Keeping The Faith In Hollywood!

Keeping The Faith In Hollywood!

Monday, November 23, 2009

AFI Film Fest: Day 2 & 3

AFI Fest Day 2: Saturday 10/31/09
I skipped AFI Film Fest on Day 2 because I was still recouping and I really didn't want to be in Hollywood on Halloween night.

Day 3 Precious Movie premiere

Honestly, I only went to this movie premiere because I got free tickets to the red carpet premiere in Hollywood and every black star imaginable (Will Smith, Sidney Poitier, Oprah Winfrey, Mariah Carey, Tyler Perry, MoNique...) was in attendance. After seeing the movie, I felt that Monique's portrayal of Mary (as depraved as she is) is in deed Oscar worthy and a wide detour from her usual comedic roles. I got a chance to hug Mo'Nique and I tell her so and I admit that that was exciting.

That said, I will not read "Push", the book that the movie was based on, and I probably never will. This may sound harsh but it is just not my type of read and the subject matter way too jarring. You see, I worked with abused children and teens for over 20 years and I know many tragic stories first hand so I prefer books and movies that help me forget.

Precious Movie Review:
To me, the movie is more of a composite of the lives of many abused teens not the life of one abused girl. The movie hopes to impress on us that hope can prevail over a "ton" of trauma, abuse and low self esteem and I think it did on some levels. I hope that the viewers see that it doesn't matter Precious' race or skin complexion, her economics, her poundage or her urban setting because the real issue here is sexual abuse and how one overcomes it.

I felt that this movie was as hopeful as one can be with the difficult subject matter. It also has some of the years best acting perfor-mances. Gabriel Sidibe, as Precious, in her acting role and the afore mentioned MoNique are sure to be nominated and MoNique may indeed win.

I also found the use of flashbacks and dream sequences to help diffuse the heaviness of scenes just simply inspired. Were they used in the book?

Despite all the dark trauma there were also a few strong Christian images portrayed in the movie. I especially liked this small scene:

Precious and her baby have escaped a murderous attempt by her crazy mother. She runs into the cold and down the street as it begins snowing. She looks around for a kind face or shelter but people just walk by her on the busy New York streets. Was I the only one who felt that for a minute they reminded me of Mary and baby Jesus, out in the cold with child in hand and "with no room in the inn" ?

Precious spies a small church and stops hopefully. She presses her face up against the window and peers inside like a little kid. She sees 4-5 people in a choir practicing a Christmas hymm on the altar in the empty church. The choir members look a bit ragged with missing teeth, stooped over, thin. From their meager clothing you can tell that they are poor (maybe they are also suffering from illnesses, old age or are recovering addicts etc.) but they are singing and praising the Lord from the heart.

Precious goes into a fantasy sequence and she imagines the choir on a big performance stage with lights. They are singing and clapping their hands joyously in new shiny blue statin choir robes and they are standing straight and upright with faces all perfectly made up, hair done and teeth fixed. The camera pulls back and a near neon bright cross glows over head. Precious smiles at the sight and takes a big inhale of hope and encouragement and continues on her way.

It seems to me that a lot of the movie was "over kill" and it depicted social workers, teachers and medical professionals, who were charged to teach, monitor or care for Precious, very negatively. For those who don't know, we all are required by law to make a report or call the police even at the suspicion of any abuse or neglect, yet Precious tells of her abuse repeatedly and no cops ever appear.

I spent the last 15 minutes of the movie cowering behind my hands and thinking "what possible hell can be next for this child"? I was already waiting for the other shoe to drop but I still feel that the last bombshell about the father could have been omitted and the story worked just as well. I also think that the two child actors(?), an infant and a toddler with Down's Syndrome, were exposed to harsh words and violent images.

White or light is right?
Precious fantasied about being white and having a light-skinned boyfriend as a way to shield herself or to escape from her abuse but it also reflects poor racial self esteem. Because her case was so extreme her fantasies are extreme. As this fact may be lost on most non-blacks, I felt at times the film did air "our dirty laundry" in the worst way. If you are black and sensitive to this subject then it may be best that you view this movie in a theater with a predominantly black audience. I say this as a size 18 black woman after viewing Precious in a racially mixed crowd at the famed Mann's Chinese Theater. We were surrounded by some of the most accomplished black actors and millionaires yet I was sitting in front of a white man who hummed the theme from Shaft when any black man came on screen. He also made frequent negative comments and laughed way too hard at inappropriate times during the movie.

Appearently there has also been some controversy over the complexion of and the casting choice of Paula Patton for Ms. Rain. I didn't know that the character was depicted as dark with natural hair (dread locks) so the substitution of someone so different could have been bad for the film but PP did such a good job of showing her care and concern for Precious that it didn't matter in the end for me. Precious and PP's connection really rang true to me on screen and that should be all that matters. There have been rumors of the director, Lee Daniels's preference for light skinned actresses but I think that Mr. Daniels casted all the actors based on good screen tests and ability and not their complexions as none of family's complexions matched up on screen (ala The Cosby Show) nor should it matter.

However, in the real world, race and complexion prejudices do exist and it is time people get over them! Also, the "white people to the rescue" attitude, as depicted in film and TV, needs to stop now! I am especially thinking this as I see the trailers for Invictus. With Morgan Freeman as Nelson Mandela who needs Matt Damon and rugby?!

After the premiere, I was fortunate to meet many of the stars as they were leaving the theater including Will Smith, Mariah Carey and Nick Cannon, Mario Lopez, NBA's Avery Johnson and more. I wrangeled photo ops for my Australian friends, Alisa and Rachel and a local photo journalist named Kat. We didn't get an invite to the after party but I heard that a SAG insider said that it was great and that Oprah attended.
You can see some of the pics at Kat's website but I can't vouch for the content.

Addendum: Oprah calls it quits!
I have been over Oprah and her TV show for years now so I wasn't bummed by the news. I just pray that she is blessed and that she gives God the praise.

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