Rape, Race and Rebellion: Nate Parker and the movie, Birth of a Nation

For those of you who haven’t been paying attention to the scandal and drama that was triggered by Nate Parker’s new movie, here is a brief recap. Nate Parker along with his friend and co-writer, Jean Celestin, wrote, directed, acted in, and produced a film about Nat Turner and his rebellion in Southhampton County, Virginia during August of 1831. His movie premiered at the Sundance Film Festival to standing ovations, was purchased by Fox Searchlight for a record $17.5 million and is....   [Read More...]

Flannery O’Connor, A Short Story Review

flannery_oconnor

O'Connor's metaphors and character descriptions are so vivid they jar the mind. Her writing is energetic and barbed with such naked honesty it initially struck me as rude or written by a rube but nothing could be further from the truth.

Svetlana Alexievich, Chernobyl and the Nobel Prize

Svetlana Alexievich
Svetlana Alexievich

Svetlana Alexievich wrote Voices from Chernobyl: A History of a Nuclear Disaster, a compilation of the stories of many people tied together by one uncomfortable fact; they happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. They were there when the Chernobyl plant blew.

The Clouds of Sils Maria

Clouds of Sils Maria
Clouds of Sils Maria

The movie, Clouds of Sils Maria, is cerebral and some reviewers call it pretentious. When I've told people it's a great  movie they want to know what it's about and I respond, "It's about an middle-aged woman who questions her relevance as an older actress," and they look bored. "Oh no," I say, it's exciting.

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Birdman: The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance-A Movie Review

I loved this movie. It had just the right combination of dark humor, zaniness and bookishness for my tastes. I laughed often and hard although it was the kind of laughter that explodes out of me when something bad has happened or almost happened. It's an embarrassed kind of laughter. Birdman was an honest and piercingly transparent look at the 55-year-old character of Riggan Thomson whose hope for a second chance at stardom propels the plot toward its resolution. Riggan's humanity is exposed and oozes out on the screen. How honest is this movie? When I prepared calf's liver in the past I used to surgically cut out the whitish bile ducts from the gelatinous mass of floppy burgundy flesh with a very small and very sharp knife. And this is what Director Alejandro González Iñárritu did. He took a small, sharp knife and carved into the psychic flesh of Michael Keaton to portray the character of Riggan, and Keaton, sensing that somewhere in this outpouring of emotion and intense acting there lay a renewal for him, acted his way into a portrayal of self conjoined with character that may well go down in cinematographic history. He sliced out the emotional bile ducts of his psyche and served him up to us on a platter. Salome has nothing on Iñárritu.

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The Giver – A Movie Review

The Giver starring Jeff Bridges in the title role, Meryl Streep as the Chief Elder, Brenton Thwaites as Jonas and the beautiful Odeya Rush, a newcomer from Israel, as Fiona is a movie designed for young adults. It is about an imagined community where there is no color, no crime, no hate, no sex and no discord of any kind. Meryl Streep, who appears only as a hologram, along with the Community of Elders, makes the rules and sees that they are enforced. The people take drugs to keep them obedient and are always on camera. They have no memory of anything else and no sexuality. Since history is repetitive someone has to remember or they will continue to make the same mistakes over and over and the character of the Giver played by Jeff Bridges fulfills that role. Only he can remember the past and he is getting old. He must pass on his knowledge. Jonas is special. He can see colors where the rest of the community can see only in black and white. He is chosen as the Receiver.

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Ralph Ellison: King of the Bingo Game and Invisible Man

Ralph Ellison, author of the week in my Wednesday Writing Group, wrote "King of the Bingo Game" in 1944, eight years before the publication of his monumental novel, Invisible Man. The story was an incubator for many of the techniques that grew to maturity in Invisible Man.

Gloria

From the previews, the movie Gloria looked like a Chilean chick flick for older women. What I thought would be the story line - attractive older woman in her fifties meets soul mate late in life, marries and at her wedding dances to Umberto Tozzi's "Gloria" - wasn't what happened.