Recently Watched: In The Morning

A group of friends, black men and women sharing a fun brunch at a restaurant.

I love slice of life films. A day in the life of a small group of people or just a couple — like in the “Before Sunrise,” “Before Sunset” and “Before Midnight” trilogy with Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy. There are often separate stories, where you don’t know how they connect. Then the six degrees of separation thing happens and the intrigue builds.

“In The Morning” has that same finite period of time thing happening as the Hawke Delpy trilogy. Yet, in many ways, “In The Morning” picks up where “Love Jones” left off twenty years ago. Except for they moved east from Chicago to New York.

Until now, “Love Jones” was my only modern reference point for a relatively quiet film, about middle class black people, living in a city, talking about the nature of love and life, with soulful background music and high intensity dramatic relationships.

I guess my age is showing! Well, it’s about time that we have a new touchstone for this genre. We have waited long enough. It’s time for more layered romantic existential films about black people. Because that’s how our lives are too.

I loved this movie. The cinematography is beautiful and reveals the pulse of a neighborhood. It’s Brooklyn, but black Brooklyn. Not the white hipster Brooklyn that most only talk about now — but the people who were there decades ago and remain. The film is about regular people just living their lives. It’s quiet and yet pulls you along for the ride.

Mostly the film centers on relationships. I was immediately absorbed into the lives of these characters and drawn into their stories. I cared about them and was angry at some of them as well.

“Why are they still together?!” “Why are they apart?”

They know each other!?” “Okay. That’s how it happened.”

I found myself thinking about the different relationships that I’ve been in. Difficult conversations that we had. And didn’t have. When you’re in close like that. Really in deep to how the characters are feeling, you can’t help but feel too.

They talk about the nature of love and relationships and everyone has a different answer. There really is no one answer to what is love, because everyone is different. People need and want different things at certain points in their lives. We all perceive things through our own personal lens too.

The film’s ruminations on love reminded me of an article called “Memory of Color” that I just read in Kinfolk. Below is an excerpt.

In 2015, the internet went into meltdown when a photo was posted on Tumblr that showed a seemingly innocuous dress. Was it a white dress with gold trim, or dark blue with black? … The dress was, in fact, blue and black; a bluish tint to the lighting had wreaked havoc with people’s perception. But along the way it revealed two interesting things: Not only can our own perception be skewed without the necessary contextual aids, but it’s possible to look at a color and experience something entirely different from a friend. Our grasp on color becomes more tenuous still when we try to recall it by memory.

Maybe like with colors, we see and feel many shades of love. And context matters. Context shapes how we see, feel and react. It’s impossible to compare one relationship to another, because we don’t see what happens behind closed doors.

There can be no real comparison when we can’t even begin to know the truth. For two people in a relationship, it’s hard to even know the truth. Time brings change and things shift. What’s true one moment, may not be in the next.

As you can tell, the film has me thinking. I first learned about the film three years ago, but wasn’t able to see it. It was being shown at a film festival in New York and was not widely available for viewing.

I’m so glad that “In The Morning” is now available on Amazon Prime, so that more people can see it. Also, if you’re in the Newark, New Jersey area, there is a free screening of the film this Thursday, June 15th, at 6:30pm.

It’s always refreshing to see a movie about black people where the characters are nuanced and real. Seeking happiness and meaning — not just surviving.

Writer, Director and Producer Nefertite Nguvu added another dimension to how we are shown in film and I cannot wait to see more of her work. The film was truly a labor of love for her. She did two Kickstarter Campaigns to come up with the funding.

I think and hope the film will garner a wide audience, because it speaks to what many of us are wondering about and seeking. I definitely recommend that you watch it if you get the chance. There are a few ways to watch online.

Now this movie has me hoping for a sequel, because I’m wondering what happens next. And a trilogy would be even sweeter.

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Image: In The Morning Trailer 2.0

Recently Watched: Middle of Nowhere

Recently WatchedDuring the snow storm last week, G and I finally watched Middle of Nowhere. It’s been on my Netflix list for a while now and I’m so glad that we saw it. What a beautiful film! We both really enjoyed it. And if you’re into indie films, you’ll probably love it too. Check out the movie trailer.

The story is a simple one. A woman’s husband goes to prison and she decides to wait for him. But we see all the complexities of her life. Her job, family and hopes for the future. The characters are nuanced and the soundtrack is wonderful.

The Director is Ava DuVernay and I think this film is where I first learned of her. She won Best Director for it at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. She also directed Selma, which I thought was amazing. I saw it when it first came out on the big screen, which doesn’t happen so much anymore.

DuVernay has become a real force in film, Hollywood and just in general. There is even an Ava DuVernay Barbie Doll!  It sold out in 17 minutes!

I’m looking forward to seeing a lot more by DuVernay in the future and I’m sure she will keep us guessing.

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Screenshot: YouTube

Kinfolk Issue Sixteen: Rwandan-born model Nadja Giramata

Kinfolk coverWhat a nice surprise to see that Kinfolk Volume 16 shines a light on the beautiful Nadja Giramata. I learned of the issue on Instagram.

I bought an earlier issue of Kinfolk a few years ago and have enjoyed their short films over the years. I love the magazine’s focus on slow living and gatherings with family and friends.

But it always bothered me that I never saw any people that look like me. After a while, if a publication never includes people of color, I assume that they don’t intend it for me and don’t want me buying it. I feel the same way about commercials that I see on television.

So it was quite nice to see a lovely model of color gracing Kinfolk‘s current cover. You can purchase Kinfolk on their website or on Amazon at a discount. Which I just just did. I also signed up for a free trial of Amazon Prime, so I get free shipping and it should arrive tomorrow. Can’t wait!

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Screenshot: Kinfolk Issue Sixteen

Your Guide To Diverse Food Writers

plated dessertsOften I don’t plan on writing serious blog posts. But then after certain events take place, combined with reading a series of articles, comments and other blog posts,  I can’t help but respond.

Listening to the #blacklivesmatter discussions over the past few months, it made me think that white men with black partners need to organize.

They are part of the power structure based on their race and gender, but have a unique perspective based on love. As part of the same group, it might be easier for them to talk to other white men, white women and others who may mistakenly believe that we are living in a post-racial America.

This past weekend, I read an article on LinkedIn about how PwC is specifically focusing a diversity initiative on white men. One of the goals, according to the article, is getting white men to acknowledge that they have a race and gender. While I don’t know how well the program actually works, it seems like a good start.

Yesterday, I read a blog post by Tim of Lottie + Doof discussing the need for more diverse voices in food writing. See an excerpt below.

Food media mostly exists as a circle of white, liberal arts grads with enough financial security to have interned for free during college, live in Brooklyn, and eat out every night. Everyone is friends, it’s how you get jobs. …

The results of this culture are far more serious than just the armies of whiteness staring back at us from mastheads. It is creating an insular, homogenous, and out-of-touch world that does not reflect our actual world and excludes many people. …

Diversity (in all its forms) should be embraced because diversity is what makes the world interesting. … The world of food is so much more interesting than any mainstream media (and most independent media) would have us believe. The view is so narrow. I’m happy to hear what a bunch of 20-something white women are cooking, but where is everyone else?

Tim’s post brought up many different issues. Not just race, but class, education and age as well. While the question “where is everyone else” may be rhetorical, I gave a real answer in the comments.

Just in case anyone is looking for food writers of color, the Kwanzaa Culinarians website is a great resource. It’s not just about Kwanzaa. The site is a way for those of us who are of African descent to find each other, gather together in a single space and write about what we love — food. There are wonderful food stories and links to our personal blogs and websites.

After leaving my comment, I still hadn’t planned to write this blog post, but then I read another comment. Part of it is below.

Definitely a fuzzy line on diversity, because those who can afford nice cameras and the time to cook and blog are (probably) not low-income single parents of color and we as readers probably should take more responsibility in demanding different and diverse content.

I was reminded of the TED Talk by Chimamanda Adichie, “The danger of a single story.” In the talk, she says, Show a people as one thing, as only one thing, over and over again and that is what they become.”

When the writer of the comment and maybe many others think of diversity, is that what they think of? A low-income single parent of color?

The danger of a single story. Diversity = a low-income single parent of color.

Yes, there are low-income single parents of color. However, not all people of color are low income or single parents.

There can be diversity in food writing with people of color who may or may not be part of this single story. We are African-American. We are Latina. We are Caribbean. We are educated. We are middle class. We are amazing writers. We are many things. We are not a single story.