Monday, January 16, 2012

On MLK Day post, a word about THE HELP plus an additional one about THE LEDGE

Not being invited to see THE HELP prior to its theatrical release, I caught up with it recently on Blu-ray and thoroughly enjoyed it. As obvious a movie in some ways as it is, it is also full of wonderful performances filling out a raft of terrific characters, and of course its theme of overcoming racism is still strongly with us. I have heard criticism from both blacks and and whites about its typical use of whites in the role of the enablers who make it possible for change to come for southern blacks. Yes. Well, there it is: they/we helped. Forgive us, please. But the blacks did the real work. They took the action and paid for it, often, with their lives (as did whites like Goodman and Schwerner).

Seems to me that The Help honors all this in its thoughtful, entertaining way, and since it won several awards, including Best Picture, from the Black Film Critics Circle, it's clear that plenty of blacks out there think so, too. TrustMovies has not put together any Best List for last year because he has not seen nearly all the movies yet, particularly the mainstream variety. When and if he does, The Help will certainly be mentioned.

Meanwhile, let's talk about another important movie from last year that will barely be mentioned because it comes down foursquare against organized religion and faith-in-god as any kind of intelligent principles upon which to base one's actions. The film is titled THE LEDGE, written and directed by Matthew Chapman, and my original review of it appears here. But since it is MLK Day I want to take some extra time to call up a very brave black performance from an actor who is always good and often much more than that: Terence Howard.

For Mr. Howard (above, center) to appear in a movie that disses unintelligent, by-rote faith and to be the catalyst that ends the movie on a wise and thoughtful note of wait-just-a-damn-minute-before-you-automatically-pray -- and then to give that movie his all, as Howard is wont to do in every role -- must have taken some balls. I would think that the black community, with its far-too-encompassing reliance on religion (a religion, I might add, that usually ostracizes gay black men), was not particularly pleased. But this movie deserves to be seen. I wonder what Dr. King, himself a preacher and a "sinner," according to his religion, would have thought about it. I would like to imagine that he'd have been shaken, yes, but over-all pleased. (I think he would be pleased, too, by how far the GLBT community has come in the decades since his untimely death. In fact, these days he would probably not have given a second thought to keeping Bayard Rustin on-staff as one of his right-hand men.) Anyway, see this fine film, a riveting thriller in its own right, and decide for yourself. (You can purchase or rent it on Blu-ray and DVD.)

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