathered from a trailer. Aronofsky himself said to the crowd: "Confused? Well, there's 90 more minutes of the film."
We cannot wait for this one. The few minutes we've seen has some truly iconic imagery, some brutal battle sequences, and an absolutely transcendent moment when Tom (Jackman, bald) is meditating in front of a tree while floating in space. The 5500 or so people in the auditorium became absolutely hushed during the sequence, as if they knew they were watching something special. The film during that sequence recalls the quiet space of Kubrick's 2001, Zemeckis' Contact, or even Douglas Trumbull's Silent Running.
The film should be releasing this fall. Keep it on IGN FilmForce for more information. Check out our exclusive interviews with Darren Aronofsky and Rachel Weisz.
-- Steven Horn
What's With Me and Hospital Shows?
Now Playing: Scrubs
Topic: TV: The Soft Blue Glow
Last night, the hubby and I rented the first season of Scrubs
, the NBC show with Zack Braff. Talk about being four years behind. We has watched an episode here and there and thought it was funny, but never watched it regularly. We still might not watch it regularly during the season, but doggoneit we will be renting the other seasons when they come out on DVD. It is a funny show. It cracked me up. Also, it's nice to see Donald Faison in a good show. I feel like I've seen him in stuff since 1990.
Now I also hope House
comes out on DVD before the second season starts, because I'd like to check it. That's one show that kept my interest piqued every time I saw the commerical. However, I never watched it. When there's nothing on between 8:30 and 9 p.m., I have a tendency to not remember what I wanted to watch at 9 and cede to my husband's remote control flipping.
You know what should come out on DVD? St. Elsewhere.
OMG! The first three years of that show was off the chain. I'd buy that lickety split. Also, I'd rent Trapper John MD. My whole family would watch that show. My aunt and I had a crush on Gregory Harrison aka Dr. Gonzo Gates. My grandmother on Pernell Roberts aka Trapper John. (What's surprising is that I can remember both of their names yet I can't remember what I had for breakfast yesterday or what I spent my money on.)
I'm Addicted to Books and I Work in the Library
Now Playing: A Trip Down My Bookish Memory Lane
I'm having flashbacks to parts of my elementary school years, when I hung out in the school library during gym--I was permanently excused from gym because of my severe asthma. I'm also flashing back to parts of my high school and college experiences when I got immense joy out of wondering through the stacks--the height of them blocking out the dim flourescent lights above. Especially in college, when I has 12 floors and two sub-basements at my disposal, and I would have three and four hours between classes to kill. Deep down, I was a library geek. Deep down I was that guy from the Twilight Zone
who wanted the world to stop for a little while so he could read without being disturbed. You're reading the blog of a woman who looked forward to 9 months of bedrest during a pregnancy so I would have nothing to do but read. (Sidenote: I lost the pregnancy--it was ectopic and not viable.)
Even before I started working at the library or considering becoming a librarian (which, incidentally, had nothing to do with the fact that I liked to read), I'd hang out at the library at lunchtime. I'd browse the adult fiction--first mysteries (Robert P. Parker's Spenser
novels are my favorite), then the audio books (all the "Classic Literature" my high school was too broke to own), and finally I'd drift into the sociological memoir books (like Sex and the City
by Candace Bushnell or Susan Kaysen's Girl, Interrupted
.) I also had a penchant for "women's studies." In high school, I read mostly romance novels and plays. It was during that gawky era that I became a fan of Tennessee Williams' plays. Until this day, I've yet to read anyone who can capture the human frailties like Mr. Williams.
At work, when I'm helping parents find books for their young children or helping teens find books for themselves, I have to reel myself in because after I help them I can (and will) browse books for myself. Worst yet, I borrow 10 to 20 books at a time. WHEN CAN I READ ALL OF THESE BOOKS? The library is too busy to read at the reference desk, and my commute is too short to really get into a book on the ride to and from work. At home, I'm a wife and a mother of an infant. Not to mention, I have tons of magazines at home waiting for me. Yet, somehow, I squeeze in the reading.
After a near-spat with a patron sent me to the loading dock to cool off for 30 minutes, I was able to finish up the last 75 pages of The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants
. Surprisingly, I enjoyed the novel very much. I liked the four girls and their character arcs. The book tried to have more depth and food for thought than the current crop of teen chick lit books. When I finished the book, I was both sad and proud of myself. I'm always proud when I finish a book because it is such an Herculian effort on my part to actually finish a book, and I was sad because I wanted to know more about these girls.
Today, during my lunch hour, I browsed through the Young Adult assignment section to look at the hundreds of books that high schools and middle schools have often assigned to their students. I picked up several today--skinny ones so I can get through them quickly.
I picked up Avi's A Place Called Ugly
, Forged by Fire
by Sharon Draper, The Snows of Kilimanjaro
by Hemingway, Brave New World (which I vaguely remember reading but not finishing nor understanding in high school but I blame the teacher for that), Flip-flp Girl
by Katherine Paterson, The Island
by Gary Paulsen (an author wildly popular with both teachers and kids), Lisa, Bright and Dark
(which sounds an awful like Charolette Light and Dark
, the ficitional book about the character Brenda Chenoworth on Six Feet Under
) by John Neufeld, and The Beast
by Walter Dean Myers (also an author wildly popular with both kids and teachers). I'm looking forward to reading them all. That geek that I am.
July 12, 2005
THAT'S F*CKING IT...THE KID GETS NO TV
Now Playing: TV WILL MESS YOUR TODDLERS UP...
http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/local/231249_television05.htmlTV -- any TV -- harms toddlers, study claims
Reading, memory adversely affected, UW researchers sayTuesday, July 5, 2005By JULIE DAVIDOW
SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER REPORTERAny TV is bad TV for children under 3.
That's the message of a new study from researchers at the University of Washington who found that toddler time spent in front of the television translates into lower reading and short-term memory scores at 6 and 7 years old.
"Watching even really good educational shows ... is bad" for children under 3, said Frederick Zimmerman, co-director of the Child Health Institute and lead author of the study published today in the Journal of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine.
Older children, however, did glean some benefits from watching a mix of educational and non-educational shows.
Zimmerman and his co-author, Dr. Dimitri Christakis, have published several studies looking at the effect of television viewing on young minds. They've linked too much television to bullying and attention problems.
As in the previous studies, their most recent analysis relies on mothers' responses to a national survey for about 1,800 children. Children younger than 3 watched an average of 2.2 hours of television a day; the daily average increased to 3.3 hours for children between 3 and 5.
For each hour of television watched per day before age 3, a child's reading comprehension and short-term memory scores fell at age 6 and 7.
But for older children, every hour of television led to slightly better performance sounding out and pronouncing words.
Since 1999, the American Academy of Pediatrics has recommended no television for children 2 and younger, including educational shows. For older children, the academy suggests no more than one to two hours a day of "quality" television.
"This is the fairly landmark study that says, 'Parents, there's something to this notion,' " said Dr. Donald Shifrin, a Bellevue pediatrician and chairman of the communications committee at the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Educational shows, such as "Blue's Clues" and "Sesame Street," are designed for older children who have already mastered the basics of language, Zimmerman said.
Younger children can't benefit from those programs, he said.
"They're trying to recognize sounds consistently and reproduce them accurately," Zimmerman said. "The way they do that is to interact with adults and look at their faces, lips and mouths."
An adult's reaction when a child repeats a sound or word -- something television doesn't offer -- is an important part of that learning process, Zimmerman said.
Grant Haven and his partner, John, keep track of their 4-year-old daughter's screen time on a wall calendar.
"It keeps us honest," Haven said.
Grace has a whole library of Disney videos, but she's only allowed to watch them in half-hour segments. As young as 9 months, Haven said, she was glued to the tube during "Teletubbies" episodes.
The West Seattle couple don't want the television to be a focal point of their lives or Grace's day. They keep the set in the guest bedroom "to make it a very special event when she goes to watch it."
The latest issue of the Journal of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine includes two additional studies related to television and children. A study from New Zealand found that the more midweek television that teenagers watched, the less likely they were to finish college. The other found that third-graders with television sets in their rooms scored lower on standardized tests.
But Ariel Chernin, a doctoral candidate in communications at the University of Pennsylvania and author of an accompanying editorial, said the three articles pay too little attention to the types of shows children are watching. "Whether or not you have a 2-year-old who's watching 'Sesame Street' or a 2-year-old watching 'Law and Order' -- those are two very different things."
ON THE WEB
For the American Academy of Pediatrics' media guidelines for parents, including recommendations for computer and television time, go to: www.aap.org
? 1998-2005 Seattle Post-Intelligencer
July 10, 2005
Now Playing: Some Obscure Flicks I Like You May Like
Topic: Movie Reviews
In the Mood for Love:
Set in Hong Kong, 1962, Chow Mo-Wan is a newspaper editor who moves into a new building with his wife. At approximately the same time, Su Li-zhen, a beautiful secretary and her executive husband also move in to the crowded building. With their spouses often away, Chow and Li-zhen spend time together as friends. Soon, they are shocked to discover that their spouses are having an affair. Hurt and angry, they find comfort in their growing friendship even as they resolve not to be like their unfaithful mates.Paris is Burning:
This is a documentary of 'drag nights' among New York's African- and Latino-American underclass. Drag queens are interviewed and observed preparing for and competing in many 'balls'.The Spook Who Sat by the Door:
A black man plays Uncle Tom in order to gain access to CIA training, then uses that knowledge to plot a new American Revolution. Eat, Drink, Man, Woman:
Senior Master Chef Chu lives in a large house in Taipei with his three unmarried daughters, Jia-Jen, a chemistry teacher converted to Christianity, Jia-Chien, an airline executive, and Jia-Ning, a student who also works in a fast food restaurant. Life in the house revolves around the ritual of an elaborate dinner each Sunday, and the love lives of all the family members.Dirty Pretty Things
: Okwe, a kind-hearted Nigerian doctor, and Senay, a Turkish chambermaid, work at the same West London hotel. The hotel is run by Senor Sneaky and is the sort of place where dirty business like drug dealing and prostitution takes place. However, when Okwe finds a human heart in one of the toilets, he uncovers something far more sinister than just a common crime.He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not:
Angelique, a young student, is in love with a married doctor. We see her attempts to make him leave his pregnant wife, but he does not appear for meetings or finally the booked journey to Florence. Then the movie is turned back to the beginning, and the view changes: We are now following the view of the doctor instead of Angeliques. And things look quite different now...
Mired in Mediocrity
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The superhero movie "Fantastic Four" overcame some of the worst reviews of the year to top the North American box office with better-than-expected weekend ticket sales of $56 million, its distributor 20th Century Fox said on Sunday.
This is further proof to me that any medicore thing marketed properly in this country will be rewarded with success. Our current president is case in point. Boy, don't even get me started. I'm just going to keep my head in the sand until 2008 and hope that the right doesn't fuck me up the ass while I'm bent over.
I have a child who is a little over 4 months old, and I've become absolutely determined to put the parental control lock on all of the cartoon and children's channels. Just too much animated stimuli and the commericals are just making them into consumers WAAAAAYYYY
to early. I'm so sick of kids coming into the library, eyes glazed, pissed because all of the Dora the Explorer, Power Puff Girls, Little Bill books are checked out, rather, stolen/missing.
Last night I watched a movie called Brother 2 Brother.
It had a good premise, but something lacked that it didn't quite keep my attention. I think it was the main fact that a person who was in their 20s during the Harlem Renassiance wouldn't be a spry 70-something in 2004. Anywho...Brother to Brother tackled something that is rarely discussed in the African-American community. Sexuality and gender is as much of the civil rights canvas as race. Gays who are black have two battles, but the civil rights movement have forced them to keep their sexuality hidden.
July 8, 2005
I Was An Ozalot Back Before It Was Cool and Maybe a Bit Creepy
Now Playing: A Return to Oz
Topic: Celebrity News/Thoughts
I used to be an Ozalot
. I even have a tee-shirt declaring as much. I also have an I love Oz pin. I saw the musical The Boy From Oz
7 times. I sing songs from the soundtrack to my baby as a lullaby. Hugh Jackman still shows up in my dreams promising me all sorts of unspeakable fulfillment. However, sometimes, it's best to let things go. You hold on to things for too long and you get into a sort of stasis holding program. But Hugh Jackman is delicious enough to destroy all senses of logic. (I hope his new flick The Fountain proves how talented he really is. Aside from his X-men movies and his musical work, his film choices are kind of *blech*. I still watch them anyway because, hey, it's Wolverine. That sexy muthefucker.)
(Ricky Martin also has a new song out which sounds surprisingly a lot like an Usher song. I was also in a Ricky Martin fan club from 1999-2001, roughly. I still do Living La Vida Loca on karaoke machines but I have to admit that his self-titled English language debut was kind of sucky. However, his second, Sound Loaded, was really good aside from She Bangs.)
Anywhoo...Ozalots strikes again...
Fans: Another Sort of 'Ozfest'
June 6 issue - "The Boy From Oz," a Broadway show starring Hugh Jackman, closed last fall. But the play's fans are scheming to keep it alive. This spring the devotees formed Ozalot Productions to get the play made into a movie. "Hugh Jackman could end up the biggest star in the world," says Ozalot prez Barbara Whittaker. His turn as songwriter Peter Allen, she says, "has to be committed to film."
Of course, the Ozalots have a few casting ideas. In an online debate that stretched for months, they settled on Mike Nichols as director, Anne Hathaway as Liza Minnelli and Eric McCormack as Jackman's lover.
Earlier this month a group of fans tracked down Jackman at a Broadway event in New York, introduced themselves and handed him a cast list. They hope that he'll produce the movie and then hire them as extras. Jackman, who's hosting the Tony Awards June 5, isn't ruling it out. "My fans are terrific," he tells NEWSWEEK. "We'll see."
? 2005 Newsweek, Inc.
? 2005 MSNBC.com
No More Comic Book Movies, Please
Now Playing: The Fantastic Four
Topic: Movie Reviews
The Fantastic Four
opens today nationwide. As soon as I had heard they were making a movie based on the FF comic book, I groaned. I remember the ill-fated one from the late 80s/early 90s that is only availble on bootleg. It sucked and I'm sure this one does too. Actually, if you read the New York Times Review
you'll have proof that it sucks.
We've had X-men, Spider-Man, the Hulk, Batman, Superman (
and Superman again coming soon!), the Punisher
(two versions that were both awful), Blade
(first two kicked serious ass and I could watch the first one non-stop), Elektra
(*groan*), Daredevil (*double groan*), Constantine
, and Sin City
(which I actually want to see for the animation/flimmaking style although I've pretty much come to the conclusion that Robert Rodriguez is a mediocore filmmaker). Can we stop right there? How many more comic books have to be ruined because of the movie franchises they spawned.
(Wait, I know what you're thinking. You're thinking, but X-Men and X-2 and Spider-Man and Spider-Man
were good movies. Batman Begins was really good and Super-man 2
with General Zod is legendary. This is true. All those movies were really good, but... Rumor has it that X-3 will be directed by Brett Ratner. A music video director? Who did Rush Hour 1 and 2 and the soulless Manhunter
-remake Red Dragon? Gimme a break. The X-men are much deeper than that of a director whose movies are as shallow as a puddle.)
Spider-Man 3 may be good, but lets just wait. Remember Batman #3, Superman #3 with Richard Pryor, or how about Star Trek 3? The third sequel in anything is guaranteed to be bad. Just ask Freddy, Jason, and Michael Myers. The Michael Keaton Batman movie that produced three more sequels pretty much destroyed the franchise that was only saved by darker, better written, and better acted animated series.)
Maybe it's my geek side coming out but I wish they would stop using comic books and popular novels to make movies. The writers' union should rise up and force Hollywood to come up with movies that have original plots.
Not until they make...
A movie based on the comic book Preacher
starring...well...that will have to be another post. And a movie based on The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay
starring Adrien Brody as the Amazing Kavalier and the guy who plays Michael Novotony from Queer as Folk as Sammy Clay (or maybe Shia LeBeouf or Tim Roth). Susan Silverman or the girl from Welcome to the Dollhouse
should play Rosa--Kavalier's squeeze.
More casting posts to follow in the future.
I'll post more on this topic in the futre I'm sure...
July 7, 2005
I HOPE THIS MEANS I WON'T BE DISPLAYED IN A PAYLESS SHOES AISLE
Now Playing: fandom
Wednesday, July 6, 2005
Family has unique viewing at funeral home
PITTSBURGH -- James Henry Smith was a zealous Pittsburgh Steelers fan in life, and even death could not keep him from his favorite spot: in a recliner, in front of a TV showing his beloved team in action.
Smith, 55, of Pittsburgh, died of prostate cancer Thursday. Because his death wasn't unexpected, his family was able to plan for an unusual viewing Tuesday night.
The Samuel E. Coston Funeral Home erected a small stage in a viewing room, and arranged furniture on it much as it was in Smith's home on game day Sundays.
Smith's body was on the recliner, his feet crossed and a remote in his hand. He wore black and gold silk pajamas, slippers and a robe. A pack of cigarettes and a beer were at his side, while a high-definition TV played a continuous loop of Steelers highlights.
"I couldn't stop crying after looking at the Steeler blanket in his lap," said his sister, MaryAnn Nails, 58. "He loved football and nobody did [anything] until the game went off. It was just like he was at home."
Longtime friend Mary Jones called the viewing "a celebration."
"I saw it and I couldn't even cry," she said. "People will see him the way he was."
Smith's burial plans were more traditional; he'll be laid to rest in a casket.
I F*cking Love This Guy...
Now Playing: The Life and Art of Vern
The Life and Art of Vern Visit this site.
Vern is this ex-con who writes movie reviews. They are so funny and observant. They're also not like your typical newspaper movie reviews. Check out, below, his review of War of the Worlds with Tom Cruise
. I couldn't have reviewed it better. (I don't curse that much when I'm writing except on this blog for some odd reason.) God bless my husband for finding these strange-ass websites!Sometimes for scientifical type purposes I try to predict what bad puns the hack critics will use in reviews of upcoming movies. For WAR OF THE WORLDS I was leaning toward an "out of this world" or "worlds away from E.T." type thing. Somebody suggested "Bore of the Worlds" but I was saving that for "Fantastic Bore" and "Fantastic Snore."
But then I saw WAR OF THE WORLDS and you know what this is? The scariest PG-13 movie of all time. Fuck dinosaurs. Fuck a guy eating monkey brains. This is as hard as Steve Spielberg is gonna get. This is a well put together piece of work in my opinion. Usually making a movie PG-13 when it could be R is a copout, but in this case it's almost subversive. Sorry about taking the guns out of E.T., to make it up to you I'm gonna give your kids the worst nightmares from now until they turn 16.
So now I'm thinking the pun headline should be CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE KIND WHERE YOU ALMOST SHIT YOUR PANTS. Or maybe E.T. - THE EXTRA-WE'REFUCKED-STRIAL.
This is, you probaly know, unless you're stupid, the story of aliens invading earth, etc. They drive around in death machines with three giant spindly legs, vaporize people, grab people with tentacles, suck the blood out of people, and that sort of thing. They do not, at least as far as we know in the movie, eat reeses pieces. Or get drunk or dress up like a girl. Maybe on the extended dvd.
What's really smart about the movie is that it's from the point of view of the poor saps on the ground. Usually in an alien invasion movie you sit in the halls of power with the world leaders and the military strategists and whoever else has a big screen with maps on it to point to. And you see scenes from god's point of view, all over the world, famous landmarks getting destroyed. And you're right there with the biggest hero in the world when he figures out how to stop the aliens. This is the opposite. You get none of that shit. You just get what happens to some guy in a leather coat. How he happens to survive. What he sees. Which is the same as what everybody else sees: some fucked up shit. Bodies floating, those things walking over, people dying, buildings dropping.
It all starts innocently, watching a weird storm from the backyard. After a little bit of set up, most of the movie consists of two things: 1). running. 2). hiding. Fuckup weekend dad Tom Cruise, angry teenage son and precocious/horrified daughter run and hide from the army of tripods. And if they don't see something happen, we don't see it either. The things are all over the place so we get good looks at them, usually in the distance. But you always feel like they might turn and see you. So you hide inside some basement somewhere and hear all kinds of horrible rumbling and exploding in the distance. There are lots of scary sounds in this movie. The tripods like to make this horrifying HOOOOOOOONNNNNNKKKK foghorn/lion roar type sound, which I suspect is their equivalent of american soldiers blasting Bon Jovi at Noriega or Eminem at some random dude they locked up in Abu Ghraib. They're just fucking with us. Or maybe it's their eqivalent of a car horn that plays "La Cuca Racha."
Or they could be communicating with that sound, it's up to you to decide. See, the other smart thing about the movie, it doesn't feel the need to explain every god damn thing. I mean, there is a little bit there (Morgan Freeman even narrates the beginning and end with text probaly from the book - don't worry, he's only the narrator, not some wise old man in the movie). But there's alot of shit that would be overexplained in your standard summer movie that Spielberg trusts you to be on your own with. So when Tom Cruise finds the wreckage of a huge jet in the front yard, you don't have to have someone explain how exactly it got there. There's a couple examples of weird, horrible things they see that I don't want to give away. Let's just say there aren't scientists making speeches about how everything works. Just a line here or there to offer theories. There isn't even TV reports to explain much because the electricity is out for most of the movie.
And it almost seems like they're taunting the audience, putting little things in there to make you expect the usual hollywood bullshit and then not giving it to you. For example the introduction of Tom Cruise has him operating a crane, with lots of closeups of his hands on the joysticks. I'm sure I wasn't the only one thinking "Oh jesus, he's gonna drive an alien spaceship." Never happens though. And they also make a big deal about the son always stealing his dad's car even though he doesn't have a license. But he doesn't drive an alien spaceship either. If this was INDEPENDENCE DAY, both of them would've driven spaceships. And there woulda been some reference to TOP GUN I bet. But WAR OF THE WORLDS doesn't play that shit.
There's alot of the usual Spielberg stuff (divorce, kids) but the tone is much grimmer and more serious than he's been for years. I liked his last couple sci-fi movies better than most people did, but in A.I. he threw in the Chris Rock cameo and in MINORITY REPORT there was the jetpack roasting the hamburgers incident. Here the tone is consistently horrific. It's the scary parts of JURASSIC PARK and not the jokey parts. It has equivalents to the raptors coming in the kitchen and the t-rex nuzzling the car but no jokes about evil lawyers getting eaten on the shitter. And instead of Sam Neill barely able to walk because he's so awed by the dazzling sight of real live dinosaurs, you get Tom Cruise barely able to walk because he just watched a weird machine come out of the ground and kill a whole bunch of people, and he's covered in what's left of them. Even John Williams manages to make a subdued, eerie score instead of his usual majestic anthemy business. I actually didn't think it was him until I checked IMDB. (A popular web sight where you can look up movies.)
The effects in the movie are real good too. They never make you want to cheer, they make you want to duck. They did a good job of capturing those "oh shit am I really seeing this?" moments people experience during natural disasters, terrorist attacks and specials on Fox. Also there are good "what the hell is that sound?" moments. This movie proved to me that yes, the guy who did Jurassic Park IS the same guy who did Jaws.
I've heard some complaints about the ending, that it ends in reasonable happiness. By the way the aliens are killed by germs. (If that was a spoiler, I better not mention that dorothy gets home by bangin her slippers together and goldilocks ends up fucking everything up at the bear house.) I guess it's a legitimate point, it might've been even better if there was more of a toll on main characters. But it didn't seem disappointing to me. I knew going in this was Steve Spielberg, it's not like I was expecting a Texas Chain Saw ending with Tom giggling crazily in the back of a pickup truck.
One dumb little thing that did take me out of the movie though. Early in the movie when Tom Cruise walks down the block to find out what the hell is going on, he runs into a couple of his buddies, and one of them is an actor named Rick Gonzalez. I had to look him up because I just know him as the wacky afro-puff dude from BIKER BOYZ, OLD SCHOOL and I guess COACH CARTER. He doesn't seem like a guy Tom Cruise's character would know, he seems like a guy who gets work in lots of commercials because he has a quirky hairstyle. I mean nothing against him personally, I'm sure he's an all right guy, but he's a guy you expect to maybe see in the Fanta commercial before the movie, but not during the movie, if it's a serious one like this.
BIKER BOYZ wasn't that bad though. But this one is way better. [Kiki's note: Biker Boyz was actually very good flick. It was one of the rare contemporary black movies that shows you a cross section of a black life you've never seen before.]
SEE THE MOVIE THAT CRITICS THINK THE WORLD OF
"WAY BETTER THAN BIKER BOYZ!... You almost shit your pants. It's out of this world!" --Vern, Then Fuck You Jack
p.s. Be sure to stay for the credits, because at the end the little E.T. on the Amblin Entertainment logo turns to you and swears his people had nothing to do with this shit, please do not invade. He just came down and road bikes with kids and shit like that, please don't lump him in with those other guys from space.
Luna: A Novel--Best GLBT Young Adult Book I Ever Read
Now Playing: Luna: A Novel By Julie Anne Peters
Topic: Book Reviews
I've been reading a lot of Young Adult novels since February--since I started my job as a YA librarian. Most of the books I've read have been fluffy, predictable, or popular (to the teens) fiction. In June, I set up a Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Transgender book display to commemorate GLBT Pride month. You see, this is my gig. I set up special book displays to attract teens to books that they normally wouldn't pick up. Unfortunately, the books didn't move that much. I guess the girls in the detention center I visit are the only ones who aren't afraid to demand Gay and Lesbian fiction.
Okay...so I've read plenty of GLBT YA novels. I've read Alex Sanchez's Rainbow Boys, Rainbow High, and So Hard to Say
(which I couldn't finish, but hey it's not written for me anyway). I also read and enjoyed M.E. Kerr's Deliver Us From Evie
. I also read Brent Tattinger's (?) The Geography Club
. After awhile, though, you read one novel about a teen coming out of the closet you read them all. Except, when you read Luna
Luna is an emotionally dense story about Regan, Liam, and their parents the O'Neills. The overarching theme is that this family is trapped by their secrets and circumstances. Liam is a girl living in a boy's body, and decides to break free from his prison by beginning to transition (he starts to dress as woman in public and goes by the name Luna). Younger sister Regan is seemingly the only one who knows of his situation, and works so hard to keep it a secret that she has no time or energy to work on her own life. The O'Neills are trapped by the circumstances of their lives--neither one of them or their children have lived up to their expectations.
This tale, told from Regan's perspective, goes between present day events and the past. In the memories that Regan recalls, she wonders how people couldn't have known that her brother Liam has had Luna trapped inside of him for a very long time. Luna
is a wonderfully written and touching book. Not only that, it is the first fiction book about Transgender teens that I've ever read or heard about. (One of the best books I've read about being TG and its effect on the family is the memoir--Dress Codes: Of Three Girlhoods---My Mother's, My Father's, and MineOkay, now that I've searched both of these books on Amazon.com, I'm sure that all of my recommendations will be about Transsexuals. *sigh* I wonder if Amazon.com's recommendations will ever get it close to being right. I'm a complex woman damnit and I have many interests. Don't pigeon hole me, Amazon!!!! BTW, happy 10th Anniversary.
I almost wrote Julie Anne Peters a fan letter. Well, I still might. :-) Check her out: Julie Anne Peters
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