Monday, May 18, 2009

Movie and Book Review

I finished The Autobiography of Jane Pittman. I can't believe such a short book took me so long to read. After a while it got to be more like assigned reading; it was difficult to pick it up. The premise of the book is that a writer knew a 110-year old woman who had lived through 7 years of slavery and then through the reconstruction, Jim Crow and was getting involved the civil rights movement. Had she been a real person, I would love to have known her and her story.

My biggest...actually, only problem with the book, what made it so difficult to read was that it's written as if Miss Jane wrote it and her speech is very colloquial. She's got paragraph after paragraph with no pronouns or other identifying nouns. I spent half the time trying to figure out who was talking, who they were talking about and then even if they were talking about a person or a town. It wasn't that I didn't understand the meaning of words, but the broken up English was hard to follow. Also, the lack of a timeline. I never knew when it was that events were taking place.

All in all, it was a pretty good book with a disappointing ending. What a schizophrenic review.

A few weeks ago Mom was rifling through some old papers and came up with this little tiny blue one with the names of a few movies on it. She said someone had recommended that she watch them. On the list was a movie called The Second Chance and another called Gospel.

The review at Plugged In says that Second Chance is about racism, but I disagree. I think the movie is about getting out of your comfy chair and helping people. Tossing money at problems is rarely the correct fix. I really liked this movie and even Del liked it and that's saying something!!

Gospel was depressing. Although this is supposed to be a story about a prodigal son who comes home and turns his life over to Jesus, I just don't see that. I see a story about a man who changes singing venues. I'd like to know how realistic this movie is. Del did not watch it with us but has said he would to give us his own review. I have a lot more to say about this movie but this is not the venue for me to voice it so I'll stop's worth it to watch.

Then Del had the audacity to send me to Blockbuster. I just don't do well with picking out movies. I won't pick up anything that has "some sensuality" in it...period. And I'm not really into mindless action flicks. I usually just resort to my tried and true favorites when I want to watch a movie.

So anyway, I go to Blockbuster all by myself. I didn't even have Anna. Amazing. My eye and interest is caught by A Raisin in the Sun and Not Easily Broken. I don't know why, but that's what I came home with. Oh and Way of War, but we'll just pretend I didn't get that one. Sshhhhh. Del actually laughed at me when I walked in the door with these movies. LOL. I'm terrible at picking out movies. I think I did pretty well though.

The more I thought about Not Easily Broken the more I thought I had heard about this movie before. Then I saw "A TDJakes Film" at the bottom remembered that Terry had mentioned a TD Jakes movie before and when I checked out the post, this was the movie. It was fascinating to see what Terry was talking about in her review. I liked the movie, but once again, time and forum leave me with "let's talk about it later." It's telling that the married couple in this film are Dave Johnson and Clarice Clark.

A Raisin in the Sun. Go get it, watch it. I *really* liked this movie. I didn't feel it was a "black movie." It was simply a story about a family and they happened to be black. Except for Sean "P Diddy" Combs I though everyone's performance was stellar. Go get it, watch it. I'd like to hear what you like about it.


Terry @ Breathing Grace said...

Never saw Second Chance. If you were going to watch A Raisin in the Sun, I would have suggested you watch the original where Sidney Poitier played the role Sean Combs played in the remake. It was too big of role to trust to a rapper wanna be actor, IMHO. And I agree 100% with your assessment of the movie GospelAfter seeing Not Easily Broken, did my post make more sense? I hope so.

Final thought: Are you on a Black history/entertainemnt kick? This is quite a lineup of books and movies for a lily white gal, my friend :-)

No seriously, I greatly admire your willingness to review part of the culture from which your children derive half their heritage. Admirable quest. Just remember what I told you via email: A lot of it is propaganda and not based in reality. I am not the wife in Not Easily Broken, though I know she is all too common, unfortunately.

We don't have to live stereotypes. We can choose a better path. I know you already know this but the movies you mention made me think.

There are many Black folk who agree with me. Even as far back as the 1800's, activists like Booker T. Washington were ridiculed by his black contemporaries for believing that Black folk held the keys to their own prosperity, rather than government.

My favorite modren day columnists? Thomas Sowell and Walter E. Williams. As you study, study both sides. A lot of the stuff you're looking at is only going to inspire white guilt, which you don't need to embrace, friend. Our racial past is terrible, but it's the past.

Black folk only make up 13% of the population, and yet we have a black president. He couldn't have gotten in on the strength of the black vote alone, now could he?

Joanna said...

You should watch Second Chance. Michael W. Smith plays the main white guy. He's a pretty good actor. I thought they were truthful about the idea that even your brother will sell you out for money; the love of money exceeds all racial lines. It was a good movie. I'd buy it and I don't buy many movies.

It was fascinating to see what you were talking about in Not Easily Broken. I had an inkling, but my eyes were truly opened. You should have seen Del cringing and pacing and "see what I'm talking about." He kept having to leave the room.

I'll have to get the Sidney Poitier version of Raisin. When I was first married to Del I happened to watch a movie called Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, starring Mr. Poitier. Seen it? It's about a white woman name JOANNA who is engaged to a black man. And in the 60's, that was a huge deal.

When I first "met" you I asked if you thought my girls would need a black woman as a mentor of sorts since Del's mom was absent. You told me no, they just need godly women to example. After knowing you for the time that I have and having lots of conversations with Del and reading your blog, etc., I think you're right. But I still think I need to understand where Del and ultimately they are "coming from." Although I think Del and I are changing where they're coming from.

I will never understand why we can't just "all get along", but I want to know why things are they way they are. Just saying "man is fallen" isn't good enough. Besides that black history is my history. This is my country and you can't study only a portion of it and get the whole story.

To be truthful, it was sort of accidental that I got into this black history kick. Mom recommended the book and two of the movies based off of someone else's recommendation. The other two I honestly randomly picked up; as I was reading titles these seemed most interesting to me. The other movie I put back at Blockbuster that night was a movie about Nelson Mandella and his guard. Whatever the reason I'm on it, I'm having fun and learning a lot.

Thank you for the caution too. I like to have Del watch the stuff with me and ask him how based in reality he feels it is. It's nice to have his ration and reason around.

Now on to Booker T. Washington. I might need to buy a book. They talked about him negatively in Jane Pittman, if I remember correctly. They liked Frederick Douglass better. I read the bio at the link you sent. I love this "Washington the public figure often invoked his own past to illustrate his belief in the dignity of work." The dignity of work. That's beautiful.

Hmm, this is pretty interesting too from the Wikipedia entry, "He believed that cooperation with supportive whites was the only way in the long run to overcome pervasive racism." I think it's true.

And once again my mind is racing 1000 miles a minute and I'm getting side tracked. I must wash the dishes. ;)

Thanks for chiming in Terry. I appreciate you.

Terry @ Breathing Grace said...

They would like Frederick Douglas better. But I don't.

See what I mean? Diversity of thought is not prized among those who claim to want racial equality. True equality requires responsibility from ALL interested parties, and we can't be asking people who have been oppressed (and I agree the oppression was real) to take some measure of responsibility for their own futures, now can we?

Have a great evening, Joanna.

Joanna said...

Yeah that very interesting that they like FD better that BTW. It didn't really mean anything to me when I was reading the book but now that we've had this here enlightening conversation, it's very telling.