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The Diva's Review of For Colored Girls (2010)

 

The Diva's review of
For Colored Girls (2010)

 

For Colored Girls
Rated;running time of 2 hours and 15 minutes
Genre: Drama
Written by: Tyler Perry’s adaptation of Ntozake Shange’s “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf” Directed by: Tyler Perry.
Cast: Janet Jackson, Thandie Newton, Phylicia Rashad, Loretta Devine, Anika Noni Rose, Kimberly Elise, Kerry Washington, Whoopi Goldberg, Tessa Thompson, Michael Ealy, Omari Hardwick, Hill Harper, Khalil Kain, Richard Lawson, Macy Gray.
Release Date: 11/05/2010

WARNING - SPOILERS BELOW.

The Digest

The lives of our characters all intersect within the walls of a New York City apartment building. Gilda (Phylicia Rashad) the apartment manager proves herself to be very very nosey, but with the best intentions at heart. Next door to her lives Crystal (Kimberly Elise), a young mother who is physically abused by her common-law-husband who suffers from PTSD (Michael Ealy). She works as an assistant to fashion magazine editor Joanna (Janet Jackson), who doesn’t treat her much better. When Joanna isn’t yelling at Crystal, she is emasculating her own husband. A few doors down from Crystal, lives bartender Tangie (Thandie Newton). Tangie has made her life distinctive by bringing home a different man every night and having screaming matches through her door with her *devoutly* religious mother, Alice (Whoopi Goldberg). Through Alice, we meet Tangie’s teenaged sister Nyla (Tessa Thompson). Nyla is the apple of her mother’s eye, but she is hiding a secret that could change her life forever and cut her promising dance career and college education short. Nyla’s dance career is being shepherded by dance teacher Yasmine (Anika Noni Rose). Yasmine eats, sleeps, and breathes dance. This is never more apparent than watching her interact with a suitor who is a little more aggressive than she would like, but she’s warming up to him. And lastly Juanita, she also lives in the building. She is nurse who tries to lead a common sense and no nonsense life, and yet her weakness is one man in particular. Even though she knows that he is no good for her, like a moth to a flame, there she goes right back into his arms.

After secrets come to light and a horrific tragedy comes about, each woman does a little bit of soul searching and in the end the help eash other find the miracle of hope.

The Dish

Okay let’s just get the Tyler Perry discussion out of the way. Personally, I think those who criticize Tyler aren’t looking at the big picture, no pun intended. Rather than hating on him. People need to take notes and study how he does it. Let’s remove the quality of his craftsmanship from the picture. We can all agree that he is not the most amazing screenwriter to ever grace the industry. We can all agree that his Madea’s movies aren’t Oscar worthy, they were never meant to be, to begin with. What’s important is that he has figured out the Hollywood machine and we, the black film going community, are the beneficiaries.

  • 1. Someone in Hollywood decided for a movie to truly be successful, it should make about 3 times its production budget. With the exception of For Colored Girls, I believe most of Tyler’s movies cost between 6-15 million to make and they routinely bring home 30 plus million from the box office. Why is this important? Hollywood is a basic animal. The only color it cares about is Green. Tyler is making the green so he can keep making the movies.
  • 2. Lionsgate. I’m not sure what the details of the deal, but it has been lucrative for both parties. I wouldn’t be surprised if Tyler has a first look/ first right of refusal with them. Or if he makes x of movies like “this” he can make “that”
  • 3. Tyler Perry. He writes the script and music, produces, and directs. He has his own studio and a distribution deal with Lionsgate. He has cut out the middle man. He can essentially get any movie that he wants made in under a year. He has the money to secure the rights, if he doesn’t write it himself. He doesn’t have to butt heads with a producer over casting and salaries. He doesn’t have to get in line to wait for a director to clear his schedule. He doesn’t have to wait for his turn on the sound stage. He doesn’t have to worry about securing the rights to a song. He just writes them himself (yeah they usually kinda suck, but their his) He doesn’t have to sit there and wait for a larger studio to buy and distribute his work, Lionsgaete seems happy to do it.
  • 4. From the standpoint of the film community, he is employing a lot of black folks. Like the hard working actors and actresses that we just don’t see often enough. These are the people who have honed their craft but just can’t seem to get a break.
  • 5. And finally black film goers. There are 2 generations of black folks who just weren’t going to the movies - my mother’s 60-ish group and my grandma’s 80-ish group. Now my mom will watch anything, but a lot of her friends just had no interest in the movies that appealed to my generation and these church going folk just didn’t want to see a lot of sex and violence and didn’t care for the cursing. They didn’t want to see a hip hop movie with crotch grabbing and booty shaking. These folks don’t consider “ass” “hell” “Damn” to be curse words and well, Uncle Joe’s weed smoking gets a pass “cuz” we all have an Uncle Joe. Heck we all have a Madea.

    okay now on to the actual movie. First of all, men need not apply. Seriously, the male image in this movie with one exception is pretty dismal. But that’s true to the poems as I remember them. Let’s put it in context, the play was created in the early 70s on the heels of black pride and women’s liberation; it was born in the womb of enlightenment and rear on a little bit of chaos, confusion, and controversy with a big ole scoop of self-awareness and pride. The 20 poems that were written have a sting. But that is their beauty. At any rate men are likely to be pissed. Tyler stayed as true to the poems (again, I’ve never seen the play) as I think he could have. I did find some flaws that I think might have come from the fact that he is a man telling a woman’s story. I’m not trying to blame the victim, BUT, personally I think it might be really hard for a completely naked man to get the drop on a fully clothed woman. Not impossible, but I tell you what, if a FULLY naked man comes at me when I am FULLY clothed, including shoes, I’m gonna do some damage. And he may just still get me, but not before I try to wring that thing like I’m killing a chicken. Not before I try to bend it like Beckham. Not before I try to play tether ball. Not in my own home where I know exactly where the knives are. Not where I know where the broom is. Not when I know where the frying pans are. I’m just saying.

    • To Delores, thank you for your comments. I recognize that some rape victims are paralyzed with fear. It is a very scary situation. But I have to maintain that in ones own environment and when faced with a completely naked man, somehow she could have  fought for her life. I just wanted her to *try*. Men are stronger. Fear is paralyzing. I know. But just *try*. In the end, I think this was more of a flaw on Tyler's part than anything. I think a woman would understand how empowering it would be to other women to see a female character go down swinging. I will also heed your advice and find the play. I have search far and wide and nothing.. but with the movie out now, maybe there will be more interest in the play. I truly hope so!

    I was also struck at how no one moved during the window incident. People move under windows during a fire all the time to try to catch whoever is coming out.

    Why didn’t the case worker come back with the police? If I’m called to a house and encounter that crazy and scary of a person, I’m calling for back up and removing those kids. Clearly he was out of control.

    I have a few other issues it. It’s deep to begin with, but I think Tyler Perry lays it on a bit thick.

    A lot of people are singing the praises of Janet Jackson and Thandie Newton. Not me. For me, the standout performances where the performances of Loretta Devine and Kimberly Elise -hands down no question. I found their stories to be more powerful. Crystal’s story for obvious reasons, but Juanita’s story because she is a woman who has her “ish” together and yet here she is time after time going back to the same man who is not worthy of her and to top it off, she knows this. She knows that she is making poor choices, but she just feels powerless to stop herself.

    And of course the “laying of the hands” when the women look at each other and there is a spoken and unspoken message between all of then that promises a new beginning and some heeling.

  • The Directive

    If there ever was something called a “chick flick” this is it. Fellas, just let your woman have a “girls night” and I suggest you lay low for a minute.

  •  

     3BC Ratingsflashing yellow light

     

     

    For Colored Girls is a powerful movie that isn’t just for “Colored Girls” all women will see the value in it, just take a designated driver because you just might need a drink when its all said and done.
    Copyright Kamal "The Diva" Larsuel-Ulbricht, 2010
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