My grandmother, Geneva Wright, in the 1950s in Syracuse, New York.
I grew up hearing a story.
My grandmother was a cleaning lady for a white family that kept the fingers and toes of black people in a jar on their mantle. No, this was not slavery. This was 1940's South Carolina. When I saw Lee Daniels' The Butler, I thought of my grandmother's experience, and how one can endure and somehow withstand dehumanization on a daily basis, only to survive, and love after it all.
I love a summer blockbuster. I'll take a dystopic future flick, a classic underdog tale, and all of the explosions you can send my way. When it comes to summer movies, escapism is a major draw; it's nice to sit back and fully immerse yourself in an alternate reality.
But it's hard to immerse yourself in a reality where people like you are relegated to the margins of the storyline. Which was my experience when watching this summer's Elysiumon the big screen.
The name, the legend, the fantasy, the pariah, the political lightening rod: Linda Lovelace stood for a sexual revolution that she could not enjoy for herself. She made porn mainstream as the star of infamous movie Deep Throat, yet porn was something she was forced to do by her abusive husband. New biopic Lovelace is not a celebration of sex, porn, or the infamy of Deep Throat—it's a look at the unhappy life she lived off-camera.
The Sapphires is a feel-good film about being "black" in a cross-cultural context. I loved it.
Based on the true story of four Aboriginal women who form a singing group and are invited to Vietnam to perform for American troops during the 1960's, the film has been lazily dubbed "the Australian version of Dreamgirls." But it's a lot more than that. So, when I saw the American DVD cover of the film, I cringed a little. It's at left below, compared to the original Australian cover:
Photo: Kristin Wiig, crying some beach tears in Girl Most Likely.
There's a certain risk involved in being excited for a film. High expectations often lead to disappointment, especially when you spend two years anticipating a film.
Such was the case with Girl Most Likelyand me. When I first heard about this film, it was called Imogene and still in pre-production. The premise intrigued me immediately: a female playwright fakes a suicide attempt and is forced into the custody of her overbearing mother.
Isn't there room in the '80s sex-comedy canon for comedies that let girls be just as goofy, hedonistic, and—perhaps most important—consequence-free as their dumb-fun boy counterparts? There is—it's just that it hasn't come out until now.
"Oh, I believe [Martin] played a huge role in his death.[...] When George confronted him, he could have walked away and gone home." —Juror B37, State of Florida vs George Zimmerman
Director Ryan Coogler's new filmFruitvale Station is everywhere. The small-budget drama about the life and death of 22-year-old Bay Area resident Oscar Grant has become a national hit and, while the film is a sensation, its beauty lies in the level of attention it pays to the life and setting that it captures. The film dwells on the details of Hayward, Oakland, the rumble of BART trains, a mother, a daughter, and the frustrations and concerns of a young man named Oscar Grant.
The statistics from the 2011 National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs are grim. Trans people were almost two times as likely to experience injuries than cis people. Transgender people of color were 28 percent more likely to experience physical violence compared to people who were not transgender people of color. And people under 30 were the most likely to experience sexual and physical violence.
2011 was also the year that Shelley "Treasure" Hilliard was horrifically murdered in Detroit. Only 19 years old, Hilliard was an active member in Detroit's LGBTQ youth community, and her death shook the activists, family, and friends around her. But TransParent, a new film, is going beyond the statistics to share the story of Shelley, her mother, and the community around them.