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Thursday, November 05, 2009

Interesting review of Precious by Armond White

Interesting because 1) unlike some (or maybe many) of White's reviews, the ideas being put forth in this review can be clearly understood & fit together well, and 2) some of White's reactions to Precious reminds me of some reactions I heard from Indians (from India) to Slumdog Millionaire - that it's an outsider's fantasy of poverty & does not reflect reality accurately (or the large/common/usual reality of life for the kind of people depicted), & 3) points out that good movies that may reflect different sides of the African-American experience - less tragic sides - have not gotten as much support & admiration from Indiewood & Hollywood or audiences. From White's review:
"Precious raises ghosts of ethnic fear and exoticism just like Birth of a Nation. Precious and her mother (Mo’Nique) share a Harlem hovel so stereotypical it could be a Klansman’s fantasy. It also suggests an outsider’s romantic view of the political wretchedness and despair associated with the blues. Critics willingly infer there’s black life essence in Precious’ anti-life tale. And the same high-dudgeon tsk-tsking of Hurricane Katrina commentators is also apparent in the movie’s praise. Pundits who bemoan the awful conditions that have not improved for America’s unfortunate are reminded that they are still on top.
This misreading of blues sensibility probably has something to do with the disconnect caused by hip-hop, where thuggishness and criminality romanticize black ghetto life. Director Daniels’ rotgut images of aggressive cruelty and low-life illiteracy aren’t far from gangster rap clichés. The spectacle warps how people perceive black American life— perhaps even replacing their instincts for compassion with fear and loathing."
Read the rest of the review at New York Press.
That review aside, it will be very interesting to see how the audiences react to the movie - will the vision put forth in Precious be embraced widely as was the case with Slumdog Millionaire? If so, what does that mean? Will people love it as a freak show or will they love it as a story of hope? Or maybe a little bit of both? We'll have to see.


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