Movie Reviews

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Movie Review:  Get Out

So, if you saw the trailer for “Get Out,” you saw the movie. It is predictable, and the typical horror movie about a victim escaping from a perpetrator and discovering that most of those thought to be allies are actually foes. The only interesting point the movie may be making is revealed in the beginning when the viewer sees through photographs the main Black male character has taken, that he grew up in a dangerous, urban environment. One presumes that Chris, the Black male lead character, chose to be with a White woman due to his deep-seeded anger against a Black woman for raising him in a ghetto and stealing his childhood.  Is that what this movie is about?  Is it meant to encourage critical thinking about why Black males choose to date outside of their race? Is it a warning to Black men about dating outside of their race, especially re. White women? At least one review I came across said that the movie reminds of the Kanye West-Kim Kardashian relationship. Most of the reviews I have heard or come across make the obvious point about the movie being satirical concerning racism and the difficulties of being in an interracial relationship.  I haven’t read enough reviews of the movie to know if I am the only one who thinks the movie is a commentary about the reason behind some interracial relationships.

The movie’s writer and director, Jordan Peele, is bi-racial (Black father, White mother) and married to a White woman. One wonders if his art has imitated his own life and conscious.

Let’s explore my takeaways from “Get Out,” that Black males date out of their race because they are angry at their Black mothers, then date out of their race only to realize that all White women are not the perfect, liberal creatures they are shown to be through media images and their urban public school  educations. Most of the interracial relationships I have witnessed do not last as long as anticipated and end with the White female being disappointed that she wasn’t able to completely domesticate her seemingly virile counterpart, and the Black male being disappointed that all vaginas are the same after all, and the Black male realizing that his complete and total submission was the point of it all anyway.

To be clear, this note is not meant to suggest that there is anything wrong with interracial relationships. It is simply meant to examine the motives behind them.

So, how exactly do Black females hand their counterparts over to others? Like this:

  1. By raising their children in poverty.  Folks:  Poverty is devastating. It robs those who experience it of their childhood and almost certainly guarantees permanent crippling.  Black people who grow up in poverty need to make a pact to not have children until after their escape from poverty is secured. STOP THE PRESSES:  I am not saying that it is okay for impoverished White people to have children. It is not okay for anyone who is not emotionally, mentally, financially, and otherwise prepared to have children, to have children. I am specifically addressing Blacks because that’s who I am writing about at this particular time. And by “Blacks,” I am referencing people of the entire African diaspora, North American Blacks, so-called Caribbeans, continental “Africans,” and other folks who can logically be considered “Black.” 
  2. By being bad role models.  A mother is the first model of a woman a child has. If she screws this up, she risks scarring a child’s perception of women who look and feel like her. Children watch their parents’ behavior. They want a parent of which they can be proud. Offspring are not thrilled about showing of loud, obese, insecure, or otherwise ill parents. Bad role modeling occurs when, for example, a parent engages a revolving door of mates, allows various significant others to live with the family, or allows a significant other to live in the home without working or acting like an adult.
  3. By choosing the wrong fathers for their children.  One of the biggest problems we have in the “Black” community is that there is no orientation:  We do not teach our boys and girls how to be men and women. Unfortunately, there is no explicit or implicit teaching. Our offspring tend to grow up not knowing what their responsibility to themselves and their community is.  We do not teach them, for instance, that when they are searching for a mate, they should consider that person’s character and quality and consider the long-term ramifications of engaging with the person.
  4. By allowing their children’s subjugation and abuse.  Children rightfully and reasonably expect their caretakers to protect them from harm. When mothers allow a significant other to abuse, credibility is diminished. Allowing adults to bully or coerce children provokes feelings of insecurity in children.
  5. Mostly number one.

Movie Review: Burning Sands (Netflix)

#BurningSands #LessSteppingMoreStudying

Burning Sands exposes the hypocrisy inherent in Black Greek letter organizations. It reveals a lot about what is wrong with some intake processes, but more importantly what’s wrong with the Black community–and the talented tenth charged with leading it. By most accounts, Black Greek letter organizations began in the early 20th century in response to Blacks not being allowed to join White Greek letter organizations, as a way of fostering scholarship and a sense of community among Black collegians, and as vehicles for Black collegians to provide community service. Yet, as Burning Sands reveals, instead of paying it forward many, Black collegians are engaging in counterproductive behavior that negates the purpose of Black Greek letter life.

One of Burning Sands’ explorations concerns some people’s motivation for pledging:  Sometimes a person is interested because they are “legacy”–they have a parent or parents who pledged, or they are  pressured by family members that dominate a particular affiliation. Some people join for social status or help climbing a career ladder. Some people join seeking a sense of family. Of course, reasons for pledging abound and are not exhausted here.

It is the exposé of contradictions that makes Burning Sands most useful. One of the most blaring contradictions explored surrounds the movement towards bonding that is supposed to be typical of pledge processes. For instance, throughout the film, the audience is exposed to line brothers treating each other in unbrotherly ways. Additionally, most–if not all–Black Greek Letter organizations are based on Christian principles, yet many Black Greek Letter members fornicate, gossip and bare false witness against each other and others–and engage in other ungodly acts. In one scene, the pledges visit their dean in his dorm room where a naked female can be seen lying in his bed. The insinuation is not that she was posing for a portrait. Further: Most, if not all, Black Greek Letter organizations are based upon the principle of scholarship, yet some organizations take pride in forcing activities upon pledges that cut into studying time. It is not uncommon for a pledge’s grade point average to plummet while pledging.

Sands also highlights the fact–possibly unintentionally–that Blacks lack leadership. Black Greek Letter organizations are supposed to consist of what W.E.B. DuBois, a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Incorporated, called the Talented Tenth–the small group of Blacks who were fortunate enough to pursue scholarship and who were expected to subsequently lead and pull others behind them. Yet in Sands, an elder member of the fraternity that is the subject of the movie supports the dysfunctional practices portrayed.

Yet, there are some misunderstandings:  Most people’s perception of underground pledging does not account for the fact that some organizations have study hours built into their processes that include big brothers and sisters checking the library to make sure pledges are there and getting their school work done. This is a little known fact that some organizations may downplay as pledging is often exaggerated to make it appear as if it is “so hard” to gain membership. Keep in mind that Blacks tend to have a fascination with scandal. One example of this from the movie is when the line brothers chide one of their own for not drinking and being sexually active. We seem to have adopted the notion that life and lessons are supposed to be lived and learned the hard way.  Maybe Slavery taught us that life is supposed to consist of struggle and sacrifice? We applaud poverty and deprivation and pathologize anyone who doesn’t seem to have had such experiences. Some take pride in their perceived ability to revoke “Black cards” from those who haven’t suffered enough. Black Greek Letter members are often no different. For this reason, graduate chapter membership is sometimes looked down upon–even amongst organization members–because it is perceived to be easier to attain. Some Black Greek Letter organization members literally pretend to have pledged hard just to get respect.

Some members scramble to specify that they pledged undergrad so they get more respect. Yet, the same members who mock people for pledging graduate chapters and being “paper” members are the same ones who brag about famous honorary members who didn’t “pledge.” Would a member who pledged “so hard” undergrad call her 50 year-old pastor who just joined a graduate chapter “paper?” And as discretion is supposed to be one of the hallmarks of “pledging,” what is a member doing discussing someone else’s process anyway?

One criticism of Sands will likely be that Black Greek Letter organization rituals are being unfairly criticized by people who do not understand the original purpose of “pledging.” This may be true. One of the problems with large organizations, especially national and international groups, is that it is difficult to manage individual membership and rituals. Leadership passes these processes down to members they hope they can trust and to whom they trust has the requisite understanding of the organization’s mission and purpose. But the best intentions . . . Feelings get involved: Sometimes credible prospective members are passed over due to petty jealousies; sometimes people become intent on inflicting the same pain that was inflicted on them without regard to the organization’s mission and the lesson that is supposed to be learned; sometimes neophytes want to shed their newness by pledging a line–any line–and allow unworthy individuals to join by haphazardly pledging them without regard to their ability to uphold the ideals of the organization; and sometimes processes are changed out of fear–to appease those who may repeat something about the process they do not understand and cause a misunderstanding that leads to suspension.

Blacks have long had a legacy problem: We tend to start out good, but have a hard time maintaining our success over generations. The state of Black Greek Letter organizations is an example of that.

By some accounts, the Black Greek Letter pledge process was initially designed to parallel a rite of passage. Yet, many leave their processes unchanged and useless to the communities they pledged to assist.

The controversy about Sands stems from Blacks not liking inconvenient truths, and wanting to maintain a facade about Black elite organizations. Folks like to do their dirt in private and put on a facade of unity.  Anyone who betrays this faux unity–who dares to tell the truth, like Gerard McMurray does with Sands, is branded a traitor. (Yet, it’s okay for Blacks to expose the misdeeds of others, which is why movements like Black Lives Matter is not taken seriously. But I digress.)

Hopefully, Burning Sands will spark critical analysis and conversations about Black elitism, the need for leadership amongst Blacks, dysfunctional habits that need to be abandoned, and our inability to maintain generational success.

MOVIE REVIEW:  Acrimony

Spoiler Alert:  This review may contain details that some may view as giving away too much of the storyline.

Kudos to Tyler Perry for unintentionally–or intentionally–putting the spotlight on mental health issues among Black females. Tyler Perry’s Acrimony is part-suspense, part-thriller, with a sprinkle of humor here and there. Although it drags at some points, and potentially leaves the viewer confused, upon reflection there is much to be learned, and I personally hope Mr. Perry continues teaching through film in this way.  Acrimony is not as obvious as Mr. Perry’s typical films. This new style may take a bit getting used to for some viewers, but the value is there.

Perry requires the viewer to put their thinking caps on. You may learn the following lessons upon doing so.

  1.  First impressions.According to the late, great Dr. Maya Angelou, “When people tell you who they are, believe them!” Tyler Perry’s Acrimonylends credence to this adage. The object of the main character’s desire gets a glimpse of her tendencies when they first meet, yet he continues to pursue a relationship with her.
  2.  Make your own decisions about your relationships.  Part of the reason the main character decides to end her relationship is due to pressure from her family. She then ends up hurt when her  ex-husband’s new wife ends up reaping the benefit of his success. Here’s where there seems to be some disagreement about the turn the film should have taken: Some feel Taraji P. Henson’s character was reasonably upset over her “loss.” I disagree: There was actually no evidence that the ex-husband was ever guilty of the behaviors that are insinuated throughout the first half of the film. Henson’s character is entitled to nothing. She loses fair and square. I guess the question is:  How long do  you support a spouse’s dream?
  3.  Resolve mental health issues.  All throughout the film, the main character’s family made reference to her anger issues. She does not get therapy until she is ordered to do so. The main character’s unresolved issues, and other people’s unwillingness to intervene, cause her and others to get hurt.
  4.  Borderline Personality Disorder(BPD) may be prevalent among Black females.There is already research that indicates that BPD is disproportionally experienced by females, but one wonders if BPD is disproportionately experienced by Black females. It makes sense when you look at the symptoms against the backdrop of what many Black females tend to experience. BPD is thought to be prevalent among people who experience loss, abuse and neglect. It is a well-known fact that Blacks, irrespective of class, tend to have more experiences with loss, abuse and neglect than others. Dare I say:  These experiences are more likely to be doubled for us, because we seem to have developed an uncanny knack/proclivity (thanks to the Enslavement Process) for hurting each other.

Let’s look at a few of the symptoms. The symptoms listed below are not an exhausted list. This blog is not intended to diagnose or treat any mental health illness. The goal of this blog is to encourage self-examination and critical analysis.

  • Distorted and unstable self-image or sense of self. The sense of entitlement some females have concerning other females’ conduct towards them comes to mind: Females getting upset when another female does not greet them. For example, some females(1) get upset when another female does not “speak” to them. The offended female usually will not admit that she herself hasn’t “spoken” and is waiting for the victim of her ire to “speak” first. This accusation is code for: “She won’t tell me her business” or “How am I supposed to verify that she is just as miserable as me if she doesn’t even say ‘Hi'” or “She’s not friendly enough for my ego. I need more.” See: Some “females” think they are entitled to information about others, but the desire for this information is usually sinister. See the “Chickenheads” page of this blog for more on this tendency. My guess is this comes from a lack of affection during childhood. Pure and simple: Hugs and kisses validate a person. Affection makes a person feel wanted. When children are denied affection, they grow up seeking it from other people and sources. The anger from being denied it morphs into a sense of entitlement. The main character experiences the loss of her mother at a young age and likely does not have the support of a father, as one is not mentioned. The loss of a caregiver typically has an adverse impact on a person’s sense of self.

In Acrimony, the main character thought she was entitled to her ex-husband’s fortune even though she had ended the marriage. She thought her ex-husband’s new wife was living the life she, Taraji P. Henson’s character, was supposed to have.

  • Impulsive and often dangerous behaviors, such as spending sprees, unsafe sex, substance abuse, reckless driving, and binge eating. Please note: If these behaviors occur primarily during a period of elevated mood or energy, they may be signs of a mood disorder—not borderline personality disorder. The birth rates in our communities, evidenced by over-crowded inner-city schools, and the weight issues that often plague Black females, may be evidence of this.
  • Intense and highly changeable moods, with each episode lasting from a few hours to a few days.
  • Chronic feelings of emptiness
  • Inappropriate, intense anger or problems controlling anger.For example, it is inappropriate for a person to be upset about someone not “speaking” to them when another person’s greeting or conversation is not owed.

This blog post is not intended to suggest that all Black females are crazy. It is meant to encourage critical observation, critical thought and change.

Footnote(s):

(1) The term “woman” and “women” are used sparingly, as a reference to humans with female genitalia who have shown through their conduct that they are fully (emotionally, socially and psychologically) evolved. When describing unevolved behavior and people, the term “female” is used.

#HolidayHeartbreakBET movie review

Movie: Holiday Heartbreak (Spoiler Alert?)

The Holiday season is typically billed as a magical time – an opportunity to explore the potential of miracles, signs and wonders. Television networks take full advantage of this seasonal trend by offering productions meant to restore the innocent hope we had during childhood. We see movies about people finding love at Christmas, people getting things they’ve always wanted and people being enlightened. #HolidayHeartbreak may fall into the Enlightenment category. In this movie, a middle-aged man’s daughter experiences a curse on her love life due to her father’s misdeeds concerning prior romantic relationships.

Overall, as holiday movies go, #HolidayHeartbreak is okay. The main message is clear: Your past can come back to haunt you – and your progeny! There are actually quite a few gems (teachable moments) in this movie: We are reminded that “words have power,” and that we may curse ourselves by avoiding personal development. The person who the father turns to for help informs him that the perpetuator of the curse planted the seed of guilt in his mind. Guilt is a personal emotion; no one can make you feel guilty. Essentially, then, she may be telling him that he is ultimately in control of his destiny. In fact: My favorite aspect of this movie is the subtle lean towards self-examination. There’s also a very clear message about redemption and righting wrongs.

My issue with “movies like this” is that we never seem to address the root cause of the problem. We never talk about the fact that “Black” love is almost non-existent because there tends to be no orientation concerning love and relationships. We don’t educate our children about love, sex and how to conduct themselves in relationships. We don’t teach or show anything about courting. I couldn’t help but wonder if the perpetrator of the curse had ignored some signs that would let her know she was making a mistake. Maybe she needed to evolve.

A few suggestions for future filmmakers: I could picture India.Arie in the role of Michael Colyar’s wife. We could have done without the female actors showing so much cleavage. There’s even a scene where the daughter is sitting in a restaurant at dinner with her father and her dirty pillows are on full display. Why? This is indicative of the hypocrisy in the “Black” community: On the one hand we’re presenting a sweet moment where a father is showing his princess how she deserves to be treated, but the daughter is sitting there with her lady parts hanging out.

While neither the culture nor the religion of the woman who instructs the main character about the curse he is under, is revealed, there is a reference to her lifestyle as “voo doo.” This tradition has enough negativity and misunderstanding associated with it, without this reference. Every time we talk spells, and religions other than Judeo-Christianity, it doesn’t have to be a nod to voo doo. Yet, I appreciate this movie for the idea that we should explore spiritual traditions that encourage personal reflection. Traditional African religion may provide this opportunity.

Another issue: The kiss that was supposed to break the spell seemed forced. I don’t think I need to explain why this is a problem . . .

The main character concludes that the person he hurt the most with his reckless behavior was his deceased wife. I think he hurt himself the most: He missed out on the blessings the women he hurt could have been to him.

Finally: While I appreciate the overarching theme of making amends and redemption, I don’t like that the main character’s apology has to actually be accepted in order for the curse to be broken. Forgiveness is for you – so that unresolved trauma does not eat YOU up inside. We can’t control other people and their evolution. Our healing should not be dependent upon someone else’s proclivity. Females also have to take responsibility for red flags we ignore. Sometimes we choose the wrong circumstances because we are not healed and because we fail to plan for success by establishing criteria and boundaries that we may use as a measuring stick for potential mates.

Another great aspect of #HolidayHeartbreak: The soundtrack!

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