Saturday, Nov 28, 2020
 
search SGN
SERVING SEATTLE AND THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST FOR 43 YEARS!

click to visit advertiser's website


Javascript DHTML Drop Down Menu Powered by dhtml-menu-builder.com

Last Weeks Edition
   
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 




 

 
 

 

 

[Valid RSS]

click to go to advertisers website
to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, April 21, 2017 - Volume 45 Issue 16
Movie Reviews
Arts & Entertainment
ALL STORIES
  next story
Celebrating Black Brilliance - Langston Hughes African American Film Festival 2017 April 27-30
CELEBRATING BLACK BRILLIANCE
LANGSTON HUGHES
AFRICAN AMERICAN FILM FESTIVAL
LANGSTON HUGHES
PERFORMING ARTS INSTITUTE
April 27-30


LANGSTON, the new non-profit arts organization created to continue the mission of the historic Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute, brings the annual Langston Hughes African American Film Festival (LHAAFF) to audiences next week.

LHAAFF is a four-day curated experience in the heart of Seattle dedicated to celebrating Black brilliance in independent cinema. LHAAFF showcases provocative films and works about the Black experience shot from an independent lens. This year's festival features engaging panel discussions and in-depth chats with filmmakers, industry professionals and community leaders.

In celebration of 14 years of Black film, LHAAFF 2017 presents over 20 independent films and special events.

'CELEBRATING BLACK BRILLIANCE' - LHAAFF 2017 runs from April 27-30 at the Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute, 104 17th Ave. S (@ E. Yesler Way) in Seattle.

Thursday (April 27) LHAAFF hosts the Brilliant, Bubbly OPENING NIGHT RECEPTION in the Great Hall at Langston Hughes Performing Arts Institute (LHPAI) followed by Opening Night film screenings. Friday (April 28) LHAAFF's Short Film 'Happy Hour' features an array of diverse short films plus MR. HANDY'S BLUES, an hour-long documentary about William Christopher Handy, known affectionately worldwide as The Father of the Blues. On Saturday afternoon (April 29) LHAAFF hosts the panel discussion, Do Black Heroes Matter?, an intimate conversation about Black heroes on-screen and in the world of comics. Saturday's program also includes two family-features, youth-focused indie films, DOUBLETIME and MY B.F.F., a documentary about Black women in medicine, and DREAMSTATES, a road movie featuring some of the most pivotal figures in Afro-Punk movement (see paragraph below). The annual Filmmakers Brunch on Sunday afternoon (April 30) includes a delicious meal by local chef, Tarik Abdullah. Special guests include Saul Williams, David Walker, Charles Murray, Anisia Uzyeman, Nnegest Likke, Sol Aponte, Jennia Aponte, Nathan Hale Williams, and Chef Tarik Abdullah.

The festival opens Thursday with 90 DAYS, a film by Jennia Aponte and Nathan Hale Williams. 90 DAYS is a provocative film that confronts the realities of living and loving with HIV. The cast includes Teyonah Parris (Survivor's Remorse, Mad Men, Chi-Raq, Dear White People), Nic Few (The Chadwick Journals, Gideon's Cross), and Rodney Chester (Noah's Arc). 90 DAYS is executive produced by Jussie Smollett and Sol Aponte. The film will be followed by a post screening discussion with the filmmakers.

Friday's short films include the hour-long documentary MR HANDY'S BLUES chronicling the life of William Christopher Handy, known affectionately worldwide as The Father of the Blues. Handy's trajectory took him from a strict religious home in Northern Alabama,to becoming one of the most revered composers of the 20th Century. Interviews with Taj Mahal, Bobby Rush and Vince Giordano bring Handy's story to life.

On Saturday at 8pm poet, musician, and renaissance artist Saul Williams joins LHAAFF and director Anisia Uzeyman to present DREAMSTATES, a film that is equal parts love story, road movie, and Americana. DREAMSTATES tells the haunting tale of two wayward souls (Saul Williams and Anisia Uzeyman) discovering their love for one another in their dreams and reality while touring the United States with some of the most pivotal figures of the Afro-Punk movement.

On Sunday afternoon the compelling films, SPILLED MILK by Jaqai Mickelsen; LIVE YOUR DASH by Brian K. Johnson, and SUPER PREDATOR: PRELUDES OF THE BLACK FISH by Kelechi Agwuncha will be shown, followed by the CLOSING NIGHT feature documentary: TELL THEM WE ARE RISING: The Story of Historically Black Colleges.

The Langston Hughes African American Film Festival is a program of LANGSTON and is sponsored by The Office of Arts and Culture, 4Culture, and Teen Tix. TICKETS: http://www.brownpapertickets.com/profile/2370339 and (800) 838-3006. For more INFO, visit langstonseattle.org; Twitter : @blkfilmseattle; Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/LangstonSeattle; Instagram : @206Langston

'CELEBRATING BLACK BRILLIANCE' - LHAAFF 2017

THURSDAY, April 27 - OPENING NIGHT! A night of brilliant short films that showcase a range of ideas, emotions and storytelling styles, highlighted by 90 DAYS, a superb film that confronts the realities of living and loving with HIV. Followed by post-screening discussion with filmmakers Jennia Frederique Aponte and Nathan Hale Williams.

6-7pm | Opening Night Reception | Great Hall - Enjoy lively music, bubbly beverages and nibbles as we celebrate the 14th year of LHAAFF!

7pm | DIVINE Part l | Dir. Kiana Harris | 0:02:48 | United States | Short - Reclaiming the narrative of femme blackness. Reflections of body positivity and non-exploitative visuals lead to healing. Positive self-imagery is one of many roads to black feminist liberation.

THERE GOES THE NEIGHBORHOOD | Dir. Angelique Molina | 0:26:36 | United States | Documentary - THERE GOES THE NEIGHBORHOOD intimately follows an extended Black family from View Park, California, as they experience demographic changes and reflect on their shifting community. https://www.facebook.com/TGTNMOVIE/

PADLOCK MEN | Dir. Lewis T. Powell | 0:16:25 | United States | Short - 86 yr. old Barber Walter 'Posey' Fodrell on his last day to live shares a memoir of a historically unknown secret pact between John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King & Malcolm X that sparked one of the greatest untold stories in Civil Rights history. This story is the genesis of what became a gritty stalwart band of 'Secret Civil Rights Soldiers' known as the Padlock Men. https://www.facebook.com/padlockmen/

LAST STOP | Dir. Prentice Dupins | 0:24:18 | United States | Short - LAST STOP is the story of Benjamin Wilson, a young African American male and his struggle to go on living. A veteran suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Benjamin has given up on life and his family. He seeks solace in the family cemetery as he gathers the courage to end his life. As he pours out his despair and a bottle of whiskey in tribute to friends and beloved family members, Benjamin finds himself inexplicably transported back to 1860. He now must fight to survive the night as a runaway slave. https://www.facebook.com/laststop2016

90 DAYS | Dir. Nathan Hale Williams, Jennia Fredrique Aponte | 0:19:30 | United States | Short, Romance - 90 DAYS confronts the realities of living and loving with HIV. Written and directed by Jennia Frederique Aponte and Nathan Hale Williams. The cast includes Teyonah Parris (Survivor's Remorse, Mad Men, Chi-Raq, Dear White People), Nic Few (The Chadwick Journals, Gideon's Cross), and Rodney Chester (Noah's Arc). Executive Produced by Jussie Smollett and Sol Aponte. Filmmakers Jennia Aponte, Nathan Hale Williams and Sol Aponte will join the audience for a post-screening discussion. https://www.90daysthefilm.com/

FRIDAY, April 28

5:30-7pm
| SHORT FILM HAPPY HOUR Start your weekend off with unique, bite-sized films, followed by the evening's feature film, EVERYTHING BUT A MAN at 8pm.

JUNIOR | Dir. Pearl Gluck | 0:28:00 | United States | Short - A mother struggles with a new normal after her teenage son is murdered by an off-duty police officer. https://www.facebook.com/Junior-Short Film-319518068416769/?

THE MIXTAPE: STAY BLACK, BABY! | Dir. Jasmine Lynea | 0:20:00 | United States | Short - Capturing an exhilarating reflection on Black America, THE MIXTAPE: STAY BLACK, BABY! is a complex portrait of black youth rising, black art glorified, black voices uncovered, black struggle acknowledged and black empowerment revered. Musically driven, this film arrives at a very important time in America. https://www.facebook.com/stayblackbaby15

MR HANDY'S BLUES | Dir. Joanne Fish | 1:00:00 | United States | Music Documentary - Chronicling the life of William Christopher Handy, known affectionately worldwide as The Father of the Blues. Handy's trajectory took him from a strict religious home in Northern Alabama to becoming one of the most revered composers of the 20th Century. Interviews with Taj Mahal, Bobby Rush and Vince Giordano bring Handy's story to life. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oQkLFTcdgH4

8pm | Friday Night Feature | EVERYTHING BUT A MAN | Dir. Nnegest Likke | 1:49:58 | United States | Comedy, Drama, Romance - She's sexy, smart, successful... and still single. EVERYTHING BUT A MAN, starring Monica Calhoun (The Best Man franchise), Jimmy Jean-Louis (Heroes, Joy), and Camille Winbush (The Bernie Mac Show) explores the paradox of strong, independent women whose strength is actually a weakness when it comes to their relationships with men. Filmmaker Nnegest Likke in attendance. https://www.facebook.com/EverythingButAMan/

SATURDAY, April 29

12pm | DO BLACK HEROES MATTER?
| Panel Discussion | Featuring David F Walker | Great Hall | FREE - David F. Walker is an award-winning comic book writer, author, filmmaker, journalist, and educator and leading scholar on African American Cinema will engage audiences in a powerful discussion. Do Black heroes matter? We think so. Walker helps us understand why.

12pm | DOUBLETIME | Dir. Stephanie Johnes | 1:20:00 | United States | Documentary - LHAAFF brings back a family favorite: DOUBLETIME. This edge-of-your-seat documentary focuses on two teams in preparation for the Double Dutch world championship at the Apollo Theater in Harlem. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doubletime



2pm | SATURDAY 360 SHOWCASE | Featuring Paul Jackson - Filmmaker Paul Jackson takes us on a tour of the world of 360 degree images. Explore the world of 360 degree video. Travel to worlds and places across the globe and right here at home.

2:30pm | SLEEP RUNNING | Dir. Kevin Neynaber | 0:05:55 | United States | Short, Drama - A man haunted by trauma and stuck in a routine of depression tries to escape the torment of his dream world and find healing from the wounds of his past.

2:35pm | BLACK WOMEN IN MEDICINE | Dir. Crystal Emery |1:06:00 | United States | Documentary - This feature length documentary explores the history, contemporary issues, and future possibilities of African American women physicians. A variety of Black women practitioners share intimate stories of what it means to be a Black woman doctor in America. https://youtu.be/7bQULXfB544

5pm | MY B.F.F. | Dir. Greg Carter | 1:50:00 | United States | Comedy - When five-year-old Marni Wilkins lost her mother, she was left with an unfulfilled soul. Her best friend, Gemma Brown was always by her side. When they enroll in a prestigious school, Gemma gets accepted, Marni does not. Things don't go as quite planned, but the two girls learn a valuable lesson about race, identity, politics, friendship and growing up. http://vevo.ly/lTwqoJ

8pm |Saturday Night Feature | DREAMSTATES | Dir. Anisia Uzeyman | 1:14:00 | United States | Experimental - Equal parts love story, road movie, and Americana, DREAMSTATES tells the haunting tale of two wayward souls (Saul Williams and Anisia Uzeyman) discovering their love for one another in their dreams and reality while touring the United States with some of the most pivotal figures of the Afro-Punk movement. Sultry, sensual, and quixotic, an underground portrait of America: haunted and hollow. Director Anisia Uzeyman and poet, musician and renaissance artist Saul Williams in attendance. http://www.dreamstatesfilm.com/#dreamstates

SUNDAY, April 30

1pm | FILMMAKER BRUNCH - The Filmmakers Brunch features delicious food from MorningStar creator, Chef Tarik Abdullah. Enjoy lively conversation and an excellent meal with LHAAFF filmmakers.

3pm | SPILLED MILK | Dir. Jaqai Mickelsen | 1:43:32 | United States | Documentary - Two lifelong friends, one blood disease. Follow their journey as one suffers from Sickle Cell - an often stigmatized and excruciatingly painful disorder that mostly affects African Americans. https://vimeo.com/95778871

5pm | CLOSING NIGHT FILMS

LIVE YOUR DASH
| Dir. Bryan K. Johnson | 0:11:55 | United States | Documentary Short - Dr. Raphael Moffett's encouraging and unexpected journey overcoming Colon Cancer.

SUPER PREDATOR: PRELUDES OF THE BLACK FISH | Dir. Kelechi Agwuncha | 0:06:11 | United States | Short, Drama - A contemporary black ethnocentric film about the parallels between the predator-prey relationship of a black man facing the prejudicial bounds of society. He reflects the underlying qualities, while showing that the integrity of his dispositions reveals much more. https://vimeo.com/205613101

TELL THEM WE ARE RISING: The Story of Historically Black Colleges | Dir. Stanley Nelson | 1:30:00 | United States | Documentary - The story of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) began before the Civil War and influenced the course of our nation yet remains one of America's most important untold stories. Until now. Tell Them We Are Rising: The Story of Historically Black Colleges and Universities is the first and only feature documentary and multi-platform project to research, gather, and share a rich mosaic of stories that relay the history of HBCUs. Tell Them We Are Rising is produced by Firelight Films and directed by master documentarian Stanley Nelson, producer of The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution.

Courtesy of the Langston Hughes African American Film Festival


The Horse in Motion's Wellesley Girl a futuristic conundrum
by Miryam Gordon - SGN A&E Writer

WELLESLEY GIRL
THE HORSE IN MOTION
(at 18th & Union)
Through April 29


The Horse in Motion is probably a small theater company you have never or rarely heard of. It was started as a collective of UW theater grads a few years back and has produced ensemble-created shows in particular. Their mission is to 'expand the traditional conception of theatre.' If you attended their staging of Attempts on Her Life at the University Heights Center, that was a promising debut.

Sometimes, though, ya just have to do a 'regular' kind of theatrical production. Their choice, now on stage, is a brand new play (2016) by Brendan Pelsue, who has a very solid East Coast playwrighting background. He was brought out by the company to work on tweaks to his new play, Wellesley Girl.

I'm going to flip my usual pattern of writing 'about the show' and then 'about the production' for this review, and I'm going to use first-person much more than usual. Sometimes, I see productions that are well done, but the play is perhaps not as good as the production. That's the case here. This production is excellent!

Bobbin Ramsay is a keen-eyed director who continues to show she really knows how to manage actors and has a great theatrical sense. She has cast solid actors from the ensemble and added others who also perform to a high degree. The scenic design by talented Brandon Estrella impresses in a small space like 18th & Union. The lights (by Ryan Dunn) and sound (by Alex Potter) do a great job, as well.

I have to call out Ms. Sunam Ellis, who joins the company for the first time. She has recently been seen onstage in various and different productions. Every time I see her, I find more of her depth and ability, and she presents her craft as if it were 'nothing' and no effort at all. Yet, she brings nuance and understanding to every role. Here, her naturalism is so believable that she almost overcomes a difficult to like or understand character! I look forward to many more opportunities to watch her act.

At times, when a production is very good, the entire play is elevated. A script is only real when it is animated, essentially, anyway. But in this case, the production cannot overcome the shortcomings of the script.

I can see why the company might have been drawn to the idea of the script. It describes a political colony where there are only several hundred people, so every adult is part of the 'Congress' except one who represents the Supreme Court. The holy grail of playwriting these days is to try your hand at something that feels like it reflects on these political times.

However, the residents are so faithful to the old structure of government that they have to slavishly copy it - and only the federal government at that, not even a moment of state or municipality rule. That's a bit precious for 400-something adults.

The story is based in the future. The Far Far Future: 2465. That's 450 years from now. I don't know about you, but my try at thinking what life would be like that far in the future seems fruitless. The play is about the United States after a devastating apocalyptical set of events - BUT the United States still exists! Frankly, while we are perhaps on the brink of finding out if we can survive president #45, getting to 450 years later and having this 'experiment' still exist already seems questionable.

Other aspects, just of that decision to make it 450+ years from now, mean that the idea that there has been zero technological change, even if there was an apocalypse, is therefore unbelievable. People seem to be living as though it were 1950. And even science has taken an almost unbelievable pause.

Except. Except for one very sentient robot. A 'husband robot,' who is very well played by Nic Morden. His presence, electricity, and the use of microphones is about the only suggestion of remaining technology.

We're told that these characters live in a walled segment of four towns in what used to be Massachusetts, near Wellesley. They believe they are the entire United States. We're told that algae blooms poisoned the water - everywhere - and so people had to wall themselves in to filter the water and keep everyone from being poisoned.

And there is a crisis: Outside the walls is a contingent of they-don't-know-what kind of gathering. It is large, it seems potentially threatening, and they can tell that these folks outside have mobile transportation filter devices, so they know how to stay alive and not be poisoned. The big argument is whether they should act as if the outsiders are a threat or send an emissary to ask why they're there. That's kind of a no brainer. One can actually do both.

There's a lot of talk about the power of the vote. Ellis plays a woman whose husband is so conflicted with presented choices that he doesn't vote. She is also someone who is against the 'establishment' idea of abandoning their settlement and escaping into the unknown. Why? Well, when she was a tiny girl, her family left. It was a Wellesley contingent, hence the title. She is the Wellesley girl. There was an algal bloom and terrible consequences.

With little to amp up the non-stark choices before them, this wife is so scared to leave the walls that she is committed to killing her sons, as well. So, the rest of the play revolves around a 'will they or won't they' leave the walls or kill the children. It depends on the vote.

I am not interested in slamming this writer's attempt at using theater to comment on politics. I think, though, that I've pointed out some choices that take him far, far away from a successful concept upon which to make his points. If he chose to write about a future 25 or 50 years from now that is based on some kind of modified nuclear devastation that has upended our grids and caused this fragmentation of core living spaces, that might be as useful as 450 years from now is not.

In this construct, the slavish adherence to a federal model is illogical for a small group of people. Voting is massively important in smaller groups and, yes, one or two people can make a huge difference in that outcome. This choice makes their society one to scoff at, instead. Lastly, the danger has to be real, inescapable, and known to provoke a parent to want to kill her children. Or she has to be insane (trapped and insanely jealous and powerless like Medea, or really incapable of understanding reality). None of which is present in this script. Not to mention that there is no real reason to include such an issue in a play about politics. I commend the company and look forward to their next outing. I look forward, as well, to you going to see the production and letting me know what you thought. For more information, go to www.thehorseinmotion.org or http://wellesleygirl.bpt.me/ or call 800-838-3006. Discuss your opinions with SGNcritic@gmail.com or go to www.facebook.com/SeattleTheaterWriters. More articles can be found at MiryamsTheaterMusings.blogspot.com.


Witty Colossal a human monster of a melodrama
by Sara Michelle Fetters - SGN A&E Writer

COLOSSAL
Now playing


At a certain point, you either realize Colossal is not the giant South Korean kaiju movie, starring Anne Hathaway, that you believe it is going to be and you're fine with that, or you keep thinking writer/director Nacho Vigalondo (Timecrimes) is going to give it to you only to be left unhappily dissatisfied when he steadfastly refuses to do so. This is not the film the trailers have done their job selling it to be, and as such I assume there will be those who will be so upset by this turn of events they'll fail to notice just how witty, thought-provoking and richly character-driven the film turns out to be.

Vigalondo has craftily manufactured a comedy-drama about addiction and abusive relationships and costumed it in the skins of a lizard-like creature rampaging through the streets of Seoul. But instead of unchecked destruction to buildings and machinery, the core carnage is that of the human variety. Whether it is the despair and the regret one feels over unintended, uncontrolled calamity born of selfish excess, or pent-up longing and sexual repression that has metastasized into a form of aggression and violence towards friends and family, there's plenty to ponder. But as far as spectacle is concerned, visuals of monsters crashing through buildings and battling it out in downtown streets as civilians run wildly to escape, there's precious little of that, and when it does happen Vigalondo treats it more as an afterthought than as an easy excuse to generate tension or excitement.

After her boyfriend Tim (Dan Stevens) kicks her out of his New York apartment for coming home drunk one too many times, unemployed writer Gloria (Hathaway) heads upstate to her former childhood home to hide out until she can figure out what to do next. With her parents out of town, the house isn't just empty, it's positively barren, all the furniture and furnishing in storage until they return next summer.

After picking up an air mattress and a few other additional supplies, Gloria runs into former schoolmate Oscar (Jason Sudeikis) who happens to own and run his late father's bar. After being introduced to a couple of his regulars, Joel (Austin Stowell) and Garth (Tim Blake Nelson), one thing leads to another and a number of beers are enjoyed by all. Next morning, hung over and barely able to get out of bed, Gloria learns that a giant creature attacked South Korea, strangely during the exact same hours she was stumbling around a local playground blind drunk. It's impossible, totally beyond comprehension, but she thinks the monster and her are somehow linked, and if that's the case, that makes the young woman indirectly responsible for unfathomable destruction and carnage including the loss of untold lives, all due to an alcoholic stupor that's become all too common of late.

The central device is as silly and as bizarre as it sounds. Gloria is the monster. The monster is Gloria. They are one and the same, and whenever she steps foot into that playground at a certain time of day, the creature appears in the middle of Seoul ready to unleash havoc. But it is how this realization affects the young woman, the way in which it suddenly forces her to look at the way she's been living her life, makes her peer into the mirror and come to grips with the fact she's an alcoholic in need of help, that's the key element. It is what will drive Gloria in a number of varied directions as she attempts to cope with what's going on, as well as what will compel her to prove to Oscar, Joel and Garth that what's happening isn't a figment of her imagination brought on by all the drinking.

That last element is a key turn of events, especially considering the emotionally stilted Oscar has had a thing for Gloria since the time they were in elementary school. But what kind of thing? What are his true feelings for her? And how far is he willing to go to make sure she remains part of his life whether she'd like to or not? These questions get added to the mix, and what began as a crazy, silly, dialogue-driven exercise in comedic science fiction on a dime mutates into something far more personal and affecting. It's a powerful evolution, this imaginative, fun little throwaway becoming something meaningful and thought-provoking as it analyzes gender roles, addictive personalities and relationship dynamics in a pointed, unflinching manner that's startling.

Hathaway is superb, her amazed delight at having control of a Godzilla-like being morphing into unfathomable regret and terror as she instantly realizes being a giant, city-stomping monster means she is directly responsible for all that has happened to the citizens of Seoul. Her chemistry with Sudeikis is equally sensational, especially as their easygoing back-and-forth banter becomes decidedly different as the film progresses. Hathaway's fortitude as she attempts to shed the shackles of alcohol abuse and find an inner confidence she'd somehow misplaced once she started finding happiness at the bottom of a bottle is terrific, all of which helps make her final moments looking an unexpected adversary in the metaphorical eye a wonder of empowering resilience that's oddly easy to relate to.

Vigalondo keeps the tone light and bouncy until the moment he allows the worm to turn and subtly reveals what's really going on and who the true villain of the piece is. The director appears to be having a grand time playing this game, keeping things close to the vest, and the jokes fly and the sight gags take center stage. But once the tone grows serious, the moment characters begin to reveal who they are and openly state what lengths they're willing to go to in order to achieve their desires, Vigalondo does not pull his punches. Because of this, Colossal is uniquely fascinating, this kaiju relationship comedy secretly an emotionally crushing monster of a relationship melodrama that's as intimately human as it is cathartically humane.


Emotionally dazzling Gifted a stroke of genius
by Sara Michelle Fetters - SGN A&E Writer

GIFTED
Now playing


Mary Adler (McKenna Grace) is on her way to First Grade and she isn't happy about it. But her uncle Frank (Chris Evans) insists she go, and as he's the one who has looked after her since the tragic death of her mother when she was still a baby, it's not like the six-and-a-half-year-old has a lot of say in the matter. Still, Mary knows this whole school thing won't be for her, the kids she's going to encounter and the curriculum she'll be tasked to learn likely not going to meet with her virtuoso standards.

That's understating things considerably. Turns out, Mary is something of a child prodigy, especially her math skills, something her new teacher Bonnie Stevenson (Jenny Slate) can't fail to notice. But by doing her job, by attempting to make Frank aware of the situation as well as by bringing the news to her school's principal, Miss Stevenson opens up an unintended can of worms. Mary's grandmother, Evelyn (Lindsay Duncan), arrives at her son's Florida home from Massachusetts with designs on taking the girl back to Boston. In fact, she files a lawsuit to do just that, and as much as she loves Frank she believes just as deeply that his plans for Mary are not in her own best interests.

Inspirational drama Gifted is director Marc Webb's return to (500) Days of Summer territory and an escape from big budget comic book adventures, namely his two bloated, self-indulgent and increasingly dumb The Amazing Spider-Man efforts. Working from a deft, thought-provoking script written by Tom Flynn (Watch It), what the movie lacks in originality it makes up for in spunk, depth and authentically realized human emotions, all of which have precious little trouble breaking through the melodramatic contrivances that sometimes arise. Featuring what might be Evans' best performance as well as a breakout turn by pint-sized starlet Grace, this little gem had me wrapped around its finger right from the start, and to say I loved it wouldn't be stretching the truth one iota.

Webb does a terrific job revealing the tiny notes of mystery hidden inside Flynn's screenplay, parceling out information about Mary's mother in delicately piecemeal fashion. He allows tension to build with naturalistic subtlety, allowing Evans, Grace, Duncan, Slate and Oscar-winner Octavia Spencer ample room to give their respective characters energy and life that leaps off the screen. Mixing laughter with tears, heartbreak with celebration, Webb strikes a delicate balance between all the varying emotions, doing so with an idiosyncratic whimsy that's not so much groundbreaking as it is difficult to find fault with and easy to be enamored by.

Not that some of the contrivances don't stand out in ways they probably shouldn't. A third act twist in the court case leads to actions on Evelyn's part that will surprise just about no one, while the solution that Flynn puts forth to bring as many of his characters to their respective happy place is tiredly rudimentary. This latter item is an easy out that solves most of the film's problems in one simplistic swoop, and once revealed there was a part of me that wanted to roll my eyes in incredulous disbelief that things were about to play themselves out in this particular manner.

Funny thing is, as false as the moment itself might be, the way in which many of the primary players give it life turns out to be anything but. Evans and Duncan are particularly outstanding, the way in which they interact during these climactic sequences undeniably genuine. The two actors bring an intimate urgency to this reveal that held me spellbound, and while the bow Webb wraps around things in order to send his audience out of the theatre with a spring in their step and a smile on their face is a little too vibrant, I still responded positively all the same.

Then there are the little moments. Spencer and Grace dancing on a couch without a care in the world. Evans and Duncan showing that, while their characters might be at odds over Mary, that their mutual respect and love for one another as mother and son still exists no matter how difficult and angry the court case itself might become. A lovely quiet moment between Bonnie and Frank in a bar where seemingly innocent reveals about their respective histories sheds unexpected light on why the uncle is pursuing this particular course of action as it pertains to Mary. Best of all might be a heroic act of resistance aboard a school bus that has unintended consequences that reverberate throughout the remainder of the story; and while the actions undertaken are certainly excessive, the selflessness driving them are anything but.

Webb combines everything together with utmost confidence, and while he isn't reinventing the wheel the way he did with (500) Days of Summer, that doesn't make his handling of this more straightforward and less imaginatively dexterous material something to be ashamed of. Quite the opposite, the director righting his ship and putting his career back on course with surprising energetic verisimilitude, making me excited to see what he has up his sleeve next in a way I did not believe was possible after watching the positively dreadful The Amazing Spider-Man 2 back in the summer of 2014. Gifted won me over, body and soul, and the only thing I wanted to do when it came to an end was to find a way to watch it again right that very second.


Brutally lucid Graduation a haunting morality play
by Sara Michelle Fetters - SGN A&E Writer

GRADUATION
Now playing


Romeo Aldea (Adrian Titieni) is a small town Transylvanian doctor barely able to contain his excitement. His teenage daughter Eliza (Maria Dragus) is about to graduate with honors, and if she can pass her final exams with the anticipated high scores, she'll earn a full ride to attend university in the UK. But on the eve of these pivotal tests, she is attacked on the way to school, leaving her a frazzled mess unsure if she has the psychological wherewithal to deliver the necessary scores required for her to earn the scholarship.

Romeo is understandably worried. He knows the best thing for Eliza, whether she realizes it or not, is to leave this battered and bruised country for a better life, this opportunity to study in the UK not something to be taken lightly. But the doctor has tried to instill in his daughter a commitment to doing the right thing, that living life as honestly as possible is always the way to go no matter what the circumstance. However, here there are things as a father he knows he can do that will ensure Eliza will pass, solutions to her potential problems that are common in this corrupt town, all of which he has vowed to never stoop to no matter what the circumstance.

This is the setting for acclaimed, award-winning Romanian writer/director Cristian Mungiu's latest meticulously mounted and bracingly personal drama Graduation, and much like 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days and Beyond the Hills this isn't exactly the most uplifting motion picture a person is likely to watch anytime soon. And yet, also like those two, it is a masterfully composed effort that is instantly fascinating, moving towards its emotionally hushed conclusion with breathless, if still unhurried, intensity. More, it is slightly more hopeful than anticipated, Mungiu ending things in a way where Eliza's future is placed decidedly into her own two hands and those hands alone.

Not to say there's any sort of confirmation as to what it is she's going to do. The way Mungiu orchestrates things Eliza's decisions remain her own. More, because the movie is almost entirely seen through Romeo's eyes, Eliza remains a compelling enigma throughout, going through the typical maneuverings of teenage growth and angst but doing so against a backdrop of unimaginable dishonesty and threats of senseless violence. Because of that, beauty and kindness are difficult to find, the wariness Eliza feels post-attack permeating every interaction that takes place from that point forward, and not just the ones involving her.

It really is Romeo's story, though, this driven father obsessed with doing what he feels is best to secure his daughter's future. Yet, for all his bluster that Eliza needs to be upstanding and honest not matter what the situation, he's not exactly living his life the way he has always gone out of his way to imprint upon her that she needs to. Not only is his marriage to the girl's mother Magda (Lia Bugnar) a mess, the two barely able to speak to one another in the morning let alone comfortably embrace as husband and wife, but he also has a mistress, Sandra (Malina Manovici), and even better she's his most trusted associate at the hospital and family friend. While a good man who is fair, just and treats all he encounters with respect and kindness, he's also something of a hypocrite, this realization hitting Eliza with practically the same fearful force as that pre-school day assault did.

Mungiu's presentation is cinematic yet still intimately personal. Working with cinematographer Tudor Vladimir Panduru, the visual look of the film is massive, the camera moving in ways that are as stylishly composed as anything out of a David Lean or Stanley Kubrick epic. Yet the focus always remains tightly joined to the characters, with Romeo constantly at the center, each twist and turn leading him to places he never imagined he'd ever allow himself to be lead towards. It's gorgeous, the methodical pace of events having a ticking clock effect on the larger story, the line between tragedy and jubilation perilously thin, especially as the days leading to Eliza's graduation tick by one by one.

I can't say I was as instantly floored by Mungiu's latest the same way I was by 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days, to my mind one of the great motion pictures of the 21st century, but that doesn't make Graduation any less marvelous. A profound drama that transcends cultural barriers in ways that are recognizable and poignant, the film's power is lasting, pure and decidedly genuine. It casts a spell that is impossible to break, the shattering impact of what ultimately transpires a universal call to action that's brutally clear no matter what language is being spoken.


Mary Lambert gets bold and personal on new EP

And she'll be at Seattle PrideFest on June 25!

------------------------------
Pacific Northwest Ballet's Ballet on Broadway a great evening of All-American dance
------------------------------
Lush Us Gay City Arts' fundraiser with special guest Sonya Renee Taylor April 28
------------------------------
Starboy descending:
The Weeknd lands huge concert tour at Key Arena this week

------------------------------
The stereotype of the delicate Asian flower - Nadeshiko
------------------------------
Diverse Harmony hosts annual luncheon May 7 and presents summer concert June 30 & July 1
------------------------------
Western Washington University in Bellingham hosts Queer Comic Con April 29
------------------------------
Pacific Northwest Ballet presents 'Beyond Ballet - A Town Hall on the State of Ballet and Diversity'
------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------
Letters
------------------------------
Gorillaz include Seattle show on upcoming 'Humanz Tour'
------------------------------
Celebrating Black Brilliance - Langston Hughes African American Film Festival 2017 April 27-30
------------------------------
The Horse in Motion's Wellesley Girl a futuristic conundrum
------------------------------
Witty Colossal a human monster of a melodrama
------------------------------
Emotionally dazzling Gifted a stroke of genius
------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

------------------------------

click to visit advertiser's website

click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
click to visit advertiser's website
 
 
 
 

gay news feeds gay news readers gay rss gay
http://sgn.org/rss.xml | what is RSS? | Add to Google use Google to set up your RSS feed
SGN Calendar For Mobile Phones http://sgn.org/rssCalendarMobile.xml
SGN Calendar http://sgn.org/rssCalendar.xml

Seattle Gay News - SGN
1707 23rd Ave
Seattle, WA 98122

Phone 206-324-4297
Fax 206-322-7188

email: sgn2@sgn.org
website suggestions: web@sgn.org

copyright Seattle Gay News 2017 - DigitalTeamWorks 2017

USA Gay News American News American Gay News USA American Gay News United States American Lesbian News USA American Lesbian News United States USA News
Pacific Northwest News in Seattle News in Washington State News