It is tempting to call Pariah this year’s Precious, since both movies have three major things in common: great acting, great directing and an enormous amount of critical acclaim. Pariah, however, exercises much more restraint than Precious, especially when it comes to cultural or thematic stereotypes. These stereotypes tend to develop in both films unfortunately, due to the fact they are set in worlds that much of the viewing audiences have never seen. Pariah’s strength lies is its ability to cover serious social issues with such deft that one does not consciously realize they are being referenced. The central focus steadily remains upon its main character, Alike (Adepero Oduye), and her dubious relationship with her mother, Audrey (Kim Wayans).
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Tags: Adepero Oduye, Brooklyn, conflicting identities, culture, Dee Rees, entertainment, gay, Kim Wayans, lesbian, LGTB, media, New York, Oscar contender, Pariah, sexual expression, Spike Lee
Tags: "The Help", 1492 Pictures, Allison Janney, Bryce Dallas Howard, Chris Columbus, Chris Lowell, culture, DreamWorks Pictures, Emma Stone, entertainment, Hughes Winborne, Imagenation, Kathryn Stockett, Mark Radcliffe, media, Michael Barnathan, Mike Vogel, Octavia Spencer, Participant Media, Reliance Entertainment, Stephen Goldblatt, Tate Taylor, Thomas Newman, Touchstone Pictures, Viola Davis
Every year or so, a beloved title from the New York Times’ Best Seller List is greenlit for the royal Hollywood treatment. This fate is not always for the best. In fact, the proverbial glass is often half-empty. For every critical darling, there is also an ill-portrayed pariah. Thus, adaptations, like any surgery, must be done with great care.
Tags: culture, David Foster"I Didn't Know My Own Strength", Diane Warren, entertainment, I Look to You, media, Whtiney Houston
The first (unofficial) single from Whitney Houston’s long-awaited I Look to You leaked onto the web today. And the song is aptly-titled: “I Didn’t Know My Own Strength.”
While the song may not feature the vocal acrobatics of “the old Whitney,” who emerged twenty-five years ago, the Diane Warren composition is an inspirational testimony of Whitney’s successful victory over her personal demons and dramatic episodes.
Some fans may find David Foster’s production to be “basic,” by contemporary standards, but the arrangement places the focus where it should be: on Whitney’s voice.
To be certain, Whitney doesn’t razzle and dazzle, as she has done on classic cuts, like “I Will Always Love You.” But the “strength” of her performance proves, once and for all, that she can still sing. And that, in and of itself, is a major blessing (and selling point), since the absolute “worst” was feared and—to a certain degree—expected.
If given a proper release, I wouldn’t be surprised to find “Strength” on Gospel stations across America, similar to Mariah Carey’s introspective “Fly Like a Bird” (2006). In fact, the beautifully understated production seems like the perfect set-up for a spine-tingling live performance at the MTV Music Awards, which will take place around the time of her album’s release: September 1, 2009.
Hopefully, mainstream stations will embrace “Strength” as well, in the midst of these trying economic times, because radio could really use a song with substance that inspires the masses to become their better selves.
Although Whitney did not write the lyrics to “Strength,” Diane Warren informed VIBE Magazine that she wrote the song specifically for Houston. The chorus is as follows: “I didn’t know my own strength / And I crashed down, and I tumbled / But I did not crumble / I got through all the pain / I didn’t know my own strength / Survived my darkest hour / My faith kept me alive / I picked myself back up / Hold my head up high / I was not built to break / I didn’t know my own strength.”
So far, amongst my peers at least, reactions to Whitney’s “comeback” single have been fairly mixed. No matter your take, I am simply happy that she has found her “strength” in God, who watches over us all. May I Look to You bring Ms. Houston much success!