Maya Angelou: And Still I Rise
Such a touching documentary and so informative for anyone that is unaware of the mark Ms. Angelou left on the world. This documentary interviews family, friends, and famous colleagues if you will, all so we can get a better picture as to the complex person that Ms. Angelou, was. I truly believe the film succeeded in letting us in to her world. I left the film having sobbed, laughed, and questioning things. There were insightful cameos from Oprah, the Clintons, Alfre Woodard, Common, and Cicely Tyson. It’s always fascinating to see how other people perceive a person and how the experiences they share with said person differ from one another’s. I feel like Bob Hercules and Rita Coburn Whack did a great job co- directing and giving us a map of Ms. Angelou’s personality, life, and struggles. Brava!
Last year I lived in Morocco for 5 weeks to volunteer at an orphanage. I was mightily excited when I heard there was a film about a Moroccan woman who immigrates to France (prior to the start of the movie) and we as the viewer follow her experiences, I was also hesitant because I spoke with many Moroccan people when I was there, we talked about the westernization of their culture, pressures between different generations, and identity as Morocco is in Africa but the people are of Arab descent as well, they were colonized by the French and are 9 miles off the coast of Spain. I just didn’t want them to mess up a narrative of so many to be inauthentic but luckily it was not.
Fatima is a cleaning woman living in Paris with her older daughter who is studying to become a doctor and her younger daughter who is struggling, specifically with the fact that her mother does what she perceives to be demeaning work. While the woman who plays Fatima (Soria Zeroual) is not Moroccan (she’s Algerian, right next door), she is a real cleaning woman and is in no way a trained actress. This blew my mind as she gave such a convincing performance, they all did. The film shows the prejudice people have of women in hijabs, what it’s like to be the child of an immigrant, and watching your children embrace a culture completely different from your own. Most importantly, it shows the extent in which a good mother will go to give her children the best.
This Changes Everything
Terrifying, heart wrenching, sickening. This film follows a concept I truly had never thought of before, how climate change affects the impoverished people and under developed nations of the world. I will tell you I sobbed harder than I ever thought I could, granted I am a sensitive soul but this film manages to merge environmental activism and social justice activism seamlessly and breaks it down for any and everyone to understand. This should be a film (there’s a book too) that everyone should watch. The ending was a little too “wrap it up and tie it with a bow” for me, but it did showcase how the little guy cant stand up to big cooperation’s to take back our planet. Very powerful messages were shared.
Speaking of little guys, Little Men was a fantastic story about Jake( Theo Taplitz) and Tony (Michael Barbieri), two kids who are vastly different but befriend one another. Jake is 13 years old when his grandpa dies and his parents deiced they will move out of Manhattan and in to Brooklyn. The grandfather had owned a building in which Jake’s father and his aunt inherited. Below the apartment building is a little clothing shop run by Tony’s mother. As Brooklyn (much like Detroit) becomes hipper, the cost of living and renting space goes up. As you can guess, things get ugly when Brian (Jake’s dad) has to tell Leonor (Tony’s mom) that the rent is going to be more. As it goes, the stress from the parents eventually makes it’s way to the boys who had decided they would both be auditioning / applying for a spot at Julliard for high school. I found the ending very realistic and somewhat open ended, it was like we had glimpse in to a real life situation. Discussing things like gentrification is no easy task but this story manages to give a voice to both sides. No one is inherently evil or ill intended.
Theo (who played Jake) was there to talk of his experiences on his first feature film. He was only 12 when it filmed and mentioned how amazing it was to go to Sundance this year. It made the film even more realistic seeing him in the flesh and knowing he’s a normal seventh grader that took this role and made it something great.