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The Great Debaters (2007)
Martin Luther King, Jr. said "Black Is Beautiful." So is "Gay Pride."
"The Great Debaters" is all about civil rights and social justice being denied to the black people. Today, we refer to blacks as African Americans. This movie is about the black civil rights leaders as great debaters during their youth in the late 1930's.
I wept throughout the entire showing of this movie. I hated what my white people did to the American Negro. I felt dirty and uncomfortable because earlier I was making fun of a telephone representative from the deep south talking with a black accent that I had difficulty understanding.
Though I am white, I identified on a gut level with the black characters in this movie because I am gay. The movie churned up feelings deep inside of me that go way back to my youth. Today, gay people are suffering the same kind of civil rights denial that was done -- and still is being done but to a lesser degree -- to African Americans.
Remember all the cruel jokes about black civil rights leaders: "What do white washing machines have in common with white southern states? Black agitators." Ha! Ha! This joke is not funny. Neither are the anti-gay jokes being mouthed by bigots today.
The African Americans were actually fortunate because they couldn't hide what made them different. There are not that many very light skin African Americans that can pass for being white. Martin Luther King, Jr. consider the fact that a black person cannot hide in a "black closet" a strength rather than a weakness. He convinced his people that "Black is beautiful"!
Most of my friends, whom I grew up with, were macho and could hide in the "Gay Closet." Because I never was super macho, everybody knew I must be gay. I was a borderline "Bird Cage" star. This proved to be my strength instead of my weakness. It made me an outspoken advocate for "Gay Pride." Also, I love getting attention. If I cannot get attention playing football, I can with my writing talent and being campy.
I will not spoil the end of this movie for you. However, I was joyful and tremendously sad at the same time during the ending of the film. I did not know whether to laugh or cry. I actually stood up in the theater and joyfully cheered the great debaters on.
After the movie, I called a Puerto Rican friend to tell him about my emotional roller coaster experience in seeing this outstanding movie. I couldn't talk to him. I wanted to apologize as to how some of my bigoted former friends treated Puerto Ricans as well as the black people. I sobbed out-of-control over the phone. I told him that I am not only crying for the African Americans and Puerto Ricans, but also for the gay people who are now being singled out for prejudice and segregation in Puerto Rico.
It seems like the vast majority of the straight people are against gay people as the vastmajority of Americans were against the African Americans. This anti-gay straight majority wants us to remain silent. Disappear in one enormous Puerto Rican anti-gay closet.
Martin Luther King, Jr. said "Black Is Beautiful." So is being gay or a Puerto Rican! If you don't agree with me, see the movie "The Great Debaters." It may make you think more about your democracy and to speak up loud and clear for your civil rights!
August Rush (2007)
"August Rush" touched something buried deep inside my soul seventy six years ago.
This movie "August Rush" really touched my soul. I was an orphan and identified with this child's yearning and searching for his parents. Near the end of the movie, I started to cry like a baby. "August Rush" touched something tender buried deep inside my soul seventy-six years ago.
My father was killed in a car accident three days before I would have celebrated my third birthday. My father was also Irish and looked a lot like August Rush's father. It was during the Great Depression and my mother gave me up to the county's foster care agency.
I am now seventy-nine years of age. How I yearned down through the years for my parents, especially my Irish father. My mother was French. I met her many years later in New York City when I was in my early twenties. She was cold and rejecting towards me. I could not understand why. I was abandoned a second time by one of my parents.
The movie "August Rush" was healing to my soul wounded since early childhood;and again, in my early twenties. I knew where he was coming from as he longed for his parents. Instead of music, I used my talent of writing to deal with the lost of my parents.
"August Rush" made me fantasize during the movie that my yearning and searching for my parents were like this remarkable child.
Watching this movie was like having a session on the couch with my Jewish analyst...
This is no way a typical "cowboys vs. outlaws" movie. It is a wonderful study of characters. What made me uncomfortable watching this movie is the other leading character Coward Robert Ford. In the movie, he is referred to as "Bob." In looks (my younger days) and mentality, I strongly identified with Bob in the movie. It was like taking a Fourth Step Personal Inventory in a 12th Step Program. This is the way I behaved in my youth. I was sort of a coward when it came to physical contacts but not in expressing myself with words. With words, I have always been courageous and even foolhardy.
I was attracted to men like Jesse James in this movie. I had friendships with Mafia hoods while living in Brooklyn Heights, New York City. The higher up in the Mafia, the more I wanted to be their friend. They wanted to be with me because I was their alter ego. I was the smart college, advertising talent and goody-goody-two-shoes never committing crimes and even being truthful. Yet, they did not trust me as Jesse James, on a gut level, did not trust Robert (Bob) Ford.
Watching this movie was like having a session on the couch with my Jewish analyst who looked a lot like Woody Allen.
2 Days in Paris (2007)
True love comes about by knowing one another with honesty and acceptance.
I saw "2 Days In Paris" today. It was like going to an AA meeting or any group therapy session to live more spiritually. It is all about relating, being honest and accepting others for what they really are and not what you want them to be.
Actually it is not a movie about Paris.The entire film could have been done in locations other than Paris. I was surprised by the movie. I was expecting a lot of action and a complicated plot or story line taking place all over Paris. Instead, it was mainly two characters who are maybe in love with each other but need to open new doors to make their love possible or to be able to be fully realized.
This unmarried couple discovered that, though they profess loving one another and enjoying lots of sex and love making, they actually did not know one another. True love comes about by knowing one another with honesty and acceptance.
The film has a slice of life story line. There is actually no definite beginning or end. It was more a segment of living by two young people trying to relate to each other. Since it was a slice of life story line, I was not able to anticipate when the movie would end. However, I accepted the movie's ending when it did happen.
I recommend this movie to anyone who wants insights on how to have a spiritual and non-judgemental relationship with another person. It is the kind of truth that one discovers in AA and other twelve-step programs.
"2 Days In Paris" is not dull or boring. The movie made me feel alive and realize that at my age of seventy-nine that I still have a lot spiritual growth ahead of me. Self-honesty and accepting life on God's term is a process of living that never ends.
The History Boys (2006)
Gays and straights should see "The History Boys" to learn about love and tolerance.
Gays and straights should see "The History Boys" to learn about love and tolerance.
I saw "The History Boys" yesterday at The Fine Arts - Popular Center in San Juan, Puerto Rico. It is excellent. If you have a closed or narrow, rigid mind, don't go. In order not to be offended by the language, you need to be a Metro Man or a Metro Woman. It is downright blunt at times. The blunt language is not to be shocking or porno, but to be brutally honest and upfront about important perceptions concerning love and tolerance.
I had a little trouble getting into the movie in the very beginning scenes. Too much was going on all at once. However, as soon as it involved the teenage boys having a one-on-one "educational" discussion with the out-of-the-closet gay teacher, the movie grabbed me and kept me until the very end.
There is one powerful scene where the teacher discusses a poem with a gay student. This gay student is also Jewish but his gayness is what makes him different. There is an outstandingly handsome black student who is accepted in the school without conditions. A Moslem who is accepted as the black student is. A young, newly hired teacher is in the closet and does not know it. This new teacher can be completely honest with his teaching history but not with his own life. There are many very British types who are the complete opposite of American homophobes. There was no spiritually sick prejudice of diversity among these eight teenagers. They got along beautifully with each other. They had a wonderful respect for each person's uniqueness.
Gays and straights should see "The History Boys." It is not a gay movie per se. It is more a movie about being a loving and caring human being. It is about being true to one's self. I hope the day will come when more people in Puerto Rico and the states, especially the anti-gay bigots and religious zealots, will have the tolerant perceptions of these eight teenage boys in Yorkshire, England, in 1983.
La fiesta del Chivo (2005)
"La Fiesta del Chivo" ("Feast of the Goat") actually frightened me.
The movie "La Fiesta del Chivo" ("Feast of the Goat") actually frightened me.
I retired to Puerto Rico in 1986. Most of my life I lived in New York State. I traveled frequently and extensively for more than 30 years around the United States doing trade shows for large global companies. More recently, I visited the Dominican Republic a few times. I know many Dominicans living in Puerto Rico. Furthermore, I vacationed through Latin and South America. I learned from this experience the difference between a Latino and an American political culture. The movie "La Fiesta del Chivo" ("Feast of the Goat") actually frightened me.
This movie is a about the brutal reign of Rafael Trujillo, the Dominican dictator, from 1930 up 1961 when he was assassinated. Rafael Trujillo was most definitely the "Devil" reincarnated. He was without a doubt a cruel psycho completely without decency or compassion for others. His specialty was to use his power to rape underage girls and degrade subordinates for petty reasons. Many of them would not dare protest. His subordinates followed him out of fear combined with greed that he may throw them a few crumbs as he robbed the economy of the Dominican Republic.
What disturbed me the most about the movie is that I got the feeling that if Puerto Rico were not under the territorial clause of the United States Constitution, it could easily be ruled today by a dictator like Rafael Trujillo, Batista or any of the other Latin American dictators. The only Spanish-language republic in South and Latin America, which never had a dictatorship, is Costa Rica.
The reason why Costa Rica was able to cultivate a national culture or mentality for continuous democracy is because it was never under the strong influence of Spain. It was left alone because it did not have gold or other mineral resources and was out of the way in the high mountains. It was isolated enough to avoid Spain's negative influence on its political development to be a democracy.
I often wonder if these Spanish cultures of Latin Ameria do not understand how government by the people, of the people and for the people functions. What is frightening is that the overwhelming majority of the Dominican people worshiped and blindly loved the brutal dictator Rafael Trujillo. When he was assassinated, hundreds of thousands of Dominican people mourned and wept because of his death. Only a few knew or wanted to believe that he was the devil reincarnated. Only a very few Dominicans were joyful about his death.
I will not bother to mention names, but here in Puerto Rico today there is group of political power brokers who have a leader capable of becoming a "Puerto Rican Trujillo." What stops this from happening is the presence of the United States Justice Department in Puerto Rico. I would not want to live in Puerto Rico if it was not under the American flag.
The irony of history is that the United States government during the period of Rafael Trujillo's undemocratic rule actually supported him. They supported him because they decided he would keep the Dominican Republic from becoming communist. Trujillo knew how to use the fear factor to con the administrations of the United States, regardless of whether they were Democratic or Republican presidents, to support him as a leading Latin America anti-communist. He gave the false impression that he had a pro-America foreign policy.
Unlike the Dominican Republic during the Cold War years, the United States government today is actually a safeguard to keep a dictator from coming to power in Puerto Rico. Since my arrival in 1986, there has been a steady parade of territorial officials being investigated, convicted and sent to federal prison for federal crimes. The parade is still going on. This process of federal investigations keeps the want-to-be "Rafael Trujillo's" from getting too powerful.
Behind his back, the opponents of Trujillo refer to him as "The Goat." Currently, here in Puerto Rico one of the top government officials is also called "The Goat." (Can you guess who he is?) If the United States Justice Department and the U.S. Congress did not have the power of the"Territorial Clause of the United States Constitution," I would fear this Puerto Rican official called "The Goat" as I did "La Chivo" in this excellent movie.
Man of the Year (2006)
"Man of the Year" gave me hope that we can elect a "Man of the People" for president in 2008.
I would not say "Man of the Year" is worthy of an Academy Award, but I am glad that I saw it. It is not a movie for someone who takes life too darn seriously or cannot relax and enjoy mild slapstick humor. The nerds will not enjoy it. Neither would the bigots and zealots who support the current Jester in the White House.
However, someone like me who is disgusted with our politicians in Washington, D.C. and in San Juan, Puerto Rico, would have hope while viewing this movie, that we could elect not only a "Man of the Year" but "A Man of the People" to lead our national and state (territory for Puerto Rico) governments.
I kept thinking during the movie that Robin Willim's character Tom Dobbs is a lot like Barack Obama one of the current senators from Illinois. I know Barack Obama is not a comedian yet he is not a phony humorless, self-serving power broker. I fantasized during the movie that if Tom Dobbs can be elected president, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton could end up in the White House. I don't care which of the two would be president or would be vice president as long as we have both of them as a partnership in the White House.
We now have a self-serving, stupid, silly Joker in the White House who is for the self-interests and not for the people. "Man of the Year" allowed me to experience the possibility that there is hope we can elect in 2008 for president either "A Man of the Year" or "A Woman of the Year" who are truly compassionate human beings with a sense of humor and love for the people.