And what have you been watching?

Time for another what I’ve been watching post. I actually had a conversation with a friend recently about this – as friends do – and the film I found myself reccing to him was Passing, directed by Rebecca Hall (in her directorial debut), and starring Tessa Thompson (Thor: Ragnarok), Ruth Negga (Loving), and Andre Holland (Moonlight).

You’ll remember, if you’re a regular here, that I recced the book a while back – having read it (finally) in anticipation of the movie coming out. The book is by Harlem Renaissance writer Nella Larsen and is set in the 1920s, on the cusp of the 30s, in Harlem, NY. It addresses the theme of racial passing but also touches on other forms of passing and it is immaculate. What a beautiful, sublime film – poetic even (I haven’t used that word to describe a film since Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma). It captures the mood and atmosphere of the book, and the quiet tensions at play; so, yeah, I really like this film and would like to see it pick up Academy award nominations for adapted screenplay, direction, score, art direction, costume/wardrobe, and lead and supporting actress – supporting and screenplay seem most likely though, unfortunately.

I also recently watched Akillah’s Escape, which is co-written by a Canadian (Wendy ‘Motion’ Brathwaite) with Antiguan roots – which is why I wanted to see it, because I was (am still) hoping to line up an interview for CREATIVE SPACE. Because of that, I don’t know how much I should say; except if you’re a fan of the urban action genre (and game for one within a Caribbean-Canadian context with a focus on how violence can perpetuate generation to generation depending on the environment), this might be up your alley.

Finally, there is Halle Berry’s directorial debut Bruised – I rec it.

I know you’ve heard mixed reviews (if you’ve heard of it at all) and yes, it is a bit overstuffed, but this is easily one of the best performances of Halle Berry’s career (Oscar-nomination worthy) and the little one who plays her son will have you ripping your heart out and stomping on it because it hurt too much. It’s the eyes, man. I don’t love fights or fight movies but I loved the emotional arc interwoven in the fight scenes in this movie, especially the one in the final act. Also the woman who plays her trainer and more is a magnetic presence. More from her.

Anyway, Passing and Bruised can be seen on Netflix – come back and tell me what you think.

4 thoughts on “And what have you been watching?

  1. Pingback: Reading Room and Gallery 44 | Wadadli Pen

  2. Pingback: Reading Room and Gallery 43 | Wadadli Pen

  3. I was in the middle of watching Passing when I saw that you’d reviiewed it, so I made sure to finish it first. I like the way that it was filmed in black and white in keeping with the theme, and would agree with Netflix’s description of the film as “intimate”.
    I need to watch more of what I call “artsy” types of movies where among other things, the story is told both in the movie’s dialogue and in what remains unsaid. I have to say though, that I’ve never seen an actress who can in real life pass for white be made up on film to look black which means I had to suspend belief, because I can’t see how she fooled anybody – least of all her husband. But that I suppose was aided by the contrast of the black and white aesthetic. And maybe I’m just picky.
    I knew it wouldn’t end well, but I didn’t quite expect the tragedy that resulted.

    • There is definitely a lot unsaid in this one…oddly one gets that sense with the book as well, though it allows for more of the characters’ interior life.

      You’re definitely not picky…I’ve seen a lot of social media scepiticism about if she could really pass…and I guess I’m in the minority because I don’t think it’s a stretch; I think it’s not about who we Black people*, especially with our 2021 eyes, think could pass but who might pass in the white world of the 1920s where nobody in that world is necessarily looking (suspecting) you might not be who you say you are. I think if you buy the premise of the time, it’s highly plausible. But if you don’t, there’s a way to interpret her husband’s nickname for her as some subconcious suspicion on his part.

      *I tend to believe we can tell, so another theory (why Clare doesn’t have Black staff around her for instance) is that who you’re really hiding from when you try to disappear by passing are the people who could pick you out (i.e. your own people) which is why you make a hard break – and why Clare going back and forth was so dangerous.

      Yeah, the ending was as jarring in the book but also inevitable in an odd way (and as mysterious re what really happened). Deftly handled by both Nella and Rebecca, writer and director, in my opinion.

      Thanks for commenting. Enjoyed chatting about this.

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