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I was pleasantly surprised at this - that is, the film got (almost) exactly what I think it deserved. Some of the songs were great, Eddie Murphy was fantastic, but the overall story was sort of... bleh.

Of course, I am:

1) Male

2) Not black

3) Not a big fan of musicals

And, as the article speculates, I certainly am annoyed when the Oscar hype gets too blown out of proportion. I clearly remember being bugged by all the Oscar talk surrounding this film that was happening months before anyone had even seen the finished film. In cases like that, if it's possible, I prefer to see the film *not* get nominated, just to discourage too much over-the-top hype the next time around. Maybe the voters felt the same way?


"You guys don't really know who you're dealing with."

"Oh yeah, and who exactly are we dealing with?"

"I'm the mother flippin' rhymenoceros."

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Excessive hype and good movie/bad movie debates aside, I don't think too many of you understand what was riding with this movie.

I said it before in my review and I'll say it again. "Dreamgirls" was the rarest of a rare breed: an African American event movie. Every year we get at least 4-5 (maybe more) event movies - Spidey, Superman, Pirates and so forth. Black films, on the other hand, get regulated to the "second hand" pile by the film world...unless, of course, your name is Denzel, Will, Samuel L., Morgan and (just recently) Jamie or Terrence.

To make a really long rant short (since my rants are notorious for being misinterpreted as shouting matches), "Dreamgirls" was that rare and epic shot for Our Stories to take a seat at the Oscar table. And, for a myriad of reasons, it missed. While mainstream (White) critics and film analysts are brushing their shoulders off and going on with their Oscar predictions, We (me and my homies in the Black film critical/analysis circle) are left pondering the big question...

"What do we have to do to insure that African American stories get a fair shot at Oscar glory? The Academy has (FINALLY!) turned around and started recognizing our individual acting performances. But, as everyone knows, Best Picture is the brass ring. What must African American artists do to successfully and finally achieve that elusive Brass Ring?"

Do we need to tone down our acting (many of you felt the performances in "Dreamgirls" were over the top)?

Do we need to take more time to polish up our screenwriting (keep in mind that most Black films have at least 50-75% less of a budget than mainstream Hollywood films)?

Do our directors need more "proper film training" (Tyler Perry, who didn't get a film school degree, gets lambasted all the time by mainstream critics for "pedestrian filmmaking")?

Should are stories be more "interesting" to mainstream society (no more hood/ghetto stories)?

Are we as Black people (Yours Truly, Spike Lee) just too damn angry?

I challenge the A&F community to examine and answer these questions - specificly THE ELITE (Overstreet, SDG, Alan Thomas, Chattaway...y'all know who you are!). Are these indeed legitimate questions worth answering?

Edited by utzworld

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I haven't seen Dreamgirls, Chris, but my first impulse is to note that the movie is on its way to a $100 million gross. That's an "event" with the public, in some sense, regardless of whether it gets Academy recognition.

My second thought is that two of the three movies you mention as getting no respect from the Oscars were directed by white guys. The Spike Lees and John Singletons of the world, whom you admire, have been publicly skeptical of such films. Do they feel the same type of outrage you do over Dreamgirls?

Third, wasn't The Color Purple nominated for 11 Academy Awards, including Best Picture?

Lastly, I went to see a movie last night that I knew nothing about: Smokin' Aces. Directed by a white guy, starring a white guy in the lead. The theater was packed; obviously, I don't watch or listen to the same media as do all those folks, who were anticipating something special. Who, you might ask, was promoting the screening? Not a radio station, but, as it turns out, something called The Hip Hop Zone. I just Googled it and discovered its a Web site in a rebuilding phase, scheduled to debut next month. So how'd they get so many people out to the theater?

I don't know the answer, but my point is: The audience was mixed, with plenty of African Americans turning out to see a gangster movie (co-starring some African American actors and actresses) full of gunfire and bloodshed. What does that mean? Is it symptomatic of a larger trend?


"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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My second thought is that two of the three movies you mention as getting no respect from the Oscars were directed by white guys. The Spike Lees and John Singletons of the world, whom you admire, have been publicly skeptical of such films. Do they feel the same type of outrage you do over Dreamgirls?

Spike notoriously disliked "The Color Purple" when it was originally released - mostly because of some of the changes made from its transformation from book to screen. I haven't heard too many other prominent AA artists hating on "The Color Purple".

One thing that I have had to accept in my road to maturity is the notion that something is lost in translation when a white guy directs an AA story. On the one hand, you have Michael Mann's Ali which I definitely tossed in the "good, not great" category. Performances were sharp but some of his other narrative decisions left us scratching our heads - partcularly the scene when

Ali's lawyer makes a phone call in a pay booth just outside the Lorraine Motel. Said phone call is suddenly interrupted by the assasination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

The 90% AA audience (in which I saw the film in) let out a collective "HUH?!?!" during that scene.

On the other hand, Spielberg was able to fully capture the essence, soul and anguish of Us in "The Color Purple". In his hands, it became more than an AA story. It became a universal, human story that transcended race and color.

To answer that question, it simply boils down to the director having passion for the project he's working on. A white director can be just as passionate about an African American story as a Black director can - case in point: "Dreamgirls". Bill Condon's passion for this story was evident in each frame of the film (at least it was to me, the Diva and my other "homies").

Third, wasn't The Color Purple nominated for 11 Academy Awards, including Best Picture?

11 nominations. 0 wins. Many of us still feel the sting of that loss.

Lastly, I went to see a movie last night that I knew nothing about: Smokin' Aces. Directed by a white guy, starring a white guy in the lead. The theater was packed; obviously, I don't watch or listen to the same media as do all those folks, who were anticipating something special. Who, you might ask, was promoting the screening? Not a radio station, but, as it turns out, something called The Hip Hop Zone. I just Googled it and discovered its a Web site in a rebuilding phase, scheduled to debut next month. So how'd they get so many people out to the theater?

I don't know the answer, but my point is: The audience was mixed, with plenty of African Americans turning out to see a gangster movie (co-starring some African American actors and actresses) full of gunfire and bloodshed. What does that mean? Is it symptomatic of a larger trend?

Frankly, it means nothing deep or profound at all. Black folks love movies just as much as everyone else does - particularly action movies, comedies and horror flicks. Yeah, you'd be hard pressed to find a large group of us watching the 5 Best Picture nominees - The Departed being the exception. But we gobble up just as much mainstream Hollywood product on Friday/Saturday nights as the rest of the folks do.

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No one has answered my questions yet.

I started to, but realized I was playing into faulty assumptions.

Oscars aren't a validation of anything. They're an entertaining side show. Do I root for certain nominated films? Yes. Do I think they represent the year's best? Rarely.

Then there's the definition of a "black film." My concerns about that were expressed previously.


"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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No one has answered my questions yet.

I started to, but realized I was playing into faulty assumptions.

Oscars aren't a validation of anything. They're an entertaining side show. Do I root for certain nominated films? Yes. Do I think they represent the year's best? Rarely.

Then there's the definition of a "black film." My concerns about that were expressed previously.

And still no answers, just more spin.

Let me rephrase, then...

"What do we have to do to insure that African American stories get a fair shot at the upper echelon of critical praise & Oscar glory? American film critics as well as the Academy has (FINALLY!) turned around and started recognizing our individual acting performances. But, as everyone knows, Best Picture - not to mention the highly worshipped Year End Top Ten Lists - is the brass ring. What must African American artists do to successfully and finally achieve that elusive Brass Ring?"

Edited by utzworld

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I hadn


"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

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"What do we have to do to insure that African American stories get a fair shot at Oscar glory? The Academy has (FINALLY!) turned around and started recognizing our individual acting performances. But, as everyone knows, Best Picture is the brass ring. What must African American artists do to successfully and finally achieve that elusive Brass Ring?"

The answer is found in his later post:

On the other hand, Spielberg was able to fully capture the essence, soul and anguish of Us in "The Color Purple". In his hands, it became more than an AA story. It became a universal, human story that transcended race and color. [emphasis added by dm]
There is a sense in which most (although not all) films that get nominated for best picture have to become a universal story. Babel is by it's nature; The Departed maybe a little less so, but it still deals with the struggle of good and evil; Letters is about the common humanity that does not go away because we are at war with the other; Little Miss Sunshine is the sturggle and strength of family and community, even when it is totally out of order; and The Queen shows how grief and pride and status all can come together in bizarre ways. These films find their place at the Oscar table through the ways we connect with them.

That isn't to say that Dreamgirls doesn't also have universal themes being played out. But all in all, it just wasn't that good of a movie -- but like Popechild, I'm white, male, and not that fond of musicals. In this case the "white" may play a part in that judgment; I'm sure the other two qualities do.

As to what role my whiteness may discount Dreamgirls a bit, it might be because it still seems to me more of an AA story than a universal story. Maybe that is a burden that AA films have a hard time overcoming, because to describe something as an AA film is too say that in fact it isn't universal.


A foreign movie can't be stupid.

-from the film
Armin

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All I did was ask a few simple questions. I put them in bold not to shout at y'all or argue, but to make the questions clearly known and understood. No need to ponder the "foundation" of the questions. Just give me an answer. Simple as that.

Incidentally, this is about much more than "Dreamgirls", believe it or not. It's about African American stories and artists who have had to climb a virtual Mt. Everest just to get onto the big screen and the constant frustration that we feel when a good team of climbers is assembled to ascend to that mountaintop only to be knocked back down again and again.

This is what we've felt like in the wake of "The Color Purple", "Do The Right Thing", "Boyz N The Hood", "Malcolm X", and now "Dreamgirls": good climbing teams who are unable to climb to the mountaintop. We celebrate those among us who have individually climbed to the top - we have 3 out of the 4 front-runners in the Acting categories this year. But, politically influenced or not, messy and half-baked as it may be, the Academy Award for Best Picture is the mountaintop. The day when I finally see one of Our Stories get to that mountaintop will mark my proudest day as a cinephyte.

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"What do we have to do to insure that African American stories get a fair shot at Oscar glory? The Academy has (FINALLY!) turned around and started recognizing our individual acting performances. But, as everyone knows, Best Picture is the brass ring. What must African American artists do to successfully and finally achieve that elusive Brass Ring?"

The answer is found in his later post:

On the other hand, Spielberg was able to fully capture the essence, soul and anguish of Us in "The Color Purple". In his hands, it became more than an AA story. It became a universal, human story that transcended race and color. [emphasis added by dm]
There is a sense in which most (although not all) films that get nominated for best picture have to become a universal story. Babel is by it's nature; The Departed maybe a little less so, but it still deals with the struggle of good and evil; Letters is about the common humanity that does not go away because we are at war with the other; Little Miss Sunshine is the sturggle and strength of family and community, even when it is totally out of order; and The Queen shows how grief and pride and status all can come together in bizarre ways. These films find their place at the Oscar table through the ways we connect with them.

That isn't to say that Dreamgirls doesn't also have universal themes being played out. But all in all, it just wasn't that good of a movie -- but like Popechild, I'm white, male, and not that fond of musicals. In this case the "white" may play a part in that judgment; I'm sure the other two qualities do.

As to what role my whiteness may discount Dreamgirls a bit, it might be because it still seems to me more of an AA story than a universal story. Maybe that is a burden that AA films have a hard time overcoming, because to describe something as an AA film is too say that in fact it isn't universal.

Thanks Darrel. I completely understand your point.

Dreamgirls was not, technically, a universal story...but I'll be doggone if it didn't blow the roof off the theatre! With the exception of the Film Criticism community - not to mention the good people of A&F, the folks I polled felt that it was a knockout. I know the folks at the Cinerama Dome last 12/16 felt that way. Half of us gave the flick a standing ovation...White folks included!

Another issue: The Diva and I just got off the phone where we compared and contrasted "Little Miss Sunshine" with "Akeelah and the Bee" and why LMS is getting Oscar love while Akeelah was barely an afterthought...when clearly (at least to both of us) Keke Palmer's performance was much more powerful and poignant than Abigal Breslin's. But even folks round here praised that film while Akeelah (at least according to Overstreet's "homie") was simply "Meh".

The question: Are White audiences actually turned off by the preachiness and message-centered material that is found in most AA centric films and stories?

More answers, please...

Edited by utzworld

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Dreamgirls was not, technically, a universal story...but I'll be doggone if it didn't blow the roof off the theatre! With the exception of the Film Criticism community - not to mention the good people of A&F, the folks I polled felt that it was a knockout. I know the folks at the Cinerama Dome last 12/16 felt that way. Half of us gave the flick a standing ovation...White folks included!

Obviously, like your experience mine is not necessarily representative of the overall reaction to the film, but I also saw the film in LA (The Bridge), and with an almost entirely AA audience. The audience I saw the film with did give a sitting ovation or two during the film, but specifically at the close of a few of the musical numbers, which have obviously been nominated. At the end of the film though, presumably in reaction to the entirety of the film, there was no applause. Typically, this wouldn't be unusual. After applause during the film though, it was somewhat surprising.

Another issue: The Diva and I just got off the phone where we compared and contrasted "Little Miss Sunshine" with "Akeelah and the Bee" and why LMS is getting Oscar love while Akeelah was barely an afterthought...when clearly (at least to both of us) Keke Palmer's performance was much more powerful and poignant than Abigal Breslin's. But even folks round here praised that film while Akeelah (at least according to Overstreet's "homie") was simply "Meh".

Here's another place where it's hard to make a blanket accusation of unfairness based purely on you and your family/friends reactions to a film. I haven't seen Akeelah, though I've tried to rent it a few times when it's been checked out, but LMS was probably my favorite film-going experience of the year.
The question: Are White audiences actually turned off by the preachiness and message-centered material that is found in most AA centric films and stories?

More answers, please...

Two thoughts.

1) As Christian noted, the Oscars aren't necessarily indicative of the years best films. We all know that. But remember that the Oscars aren't the only game in town, thought they may have the most media hype. I can't agree with you that Dreamgirls isn't getting the respect of the critics just because of the Oscar snub. It did, after all, just win the Golden Globe. Better movies get snubbed by the Oscars plenty of times, even though I don't personally happen to think this is one of them.

2) "The question: Are White audiences actually turned off by the preachiness and message-centered material that is found in most AA centric films and stories?" As a successful filmmaker once told me, "Even a hunted animal knows to get out of the way when it's being targeted." I don't care whether it's AA message-centered material, Christian message-centered material, or homosexual message-centered material. people rarely like movies where they feel like they're being preached to. I didn't feel that way in Dreamgirls, but if you're asking in general whether this could be a problem with people embracing message-centric AA films, then I absolutely think this could be a problem.

Edited by popechild

"You guys don't really know who you're dealing with."

"Oh yeah, and who exactly are we dealing with?"

"I'm the mother flippin' rhymenoceros."

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I'm not happy about the way that this film was virtually shut out, and do think there's a lot of prejudice involved.

Well, the producers and director may not have been nominated, but with more nominations than any other film, I don't know if I'd say the film was "virtually shut out."

And perhaps you'd like to explain why you think "there's a lot of prejudice involved"? You mean from those prejudiced voters that gave the film 8 nominations, and nominated Will Smith, Forest Whitaker, Djimon Hounsou, Eddie Murphy, and Jennifer Hudson?


"You guys don't really know who you're dealing with."

"Oh yeah, and who exactly are we dealing with?"

"I'm the mother flippin' rhymenoceros."

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Perhaps I already explained that re. my statement that getting Academy members to nominate a film requires huge PR campaigns, insider dealing and more? From my understanding of the whole process, there's influence-peddling (and money on PR campaigns to sway Academy members) that's not allowed in most other award processes. Much like the Grammies (again, an industry awards thing based primarily on sales, not merit). I've been on the jury of a competing music award process twice (everything, but everything is done blind - I never knew who else was judging in my category, and still don't).

The Academy also favors established names - so what are they going to do with 3 female "unknowns"?

As for minorities being ignored and/or having difficulty getting decent screen presence, that's still true.

popechild, I understand why you quoted the sentence above, but it makes a lot more sense if you add the next one:

But part of that prejudice might well be directed against one of the film's points - anti-Big Business entertainment. Curtis is a shark, like so many at the top of the entertainment biz.

Understood. I guess I assumed that - the "part of that prejudice" statement aside - you were primarily referring to racial prejudice. Whether for racial, business, or other reasons though, I still would imagine that there are plenty of films this year that would love to have been shown as much prejudice as DG was, if it meant leading all films in nominations.


"You guys don't really know who you're dealing with."

"Oh yeah, and who exactly are we dealing with?"

"I'm the mother flippin' rhymenoceros."

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: The 2007 Oscars are shaping up to be the most, uh, colorful and the least sensational about its

: diversity in years.

This IS encouraging!

Chris, I didn't think Dreamgirls was a particularly good film, and I personally resent the notion that if people don't shower awards on the film, then it implies we don't want "Black stories" to be told. I am certainly all in favour of recognizing good movies about non-white characters -- in this forum, I have applauded Blood Diamond for succeeding where The Last King of Scotland failed, in this regard -- but I am NOT particularly in favour of recognizing not-good movies, no matter WHO they happen to be about. I thought it was ridiculous for Christians to complain about bigotry or prejudice when The Passion of the Christ was "snubbed", and I think it is ridiculous for people to make the same sorts of complaints now that Dreamgirls has been "snubbed".


"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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Chris, I didn't think Dreamgirls was a particularly good film, and I personally resent the notion that if people don't shower awards on the film, then it implies we don't want "Black stories" to be told.

I have no problem with your opinion of the film. And I admit that I was off base by implying that its Oscar snub meant that White people don't want to see Black Stories. On the other hand, I wrote those bold-faced questions (which, by the way, have not been fully answered yet by the A&F squad - props to my HJ partner in crime for answering the bell) to try to find out how you (White people) would prefer to see Black stories told...specifically African American stories. Let's face the truth, y'all. African American stories seemingly are the worst reviewed films out there. In this case, a film in which myself and several of my brothers and sisters have labeled a 3 1/2 to 4 star film only rates as a 2 1/2 star film in your eyes. There's a HUGE, GAPING disjunct between Our view of African American cinema and Your (Whites) view. Which, in turn, makes me truly wonder if I/we are missing something.

So...if someone (other than Darrel) would just simply answer those questions, it could open the door to understanding for myself as well as the rest of my AA colleagues.

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Chris, I didn't think Dreamgirls was a particularly good film, and I personally resent the notion that if people don't shower awards on the film, then it implies we don't want "Black stories" to be told.

I have no problem with your opinion of the film. And I admit that I was off base by implying that its Oscar snub meant that White people don't want to see Black Stories. On the other hand, I wrote those bold-faced questions (which, by the way, have not been fully answered yet by the A&F squad - props to my HJ partner in crime for answering the bell) to try to find out how you (White people) would prefer to see Black stories told...specifically African American stories. Let's face the truth, y'all. African American stories seemingly are the worst reviewed films out there. In this case, a film in which myself and several of my brothers and sisters have labeled a 3 1/2 to 4 star film only rates as a 2 1/2 star film in your eyes. There's a HUGE, GAPING disjunct between Our view of African American cinema and Your (Whites) view. Which, in turn, makes me truly wonder if I/we are missing something.

So...if someone (other than Darrel) would just simply answer those questions, it could open the door to understanding for myself as well as the rest of my AA colleagues.

Chris,

I'm not one of the "elite" here that you seem most interested in hearing from, but I'll take a crack at two of your bolded questions. The others - to me at least - feel very specific to an individual film and not really easy to answer in a generic way (ie. over the top acting).

Should are stories be more "interesting" to mainstream society (no more hood/ghetto stories)?
Yes. At least, yes if you want recognition and affirmation from mainstream society. If that's not what you care about, then who cares. But this is the same situation *any* "minority" filmmakers, whether they be a racial, ethnic, religious, or sociological minority faces. People like watching movies that they relate to. The more "black" a film is, the harder it's going to be for the majority of white people to relate to it - and vice versa. I'm NOT suggesting that AA filmmakers should white-wash their films - just saying that if you want AA films to be embraced by the mainstream, they're going to need to be at least somewhat relatable to the mainstream. For instance, there's a fairly active mormon filmmaking community. I imagine some of their films are pretty decent. Typically, however, I have zero interest in watching them because I see nothing in them that looks interesting to me. (One exception being "Saints and Soldiers", which I've rented but have yet to watch - but I'm intersted because I like war films, not because it's a "mormon film.")

Are we as Black people (Yours Truly, Spike Lee) just too damn angry?
Well, I think that only matters if the anger is something that's going to specifically alienate the "mainstream audience." There are plenty of angry filmmakers out there that make films that white people see. If someone makes a film that's culturally specific to "black anger" then yes, it's likely to make it less interesting to a broader audience for the same reason I just mentioned - people just aren't going to personally relate to it.

I also tried to answer your "message-centric" question a few posts back as well. At this point, however, I think I'll hang on before going any further, as I'm realizing that my "generic white guy" and not "elite A&F white guy" answers may not be of all that much interest to you (judging from the lack of reaction to my "message-centric" post and your "other than Darrel" comment - or perhaps somehow I've gotten myself onto your ignore list... ::blushing:: ). I don't want to keep peeing in the wind if that's all I'm doing...


"You guys don't really know who you're dealing with."

"Oh yeah, and who exactly are we dealing with?"

"I'm the mother flippin' rhymenoceros."

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Chris, if you want my honest opinion re. Tyler Perry - his movies could be way better than they are. He's got something good, but it could be refined and made more interesting and believable.

I've said before that (to me) his movies would make more sense if they were done as musicals, like the stage shows. They work well as part of popular theater/vaudeville. Taking the songs out causes a problem (for me) with suspension of disbelief, because his basic framework is comedy/melodrama - the background for most all musicals. i don't expect him to be August Wilson, either, nor would I want him to be. OTOH, I would love to see screen versions of Wilson's plays!)

I completely disagree. Tyler Perry's work is based on real situations and real life. The musical stuff is just a device he uses to drive his plays along. But he doesn't need to do that in his work. In fact, that's the one thing that kept me from watching any of his plays till the movies came.

In real life, people do not break into song after arguments (one of the myriad of "Dreamgirls" complaints). Taking the musical numbers out of his films helps his cause more than it does to harm it. It makes the stories more real and more human. One of the things I refuse to do with my plays is to add musical numbers to them. To me, that make mainstream audiences take the message of my stories less seriously. My work should stand on the strength of the writing and performances. Adding in musical numbers cheapens my work - and Tyler Perry's too for that matter

Dreamgirls is what it is - and clearly, that has played phenomenally well on and off Broadway, and also on the screen. My thought is that the musical was meant to be somewhat over the top, and so is the film. I'm not sure if "toning down" any of the performances would work.
OK...what about non-musical films - which is what my question was more centered towards?

But here's the thing: I'd really *like* to see is more black directors getting a piece of the pie, but I'd also like to see that happening for directors of good indie films, not just people who make big-budget movies. That's true - to my mind - of *all* minority filmmakers in the US. Black, Hispanic/Latino (and Chicano), South and East Asian, African immigrants, people of all colors (and languages) from the Caribbean, Native American - right down the line!

Mira Nair did some really bold things with Mississippi Masala, and I've yet to see anyone (of any race/ethnic group/nationality) come close to that, in all the years since it was released (16).

I would *love* to see Robert Townsend, Julie Dash - and plenty of other folks out there - making new movies and getting them screened in theaters.

Equally, I'd like to see film equivalents of "Ugly Betty" - in production values, casting, script - and diversity. Salma Hayek (who owns the rights and produces) has turned the TV world upside down with that show - with a multi-racial, multi-ethnic cast, intelligent dialogue and no stereotypes. (Ethnic/racial, that is. ;)) Maybe that will signal a big-screen trend. I'd like to hope so...

And even the fact that Mexican directors are making inroads here, with "big" movies, is signalling what might be a major change.

Good words...not exactly the subject of my discussion...or thread title...but good, nevertheless.

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Re. Tyler Perry, his stage shows are musicals. To make them into "straight" movies requires a complete revamp, IMO. To do that, he needs to have a far more naturalistic style for the screen, one with more well-rounded characters. As is, his characters fit the conventions of most musical comedy/drama very well, in that they're types. The situations they face certainly are real-life things, but the characters are pretty flat. Making his scripts/chracters more real and believable - or else going the opposite way and making them into full-blown musical films - seems to be his best options. If this can be done in movies like ""Down in the Delta" and "Soul Food," there's absolutely no reason it can't happen with his stuff.

If what you say is true, then why have his first two films been the runaway successes that they have...at least in the AA community? And why are his characters so real and believable in Our eyes and not yours? What's flat to you is layered, textured, soulful and spiritual to Us. Perry's films have clearly applied your "Don't Compromise" theory. I expect "Daddy's Little Girls" to do the same.

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utzworld wrote:

: . . . how you (White people) would prefer to see Black stories told...specifically African American stories.

If that's the question, then it doesn't apply. I have no special set of criteria or expectations for stories that happen to involve African-American characters. (If Dreamgirls is what spurred this most recent discussion, then we are clearly not talking about films that are made by African-American filmmakers, per se; as near as I can tell, based on what Wikipedia and Google Images turns up, all the film's key creative personnel -- composers Henry Krieger and Tom Eyen, writer-director Bill Condon -- were and are white.)

But I'm also not sure why it is so important that films made by and for a specific sub-culture should be made with an eye towards the larger culture (or, if you prefer, to other sub-cultures). Isn't this a little like asking what Christian filmmakers should do in order to appeal to secular critics/moviegoers?

As it happens, a Chinese-Canadian friend and I used to make a point of seeing African-American films every now and then, purely for the "cultural studies" aspect. They really ARE foreign films to us! :)


"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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In reference to earlier posts in this thread concerning Charles Burnett, I am delighted to note that it looks like Killer of Sheep (1977) is finally getting a theatrical and DVD release for its 30th anniversary.

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Alan Thomas wrote:

: What does the consumption of a subculture by those outside have to do with racism? Do I

: have to like sushi not to be prejudiced against the Japanese?

This gets me wondering ... if Dreamgirls, a film made by white people, is a "Black story", then is Letters from Iwo Jima, also a film made by white people, a "Japanese story"? (Well, I think one of the writers of THAT film was Japanese, actually, so it might very well be...)

Anyway, I just remember being disappointed in Letters from Iwo Jima partly because it seemed to exist primarily to say, "Hey, the Japanese are people too," whereas that point would have been obvious to anyone who had watched, well, actual Japanese movies -- and Letters from Iwo Jima did not feel like a "Japanese movie" in that sense. Pat Graham at the Chicago Reader posted something on this the other day, FWIW, arguing that even the style of the film was too "American" and not very "Japanese", etc.

There may or may not be something in these musings that applies to "Black movies", too.

Edited by Peter T Chattaway

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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