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Finding the Light

A young man finding his way

The Fighting Temptations, or an interesting point of view
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"Check it out now, you see, now your Louisiana booty, it gets its renowned buoyancy from its heavy seafood diet, while your Alabama booty, it's characterized by its density. You're talking about a quarter-bouncing ping. And as for your Mississippi booty, it's been an ongoing debate, but consensus say that the Indian genetic contribution gives us its beautiful tone. And as for your Georgia booty, it's been known for ages that the Georgia sun bakes and seals all the booty juices into a slow roast." Luicius, The Fighting Temptations

BTW, I can attest that this is true for both men and women.

What is this quote doing in the movie? Its much more "something" than I was expecting. It has the taste of many other factors in this film - the taste of something that has been polished by a loving hand until it's exactly what it was meant to be - in this case a feel-good gospel musical parable about the beauty and flavor of the deep south and the deep soul.


This film pays extra attention to a maxim of musicals that other films tend to ignore - singing is a glorious expression of self. Even in sad songs, even the ones about dead husbands and wasted suppers, is the sense of the character/performer owning a stage for just a few moments and being required listening. Performing in musicals is the last bastion of equality - we are all equal when we sing and dance. And so even in a movie starring Beyonce, there is an awful lot of other people sharing musical screen-time; The O'Jays are expected to star, and Montell Jordan used to be a star but T-Bone? Where has this hot christian rapper been all my life? Oh, rapping about God being great. Can't keep my eye off the pastor though; Wendell Pierce, quietly incadescent since 1996.

More to the point though, the film is unashamed of it's musical underpinnings. Even the "Holy Ghost" moments are choreographed to an inch of their lives. People make odd faces and folks get carried away. The opening sequence plays like the end of "The Wiz", unabashed rejoicing. The "getting better montage" is one of the better edited sequences around, entirely in line with the premise of a gospel choir, but at the same time, a great musical set piece that shows off why good gospel choirs need to exist. The musical sequences, the care and polish placed on them make this film much better than I expected.

And because it's a filled full of black people in georgia, you have to think about it in context to the slew of african american films out there. There is a class conversation, as the lead character lies about his origins in order to make it in white-collar new york city. There is a economic aspect, with everyone lured by the promise of money, but no more so than in any film. Most interesting is that idea of fake versus real. The movie made a less-than-obvious choice of not placing the lead character in a "Remember where you come from" attitude that is often loaded with questions about identity and blackness. Instead, the choice is between something that feels real to him (the love of a woman who forces him to tell the truth, the satisfaction of something that matters to others as well as to him, and the ability to build something within a context instead of a lonely condo apartment.) They could have gone many ways with this - the idea of following in his mother's/aunt's footsteps regarding making music his life or the more pointed "black folk need to not put on airs", but instead they let the last song explain that "all god's children. it's time to come home." Not that you can't escape the past, but that something is always waiting for you at home and that it can mean something.

It gets dicey at times - they play on the edge, as the lead character invites a south american origin, or describes very tony prep schools and colleges, and juggles credit card balances to appear successful, but it all ends up being the same - he is living in a world of being a fake, and when he comes home, and not through the music of the choir, but through the family that it recreates for him, he finds something that is real and that he can make his own. Its impossible to not see the black/white/class divides but the film makes a neat show of showing those divides and then putting them aside for the finale.

The opening.


Oh, T-Bone you hottie.

Burlesque - Simple, and not good.
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Here is a story. A midwestern girl down on her luck moves to the big city to follow her dreams. She finds a down on her luck older woman running a down on their luck show. Along the way, she meets the piano player, who is still waiting for his big break. There is the conniving star, who is holding it together just barely, the money troubles, and the rich man trying to steal it all. The older woman has no chance to give the farm girl a chance, and boom, her big break is everyone's gain.

Its a very old story. And a good one. One that is about choices, all of them, at their core, a choice between fantasy and reality where the resolution satisfies our need to not have to choose.

Sadly, Burlesque does its best to get in the way of the story every time. From fuzzy direction (the storyline seem to just happen and no attempt is to allow resonances between the fall and rise of the club, the rise and fall of the girl, or the differing motivations of the people who are a part of it), fuzzy editing (there is a bit where the male lead is drunk and comes out in funny pajamas - at least thats what i think she was laughing at, because he opened the door and it cut to her face and she looked away and laugh, and only when he came into the room did we see he was wearing silly little kid pajamas) and a throw-hands-up-in-the-air attitude about using musical numbers (lets make them performances, or intercut them, or plop a random torch song in without comment; oh hell why do we even need musical numbers in this movie?)

It was hard to figure out if the makers of the film thought the story too simple and changed it up, or if they just didn't know how to tell their story. The simplification i mentioned above is the movie inside the movie I saw; the movie i saw tweaked it for no reason - the songwriter/piano player is a bartender, with an off-screen girlfriend who shows up in one scene to strictly act as a false crisis (that's pretty false), the bad-guy-rich guy is actually not the "bad guy", he's just the "wrong guy." What? Why not make him a total bad guy - if he's not going to have a character, why not let him act as a rich scheming plot device? Why is the older-woman angle not played up more - give some meat to that story and justify the torch song instead of just plopping it down cause well, Cher needs a song. Also, why wasn't the down on her luck farmgirls' success directly leading to the club's success - instead using a "hey ms small business woman who lives in la - i'm going to, because i'm a farm girl, teach you about a quirk of real estate values."

If any show demanded a "one last big show to save the business, or end on a high note, but then magically during the last number, a series of events happen to lead us on forward, more importantly, tie up all the plots into the structural mantra of the show", it was this one. But that would have been too much like a "musical" or something.

In the end, one wishes that they had not spent the money and cultural capital on this movie, but instead got Cher, Christina Aguilera, Stanley Tucci and Alan Cummings to star in a remake of Kander & Ebb's Cabaret.

For No Reason
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Just Dance, SF, 2010



Originally uploaded by walkthelight.

SF
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</i>Bird, 2010

Originally uploaded by dLion Photography.
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For No Reason
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Glasses Make, SF, 2010

clashcityrocker, on biggercity

Originally uploaded by walkthelight.

For No Reason
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mmhmm, Louisville, 2010

Originally uploaded by walkthelight.


David
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David in Louisville, 2010

David, or dartin on b411

Originally uploaded by
walkthelight.


For No Reason
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one eye, 2010

Originally uploaded by walkthelight.


Ant
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Anthony in Seattle, 2010

Anthon13 on b411

Originally uploaded by walkthelight.</span>

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Glass
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Enjoy, 2010</p>

Originally uploaded by dLion Photography.

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Good Times
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had wherever, 2010

Originally uploaded by dLion Photography.

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Washington State
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Tree on the road, 2010

Originally uploaded by dLion Photography.

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Back from Washington State
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and all is well.


Forrest near Mt. Rainier, 2010

Forrest, as in bigbear on b411



Originally uploaded by walkthelight.

How dark is too dark?
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How dark is too dark? What are the limits of pitch black? Is it inky? Is it the darkest of chocolate pressed against your eyes? Is it a piece of thick cloth wrapped your face?

Or is it a mountain lodge near the base of Mt. Rainier, where cell phones die and cars become heavy trucks? Is it a small fire against a dense forest?

I am now, in a pool of light, ever small against total darkness. Snow is falling lightly; fat flakes out of thick clouds, darkening the night. Keeping any moon from joining my side against the dark. I'm on a back porch, light enough to see the motor home off to the right. I can hear the creek race by, occasionally a cat will meow from inside the house. Its so quiet that i can hear the tap of my fingers on "silent keys." It's a loud sharp sound in this night.

That pool of light feels so small. It covers me well, but fades quickly. Even the motor home, painted in white, is only a shape against the trees. The grass near me is full of shadows, being covered in the dark gray on snow. Beyond this space of warmth and light is nothing.

There are trees and creeks, a random animal, hills and foothills, places where the shadow of Mt. Rainier falls. There is nothing. There are other single frame homes, used to working off generators. There are tiny little fires from the wood-burning stoves. There is nothing. There are roads that curve through forest, and around lakes, and surround fields of nothing but white bare trees. Everytime i drive down these roads, it has been night and the darkness seems to hide from the hidelights between tree and bush. I see the light bounce off a tree but then be eaten up by the darkness in between trees. In that space, I see nothing.

It makes you think about nothing; about how dark is too dark, about how far your night would last in the dark, about what lives in the spots that eat the light. You also think about what watches in the dark; about how exposing the light can be, how easily revealed things in the light become when all else is dark.

It makes you turn off the dark, and just be dark for a while.

Handspring
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things get tight, 2010

Originally uploaded by dLion Photography.

Half
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Halves, SF, 2010

Where is your half?


Originally uploaded by walkthelight.

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Where?
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Walls in San Fran, 2010

Where do we go from here?
Originally uploaded by walkthelight.

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Waiting
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Waiting for.., SF 2010

So what happens now?
Another suitcase in another hall?

Originally uploaded by dLion Photography.


For No Reason
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Ken in San Fran, 2010
Ken, bearstitch on b411

Originally uploaded by walkthelight.
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For No Reason
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Pin, 2010



Originally uploaded by dLion Photography.

Confidence
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Confidence, 2010
originally uploaded by walkthelight.

How does one get it?


Today in Muir Woods
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0002_20101114_bt_muir_woods, originally uploaded by btaroli.

thanks, bill


I've lost the other piece.
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2010-1.jpg, originally uploaded by dLion Photography.

It makes me sad.


Me writing about fat people
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paladincub21
I decided to write a comment on EW's Popwatch blog about "Mike & Molly" - you can read about the hoopla here... - namely a writer at Marie Claire felt that it was disgusting that fat people make out on television and they shouldn't do that.

The article references Roseanne as a comparison that a show with fat people doesn't need to use fat jokes in order to be funny. I agreed, but disputing using Roseanne as an example as Roseanne was "a show with fat people in it and not a show about fat people." The distinction is important, even if in the end, both shows have to be good funny in order to be well good.

I take a bit of issue with you comparing Mike & Molly to Roseanne, as the shows are about different things.

There were clearly fat characters in Roseanne, but the show was never about their weight. This is neither a sign of quality or ignorance. It was a simple fact that their fat was incidental to the show. The show was an attempt to reveal how families worked outside of the usual white-collar television landscape. They needed to be “regular people.” The shock and awe that viewers had at seeing “fat people” on tv was entirely on us. Roseanne dealt with, at times, being ordinary and not being what other folks wanted her to be – but we never saw her working out, or having issues with food, or feeling unsexy because of her weight. And even more so, we never saw her husband deal with any weight issues at all.

Mike and Molly is different as it places the fat as front and center of the show. It is about two overweight people who meet and slowly and supposedly comically fall in love. It is difficult to make a show that is specifically about fat people and not mention that they are fat.

Do they need to repeat it 100 times every episode? Maybe. Do they need to only make fat jokes? Of course not, that’s boring. Do they need to be actually funny? yes, if they want to be successful.

The success of the show will depend on whether it’s good, but i think there is a conflating of issues here. The producers did decide to make the extra poundage part of the premise. you can argue it’s a bad premise, but in execution, it is what they are doing.

I’m not saying that Roseanne would have been the same with thin people – clearly, the casting added very much to the show, but there is a distinction between a show about fat people and a show with fat people in it

IT Gets Better
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