Obvious Child: Q + A

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Grace asked Mia:

1. When and how did you first get interested in this movie? Did you know ofthese actors before this movie?

I watched the trailer for it and recognized Jenny Slate as “Mona Lisa” from
Parks and Recreation. Also, it being billed as an “Abortion Comedy” spiked
my attention despite the filmmakers’ aims to disassociate from that
tagline.

2. How did the movie make you feel? Did it impart any feeling or message
upon you?

I appreciated that there wan an absence of message. The film, in my
opinion, was really about the struggles of a woman in her late twenties and
this “thing” happens to her and we follow this emotionally charged journey on how
she deals with life’s obstacles.

3. Do you feel the movie was trying I send a message?

No.

4. Are you familiar with this screenwriter? What other works of
theirs have you seen?

The filmmakers behind this indie hit are all first time, feature length
writers, directors and producers. Obvious Child was based on a short film
(which most full length films are these days) and collaboration between
these professionals

5. How do you feel about abortion? How do you feel about how NY was
portrayed in the film?

I “feel” that abortion is a choice. New York, or rather, Brooklyn
was fairly represented. I enjoyed the subtle comedy of Brooklyn vs.
Manhattan, rent, independent bookstores, and obscure comedy clubs in
Williamsburg.

Mia asked Grace:

1. Describe the audience where you saw this film.

I viewed the movie at the Tivoli Theater in St. Louis. We walked in right as it was starting so I don’t remember the other movie goers. I think there were 6-8 other people plus us three. My friend Kelsey remembers two older ladies behind us. I remember seeing a young couple in front of us.

2. Was it difficult to find a theater where this film was showing?

Yes! The AMC in KC said they would have it but kept changing the date. The Tivoli here did have it but only offered 3 showings and only one I could make after I got off work at five in the afternoon. Also the Tivoli in KC is pretty far from my house in suburbia so I have to make a serious effort to get out there.

3. What was your initial reaction to the abortion scene?

There was a palpable tension as we were watching. I kept expecting something, I am not sure, more unpleasant but it was so matter of fact and Donna and Max were so cute that it relaxed the whole situation. The scene where she is sitting with all the other women after the procedure is interesting though. I felt ambiguous about it. I think I was waiting for the characters reactions and she didn’t seem to feel strongly any one way.

4. Did your perspective change at all after seeing this film?

About abortion? Not really? Maybe I feel more comfortable about it if I have to have one? I am not sure I will know how I really feel about abortion until I am in that situation where I have to make a decision.

5. What is your biggest praise and complaint on Obvious Child.

OMG! (yes, I just oh my god-ed) Max and Donna were super cute! I love their quirky relationship. She kept doing strange bizarrely hilarious things and he liked her more for them! My biggest complaint was all the awkward jokes in her comedy routine. I am terrible with awkward humor. It makes my chest hurt with awkwardness.

photo credit

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Rereading Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

One of my 2014 goals is to reread the Harry Potter series and it has become an unexpected challenge. Not only is my adult perspective clouding the childlike awe I once held for these characters (albeit not completely gone), but I’m also finding myself siding with the Hogwarts adults as well. Every other page I’m rolling my eyes at Harry and his foolhardy ways. “Do you want do die?!” I kept yelling in my head. It seems, reading it as an adult, he has a penchant for breaking the rules and as I child I just saw him as a kid wanting to have a little fun. Oh retrospect!

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Also to note, shit got dark in the third book. Between the beheadings, the graphic description of how Sirius Black supposedly murdered 12 people in London and betrayed his best friend to Professor Trelawney’s all-capped-out prophecy and the sucking out of souls, I can start to see why parents are bit hesitant to allow their 10-year-olds to read this series. However, I encourage the reading of Harry Potter to all children that fall under my preview. After all, Harry Potter was my childhood! I only hope children of today experience the same magical adventure of love, justice and acceptance that I was privy to.

But after reading Prisoner of Azkaban, another issue arose.

Harry Potter and Prisoner of Azkaban is my favorite film out of the entire series. Beautifully directed by Alfonso Cuarón and bringing in such heavy weights like Gary Oldman (Sirius Black) and Remus Lupin (David Thewlis), the third installment of the Harry Potter movies is just so damn good. Because of my love for Cuarón and his take on the world of Harry Potter, it was very difficult to dig back into Rowling’s sole vision. Anything that contradicted the film I had trouble with and while I enjoyed the details that were left out of the film (I forgot the Whomping Willow was planted for Lupin to hide during his transformations and that it was he who made the Shrieking Shack shriek!) I couldn’t help but love the film more.

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Belle : Q + A

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Grace asked Mia:

1. What was the appeal of this movie to you?

With the recent successes of films like The Help, Fruitvale Station, The Butler, and 12 Years a Slave, it was only natural for me to want to see Belle. I feel like the African and African-American communities are having a renaissance moment when it comes to telling the stories of the often overlooked subject of African diaspora.

Plus the cast looked amazing. You have Gugu Mbatha-Raw in the lead who we’ve previously seen in the JJ Abrams short lived show UnderCovers and also opposite Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts in Larry Crowne. Also, Matthew Goode, Penelope Wilton, Emily Watson, Tom Wilkinson, Tom Felton and Miranda Richardson round out the impressive, star studded cast.

2. What was your overall opinion?

My overall opinion was that I was happy the story was able to be told. You rarely see an independent film by a writer and a director of African decent make it onto the big screen in mainstream move theaters. It’s nice to see your personal past and struggles reflected back onto the screen. Like Gabourey Sidibe once said, “If I see myself on screen, I know that I exist.”

3. What was your favorite scene?

My favorite scene is rather a personal one. There’s a moment when Dido sits in front of her vanity, and in silence stares at herself, or more so, her skin color. She starts to touch her face, her chest, which then dramatically evolves into a state of tragic sorrow as she tries to claw, pound and scratch away the one thing she, at this given moment in the film, feels ashamed of.

4. What did you think of the real life painting?

Like many art historians wonder, I wondered why Dido wasn’t sitting next to Elizabeth, why she’s wearing a turban, and why she seems to be in flight. While I do appreciate her in inclusion in the portrait given the rarity of that style of painting for the time period, why not just have her sitting next to her cousin?

5. Were you aware of the real life Belle before watching this movie?

I was not aware of the historical Dido Elizabeth Belle or the painting that inspired this film but I wasn’t surprised of the story’s existence. I’m just happy the story was told and hope that because of the success of this film, investors see the commercial promise of stories like these and continue to aid black filmmakers in getting those stories to the big screen.

Mia asked Grace::

1. Why did you want to see Belle?

The story was really interesting to me and I didn’t even realize it was based on a true story at first. I really like period dramas and this one really struck a chord. It was unique for a family to take in any illegitimate child. Period standards are usually warrant shuffling them off to a boarding school. And too, the child is mixed which in that period really was not accepted. The family did not make her a servant as they could have done. Instead they raised her to be a lady.

2. Did this significantly add to your understanding of African diaspora? Explain.

I am not sure how it affected my understanding. I understood the way we treated blacks was bad and this just reaffirmed that. The case was an interesting turning point. It is also an interesting event that is said to have contributed to the abolition of slavery legally. I can see how the ruling in this case can be used as a stepping stone in others.

3. What did you think of Gugu Mbatha-Raw’s performance?

I think she did a wonderful job! I feel that she conveyed volumes through her expressions. There was so much feeling in her every stare and position. She was very moving. When I first saw her I felt she was really familiar. I had seen her in a few Doctor Who episodes! She was great in Doctor Who even though her character is super unfortunate.

4. Any realizations or thoughts come to you as you watched the film?

I have to say I pretty much cried the whole time through the last two-thirds of the movie. I am sad to say I understood her father’s dilemma but was also so outraged that the sanctity of human life was even a matter to be considered. I am not sure I came to any realizations but I felt desperate for humanity that there was a time where people were so cruel and blind. That slavery was ever a thing is just so disgusting I don’t know how people cannot see that plainly.

5. Would you recommend this film and why or why not?

I would definitely recommend this film. I think it is elegant and strong in its story telling. I think it has a message and conflict that is thought provoking and interesting. The whole cast did a wonderful job and I hope to see more from Gugu.

Females First [ in filmmaking ]

Combating against the startling statistics and low numbers of “women in film,” Dazed and Confused Magazine is taking it upon itself to establish “Females First,” a women-only film series.

First up on the Dazed docket is Anahita Ghazvinizedah’s short “Needle.” While the film itself is slow moving, it is subtly humorous and speaks volumes of a young girl’s struggle on the day she is to get her ears pierced.

The trailer:

I’m curious to see what films and the women behind them come up next!

You can watch “Needle” in its entirety here.

The Lunchbox: Q + A

 

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Grace asked Mia ::

1. How did you hear about The Lunchbox and why did you want to see this film?

I can’t quite remember how I first discovered The Lunchbox – perhaps it was via the IndieWire blog Shadow and Act – but I wanted to see the film because of it’s simplistic storyline and independent spirit. Plus, I’m a fan of Irrfan Khan. I find him to be quite handsome and I love his subtle acting!

2. Do you think the adverts for The Lunchbox were accurate to the film you watched? 

Yes. The trailer was accurately representative to the film I watched.

3. What were you expecting from this movie? What did you get? 

I was expecting a simple love story that would transcend the normal conventions of romance and I “got” just that.

4. Do you like Bollywood movies? Have you seen quite a few? Did you know this director previously?

I do enjoy Bollywood movies. However, I’m not sure if The Lunchbox fits comfortably in that category of film. Yes it was shot in Mumbai (aka Bombay) and yes Hindi was the main language used but “Bollywood” normally refers to Hindi films with high production value with song and dance throughout. One favorite Indian film of mine that I can watch over and over again is Monsoon Wedding. Also, does Bend it Like Beckham count? And no, before The Lunchbox I had no idea who writer/direct Ritesh Batra was.

5. What did you like most? What did you like least? What did you think of the ending?

Liked Most: Auntie was my favorite. She not once made an appearance on camera but her voice told her story.
Liked Least: I don’t know why, but Shaikh got on my nerves. I never could quite tell if he was telling the whole truth and if Sajaan just gave in to his story of being an orphan and not having a family. Likewise, Shaikh, as a character, didn’t grow. I kept waiting for Shaikh to have his “aha” moment but it never came.
The Ending: I like to think at some point or another they found one another but perhaps the ending is more representative of life. Not everything works out in the end. Not every relationship can begin and end as smoothly as we often see on screen. The ambiguity that Retish left us with is both reassuring and frustrating but it didn’t leave me unsatisfied in any way.

Mia asks Grace ::

1. Do you think the two main characters gave strong performances?

Yes! Both actors did a wonderful job. They were both reserved but evocative. I loved their quiet humor and all the non-verbal acting the most. The scenes where you just take in their reactions, breathing, small facial changes; those scenes were simple and beautiful.

2. Did you side with any one character?

I felt bad for both of them equally and I feel I fell in love with both of them equally.

3. What was your perception of Shaikh?

Shaikh seemed nice but over eager in the beginning. It seemed really disrespectful when he was not promptly ready to train at 4:45 on the first day. I’m surprised Shaikh and Saajan built any relationship and especially the one they had. In hindsight, he seems like a classic case of, “fake it til you make it.” Shaikh, in the end, seemed like a very sad little man who wants much more than what he has. However, he was a good tool to find out more about Saajan’s story.

4. Did you like the filmmaker’s decision not to show Auntie?

I kind of loved it! Auntie added a lot of the comedic moments. She was also a good tool to push Ila and also helped her into certain realizations about her own situation. For example, ,Ila sees how much Auntie loves Uncle and seems to recognize that her husband would never love her that much.

5. What do you think happened in the end? Or, what ending did you construct for yourself?

It seems as though Saajan was trying to track down Ila and Ila found her own inner strength to get out of her situation. I hope that Saajan catches up with her just as she leaves her house and they run away together. I actually feel an acute loss that we never really see them together. It makes the moments where they get close, like the restaurant and when Ila goes to Saajan’s office, more effective and emotionally evocative.

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