Archive for the ‘Tolerance’ Category

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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!

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Sean Penn+Baby Voice= Milk Oscar Buzz?

December 6, 2008

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Just give him the Oscar nom already.  I swear, no actor portrays a babyish innocence like Sean Penn.  As I sat through what was his whimsically passionate portrayal of  Harvey Milk in Milk I could not help but think that I’d seen this vulnerable, “goo-goo gaa-gaa” performance before in I Am Sam.  What a wuss!  I say this not at all in a demeaning sense but rather  in awe at how Penn effortlessly makes you believe that you aren’t watching him act for two hours- he just is.

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Though I knew very little about the life of Harvey Milk (and even littler about George Moscone) I knew I was in store for a two-hour saga that would surely cause the tears to well up- and did they ever.  For the record I enjoyed Milk because of it’s political relevance. To be sure, it’s eerie at how the whole art- imitating-life-imitating-art phenomena rings true 30 years later in the era of Proposition 8.   Thus, I was quite intrigued at director Gus Van Sant’s chronicling of 1978’s Proposition 6- the initiative that sought to ban gays and lesbians from teaching in public school.  And then there was Anita Bryant.  You silly rabbit.

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Not to be outdone the supporting cast too deserve their share of accolades.  James Franco’s acting chops have matured since his Spiderman days and he gives a sweet performance as Milk’s homie-lover-friend- to- the-end, Scott Smith.  Diego Luna also gives a powerful performance as Jack Lira, a lover with insecurities that are bone deep (almost painful to watch, really) and Emile Hirsch is solid as Cleve Jones, Milk’s friend and fellow defender of gay rights.  Josh Brolin rounds out the supporting cast as the troubled Dan White, San Franciso supervisor and assassin.

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So why should you see this movie?  If not for Sean Penn then see it for the cinematography.  I still don’t know  which scenes were authentic news footage  and which were shot to look that way.  I don’t think I even want to know.  For 128 minutes I felt as if I were living in the Castro district rather than seeing the movie just a few short blocks away from it.  See the movie for it’s messages about tolerance, too.  Milk’s tagline reads “Never blend in”.  Who can argue with that?

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WHAT WOULD BIG BIRD SAY ABOUT PROPOSITION 8?

November 21, 2008

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Follow that Bird was the first bootleg movie that I ever owned.  Before hustlers got enough gall to take camcorders into movie theaters there was VCR recording from television. I didn’t know any better in 1985 but was I ever thankful for learning that little trick.  You’ll never find me purchasing a copy of Maximum Overdrive any time soon!

Follow that Bird is the story of Big Bird’s cross-country journey back to Sesame Street after a group of social workers determine that he would be more comfortable living with a family of birds.    Miss Finch, the placing worker and a bird herself,  paints a lavish picture of Big Bird flourishing in a home with a feathered mother, father, and siblings that can better appreciate him in all of his birdly glory.  Initially excited about the possibility of leading a new life-though to the dismay of his friends- Big Bird half-heartedly agrees that leaving is the best option and parts ways with Oscar, Cookie, Grover, and his human friends on Sesame Street for new adventures.

Lest I spoil the other plot twists that lie ahead Big Bird later discovers that all that glitters is not gold.  His new parents’ style of parenting is not even close to providing the love and attention that he received on Sesame Street and life in the house becomes unbearable.  As Big Bird escapes and makes his way back home his Sesame Street friends set out on their own journey to find him.

Awww…can’t you just feel the love?  Even as a four-year-old I could tell you that the moral of Bird is that people-or muppets for that matter- don’t have to be of the same species to be considered a family.  Cookie Monsters and Grouches can live together as quarreling cousins and humans can adopt Big Birds as sons or daughters.  Come to think of it, is Big Bird a boy or a girl?

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The subtle and negative messages about “meddling social workers” notwithstanding, Follow that Bird is a winner because it redefines family.  Leave it to Sesame Street to teach messages about tolerance.  Though Miss Finch and her cohorts theorized that Big Bird would be better off with his (her?) own kind they find that the best home is the one where love is taught even if between species.  One can not help but liken this film to today’s political climate where same sex couples are prohibited from adopting.  There are thousands of children who are waiting for someone to simply validate their existence, much less love them, and who would ever want to deny that?  Big Bird didn’t care if s/he had a human mother figure and a Count for a brother.  The need for love and acceptance was all that mattered.  It really makes you think.  How would Big Bird vote?