Random Factoid #141

16 12 2009

I probably could have milked a whole post out of this, but I needed a factoid today.

I did something this month that I hadn’t done in over 6 years: after seeing a movie based on a book, I went to the roots and read the book.  I read “Push” by Sapphire after seeing “Precious,” and I must say, I actually liked the book better.  I don’t agree with the statement, “The book is always better than the movie.”  Usually whatever you experience first, you like better, although it was not the case here.

Here’s a small bit of commentary: Sapphire’s novel gives us so much more insight into the fascinating character Precious.  Lee Daniels turns her into such a passive figure that we think little is going on inside her head, but in the book, she is quite the opposite.  We are able to feel how she feels during some incredibly despicable acts committed against her, and the movie did not quite get those sentiments across.





REVIEW: Precious

17 11 2009

Precious” joins a very selective group of movies that is able to sear its impact into your memory with a flaming hot brand, leaving a mark that will burn for a while and stay forever.  It will undoubtedly reign as this year’s most emotionally charged movie, packed with some of the most profoundly affecting scenes ever committed to celluloid.  The movie portrays the devastating heartbreak of Precious’ life with unflinching reality, but what I found equally remarkable in Lee Daniels’ movie is how glimmers of hope manage to shine through in even the darkest of situations.

Claireece “Precious” Jones (newcomer Gabourey Sidibe) leads the life that we imagine when we think, “Well, at least I don’t have it as bad as this person.”  She lives in poverty.  She is illiterate.  She is obese.  She is pregnant for the second time by way of her biological father.  She has an careless, lazy, and abusive mother (Mo’Nique in a performance that will make your jaw drop).  Worst of all, she thinks no one cares for her.  But despite her situation, she still dreams of a life where she can dance on BET and have a light-skinned boyfriend.  In these moments of reverie, Precious’ face lights up like a Christmas tree, and it is so heartbreaking for the audience to watch because we know that she will soon have to wake up and face the world which she can greet only with a sullen frown. Despite all the bleakness of her situation, she manages to stay somewhat optimistic, seeing the person who she wants to see when she looks in the mirror.  With some help from a compassionate teacher (Paula Patton) at her new alternative school and a social worker willing to go the extra mile (a very de-glammed Mariah Carey), Precious soon gains the courage not only to face her fears but to find a way to triumph over them.

Read the rest of this entry »





Oscar Moment: “Precious”

22 09 2009

Today, you get to witness the birth of something miraculous.  A new column is born out of Marshall’s avoidance of writing more reviews (there are 3 that will come down the pipeline soon, I promise!), the “Oscar Moment.”  Every time there is a big piece of news involving the Academy Awards or big Oscar candidate emerges, you can count on finding it here.

The inaugural “Oscar Moment” is centered around “Precious.”  The film has positioned itself as a virtual lock for a Best Picture nomination and a frontrunner for the win.  It has won the People Choice Awards at two of the most prestigious film festivals, Sundance and Toronto.  This is the first movie to have taken both awards.  I have been hearing nothing but raves about it for months, including from a friend of mine who saw it at Sundance earlier this year.  He describes it as one of the most emotionally wrenching movies he has ever watched and a marvel of filmmaking.  He also sang the praises of Mo’Nique, considered to be the one to beat in the Best Supporting Actress category this year, saying that he “has never felt such mixed emotions about a character.”

The movie is adapted from a novel by the author Sapphire, originally titled “Push.”  Unfortunately, due to a certain superhero movie that opened earlier this year, the movie chose to change its title to “Precious” after the main character.  Precious is an illiterate and obese teenager living in poverty in New York.  Bad enough for you yet?  She has an abusive mother.  Still not tough enough?  She is carrying her second child by her father.  Yet through all of this, Precious manages to maintain hope, dreaming of marrying a light-skinned boy and getting an education.

“Precious” tackles tough topics, and if it is anything like the trailer, we are in for a bumpy ride.  And I can’t tell if it is supposed to be uplifting at all.  Frankly, I don’t want to know.  But every piece about the movie that I have read has described it as an emotional roller coaster and a movie with such power that you have to get into the proper mental state to prepare yourself for viewing.  I certainly admire movies that are so affecting that I can only watch them once, such as “Schindler’s List,” “The Pianist,” and “Revolutionary Road.”  With the exception of the latter, they have found great success at the Oscars.  However, I think the content that “Precious” deals with may be too polarizing for a win.  But I can guarantee I will show up on opening weekend at my art house cinema with a pack of tissues, prepared to have my heart ripped out.

BEST BETS FOR NOMINATIONS: Best Picture, Best Director (Lee Daniels), Best Actress (Gabourey Sidibe), Best Supporting Actress (Mo’Nique), Best Adapted Screenplay