Saturday, February 27, 2010

"Tales From Two Cities"

Over the past days, I've seen 2 films, both with urban settings: in Harlem, NY (the late '80's) AND in Liverpool, UK (PostWar-mid '60's).

"Time And The City" is a film about Liverpool by Terence Davies. It's his personal eulogy to his home city. He's speaking out: he's stressing things we've lost, he's stressing things that replaced them.
It's a tribute to L'pool's past (and clearly his own): to its buildings and streets, its working class men, women and children, its Dockers, its sailors, typists and shopkeepers....even its dogs, who pop constantly from doorways... linger often at derelict corners.

All appear in pictures to, colour...against a backdrop of music, almost TOO rich(?)...popsong to folk song to Bruckner...... with poems and prose read by Davies himself, in deep chocolate-brown tones...brimming with images of a Catholicism he regretted, a sexuality he questioned, a Monarchy he his loss of the sense of Family and Community...their precious place in the world....

ALL THOSE CHANGES, wrought in L'pool over sixty long years....And Davies, of course, reveals much of himself at every turn..

AND SO MUCH TO SEE: Elderly ladies: scrawniest of ankles..dark coated/hatted, whatever season..and always the shopping bag.... the beauty of so-slender street children playing (ragamuffins, my dad would say)...long-legged, sure-footed city kids ... and all that moving kindness exposed ( big sister "minding" little brother ) tatty shops and cramped houses..everywhere a surplus of decency .... amid the constant cleaning of windows, the carrying home of The Wash...the neighbourliness on the spotless step ....the support for each other....the grief, the celebrations...
A film worth every award on the screen.

ALSO saw: "Precious" based on the novel " Push" by Saphire.
It's set in Harlem ('87) home to 16year old Precious, mother of 1 (and mothertobe )...
She's abused by her father, attacked by her mother...She wishes for "a lightskinned boyfriend with real nice hair" ....
She's dark skinned, big eyed, hefty Precious...whose moral code is strong and vibrant, wise and honest (despite all she contends with)...who has friends like crazy Joann (Xosha Roquemar) whose favourite colour is " fluorescent beige"! ...
She's Precious (who says in her eerily wonderful wisdom): " Some folks have a lot of things around them that shines for other people..."
Superb acting from Gabourey Sidibe as Precious , also by BAFTA winning Mo'Nique as her mother, the wicked pathetic Mary.
And of course, there was Mariah Carey, who purposely hadn't "scrubbed up well" ...but looked very well Mrs Weiss, the bigeyed mousily clad social worker..

2 extra special films, leaving my thoughts in Harlem streets and Liverpool yards..


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