When we experience trauma, the emotional scars have a tendency to last long after the event that created the trauma is over. When it resurfaces and starts to take control, there are two options. The first is to look it in the eye and stop running from it. The other is to let it take the wheel.
The new Aretha Franklin biopic, Respect, premiered last weekend. It tells the story of the late and iconic performer in two sections: her early years and the late 1950’s to the early 1970’s, when her career was just taking off. Born and raised in Detroit, Aretha’s parents, C.L. and Barbara Franklin (Forest Whittaker and Audra McDonald) divorced when she was young. C.L. knew that his daughter was a musical child prodigy (played as a child by Skye Dakota Turner) and was more than willing to promote her gift to anyone who would listen. He was also controlling and unwilling to let her make her own decisions when it came to music.
In 1959, the adult Aretha (Jennifer Hudson) is eager to see her dream of becoming a professional musician turn into reality. But after multiple albums, she is at a crossroads. Aretha can either let her father dictate her career or take a chance on going her own way, musically speaking and letting her husband, Ted White (Marlon Wayans) manage her. But the marriage is not all sunshine and roses. While she is on the path to becoming a global superstar, the fight for Civil Rights continues on with Aretha on the forefront.
This movie is amazing. Hudson was born to play this role. She does not merely play the part, she embodies Franklin. There points in which I had to wonder if I was watching a documentary or a fictionalized adaptation of her biography. If this film and Hudson specifically does not walk away with an Oscar, something is wrong with the voting. Though some scenes could have been cut down a little, it is a wonderful film that reminds us of the power of overcoming what holds us back.
The American ideal is that all citizens are equal, regardless of any labels that we or others may use to define an individual. But we all know that the reality does not match the ideal.
The new book, Burden: A Preacher, a Klansman, and a True Story of Redemption in the Modern South, written by journalist Courtney Hargrave is the story of an unlikely friendship. In 1996, the small town of Laurens, South Carolina received worldwide media attention when Michael Burden opened a museum celebrating the history of the Klu Klux Klan. Among those who protested the museum was Revered David Kennedy, the Reverend of a local African-American Church who would at a later date, hold out his hand in friendship and camaraderie when Michael was at his lowest.
Soon to be an upcoming movie starring Garrett Hedlund and Forest Whitaker, I found the book to be remarkable. It spoke to the idea that despite our pasts, change is possible. We can movie past racism and prejudice and see the person beyond the label.
The science fiction genre can be pretty predictable, like any genre. Especially when it comes to alien invasion narratives.
In the new movie, Arrival, Dr. Louise Banks (Amy Adams) is a doctor whose specialty is languages. When 12 mysterious flying objects land around the world, she called to learn their language and help to figure out what their purpose on Earth is. Recruited by Colonel Weber (Forest Whitaker), Louise joins a team that includes physicist Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner).
While trying to learn the alien’s language and figuring out how to communicate with them, Louise is also dealing with the death of her daughter.
Based on the short story by Ted Chiang, this movie has been hailed by the critics as one of the best movies of the year.
What I liked about this movie was the strong female lead in Louise and the fact that it was a science fiction film that dealt with real human actions and emotions as opposed to shlock. I also appreciated the message of our shared humanity and how important it is to get along with each other simply because underneath it all, we are all human. While it was not, in my opinion, everything that the critics stated, it was a heck of a lot better some of the movies that have come out this year.
Today I saw the new Lee Daniels movie, The Butler.
The Butler is story of Cecil Gaines (Forest Whitaker), a man who was born and raised in the cotton field of Georgia and worked for three decades as a White House Butler. His wife, Gloria (Oprah Winfrey) tries to support her often working husband while raising their sons Louis (David Oyelowo) and Charlie.
Against the backdrop of the Civil rights movements and Cecil’s disagreement with his oldest son, Cecil works for eight Presidents starting with Dwight Eisenhower (Robin Williams) and ending with Ronald Reagan (Alan Rickman).
This movie clocks in at 2 hours and 12 minutes. In most cases, I dislike movies that go over 2 hours, but in this case, it was well worth it.
I foresee that this movie will gain both nominations and awards come award season, especially Whitaker, Winfrey and Oyelowo.