Thursday, March 22, 2012

PARIAH: Every Teen's Story

Adepero Oduye  as Alike in "Pariah" (2011)
I am so excited that I can finally say that I've seen the critically-acclaimed film Pariah!  It's been playing at Pleasant Street Theater in Northampton, MA for the past week and a half and has been playing in selected theaters nationwide since December of 2011.  Thanks to Out for Reel LGBT Film Series and Amherst Cinema/Pleasant Street Theater for bringing this important film to our area.

I advise that everyone, teenagers, parents, teachers, mentors, siblings, anyone who has been a teenager (practically everyone) to see this film.  Coined as a coming of age story about a black queer teenager, I am confident that everyone will connect to this film.  The protagonist, Alike (Adepero Oduye), begins to navigate cultural politics associated with her sexual identity and negotiates the stakes of important relationships, including those with her parents (played by Kim Wayans and Charles Parnell), her best friend, Laura (Pernell Walker), and her poetry.  Just like everyone young and old, she's trying to find out where she fits in the world:  the reality of humanity.

By the way, I want to congratulate Kim Wayans (of "In Living Color" and comedic notoriety) for a successful job as a dramatic actress!  She was amazing in this film and I look forward to seeing her in other dramatic roles in the near future.

Instead of me writing extensively on this film, I'd rather encourage all readers to go and see it soon.  For those in Western Massachusetts, it is scheduled to continue playing until sometime this weekend.  Please visit Amherst Cinema/Pleasant Street Theater's website for information on show times and ticket prices.  I've included the trailer below.  Please encourage others to see it.  Better yet, arrange to see it with friends.  And, after watching the film, please go out afterwards to discuss the film.  I'll bet that you all will relate to many of the issues raised in Pariah.

Thanks to Dee Rees, director and writer of Pariah, for bringing us such an amazing story, one that I hope will begin necessary conversations on how to ensure that today's young people become the best citizens they can be, living their best lives.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Noon in America

Last night, I finally got a chance to watch Woody Allen's latest film Midnight in Paris (2011).  A story I can relate to, the film situates around a screenwriter, Gil (played by Owen Wilson) who, while in Paris, discovers the flaws in his relationship with his fiancee (played by Rachel McAdams) yet becomes comfortable in his newest endeavor as a novelist.  At the stroke of midnight among several nights, the protagonist is taken back to the 1920s, mingling with expats such as Getrude Stein, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Ernest Hemingway, writers who discover a little bit of themselves away from their home country of the United States.  Though sleeping through the first 20 minutes, I found myself enthralled in this story as it sounds a lot like my own (well, minus the "fiance/e" part).  I'm at this crossroads with my writing, attempting to find paying gigs and trying to make writing the main source of my income.  I just need the courage to just go out there and do it, but would appreciate some writers that I admire to lead me along the way.

One thing I kept thinking about while watching this movie is what it would look like if it were me in the central role.  Yes, I know its egotistical, but who hasn't want to star in a movie about themselves?!  My movie would take me back to the 1920s, except, it would look quite different.  It would still take place in Paris but some other faces from that era would have monumental roles in this film. It would also have a foot in America, specifically in Harlem, New York. Josephine Baker, who has a non-speaking role in Midnight in Paris, would be my tour guide, showing me around the city and introducing me to other important people of the Harlem Renaissance.  I would have tea on a terrace with James Baldwin, swap stories of recent travels abroad with Zora Neale Hurston, and explore Europe via rail with Richard Wright.  Langston Hughes and I would have a close relationship as he would become my next door neighbor.  I would occasionally visit Romare Bearden's studio, getting a first glance as his latest work.  I would be embraced in a world where my blackness and my artistry is well-defined and appreciated, though different than the norm.

I hope to one day experience what Gil had in Paris.  I wouldn't need a romance for I would be fulfilled through my work.  I just want the chance to be all of "me" rather than be pieces of me only sometimes.

"Jeunesse" by Palmer Hayden (date unknown)
***BTW, I'm happy to mention that two of the shorts mentioned in my blog post won Academy Awards in their respective categories!  The Shore won for Best Live Action Short and The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore for Best Animated Short.  Congratulations to this year's winners!