Archive for the ‘Whoopi Goldberg’ Category

For Colored Girls

05 Nov

For Colored Girls – directed by Tyler Perry. Drama. 133 minutes Color 2010.


The Story: Seven negro women discharge their perils and experiences of their lives as mates.


The focus of the material confines it to the influence of males upon these women. In each case the woman is at the mercy of her beliefs as to what the penis will provide – VD, AIDS, rape, infanticide, addiction, abortion. It pronounces without questioning the reality of her beliefs as to what the word “love” means, at least insofar as she sees it embodied in the male.

What confines the material concentrates it, however, and focuses the point of view. For the writing of these women’s responses to what has happened to them in the matter is brilliant, daring, and deep.

I have not seen or read the stage play by Nkozake Shange, but I want to. I want to see this film again with the acting score in front of me. My old tv has poor sound, so a quarter of what these ladies were saying was lost, and another quarter was lost because they proceeded to weep while saying it.

This is a technical and professional mistake. You do not recite Hamlet’s soliloquy while bawling. Why? Because no voice as the brass to project verse through the gargle of a crying jag. And Hamlet is not supposed to weep. We the audience are.

So this is a miscalculation on the part of these actresses and the director who evidently has a taste for such stuff. Emotionalization is the defilement of feeling to the level of ocular perspiration. What really lies beneath it is too deep for tears. What lies beneath it is the pain of a terrible knowledge. We don’t need to see these women weep over their suffering if we are to suffer with them. In fact we need to see them bare of tears, living in the residue of terrible knowledge.

They are wonderful actresses, and it’s a really well directed film in many ways. It is perfectly cast and produced. It is Gogol’s The Lower Depths for black women. It is important and beautiful and ours.

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How Stella Got Back Her Groove

06 Apr

How Stella Got Her Groove Back – directed by Kevin Rodney Sullivan – Romance. A twenty-year old male decides to mate with a woman twice his age, who is skeptical. 124 minutes color 1998.

* * *

It’s wonderful to see how much better an actress Angela Bassett became in the six years between this and What’s Love Got To Do With It? in which all she does is forced: forced smiles, forced fear, forced singing, forced sexuality. Here she simply settles into the part and enjoys unexpected ways of delivering it, and all praise to her. The movie is rubbish, of course, because the relationship between a twenty-year-old male and a forty three year old female here is patently flimsy, and everything everyone says against it is right. Of course there is a mutual sexual attraction between herself and Taye Diggs, who certainly is a beautiful creature. Indeed at one point his naked ass is offered up to our extended contemplation as twere a marital guide. He is also sweet and bien élevé and good in bed and chums with her son and is a decent human being too, but none of that is sufficient grounds for a marriage. For they have nothing in common culturally, financially, or conversationally, and the relationship has no spiritual foundation whatsoever. The result is a black and white value aesthetic, or, let’s calls it a grey and pink value aesthetic, since it presents black females as pink romantic fools, and those black females who are not romantic fools as grey killjoys. All of this is leavened considerably by a brilliant performance by Whoopi Goldberg as The Ribald Best Friend. She brings a quirky vitality to every scene she plays, including and especially her death scene. This wonderful performance makes the film worth seeing twice. Unless, of course, you can’t bear the idea of seeing it even once, as the diminution of the sexual intelligence of black women, and the delusional decoration of women in general, threatens to stupefy us in its blare of garish romance.



Alice In Wonderland

16 Mar

Alice In Wonderland – Directed by Nick Willing – Fantasy Live Action TV production. A Victorian 10 year old girl doesn’t want to sing at a party and runs off into the garden and down a rabbit hole and so forth. 133 minutes Color 1999.

* * *

A labored telling of a dream, oh dear, and we all know what that means. Lewis Carroll’s original, of course, is the most revolutionary work of English literature since Shakespeare. But here everything is literal and old mad hat. Here is a work that should work with the speed of film and works with the speed of high Victorian taffy. Film would be ideal for the material. But the sequences go on at great length and to no good. A director’s collision. Poor Martin Short who must endure himself straining through the same grimace reel after reel. Pete Postlethwaite in a sub-supporting role as The  Carpenter who duets with Peter Ustinov’s The Walrus, but, boy, is it clunkilly staged. Whoopie Goldberg alone survives because she really does have the smile of a Cheshire Cat, and because she is so knowing. And the great Elizabeth Spriggs triumphs as the Duchess. Otherwise the whole farrago is a Caucus Race. Gene Wilder as The Mock Turtle and Donald Sinden as The Gryphon were missing from the version I saw, so perhaps they, with a sigh of relief, are well out of it. Alice In Wonderland could satire anything around that is there to be satirized and allegory anything around to be allegorized. This version has wonderful costumes, true, but consists of  encounters with a series of very rude bad tempered personages indeed, and, alas, that is all it is. It just won’t join the dance.


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