Sunday, February 01, 2015

Ty's Corner


Selma: Great event, lousy movie.

Ava DuVernay has directed a mess of a movie.

Key moments leave you unresponsive because she's made an 'artistic choice' not to show you the speaker.

Either the face isn't in focus or centered in the frame or it's poorly lit and you can't see the face of the person speaking.

Director Sydney Pollack made this mistake in The Way We Were.  In Barbra Streisand's key speech where she's breaking down on the phone, begging a man to see her, we don't get to see her face.

It was a mistake and it may have cost Streisand a second Academy Award for acting.

The mistake certainly cost Pollack a nomination for Best Director.

And, unlike Selma, The Way We Were was a hit -- hell it was a blockbuster.

Unlike Ava DuVernay, Pollack had already been nominated.

For the film They Shoot Horses, Don't They?, Pollack received his first Academy Award nomination as Best Director.  But a few years later, with the blockbuster The Way We Were, he didn't even get a nod.  He wouldn't win until 1985 for Out of Africa.

After eight weeks, Selma is out of the top ten and hasn't even cracked $45 million in ticket sales despite all the hoopla.

Repeating, The Way We Were was a blockbuster.

Ava DuVernay directed a bad film that failed to become a success.

She never stood a chance at a nomination.

Her film's dishonest.

I don't mean LBJ.  But there is that.

I'm more concerned with her portraying Coretta Scott King as a victim.

A friend of Coretta's has come forward to deny that the film's big scene (which is flat and drags the whole movie down) never happened: Coretta never demanded of MLK if he slept with other women.

According to the friend, Coretta didn't believe the rumors.

Now you can debate whether she didn't believe the rumors because she thought there was nothing to them or because she was willing herself not to believe.

But the scene in the film has Coretta asking MLK about them and tossing out where he loves her more.

It's a creepy scene.

Some who've found it creepy have focused on MLK's long pause before answering.

They are bothered by that.

I'm more bothered by the presentation of Coretta in that scene.

I don't think Ava DuVernay's done anything to justify that scene.

For those who find the scene uncomfortable for MLK, I found MLK uncomfortable throughout the film.

There was nothing I liked about David Oeylowo or his performance.

First, let me acknowledge an issue in the e-mails that will not go away.  Spider-Man and Superman are American comic book heroes.  There is a very serious disgust being expressed over the use of British actors to play these roles.

I acknowledged that opinion and respected it.

But I only truly got it with MLK.

He's not a comic book hero.

He is a legend, a real hero.

And portraying him in film is an honor for any American actor.

So why is he being played by a Brit.

I don't need a British actor playing an American hero.

With all the African-American actors struggling for work in the US, why did the director cast a British man in the role of MLK?

Oyelowo never captures or embraces MLK.

He plays it detached and leaves MLK frequently looking like a used car salesman instead of one of the greatest people of the 20th century.

This was a role for an American.

If you want to talk about 'snubs,' the failure to cast an African-American in the role of Dr. King has to be one of the great snubs involving Selma.

Throughout the film, I saw a slam at Black American men.  This has long been a criticism of the films Oprah Winfrey produces.  Ishmael Reed has been one of the leading voices on this criticism.

I never saw it until Selma.

MLK is betrayed time and again by this awful film.

And that includes in wardrobe.

Is MLK wearing women's pantsuits?

The jackets time and again fail to look like men's jackets -- of that era or today's.

Instead, they're form fitting garments on MLK that diminish him.

(If they really were the tops to women's pant suits, I'd assume they'd have shoulder pads and they could have used those because Oyelowo's shoulders are narrow enough for him to be trapped down a well.)

Selma is a bad film.  It's dull and plodding.  It has a role of an American Black male who is not pimping or shooting and it gives that role not to an American but to a Brit.  It betrays everything MLK stood for in one way or another.  Instead of applauding Selma, we should all be averting our eyes.

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