Jenkins’ latest feature, an adaptation of James Baldwin’s If Beale Street Could Talk, concludes what can be considered a Trilogy of Black Masculine Intimacies. All three of Jenkins’ features assume a position about intimacy, more specifically a position about the shared romantic, albeit often warped, intimacies of Black men.
During the 2016 election, I worked at a large, well known national nonprofit. The organization was firmly part of the political establishment, and among my colleagues, getting tickets to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s frequently sold-out musical “Hamilton” was a marker of social status on par with visiting Cuba in the wake of the warming of Cuba-US relationships. I personally never really understood the appeal of Hamilton. It was everywhere, so I had of course listened to parts of the soundtrack, but it never appealed to me. Overdone. Corny. Yet it sparked something in others.
The first time I saw Kiki Layne perform, I was 17 years old. She was playing Oya in a production of “In The Red and Brown Water,” and I was running props backstage. I remember seeing her in this powerful role and thinking, “Wow. She is going to be famous. She has to be.” When I saw that this year, she was starring in Barry Jenkins’ newest feature film, I knew that “If Beale Street Could Talk” would be a must-see movie. I settled into a plush movie theatre seat last week and was drawn into a delicate, honest, and dynamic romantic drama that James Baldwin would have been proud to witness.
Theater in the English speaking world is not doing well. Our dramas are suffused with hock-Freudian placidity and overwhelmingly proud of their lack of any desire to look beyond the scope of a single family or relationship between individuals. Our comedies are not funny and rarely comical in their lack of humour, while our fantasies (musical or otherwise) are limited to a slightly more functional update of the world as it stands, unsurprising given how many of them function as adaptations of Disney films that functioned, even when originally released, as soporifics. If you are looking for visions of a future world better than this one, stay as far as you can from the theaters of Broadway or the West End.
I have been counting down the days to the opening of A Star is Born, teased by the alluring trailer which so well paints the image of an enticing music-meets-love story. With the trailer flashing scenes of the talented dreamboat Bradley Cooper, fashioned like the dingy, drunken country star I always found secretly charming, and the iconic Lady Gaga flawlessly belting the earworm ‘Shallow’, I knew that this was going to be the movie to look out for. I hyped myself up for a love story full of song and fun; when I hit the theater the weekend A Star Is Born opened, I had no idea that I was headed for a nearly perfect storytelling of love, passion, sacrifice, and disease.
Last Sunday evening at New York Theater Workshop, Heidi Schreck, playwright of What the Constitution Means to Me, walked on stage and the house lights dimmed imperceptibly. The confirmation hearing of, now, Justice Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court had taken place only one day prior. But Schreck doesn’t make us forget the outside; in fact, she keeps that door open and thanks us for being there during this time. This play only grows when the context of our reality bleeds into the room, it feeds on the here and now, unflinching from one of the more dire truths we find ourselves facing: the US Constitution is in need of attention and we must decide if we are to stand by it, or to cast it aside.
Photo by: Joan Marcus
Crazy Rich Asians is this summer’s movie bravado, it has the green light to end the stereotypes of Asian Americans allowing full range performances, and it has now been proven that Asian actors of color in an American produced film can turn a profit. See how Justin Lin has created a multi-cultural movie template (not just Asian) actors with great success. Our fav figure Awkwafina, a NYC educated sassy upbeat Streetwise Rich gal in the movie that adds a funky great comedic point that helps relieve the tension of the filthy rich but is pretty stinkin’ rich herself as the film unravels into many musical scenes full of nostalgia and dreamy costumes for lavish hedonistic Asians to drool over, but as we covet the lifestyles of the rich we blame the media for underrepresenting us all at the same time…how ironic we just aim to be wannabes= super successful =rich.
Hate conversation and racial slurs were a small part of the tactics Colorado-based undercover detective Ron Stallworth used to infiltrate the Klu Klux Klan in the 1970’s. The true story of the African American cop is the inspiration for the comedic and shocking Spike Lee directed film Blackkklansman.
The new critically acclaimed film is one of Spike Lee’s best, contending with his 1990’s blockbuster movies (Malcolm X, Jungle Fever), pushing the limits on social issues including racism, community and police brutality.
Throwing weapons and breaking glass are just a few of the things Shaun Russell does to rescue her children in the action thriller Breaking In. Gabrielle Union who plays Shaun takes on money seeking intruders using her wit and household weapons. Union, known for romantic comedy movies and the hit BET show, Being Mary Jane, takes on a new role requiring her to transition her drama techniques into physical warfare to defeat the burglars taking over her house.
There are scenes that speak to Sen. Kennedy’s inadequacies from being the brother of a former President and a popular politician. Sen. Kennedy also had a strained relationship with his father.
The reenactment of the car being pulled the car out of the river and the reaction of the diver and the town sheriff show the shock of the town and how political power and selfishness can collide with society.
For many theatergoers this season’s revival of Tony Kushner’s Angels in America: Millennium Approaches and Pareoistrika, now playing in repertory in a limited engagement at the Neil Simon Theatre, can seem like a veritable theatrical marathon. The two shows, which run for a total of 7.5 hours and can be seen in either one full day or split between two, takes about as much time as it does to fly to Europe or binge-watch an entire mini-series.
The National Ballet of Canadian performance of John Neumeier’s Nijinsky opened last Tuesday April 3 for its short run at the S.F. Opera House, through Sunday April 8, at 2:00, and it’s not to be missed. While I love ballet, I don’t go that often. Yet I followed my intuition and bought balcony tickets for the premiere and I have never been so grateful for my 6th sense as I stood with the crowd calling bravo as the curtains billowed and the dancers made their final bows.
The Death of Stalin, the tremendous new film directed by Armando Iannucci and based on the comic book of the same title by Fabien Nury and Thierry Robin, begins in Moscow with a performance of a Mozart piano concerto, performed superbly by the pianist Maria Veniaminovna Yudina (Olga Kurylenko), conducted by Spartak Sokolov (Justin Edwards) and transmitted through the radio by two highly
competent sound engineers (Paddy Considine and Tom Brooke).
That was a nice time to come. In the mid-70s it was quiet and it was very cheap to live. And there was no hype. But I found it very depressing. Then later everything started moving. I think cheap apartments are an essential element in the creation of a counterculture. I think so And landlordism is an enemy of art. It's an enemy of civilization, really.
Meet the Carters, the family at the center of Angie Thomas’ searing and topical YA novel, The Hate U Give