Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Help

There's been a lot of controversy surrounding the movie "The Help." I guess this doesn't surprise me since the book tells a story about racism, which is a very heated topic (for good reason). In case you don't know, the book is about African American maids who work for Caucasian families in 1960's in Jackson, Mississippi. It's pretty eye opening to people of my generation, who didn't live through the civil rights movement and haven't experienced such blatant racism (though I can't speak for everyone when I say that). It's surprising to think that that sort of treatment was allowed such a short time ago.

I have to be real though. I'm white, and therefore, more naive than I like to admit about racism. I am aware of racism to a certain extent. I actively disapprove of anything that seems racist around me, and try to make sure I have no prejudices in me. But I'm still naive and don't really know what it's like to be discriminated against for my race.

And because I'm white, I feel self conscious even talking about racism, for fear of saying the wrong thing. And for fear of being told I'm talking about something I know nothing about. Which I suppose wouldn't be wrong.

But back to The Help.

I read the book the movie was based on a year ago. I had heard what it was about and was very curious.  So curious in fact, that I bought the book in its hard cover form, which you know is not cheap. When flipping through it in the book store, I first opened to the back cover and was quite surprised, and I can't lie, disappointed, to see that the author was white. I felt self conscious right away, that one of "my own" was trying to lay claim on a story about someone else's experience and tell a story about racism. My discomfort grew when I read that she herself had an African American maid as a child. Then to top it off, when I started the book and saw the vernacular she used, I was down right squirmy with discomfort.

But I had heard good things about it, so I decided to read it anyway. It was a very well written and interesting book. It introduced me to a world and experience I knew nothing about. It gave me a new look at the civil rights movement. The characters were vibrant and complex. There were points in the book that I thought were weaker than others, but overall I loved the book and recommended it to my friends.

Of course, I had to see the movie. Here's my advice to those of you who want to see it: bring a box of tissues. I was near tears the whole time. The story came to life in the movie. Were parts of the story changed, and parts left out? Duh. Of course they were. A movie can never be the same as a book. That's not what movies even try to do and they shouldn't, or every movie based on a book would be a mini series.

I loved the movie. I thought it was a great representation of the book. It showed complexities of the characters well. It made me laugh and for sure made me cry. I give it ten tissues out of ten on the crying scale. But I also give it a whole bunch of stars for just being really good.

I've had many interesting conversations with friends who've read the book and seen the movie. And providing a catalyst for these types of conversations is one of the best things The Help has to offer. Am I uncomfortable that a white women wrote the book? Not as much as I was at first. Hardly at all. But is it racist of me to feel at all uncomfortable with it? I don't even know. Is it bad that one of the main characters, the one who gives a voice to the maids, is white? I'm not sure. But I don't think so. That's a complex issue and I'm going to have to think about it more. See the movie or read the book and tell me what you think.

I think that many people in my generation think we live in a post-racism era, especially since we have a black president. But even though things are better, racism is still a reality. Even I know that. And if we don't talk about it, how will we identify it - both in others, and in ourselves? We live in an "is it ok to say that?" era now - nervous to say anything that may seem racist. If we can't talk about something, we can't change it. And that's the best thing about The Help. It brings racism back into our daily conversations, and that can't be a bad thing.


Wednesday, August 31, 2011

I've been really neglecting this blog, huh? Well, not to worry. This has been brought to my attention recently and I've decided to start reviewing movies again. I've seen some great ones this summer, and some duds, so it's hard to choose where to begin. Check back next week and hopefully I'll have a review up by then. :) Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Pirates of the Caribbean 4: On Stranger Tides

As I was getting ready to go to the theater to see the new Pirates installment Friday I was nervous. I thought to myself, "am I really going to spend money on this? What if it's as bad as the last two?" I mean, remember that ball thing they were rolling around in the jungle in in that one Pirates? Dullsville 2008 (or whenever it came out). But I was committed so I headed to the theater and paid my $12 to see it in 3D.

My movie going buddy, Katherine, and I got there way too early. See, she and I have what you might call "bad movie timing." If we're going to the theater to see the new Harry Potter and it starts at 7:05, we get to the theater at 7:00 and end up not being able to get in. We have done this many times. So for this one, we decided to get there 45 minutes early.

It wasn't necessary.

There was hardly any line and the theater was only about 75% full when the movie started, which helped lower my expectations even more.

Plus, getting there so early, we were forced to watch that stupid movie theater trivia that repeats itself every 4 minutes or so. We always end up chanting quietly, "Stop the madness! Start the movie!" a la Homer Simpson.

But one thing I was looking forward to about this movie was seeing it in 3D. I know I used to be a 3D hater, but in retrospect, I think I was more of a 3D misunderstander. I thought 3D glasses were still those old blue and red paper jobbies, like these:

not my real body
Until seeing the Justin Bieber movie in 3D, I didn't know 3D glasses are more like Weezer glasses these days! And 3D itself has come a long way. I'm probably not telling you anything you don't know, but these days it feels like the movie is coming right at ya, unlike the 3D of ten years ago when I saw Spy Kids 3 in 3D and took my glasses off, prefering to watch a blurred screen. Now I pretty much watch 3D movies exactly like Phil Dunphy when he saw Croctopus.

But I digress. Pirates of the Caribbean! Here's my run down:

No Kiera Knightly
No weird monkey (except for like 2 seconds)
Blackbeard looked like a legit pirate
Peg legs
Penelope Cruz
The Spanish King (Keeeey-ute!!)
An exciting quest
Wicked mermaids

No Orlando Bloom (though to be honest, I hardly noticed)
3D wasn't mind blowing, but was ok.
No Black Pearl

Overall, I'd give it a 6/10! I'm not seeing dying to see it again, but I didn't feel it was a waste of money. And I was pretty entertained! (Low expectations helped, I'm sure!)

Have any of you seen it? Whatdja think?

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


Ever since I first saw a preview for Insidious I've been wanting to see it. I knew when the trailer made me scream out loud in the movie theater that it would be good. Though I was dying to see it, I was also really nervous. I get pretty freaked out in scary movies.

When it comes to scariness, Insidious starts out strong. I threw my hands over my eyes so often that I could hardly see through my glasses for the smudges. But about halfway through the movie, things start to fall apart and the whole thing starts to look like it was filmed in your local Halloween haunted house. Creepy wax figures, an over-used smoke machine, and olde timey childlike music are the main sources of fear after the half way point. Throw in a couple ghost busters who look almost exactly like Mormon missionaries (though too disheveled to be actual missionaries), and it's just not that scary after awhile.

Plus, who's the bad guy? The demon who looks exactly like Darth Maul (I am in no way nerdy enough to make up that reference on my own - someone else pointed it out and truly, the resemblance is shocking)? The old lady (who's picture is slightly too creepy to include here)? The wax figures? I don't know. I totally lost track of who I was supposed to be afraid of.

My advice: rent it if you want a few good scares. Just keep your expectations at medium.

Who to see it with: someone you want to cuddle with
Scariness level out of ten: 5 (mostly relying on shock value)
Rent it or see it in the theater? Rent it!
Creepiness factor when you wake up in the middle of the night thinking about it? 7 out of 10