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: From Baghdad to Brooklyn

 Recently watched movie Baghdad to Brooklyn.
This weekend I’ve been derailed by a bad summer cold. I recently watched an interesting documentary on Netflix called From Baghdad to Brooklyn.

I’m so behind on blog posts that I’ve planned to write, so I wasn’t even sure that I was going to blog this film. But then I learned this morning that this week the United States will reach the target goal of taking in 10,000 Syrian war refugees.

From Baghdad to Brooklyn is about one of those Syrian war refugees. When we hear the term “refugee” it removes the humanity from each individual. The term puts each person, who has their own life story, into a mass of others trying to get into another country. They are seeking refuge, safety and some showing of kindness.

The film humanizes this crisis by bringing us the true story of Mohamad, a 23-year-old who fled from Baghdad to Syria. Mohamad’s striking good looks and charismatic personality brings the filmmaker, Jennifer Utz into his story. Both of their lives change as a result.

While watching the film, you wonder what you would do if you could help someone in this situation. Would you help? It makes you think about having to flee your homeland. How would you cope? Could you cope? What would you do to survive?

It’s a very good film. But because it’s real life, it’s messy. The ending is not tied up nicely.

In some ways I was surprised. In other ways I was disappointed. It made me think about all the fears of immigration and the idea of refugees in this especially harsh political climate.

There are no perfect people, so there are no perfect immigrants either. How do we become okay with this as a nation? I think compassion. Because it could be any of us. But how do you teach compassion? That’s a question for which I don’t have any answers.

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Recently Watched: Trishna

Trishna

This film is intense. I happened to see the DVD at the library and picked it up. I recognized Freida Pinto and thought Trishna sounded interesting. Now I’m a fan of Riz Ahmed too.

I really enjoyed this movie and so did G. But it has some major twists that neither of us were prepared for.

This movie will lull you into complacency and happiness, then rip your heart into shreds. Trishna is very emotional film and you will get caught up quickly.

It’s a great story. The actors are stunningly beautiful. The music is wonderful. Amazing cinematography. But again. Your heart. Ripped to shreds.

I definitely recommend it, but you’ve also been warned.

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Screenshot: YouTube

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

In Light of Venus in Retrograde ~ @CoherenceMovie

Sci-fi movies are a guilty pleasure. I love a good dinner party. And with the recent blue moon, Venus in retrograde, and Jupiter getting ready to move into my sign next week, I’m feeling like COHERENCE could be an interesting movie.

So after seeing the library promote it as a new movie title, I just put the DVD on hold.

On the night of an astronomical anomaly, eight friends at a dinner party experience a troubling chain of reality bending events. Part cerebral sci-fi and part relationship drama, COHERENCE is a tightly focused, intimately shot film that quickly ratchets up with tension and mystery.

Will I enjoy it or will it be another two hours of my life that I can’t get back? I’ll report back!

*Updated 8/13/2015* Happy to report that I loved this movie! I definitely recommend it. It’s not what you think it is and I’m not even sure it’s possible to really figure it out, but it’s fun trying and I survived another retrograde!