I saw Spectre yesterday. It was okay! [Read more…] about Spectre: There Are Black People In It
In the event that you have been in a coma for the past few decades, Steve Jobs was the co-founder and CEO of Apple and is widely regarded as either a genius or the biggest asshole ever. I was not excited to see this film because I am #TeamPC and #TeamAndroid.
You already know that I am not here for films without black people. [Read more…] about Steve Jobs: There Is One Black Person In It
Trying something new! I apologize for the tardiness, guys! Today’s review is co-written and cross-posted. Read on. [Read more…] about Sicario: There Are Black People In It
I was beginning to feel like the movie industry was conspiring against me. I have this great MoviePass that allows me to see a movie a day for $30 a month, but virtually none of the films out right now seemed worth getting out of the house and putting clothes on. I was sort of neutral about seeing The Martian because I am not really a Matt Damon fan, but after seeing that my fraternity brother Christopher had seen it the previous night and enjoyed it, I figured I should give it a try. Plus, I knew for a fact black people were in it, even if not in the leading roles.
My theater of choice was not showing The Martian, so I went to DC’s historic Uptown theater, one of the last remaining single-screen, neighborhood theaters around these parts. I had last been to the Uptown back when the first Harry Potter came out. When I worked for Georgetown, my department had opted to go to the movies as a group rather than the traditional office celebration. While it was fun, I fell asleep for most of it.
Incidentally, my former boss from a different job I’d had eleven years after Georgetown was also at this showing of The Martian. So annoying! Luckily, he did not see me. I really didn’t want to have to roll my eyes at him, but I was fully prepared to do so.
I headed to the
colored section mezzanine of the theater and took my seat. Less comfortable seating than most other theaters, but what you lost in width you gained in overall size of the screen, as well as really cool layout. The men’s room had a sitting area. They call it the men’s lounge. I got a kick out of that.
By now, you already know that The Martian is a space film. Matt Damon is an astronaut on Mars. When a sandstorm comes through, they have to abort the mission and they left Matt Damon for dead.
The rest of the movie is about people on Earth trying to bring Matt Damon back. Chiwetel Ejiofor plays the head of the Mars mission. He’s really good. He’s just a good actor in the first place, but I really enjoyed him in this role. He doesn’t overdo it and you really feel his anguish as well as his ambition.
I gotta say I ain’t never met no black dude named “Kapoor.” I did not read the book this movie was based on, but I am concerned that they “blackwashed” another character of color. Would I trade Chiwetel? Not for anything in the world. But I am hoping he was not “supposed” to be South Asian and they just said “Ah, fuck it, let’s get Chiwetel!” Because real talk? Chiwetel could have been Matt Damon’s character easily. But more on that in a second.
Chiwetel Ejiofor was really, really good in this. The end.
You know who else was really good? Donald Freaking Glover. LIKE SO GOOD. You guys. And he’s not just a comic sidekick or eye candy, he plays a really pivotal role in the film. He makes black guys doing science look cool. And sexy. Chiwetel is also sexy, but not Donald Glover sexy. I don’t want to say more because I don’t want to spoil it, but trust me when I say that his role is necessary.
You know, two things happened to me during this movie. First, I cried a lot. Like snot and everything. I was really moved by the emotional power of the story.
Secondly, I thought very hard about how this movie could impact the children and teens who decide to watch it. There are so many awesome moments where I was like YAAAAAAAS, I SEE YOU SCIENCE! I used to be interested in science as a child, but literature captured my passion sooner and surer than any other subject. But what if The Martian really did inspire more kids to pursue scientific careers? Especially black boys, who could be inspired by Donald and Chiwetel’s portrayals of scientific cool.
But one thing nagged at me…where were the black women? Although I did like Jessica Chastain and Kate Mara, I can’t help but think damn, why not Gabrielle Union and Sasheer Zamata? While I don’t think a film should strive to be a rainbow coalition, it was a bummer to not see black women in the forefront.
Kristen Wiig is not interchangeable, though. Just want to get that straight.
Back to Matt Damon. I say this knowing there is possibility of bias because of his recent comments about diversity, but if I put that to the side for a minute, I feel the same way: Matt Damon is not what made this movie great. He was just Matt Damon to me and could have been exchanged for any number of white male actors that I like better than Matt Damon. But again I say why a white male actor in the lead? Why not Chiwetel? Why not Anthony Mackie?
Why not Will Smith? Just kidding, he’s terrible.
All in all, The Martian was great and was very nearly the best movie I saw this year.
But then I saw Sicario.
I saw The Perfect Guy last week but it took me forever to write a review. Why?
I mean, the film had black people in it. I live for black films. And also, it was not a churchy movie or a Tyler Perry movie, so I really should have loved it. I love black films. I love black people.
It had Sanaa Lathan, Morris Chestnut, and Michael Ealy. I love them. I love them.
So why didn’t I love The Perfect Guy?
It was dry as hell! We are immediately dumped into this boring at best, vapid at worst couple’s relationship melodrama and we don’t have any sort of empathy for either of them. Sanaa is playing the role rather shrill and unsympathetic and Morris seems to come off as a cad. So it seems.
Michael does a bang-up job as the titular perfect guy, and we see more personality in him, but I mean you have to, because you know he has the biggest transition to make in the film. We have to believe he is a great dude and we also have to believe he is crazy.
My failure to connect with any of the characters has nothing to do with the actors, though. It was definitely the writing.
I must say, the scene where Sanaa takes Michael (see how I don’t even remember their names?!) back to her parents’ house was well done. That was good writing and good acting. But the majority of the rest of the film is utterly predictable. Just because all the characters are black doesn’t mean it’s not predictable. We have seen the stalker boyfriend movie before a million times over.
You know what else? This movie for damn sure was hampered by the PG-13 rating. The Perfect Guy is so restrained it practically begs for nudity and violence. Okay, maybe the film itself didn’t beg but I sure am! We want to hear the F-bomb! We want blood! And dammit, we want cheekaleeks! What’s the point of a psycho stalker boyfriend film without gratuitous violence? Without those things, I was left feeling as though I saw a really good Lifetime movie… but I don’t pay this MoviePass fee for Lifetime!
Finally, I do want to say a word on what makes a movie “black.” As you know, the purpose of my movie reviews is to answer the fundamental question whether there were black people in it. But I also want to have just plain good conversations about representation in general. So what does it mean that The Perfect Guy was the typical psycho stalker boyfriend film, but happens to have a black cast?
People have said that this film had “colorblind” casting. Uh, no the hell it didn’t. It was a very color-aware film. If it was colorblind, I dare say it would have been a more multi-ethnic cast. I believe that this film was made to make a point, or to test a theory, even though the point has been made and the theory has been proven time and again:
Yes, black films will perform well in the box office. Okay, we get it.
But as for me? I would have loved to have seen more blackness in the film, culturally speaking. I don’t mean Sanaa had to rock a natural hairstyle or fry chicken while wearing a kente apron. I mean, why not wear a Spelman sweatshirt? Or have an elephant collection in her living room? Or any number of other little touches that the average college educated black person might have. The Cosby Show was great at this, as well as Steve Harvey’s old sitcom, and that sitcom on Nickelodeon with the obnoxiously large Omega shield in the living room.
Now I did like the reggae club scene, but the more I think about it, the less I like that it was tied to the notion of being exotic and forbidden. Black spaces are not exotic. They’re not just where we want to go when we want to have illicit sex. They are just spaces.
The Perfect Guy was not a bad movie. It was just an unremarkable movie. Like mayonnaise. Black people can do better than mayonnaise.
Last night I went to see Doctor Who in 3D at my local theater. We saw the Series 8 finale event, episodes Dark Water and Death in Heaven.
If you are not a Whovian, sorry champ, the rest of this review probably won’t make sense.
So my friend and I had already seen the episodes when they aired last year but we thought it would be worth it to see even just the opening credits in 3D. And I can assure you yes the fuck it was worth it. Imagine seeing this in 3D:
So basically the premise of this episode is that Danny Pink has died after a freak car accident and Clara wants him back. She tries to force the Doctor into changing time, but he refuses, instead offering to take Clara to a point in time and space where she and Danny’s timelines are intertwined.
I should mention at this point that Danny Pink is black. And very, very attractive.
So hell yeah Clara, you betta did that!
So their travels take them to the Nethersphere, which is initially posited as the afterlife, where Danny is. But it’s not really the afterlife, it’s a hard drive where dead people’s souls go because of a plot to take over the world that the Master (now Missy) has undertaken. The souls, or consciousness, or whatever the hell we’re talking about (It’s Doctor Who, so I think they make it up as they go along) are scheduled to be uploaded into Cybermen.
Michelle Gomez as Missy is absolutely brilliant, by the way. She was also worth the price of admission.
Danny Pink eventually is turned into a Cyberman but because he did not delete his emotions, he is not properly plugged into the hive mind of the Cybermen, so he is not obeying orders. He saves Clara, has one last bitch-fit with the Doctor, and ultimately saves the world.
I may have simplified things a bit and put more focus on the black man rather than the Doctor.
One of the reasons I like Doctor Who so much is that it seems, where possible, they cast black people in significant supporting roles. I don’t know so much how they fared in the original/classic series, but ever since the 9th Doctor in 2005, they have brought us some great companions and associates.
Mickey Smith, Rose’s boyfriend, is one of my favorites.
But let’s not forget Martha Jones!
And they later were shown to have gotten married and became some sort of government agents. Perhaps with U.N.I.T.
Now, I did observe somewhat of a dearth of blackness in the Matt Smith years and that really disappointed me. But with the coming of Peter Capaldi’s Doctor since the 50th anniversary, I have noticed an uptick in interesting supporting characters who happen to be black, Danny Pink notwithstanding. There was Saibra in Time Heist…
And Courtney Woods in Kill the Moon and a few other episodes.
These supporting characters, of course, don’t make up for the fact that there has never been a black Doctor Who (or a woman, but we are talking about black people right now). But as someone who has been knee-deep in science fiction and fantasy for most of my adult life, I do really appreciate the fact that modern Doctor Who doesn’t shy away from race-blind casting (which I personally think is race-aware, but no matter), or speaking to issues of race and class in its story lines. I seem to recall an episode where the Doctor schooled Martha on free blacks in London prior to the abolition of the slave trade. (Or did I make that up?)
For people interested in further discussion of Doctor Who and race, you should get the book Doctor Who and Race! I definitely plan to. Of the twenty or so fans in the audience at last night’s screening, maybe four of us were black and there were no other people of color. It’s nice to know that there is some scholarship going on about this issue and it’s not just being swept under the rug.
Which makes me also wonder… in light of this Matt Damon/Effie Brown thing, I wonder if any people of color have directed episodes of Doctor Who? Definitely need to get the book!