While getting brunch at a restaurant in the Upper East Side named Beach Club - where the wood paneling suggests a speakeasy and the randomly placed beach kitsch suggests a lack of both money and imagination - I watched my friend Veronica spend the latter half of our meal converse with our party of five with pepper in her teeth. I’ve always been the guy who hates coming home to those screaming bits of food or spices, wishing that someone - anyone - would have told me with a point and a slight grimace, “Bobby, there’s spinach between your bicuspids.” And, being that guy, I point out the food between the teeth of others, knowing that after a brief and unwarranted embarrassment, they’ll be thankful.
Well, today I watched Veronica’s mouth and couldn’t say a word. It was pepper - an angry shard of black pepper. And I just stared at it each time she spoke, didn’t say a word. I’ve seen her just two or three times since college, so we’re not the best of friends, but she still deserved better from me. But there I sat, sipping my coffee and waiting for someone else to bring it up - someone to save her from the discomfort she’ll surely feel when looking at a mirror this evening.
"Those bastard people," she’ll think. We failed her.
It would be easy to call For Colored Girls an “event” movie simply because of its cast. Loretta Devine, Whoopi Goldberg, Janet Jackson, Thandie Newton, Phylicia Rashad, Kerry Washington, Kimberly Elise, Anika Nani Rose - this is an unparalleled assembly of some of the best actresses working today. I haven’t seen or read the play, “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When The Rainbow Is Enuf”, but I do know it was first performed in 1976 - and, unfortunately, it shows. This is a movie that exists in a version of the 70’s populated with today’s cars and fashions. Though the central stories and themes are timeless, there is the occasional line that cannot hide its age with a youthful actress and modern setting. As a film production, For Colored Girls isn’t only a bore, but a near-embarrassment. Overdone and inauthentic set design, lazy and gimmicky photography, and sloppy editing all highlight Perry’s origins as a playwright and stage director.
But the women are why we’re there. Across the board, these are phenomenal performances. And it’s Perry’s name that attracted these women to the project, so without him, all of them would have never appeared on set together. And if that’s the compromise, I suppose I’ll have to accept it.
I’m kind of dreading writing the formal review next week, but for now I think I’m done. ANY QUESTIONS / COMMENTS ABOUT FOR COLORED GIRLS?
Conviction is the story of Betty Ann Waters, whose brother, Kenny, was wrongly convicted for murder in a dirty trial filled with manufactured testimony from dirty ex-girlfriends and a dirty cop. To free him, Betty gets her GED, puts herself through college and law school – all while raising two boys and keeping a full time job. The film, which stars Hillary Swank and Sam Rockwell, opens with the most melodramatic of flashbacks as we see Kenny and Betty as children – suggesting a bond that is unbreakable. Nearly everything about Conviction, from its irritating title to generic presentation, suggests a trite, formulaic snoozer that would be pleasantly at home on Lifetime. Tony Goldwyn’s film, however, is absorbing in the oddest way, presenting Betty’s story so passionately that I was able to put the eye rolls in check and give it an honest chance.
Since the story spans roughly 20 years, things move quickly and many details of Betty’s life during the years of Kenny’s imprisonment are brushed over or avoided entirely. She was married with a baby when Kenny was convicted, with testimony from ex-girlfriends who say he told them he committed the murder, but the story quickly jumps ahead to her living as a single mother with two boys. Her marriage obviously disintegrated during those years, but aside from fleeting mentions of the divorce, we’re left to assume that her commitment to Kenny was what caused her husband to leave. Like much of the film’s exposition, it’s satisfying at the most minimal level, though understandable considering the meat of the story takes place during and after her time in law school. It’s there that she meets the only other “old lady” in their class, Abra – played by Minnie Driver in the film’s best performance. After revealing to Abra her true intentions for becoming a lawyer, she becomes Betty’s sole adult friend, supporting and assisting her throughout the investigation.
And it’s here that the movie really finds its footing. Beyond the clunky, oversimplified exposition, the heart of this film lies in the story of two women joining together and fighting against all odds. And in that respect, Conviction is surprisingly powerful. Despite an annoying, whiny performance by Hillary Swank and uninspired writing and direction, the story of Betty and Abra’s persistence and eventual success is genuinely uplifting. The real Betty Anne Waters, of course, deserves more credit than the filmmakers or actors, but I can’t deny the fact that the movie tells her story with compassion and respect. It’s a generic crowd-pleaser, but a crowd-pleaser nonetheless.
Gotye hasn’t released any music in over two years, but here’s the first single from his newest album. Obviously, I’m absolutely in love with it. Reblog this because I want him to be successful. I want his music in every trailer released in 2011. I want him to make piles of music and play sold out shows all over the world. I also want to listen to this while jumping off a South American waterfall to my death with a smile on my face. I love uplifting death music.
Mary Poppins is a woman who flies into the homes of dysfunctional families, restores their love via magic, and leaves without ever using those magical powers to find love of her own. Oh, and her only real friend is a talking wooden cane and she can't even lock down a chimney sweep. The end. What?
Mary Poppins has the worst life of any live-action Disney heroine.
Also, Bedknobs and Broomsticks is the same movie, but with an old, lonely, novice witch in place of Mary.
Also, Pete’s Dragon is the same movie, but with an old, lonely, magical dragon in place of Mary.