Thursday, November 21, 2013

Precious: Based on the Novel "Push" by Sapphire (2009)

Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by SapphireI meant to write a review of "Precious" even before I watched it. Lots of times, writing the review is more satisfying than watching the film. This is harder. I felt my heart constrict in the first scene of Precious. My eyes and temple began to throb. I could scarcely catch my breath the rest of the way through the film. "Life" requires too much of us sometimes. Sometimes even a simulation of Life requires too much.

Improbable as it may seem, coming from a retired classical musician like me, who has lived fairly well most of his life, a lot of the misery portrayed in Precious is horribly familiar and real. The poverty and brutishness and the haplessness of both takers and givers of "welfare" are not exaggerated here. Yeah, things seldom move that quickly or that much in 'real time', and yeah, Precious's classmates evolve from intolerable to empathetic as if by miracle. But the story line isn't very central to this film, or rather to my response to this film, which is all Sorrow for all of us, from Precious to Queen Elizabeth II. Life hurts too much. The rosy glow of Hope in "Precious", which some critics have applauded and some derided, is more light than warmth. There really isn't much chance for that girl-woman in the film, except for the one-in-sixty-million chance that she'll be discovered by a film maker.

"Precious" had a hundred times the impact on me that "The Hurt Locker" had. But I can't sit in judgment on the "art" of it as cinema. For sure, I won't forget it as quickly as I do most films.

Hype is often undeserved, especially when it comes to films. Add to the fact that PRECIOUS had Oprah attached to it and you might back off even further. But there's no need. This film, for all intents and purposes, is a phenomenon that deserves your attention.

Garnering two Academy Award wins and multiple, smaller award show prizes, Precious is ...well ...precious. The story could've gotten dark and downright depressing. I mean, we're talking about an abused, overweight teenager who's now into her second pregnancy (incestuous pregnancy, I might add), and one can see where you could surmise this to be a gloom-and-doom movie. It isn't. It's hopeful and surprisingly upbeat. And it's well-acted by a veritable group of unknowns.

In the prime role of Precious we have Gabby Sidibe, a first time wannabe actress who serendipitously found the casting location and locked in the role. She was the perfect choice, and gave off a sense of foreboding and hope throughout the film's length. Her flattened emotional state at home, where she's abused by her mother, contrasts perfectly with her life outside where she's trying to better herself against tremendous odds.

But if Gabby was perfect, the woman who played Mary (her Mother) was ...beyond perfection. Mo'Nique (Beerfest) pulls in the performance of a lifetime. Uneducated, uninspired, confused, and ill-equipped to deal with just about anything, Mo'Nique played the part so beastfully that it was sometimes hard to watch what she might do next. She was the perfect manipulator.

Director Lee Daniels is one of those people who aren't afraid to steer directly into the path of controversy, and does so here with an able hand. You may have heard of his other successes; things like Monster's Ball and The Woodsman. No? Then I highly recommend you check them out if you enjoyed Precious.

I would warn parents, though, that Precious has a very appropriate R rating attached. The scenes of incest (although short-lived) are vivid, and there's liberal use of violence against infants and teens, as well as language that'd make a p0rn-star blush. But all of it is done in an appropriate context, never for shock value.

Precious deserves your attention. Not because it won an award, or because Oprah's attached to it. It deserves to be watched because there are too many kids out there going through this very same ordeal in social silence. Shame, despair, and anger eat at these kids. It's a miracle any of them come out the other side in a functional manner. Which is why Precious will inspire you.

Buy Precious: Based on the Novel "Push" by Sapphire (2009) Now

It's hard to know what to say about this movie and this review isn't going to be some in-depth analysis. There are plenty on those all over the web from every Doctor So-and-So you can imagine; this is just the thoughts of a common, garden variety movie-watcher.

The first thing that struck me about Precious was how well everyone played their role, even Mariah, though to be fair her part is barely more than sitting and nodding now and then, but she sat and nodded very believably!

The second thing I noticed was that the movie seemed to be incredibly racist and as a white American I thought, "Maybe I've just been programmed to think that everything is racist because we live in an overly sensitive society where if you say anything about anyone who isn't white, you're a racist." So I don't know. I'll try to explain.

*All the Other Reviews Have Already Spoiled the Entire Plot, So These Aren't Really Spoilers, but I'll Warn You Anyway*

FIrstly, I found it very odd that everyone in the movie seemed to have a decidedly "ho-hum" attitude towards the fact that Precious had two kids by her HIV-positive father. Her teacher, guidance counselor, whoever were all completely non-plussed by this news that should have been stomach-churning. It's like the movie was trying to say that it's completely normal and boring for poor black kids to be having their father's AIDS babies. Really? I don't know about that message...

And how many "stereotypically poor black" problems did Precious have to have? Did she really have to be on welfare, illiterate, a failure at school, pregnant, fat, the victim of child abuse as well as sexual abuse AND HIV-positive? Man! Really? They couldn't have picked, like, three? Too bad there wasn't time in the movie for her to join a gang and go to prison! Maybe in the sequel. All I'm saying is that even though I am white, I grew up in a very poor, predominantly black part of town and none of the kids I went to school with (most of whom were black) had half of the problems this movie suggests are normal for all poor black people. Certainly all of them could read.

And it is also somewhat interesting to note that all of the light-skinned, thin characters in the movie are intelligent, well-spoken, compassionate and educated while all the frumpy, dark-skinned characters are stupid, illiterate, helpless, full of self-loathing and completely broken in every conceivable way, not to mention only able to be saved by the light-skinned, thin characters who have everything together in their lives.

Is the film racist? I don't know. I'm not a thinker; I'm just a watcher. But I will say that I am not the type of person who sees racism in everything. I think the whole race thing in this country is completely blown way out of proportion, but this movie? It's hard to look at it and not see a lot of strange stuff going on. And I really cringe when I see people saying, "This movie is so true!" There's no way any of this can be "so true" for more than just the smallest, tiniest percentage of the US population. Like probably less than .0000001 percent of the US population has Precious' life and the way the movie brazenly hints that her life is a wide-spread epidemic that most if not all black people would identify with is not good, in my opinion.

And I do think the movie is really bad for all the racist people who are out there and who have already latched onto this as their proof that this is "the way inner-city black people really are". This in no way should be used as a guidebook to how any group of people "really is". Even though, of course I guess a lot of black people probably think that Napoleon Dynamite is how most white people really are. So it balances out, I guess. Ha.

Read Best Reviews of Precious: Based on the Novel "Push" by Sapphire (2009) Here

This movie is unbelievable. Monique's performance is worth the Oscar she got for it. I made my daughter watch it because I needed her to see what some people go through including her own mother. Sometimes you cant find the words and movies (and books) will say it for you.

Want Precious: Based on the Novel "Push" by Sapphire (2009) Discount?

On the surface "Precious" could be another sad movie about tragic circumstances of the poor, uneducated, etc. What I walked away with from the movie was the following:

1) the complexity of victimization, that in this society in an effort not to resolve the true core issues of our day, we spend all our focus on painstakingly analyzing why the victim is in the circumstances they find themselves and how its their fault. In Precious, we witness the victimization of a young girl, and not till the end do we see the victimization of the mother, and we see nothing of the victimization of the father.

2) failures of a society, that in a society that doesn't spend all its resources in maximally developing its citizenry, but instead creates multiple layers of winners based on categories of class, race, education, wealth and sex you instead maximize victimization. Obviously a highly victimized society, were any victim can then turn perp, but for the most part doesn't turn activist is one that can be better managed and controlled and continually denied basic dignity.

3) choices, that each and every day we all have the choice to make our lives and the lives of others better from our vantage point. On our job when someone is being targeted, do you have the courage not to join in for fear you will be next. In your relatoinship when it becomes clear that it has taken an unhealthy turn, do you have the courage to seek support and the relationship's end instead of allowing the robbing of years of your life. As a professional doctor, lawyer, officer, etc. with the special priviliedges you enjoy in this society, your actions can be catastrophic to an individual's life, do you have the courage to not fall into the trap of feeling that the lives of others don't count, and therefore don't warrant your compassion or whatever real and safe assistance at your disposal.

4) justice, that each and everyone on this planet is deserving and in so believing that all of our resources must be brought to bear in order to bring about peace, justice, and the upliftment of life wherever we find ourselves. That it is not victims that are weak for they have truly survived unimaginable horrors, weakness are in the actions of the perp who neither possess the compulsion or imagination to do something other than harming/maiming/raping or killing of others as well as those who simply walk away (physically or mentally) when their resources could be of use.

Precious wasn't simply about the abuse of a young black girl; it was about the abuse and victimization of all people everywhere. I commend the writers, producers, actors and actresses, etc. having the courage to make this movie and in so doing make a statement.

Now what are we going to do??

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