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Skin Deep

August 23, 2011

Skin (2008) is the true life story of Sandra Laing, a black girl who was born to white Afrikaner parents in Apartheid era South Africa.  The film tells the story of Sandra’s struggle with identity largely during her adolescent and young adult years.  Raised with her older brother (whose skin is white) Sandra believes that she is white but is subject to the cruel punishment and belittlement of her school peers and teachers who see her as a kaffir.  Sandra’s confusion and her parents’ tireless attempts to prove that she is indeed white lands their unique case at the highest levels of the South African courts.  After testimony from genetics experts and observations of her ethnic features by “doctors” Sandra is legally classified as white and bounces off into the sunset with her blonde haired, blue eyed doll that she values so much.

Of course life is not happily ever after for the family as Sandra’s skin continues to divide her community.  Sandra is an oddity in her dating years.  A novelty for the Afrikaner whites and intriguing to the Swaziland natives Sandra must decide what side of the love fence feels most genuine to her peaking sexual identity.  Sandra’s decision also divides her family wherein her father, a staunch supporter of the Apartheid government, disowns her when Sandra becomes pregnant by a black man. Sandra’s mother, also a supporter of the government (albeit torn by the love for her daughter) too distances herself.  It is when Sandra rears her children that she legally reclassifies herself as black for fear of losing them.

This film is an ironic take on the story of the tragic mulatto.  Sandra is not of mixed race blood but as far as everyone else is concerned it is perception that matters.  There are some hard to watch scenes in the film where she uses bleaches and creams to lighten her features because of her confusion.  Sandra hates her black skin and yet she is not black.  But she is black.  But she isn’t black.  Get the picture?  This film will appeal to brown people who have ever developed a mental condition about being  “light-skinned” or white people who’ve developed a mental condition about their “olive” features.  Skin is not just skin here.  3 Siggies.

 

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The Social (ly Inept) Network

August 23, 2011

********Original blog dated October 19 2010*********

The Social Network earned 22 million dollars in it’s opening weekend and it comes to no surprise considering Facebook to date has 750 million “followers”, err..users and is unquestionably the behemoth of the major social networking sites.  With David Fincher (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button) at the helm as the director and Aaron Sorkin (A Few Good Men) as writer, movie goers are sure to see a  powerful drama about about corruption, connivery (yes, I made that a word) and the allure of sex and fame.  Who doesn’t want to see that?  The cool factor however comes from placing these ills onto the shoulders of your average socially awkward Harvard techie who can’t seem to land the girl and thus whines his way to becoming the world’s youngest billionaire.  Great film- well written and directed.  Facebook is the bees knees of youth-driven movements in my generation and you will find no qualms about this in my book…

…But here’s my beef.  Everyone knows that Facebook (and even MySpace in its heyday) is like crack.  You log on and like a flasher in his skivvies and a trench coat, you’re voyeuring your way into the lives of coworkers, friends, acquaintances, and people that you knew once upon a time.  They like the same songs you do.  Awesome.  They have the same political ideals.  Who knew?!?  Maybe they even ate the same brand of peanut butter that you did whilst watching a rerun of “Good Times” on Saturday morning.  DAMN, DAMN, DAMN!!!!!  But so what?   As one of the hundred millions of cracked-out users I left the theater that brisk night in October feeling a tad uneasy.  It was hard to swallow being an avid user of a company built on lies and backstabbing as the film suggests but alas, I got over it and chalked it up to dramatic interpretation of Hollywood.  Much of my cognitive dissonance however was raised as a reaction to how social networking sites continue to make people cold, impersonal, and dumbed down.

Case in point.  2 months ago at a concert I ran into a girl I went to high school with.  We were pretty tight back in those days.  I hadn’t seen her in approximately 11 months since our high school reunion and 10 years prior to that.  Over time we kept in touch through Myspace and Facebook, commenting regularly on each others’ posts.  During the concert we instantly recognized one another and greeted with the obligatory hug and “heeeey girl”-  you know, that statement that asks “what’s been going on with you over the years”.  After less than 20 seconds (no, seriously.  you read that right)  of chit chat, my “friend” made a beeline to go off in another direction with her friends and stated “I’ll see you on Facebook”.  What the hell?  Point number two.  Last week I ran into a Facebook “friend” at Jamba Juice and instantly recognized her.  This friend and I knew each other in high school and were counselors at the same summer camp for 5 years.  In high school I was invited over to her house and broke bread with her family.  I approached her and she didn’t recognize who I was.  Ok sure, I’m 50 pounds lighter since high school and  and maybe she didn’t recongnize me but just a few weeks prior to our run-in I made a comment on and “liked” one of her posts on Facebook.  Awkward much?

The problem with social networking sites is that they create pseudo friendships and emotional bonds to people that you might not otherwise keep in touch with in person.  Seriously.  Who can keep up with the lives of the average 130 friends that each user reportedly has?  What’s even scarier is that according to recent Facebook statistics  “people  spend 700 billion minutes a month” on the site.  Much like texting, social networking has crossed cultural divides and woven its way into the global fabric of this new technological wave- you know, the one that has Betty White making a reference to “The Twitter” in You Again.  It’s why people text at the dinner table.  It’s why people speak in shorthand.  Speak!!!!  Thanks, Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg!  Because of you and your nerdy ilk, not only have “sexting”, “lol”, and “OMG” officially become words in the Oxford Dictionary but my supervisor is trying to friend me on Facebook.  Tres uncouth!

Now, I ain’t saying that I’m not one of those flashers in her skivvies when it comes to Facebook.  Now off to the site to shamelessly promote this post….

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The Mommy Shrink. Welcome Back

August 19, 2011

 

Wow!  So much has changed in a little time.  I haven’t posted a blog in over a year and in that time I managed to experience the highs of life, love and the down right immature side of dating (for those of you who were interested in my romantic life post widowhood).  And considering how the motivation for my last entry basically came from a jerk who I dated and included an off-the-cuff rant/poem dissing both parties (me too of course for falling for his bullshit) I thought I owed it to you faithful (or new) readers to tell you that said jerk is now a “non mother-F’ing factor”, as eloquently stated by Evelyn Lozada of the “Basketball Wives”.  I am now re-married to Jason, a  beautiful soul whom I care for deeply.  I can’t even begin to find the words to describe him or our love so I suppose I should keep that part sacredly buried in my heart.  We have a wonderful little 3 month old tyke, our Elijah Malcolm Shakur.  Life is more beautiful than Roberto Benigni at this point.  I believe in spirit.  I believe in love.  Above all, I believe in a God who takes care of his people if we only trust, obey, pray, and watch with spiritual eyes for what God promises to reveal.   So……here I am a wife, mother, soon-to-be licensed clinical social worker (and I have certainly busted my butt to become so given California’s stringent requirements and the challenging clients I’ve worked with), and above all a movie lover.  Welcome back indeed.

Sometimes I find myself becoming one of those writers who don’t write and yet the love of analyzing films for their social relevance continues to dwell within.  I am also motivated to continue doing so considering that my blog receives and average of 10 hits a day.  You’re right, that’s not a lot.  But to the 10 who enjoy my wit and critique, thank you.  I will live to type another day.  As an FYI, “The Help”, and “Frankie and Alice” are on my radar of films to see.  I’m also turning 30 in less than 2 months and am eager to review a good flick that accurately captures the cauldron of emotions I”m feeling.  Have a suggestion?  Leave a post.  See you at the movies :)

 

 

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DAMN YOU SHAKESPEARE…AND TYLER PERRY

April 25, 2010

Hey Cinephiles!  Been away from the blogging scene for  a minute but never for a second out of the movie loop.  As a quick update, yes, I furrowed my eyebrows many times at Avatar‘s thinly veiled racism and  found Sandra Bullock’s Oscar win in The Blind Side a calculated attempt by Hollywood to secretly promote the “Great White Agenda”.  An agenda that would be glaringly apparent should  Avatar have won for Best Film.  Poor Sandra.  A good performance, but me thinks your Southern accent and tight-fitting clothes ain’t gonna cut it.  The Hurt Locker, however was fascinating, intense, and totally deserved the win.  Today’s topic?  Dating and Romance.  Because hey, it’s where I am in life right now and affects how I people-watch  just like Tina Fey and Steve Carrell in Date Night.

Two years ago I attended a 4-day cinema therapy workshop retreat in Big Sur, CA  at the Esalen Institute.  Esalen is famous for it’s hot springs, fertile land and is a haven for those who can afford the rejuvenation and  holistic approach to wellness in all forms.  While discussing our favorite films, one of mine being West Side Story, the instructor informed rather than asked me if I was a “tragic romantic”.  Odd, I felt that I always connected with West Side Story since the first time I saw the original Romeo and Juliet at 13 years old.  I had not considered that preferred films could speak volumes about one’s predilections in life but was astonished  nonetheless considering the recent loss of my husband.  And today as I navigate the dating seas with the sharp and quirky mind of the analyst who can see clearly through the BS I am astonished by the trivial- but even more so at how I sometimes allow myself to make concessions for the men who promote it.  Dating, for most people I assume is like holding auditions- will you get a call back?  And if you do get a call back, then what?  Especially if I’m clear on what I want but you may or may not be able to reciprocate.  Blind faith I suppose.  And lots and lots of prayer.  Lots and lots.

Will he or won’t he?  Do or do not?  The push and pull of the drama, which is at the core of the classic romantic tragedy, is what has kept past relationships exciting.  At this point in my life I find myself wondering if that’s what’s best for me.  An even scarier thought is that the push-pull dynamic is something that ties me to the past, thus begging the question  if dating for me at this point is a wise choice if I continue to attract the jokers.  Don’t all the relationships experts say that you have to work on yourself before you can even entertain the thought of being in a healthy relationship?  Isn’t that a part of “The Secret”?  Clearly I’ve been going through the hoopla of it all and at this point I have to put my thoughts about it all into prose.  Quite frankly, sometimes I get angry about having to go through the stupidity of weeding out the jokers, especially since I was once a woman who was happy in love with a sweet man who occasionally had his sour moments.  I started as a poet I’m gon’ continue being one.  So as a way of purging the inner monologue  here goes a little something from off the top of the dome.  I think I’ll call it “Mastery”

Both attracted and repelled by your slickness

Of course your ego calls it charm

You know, that thing that precludes your shame

You think it’s charm

How you got away with it for so long is something for the Guinness files

And while you continue to master the art of beguilement

Your soul thirsts for a sustenance

One that you may not find in your predicament

Far too intelligent and composed to wish you ill

Though your spite can be contagious if I’m not careful

A battle for God to master

Emotions I  must master

And your slickness persists because you too, are attracted and repelled by my poise

You know the games wont be tolerated (without a fight at least)

“Doh”!

And the more I acquiesce

The more pitiful we both become

And like my mama used to say

I will not be made pathetic

The Mastery is on me

The truth of it all for me lies somewhere in the last scene of Tyler Perry’s Why Did I Get Married, Too. Spoiler alert.  So the husband of Janet Jackson’s character, Patricia dies (tragically). Fast forward one year later.   Patricia, a psychologist (of course) and educator (did I mention I work in an elementary school?)  finishes  teaching a lecture on healing and is stopped in the parking lot by one of her colleagues.  Apparently a potential funder has desperately been trying to get in contact with Patricia to no avail.  Who is this funder who wants her attention?  Fine-ass eye candy Dwayne Johnson of course!  They exchange flirtatious smiles and it is hinted that Patricia is ready to date again.  Fade to black.   Prime set up for another Why Did I Get Married sequel.  My reaction?   Dating after widowhood is only the beginning of a roller coaster journey.  Of course your rational mind knows that your partner is long gone but it’s so easy to attract the ones that hint at the past.  It’s a part of “the process”.  And the mastery of it all is a daily affair.  My advice?  When you see through the BS, run for the hills.  Now only if I can take my own advice…

That’s all.  Till next time, movie lovers.

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Feel Good Flick of the (Birth)Day

October 6, 2009
If it makes you feel good do it

If it makes you feel good do it

28 years ago today the stars aligned, the seas roared, and this cinephile made her entrance into the world.  Birthdays always put me in a festive mood and in celebration of this occasion I offer you one of my most fave go-to films for a quick pick-me-up: John Waters’ Hairspray.

Hairspray (I have an affinity towards the 2007 version but am a true 80s baby and therefore honor the original ) is the story of integration in 1962 Baltimore set to dance and high school high jinks.  Leading the way is the pluckily plump teenager Tracy Turnblad who, upon discovering that her Black friends are talented booty shakers and bee-boppers, shakes up race relations (pardon the pun)  in an attempt to integrate the popular “Corny Collins” dance show.  What follows are upbeat dance sequences that bemoan segregation and celebrate individuality.  Yes and yes!

The inner fat girl of childhood’s past and the dancing machine I’ve become (thanks, New Orleans!) love watching this film over and over.  Much like my favorite train-wreck-of-a-film, Showgirls, once I start watching I just cant stop!  So be well today and throw in a jazzy dance step or two just for good measure!  If it makes you feel good do it!

small freudsmall freud

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‘Precious’ Wins at Toronto International Film Festival

September 22, 2009

precious3

Yes!  Yes!  Yes!  Adding already to it’s big wins at Sundance and Cannes, Precious took home the “Cadillac People’s Choice Award” at the Toronto International Film Festival, making it a shoe in for a best picture nomination at the 82nd Annual Academy Awards.  Award buzz aside we here at TMS are more excited about the raw portrayal of the intersections of poverty and abuse that plague far too many children, particularly those in Black and Brown communities. Trust me…I’ve spent my fair share of time in foster, group homes, and residential treatment facilities to tell you how these issues impact the psychosocial development and more importantly, shape the global outlook of a child.  To use the term “troubled” is an understatement.

Lee Daniels and Gabourey Sidibe at Sundance

Lee Daniels and Gabourey Sidibe at Sundance

TMS appreciates films that are personal to the artist and in an interview with the Los Angeles Times, ‘Precious’ director, Lee Daniels explains the passion behind the project:

“When I reflect on it, on why I did this movie, it has a lot to do with my youth, what I witnessed, and that girl who came to my door at 3 o’clock on a summer afternoon when I was 11,” he says. “But it also has to do with the food I was eating, the pork, the chitlins, the cockroaches on the walls, the mice we’d throw bread at, it’s a combination of all that was.”

The girl was a 7-year-old neighbor named Angie and the moment was a seminal one for the director. Daniels remembers opening the door of their West Philly apartment to find this already morbidly overweight child, naked, crying, trying to cover herself with her hands, bloody welts raised on her back and arms by an electrical cord. The memory was profound, the words, “Mommy beat me,” haunted him, that and the fear he saw in his own mother’s eyes. “I remember my mother on her knees in the corner praying, and me thinking, ‘Where’s God?’ “

When, years later, he read “Push,” those images, long suppressed, rose up. “The book evoked the same feelings — I could smell every scent, I could see the texture of the walls, I was shaking. Shaking. It was like family, I knew it intimately, but I didn’t know whether I wanted the story told.”


Can’t wait to see this one.  I’ve already got at least 3 Siggy’s waiting to crown it with.  ‘Precious hits theaters in November.  Peep the official trailer below.



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