Duvernay Arrives at a Poignant Place in ‘Middle of Nowhere’

Ava DuVernay has emerged as the darling of the Black independent film movement. Her finely crafted second feature, Middle of Nowhere, earned the filmmaker the distinction of the first African American female to win Best Director at the Sundance Film Festival 2012. The film made its New York debut at the Urbanworld Film Festival in September, and during the Q&A, the moderator praised DuVernay for organizing film festivals and lobbying for the release of Black independent films via the African-American Film Releasing Movement or AaFFRM. That Middle of Nowhere opened this weekend to the biggest per screen average adds to her laurel wreath.

In Middle of Nowhere, DuVernay stages a moving drama that investigates the consequences of isolation. DuVernay tells a story specifically about women of color and their management of incarceration that entails long bus rides to prison compounds in the middle of nowhere. No doubt, the film critiques the well-known fact that the prison system undermines the family structure. “I know women who actually do have men who are incarcerated,” says DuVernay, “[imprisonment] is epidemic in black and brown communities.” This epidemic has a strong correlation to the auction block, a horrific practice throughout the plantation regime that separated enslaved families of African descent for profit.

With proficient style, DuVernay centers the story on Ruby (Emayatzy Corinealdi) and Derek (Omari Hardwick), a young married African American couple whose choices have thrust them out of their marital bliss into the prison system. Derek is sentenced to eight-years for running guns; Ruby’s strong faith in the possibility for Derek’s early release for good behavior holds the marriage together. She convinces Derek to invest in her blueprint for handling their predicament. He will follow every rule; she will quit medical school and work at night. Her schedule will allow her to take his daily phone calls. They will write frequently; and, she will visit him every week. Derek protests, “keep going with life! I don’t want you to stop for me, baby!” Ruby reminds him, “you are me.” All goes well until Ruby learns disheartening news during his parole hearing.

The visual acuity of cinematographer Bradford Young brings to life the brilliance of DuVernay’s story. A lone bus carrying family members pierces a road leading to the prison compound that is shaded in a muted tan and hazy ice blue setting. Young’s bird’s eye shot of the bus and the barbed wire establishes the desolate environment. Outside, silence permeates as visitors lean against a chain-link fence waiting for entry. Inside, buzzers grate on the nerves, and the clang-clank of iron cell doors echo throughout the prison structure, compliments

Cinematographer Bradford Young

of sound editors Rickley Dumm (Twilight; Sparkle) and Craig Polding (2012: Ice Age). As the film progresses, Young’s use of the ‘close-up’ is considerable yet admirably efficient. Hues of midnight and dusky blues along with deep browns and golden amber compliment Young’s capture of the expressions of joy, anxiety, tenderness, and seduction. A sprinkle of flashbacks provide glimpses into Ruby’s and Derek’s history; and, selective focus combined with the close-up draw attention to the difficult choices Ruby has to make when Brian (David Oyelowo) enters her life. In addition to using the ‘close-up’ to emphasize intense emotions, Young exploits the film form to expand the terrain of intimacy. His expansion includes visuals of Ruby and her mother (Lorraine Toussaint); and Ruby and her sister, Rosie (Edwina Findley) in conversation. “The human body is like a landscape,” says Young, “and I wanted to stretch this idea of intimacy; I start with the ‘close-up’ and then move away.” An example of Young’s cinematic stretch comprehends Ruby’s and Derek’s vulnerable state that you want to touch the screen and hug the couple.

Corinealdi and Hardwick embody the confinement that has intruded upon their characters’ lives. Hardwick, especially, carries the weight of confinement with interior depth and strength. In the course of Ruby’s visits, he carefully monitors each physical and verbal gesture that we feel the emotional tightrope

Derek and Ruby discuss strategies for serving time.

on which he walks. Corinealdi plays a vivacious Ruby against Hardwick’s restraint with splendid charm, and her performance sustains the zest for the possibilities.

The filmmaker’s small but noteworthy acknowledgement of one of the culprits behind the tear in the seam of this marriage accompanies DuVernay’s story. One evening, the sisters contemplate Derek’s decision to run guns—an operation which enhanced the couple’s economic status. In one line of dialogue, Ruby accedes to her sister Rosie, “I made him think I’d really be happy with all of that stuff.” What is this “stuff”? One moment in pop culture history could offer some insight. The advent of music videos and television programs such as Sex in the City, The Game, Cashmere Mafia and Lipstick Jungle, cultivated consumer desire for material goods, chiefly, all things designer, if not, haute couture. Designers such as Coach, Manolo Blahnik, Christian “Loubou” Louboutin, Gucci, and Louis Vuitton gained widespread currency in households. Ruby and Derek drop down into this culture, and conceivably “got caught up” in the acquisition of things.

Middle of Nowhere truly is a cinematic accomplishment, and with the talent attached, the film has matured into a very lovely creation. The opening weekend attests to that! Casting Agent, Aisha Cooley, deserves applause for a finely cast film.

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‘Madea’s Witness Protection’ – A Review

Each installment of the Madea franchise guarantees the restoration of order in the landmine of the domestic sphere. Be it the punishment of an impertinent young adult or the reprimand of distracted parents who allow her to act out, we count on Madea’s courage to speak the truth. When she accepts the challenge, she is pardoned for every inane comedic antic. For instance, in Madea’s Family Reunion, we flinch when she reaches in the back seat of the car (butt to camera) to slap the disrespectful runaway Nikki (Keke Palmer). All is forgiven, however, when she inspires Nikki to believe in herself. We excuse the two punches in the face to the rude black male teenager at 3:00 who yells out “shut-up old lady” on the school bus in that same film. In Madea’s One Big Happy Family, she drives her Cadillac through a fast food restaurant but we absolve her of that when she delivers a back-handed slap to H.J. (Stevie Wash, Jr.) for his ill-manners towards her and when she demands that the parents take back their authority within their own household. We forgive her because Perry made her our own mediator in chaos, and we know that she loves us.

Madea’s Witness Protection, however, showcases a Madea with a different approach to chastising white young adults. In addition, the casting of Denise Richards recalls a certain moment in Black film history. These choices bring to relief a film-viewing uneasiness. In summary, Cindy Needleman (Danielle Campbell), daughter of George Needleman (Eugene Levy) and step-daughter to Kate (Denise Richards), is a white teenager who is abruptly thrown into the witness protection program. Her father was set-up to take the fall for a mob-backed Ponzi scheme. The prosecutor (Tyler Perry) hides them in Madea’s house under witness protection, and it is there that Cindy acts out.

Cindy, (Danielle Campbell) throws a pillow at Madea in anger that the matriarch has awakened her..

As aforementioned, in all other Madea films, Madea rightly broaches no patience for insolent Black young adults. In Witness Protection, however, Madea searches for reasons why Cindy is so mad and angry. Cindy tells her stepmother to “go to hell” and, without reserve hollers “you suck” and “I hate you” to her father. In one scene Cindy frustrates Madea’s attempts to awaken her. She yells “Go Away”, and throws a pillow at Madea. A furious Madea pours a bucket of water on the bad-mannered teen. Suddenly the physical violence dispatched to Nikki, H.J., and the student on the school bus isn’t so forgivable. For sure Cindy is not Madea’s child nor a relative, but neither are the other young adults. Nikki, for instance, is a runaway placed in foster care with Madea. In the end, impertinent white young adults need understanding and a “cooling off”; impertinent black young adults deserve a slap, a punch, and/or a battle royal with Madea.

The casting choice of the lithe Denise Richards for Kate Needleman also changes the Madea dynamic. Kate and Madea side-by-side reflect a popular pair in Black film history: Scarlett O’Hara (Vivian Leigh) and Mammy (Hattie McDaniel).

Kate (Denise Richards) looks extremely waif thin in the presence of Madea (Tyler Perry).

The über-thin white delicate body compared to that of the rotund black body ensures two things: the delicate sexy Kate (desirable) and the desexualized and harsh maturity of Madea (undesirable). Consider the Yoga scene. Joe signifies on Madea’s elephantine buttocks during his lecherous eyeballing of Kate’s slim rear-end. Kate stands long and lean in her warrior and tree poses in the living room while Madea prepares breakfast. The camera follows Joe’s focus through Kate and lands on Madea’s behind. In Joe’s eyes, Madea is a “wildebeest in its natural habitat” and her butt must be hungry because it is “chewing through [her] dress.” We laugh.

Wait a minute: Laughing doesn’t feel so good.

Tyler Perry treats us with an array of Black women body types, and Madea fits comfortably within that community. Joe’s taunts generally are dismissed possibly because we all have a Joe/Josephine in the family. “Pay ‘im no mind,” we shrug. Madea’s Witness Protection, though, casts an ominous shadow on Joe’s treatment of Madea in the presence of this white family. An assault on Madea on the silver screen amongst an all-black cast is one thing; but Joe’s insult to Madea to privilege Kate’s white threadlike build at her expense is unforgivable. Madea, when placed against the backdrop of white womanhood, stands as our Matriarch. She is our Elder. She is our Mediator. We intuitively are aware of her stature/status throughout every cinematic portrayal of her. Inside and outside our community she deserves our respect. It is a disappointment that Madea is not afforded this courtesy in Madea’s Witness Protection.

(Note: This review was published in the July 30, 2012 edition of The Washington Informer at http://washingtoninformer.com/index.php/lifestyle/entertainment/item/11509-madeas-witness-protection.)

A Note of Gratitude

Gabrielle Douglas demonstrates superior skill on the balance beam

There is no need to replay the insane preoccupation with the hair of 16-year-old Gabrielle “Gabby” Christina Victoria Douglas. There is no need to comment that this emphasis on her hair rather than on her self-mastery and consummate skill that spun gold is senseless. There is no need to point to the absurdity of the media circus surrounding her father, Timothy Douglas, and the financial hardships faced by her mother Natalie Hawkins, no matter the authors of this information. These news articles are having full play right now as this column is being written, and let’s just leave it at that.

Instead, let’s cast our attention on two families from disparate backgrounds who dared to believe in this one Olympic hopeful and who were present to see the fruits of their labors because they dared to exercise their faith: The Hawkins family: Natalie (mother) and Gabby’s siblings, Arielle, Joyelle, and Jonathan; and the Parton Family: Travis and Missy (parents) and children, Hailey, Leah, Lexi, and Elissa.

A Note of Gratitude

Dear Families Parton and Hawkins:

In Bible literature, the book of Hebrews 11:1 gives the reader a definition of Faith: Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. When I read Gabrielle’s story, I imagined an informal interview whereby each of you would walk me through how you managed the enthusiasm a teenager had for not only her talent; but, also a robust confidence in her ability to carry it through to an Olympic scale. It is one thing for a child to have the will to reach heights; it’s another to have people who stand in the gap, uplift her, and steady her on shoulders so that she may reach a little higher.

I curry the hope that such an interview will occur. Until then, however, I want to extend to each of you this Note of Gratitude:

Ms. Hawkins, the word “sacrifice” is not enough to cloak the trepidation you felt when you handed over your 14-year-old African American daughter to a white family in the Midwest to train for the Olympics with Liang Chow. I cannot imagine the interior discomfort that settled in your heart when you realized that through all of your caretaking, in order for your daughter to make it to the next level she had to leave the home you made for her. I am sure that you tried to find some consolation in conversations with the Partons, holding on to every assurance that your daughter would be taken care of. I am sure that you tried to see through to the success that your daughter so enthusiastically wanted to achieve but had yet to happen. Away from home, things could go horribly wrong in a nimiety of ways. Sometimes, though, we are sent intercessors to help us along in our faith, and what you could not see, your daughter Arielle envisioned it for you. There are two other children in the home—Joyelle and Jonathan—for whom you are responsible, and mothers always have to be cognizant of a potential fall-out from the perception that one child is being favored over the other. After much soul-searching and encouragement from Arielle, you took the chance. When you reluctantly let Gabrielle go to the Parton home, nevertheless, you set in motion faith—that thing hope for–and from that day forward, Gabrielle’s works would not die. We are grateful.

Missy and Travis Parton, you opened your home to a 14-year-old African American girl while raising four daughters of your own to live with you for 2 years. You took a chance. You could not foresee how this newest addition to the Parton home would pan out. How would your daughters react to the new girl? Somehow and from somewhere, you pulled from within yourselves the faith in something you could not see. You facilitated for Gabrielle a most difficult transition. You continued her rigorous schedule of practices; kept up her spirits; and enabled her to sustain her discipline and focus that her mother had worked hard to cultivate. You rested in the hope of the formation of a congenial relationship between members of your home and that of Ms. Hawkins. Soon, you named Gabrielle “daughter.” We are grateful.

Families Parton and Hawkins, we offer up to you our heartiest gratitude.

Thank you for exercising your faith and hope.

Thank you for taking care of our girl.

(Note: This commentary was published in the August 16, 2012 edition of The Washington Informer at http://washingtoninformer.com/index.php/lifestyle/item/11639-a-note-of-gratitude).

Ruminations on Beyonce and Jay-Z, The Carter Family

It used to be that disparaging things said about people transpired in select places. We have talked about Mrs. Jenkins’s crooked wig in the church parking lot or Sunday’s boring sermon at the dinner table. The most scathing comments made about current events, entertainers, athletes, politicians and other public notables occur in the special venues of the barber/beauty shops and even on the street corner. Usually, debates held in these venues stayed there. That was the rule. Filmmakers have dramatized this culture of talk in films such as Shaft, The Mack, Do the Right Thing, Barber Shop 1&2 and Beauty Shop. The audience is privy to the conversations; yet, it is understood that these acts of talk are exclusive to the community represented within the cinematic frame.

Jay-Z holds his daughter, Blue Ivy

Now, the rule has been broken. In the context of our use of privileged spaces, it is quite disturbing to know that the slander directed towards the developing facial features of a 6 month old African American baby named Blue Ivy Carter, the newest addition to the family of Shawn Corey “Jay-Z” Carter and Beyoncé Giselle Knowles, has escaped. The appalling comments center on fear that as she develops, nature will curse Blue Ivy with the full and broad facial features of her own father rather than the European features of her mother. Of course this reaction to Blue Ivy has caused an avalanche of responses from the African American community, with right conclusions that the installed standard of beauty—blond, blue-eyed; thin lips and keen nose—and racial hatred within the community are as robust as ever.

I am perplexed, though. Did the issue of nose and lips circulate around Jaden and Willow Smith? Julian Fuego Patton-Thicke? How about Nahla Ariela Aubrey-Berry? Memory fails to bring to bear any calumny towards these babies. Why, then, Blue Ivy?

Blue Ivy’s parents have managed themselves well in the world of entertainment. In the intense scrutiny of entertainers, they are the haute-couture of celebrities. There has yet to be a scandal published about them. We have feasted on their talents, and across the board, their performances have been worth the price of the ticket. When Blue Ivy was born, her father blessed her with a song entitled, Glory!, a voiced emotion that church congregants holler when the Holy Spirit has visited them. On February 10, 2012, Beyonce and Jay-Z shared Blue Ivy Carter with us to join them in welcoming her into this/our world. Joy can be seen in Jay-Z’s eyes as laughter spills from his bountiful lips in pictures carrying his daughter. He demonstrates the honor of fatherhood and that of a husband at this point in time of his life.

We, in turn, insult them, especially her father. It is safe to hazard that technological advances bear much of the blame. What we spoke in the privacy of the aforementioned venues among each other we somehow knew that we didn’t mean it. It just was the shuck and the jive of the talk. The advent of cyber social spaces such as Twitter, however, has compromised that particular aspect of privacy. A comment removed from the protection of the private space and takes on a life of its own once released. Plus, the post in cyberspace is immediate. This compromise is what R&B singer Gladys Knight meant in her comment on Paris Jackson’s tweets about the family: “[…] people read into whatever they want to read into, that’s how they get the drama.” (http://tinyurl.com/cz55ybt). Now there is a link entitled Twitter Files: The Jackson Family Drama According to Paris that can be accessed and left up to interpretation by anyone.

What I am saying here is this: The comments made about Blue Ivy now are part of the public’s legacy to her. The remarks have been archived, and this legacy will touch her or someone will remind her of it. We have broken the rule. Our talk has moved out of those old school spheres and journeyed to the superhighway of the internet. The same public that facilitated the making of her parents the awe-inspiring entertainers they are today has cast aspersions on them and their offspring. Some are waiting for this African American baby to grow up not in anticipation of her healthy integration into society; rather, in an extreme anxiety over whether or not she will carry her mother’s features and not those of her father’s. We all know the saying, “It takes a village to raise a child.”

Beyonce and Jay-Z introduced Blue Ivy to a diverse community; some members blessed her while others chose to malign her facial features. Such is the curse of the standard of beauty in this country, “probably the most destructive ideas in the history of human thought” according the narrator in Toni Morrison’s novel, The Bluest Eye. We all must wonder, then, once Blue Ivy comes of age, in her awareness of the world around her, will she look on us and smile?

(Note: This commentary was first published in the August 2, 2012 edition of The Washington Informer.)

Digital Media, African American Drama Highlight The Urbanworld Film Festival 2012

The Sixteenth Annual Urbanworld Film Festival 2012 (UWFF) gave the spotlight to an inspirational line-up of panels in conjunction with its screenings of independent film and screenplay readings September 19-23 in Manhattan, New York. As expected, the festival attracted an energetic audience eager to learn more about the business side of filmmaking and the advances made in digital media; producers within film and visual culture generated insight on their productions during spirited post-screening question and answer sessions.

Sponsored by Bet.com, and HBO & HBO GO, UWFF commenced as a high-spirited, well-attended event at the HBO Theater and the AMC 34th Street Theater. Gabrielle Glore, Executive Producer and Head of Programming, welcomed participants, and expressed the mission of the UWFF:

Our festival is driven by a cross-cultural sensibility that … reflects a diversity that is invisible because it is organic. We seek out the untold, the unexpected, and the unflinching accounts of our experiences, which often ring universally true for audiences. What started as a subculture under the bold leadership of Stacy Spikes, [the festival] has grown into an independent film movement with power beyond measure — the power to expose, elevate, and inspire a filmmaking community.

The corporate and artistic talents slated for the event tapped into that power and, in return, opened a well-spring of knowledge and expertise for attendees. Pre-festival events featured dialogues on the fast-emerging culture of digital media, and two panels served as the festival’s tailgate: Kickstarting Creativity, Community & Possibility: Crowdfunding Your Content and The New Now: Rewriting Opportunity in Content Distribution. Former President of Digital Media for BET, Denmark West, moderated Kickstarting Creativity, an informative conversation on crowdfunding for creative projects via Kickstarter.com. This fundraising vehicle allows aspiring creative artists to independently fund an imaginative venture and to generate fan-allegiance to that project. “Filmmakers used to spend years pushing their product into the marketplace,” said producer Bill Warrell (Crazy Like a Fox 2004). “If the Jobs Act 2012 passes, alternative funding platforms will allow every small investor to actually own a piece of the project he funds. For the filmmaker, he cuts a deal with himself because of the control over the project he will have from the beginning to the end,” Warrell explained.

The New Now panel, a commendable follow-up moderated by Rachel Watanabe-Batton, Producer/Vice Chair, Producers Guild of America-East, included corporate executives who outlined how to disseminate product content to a wider audience. Alvin V. Williams, Executive Vice President-Alchemy Networks, emphasized that no matter the aesthetics of a product, if the creative artist is a good solid storyteller, she will find interest in her content. He also firmly urged creative artists to utilize websites and youtube.com to circulate their projects:

There is no excuse not to have a youtube.com page or a website,” he said, continuing, “youtube.com is so forgiving. People [in the business] scour websites for new and original content all the time; and, you really don’t need all the bells and whistles. If you have 15 minutes of product content but it is not a great production, if your content is a great story, that is sufficient.

Urbanworld hosted a cornucopia of impressive stories, and the festival treated audiences to remarkable dramatizations that center on a host of subjects that are of concern to the African American community. Power couple Salim Akil and Mara Brock Akil (Sparkle; Girlfriends) officially opened the festival with the world premiere of Being Mary Jane. Gabrielle Union stars as Mary Jane Paul, a news anchor managing her life as a mature single black female. Ava DuVernay (This is the Life 2010), the first African-American woman to win the Best
Director Prize at Sundance 2012, closed the festival with the New York premiere of her outstanding second feature Middle of Nowhere, a story of Ruby (Emayatzy Corinealdi) and Dexter (Omari Hardwick), a couple whose marriage is compromised when Dexter is incarcerated for gun running. DuVernay’s film cannot help but draw comparisons to Marc Forster’s Monster’s Ball (2006).

Watch for more in-depth coverage of this festival in the following weeks when you will be taken behind the scenes and on the red carpet in the review of select films featured during this event, such as those mentioned here. For more information on Urbanworld, visit http://www.Urbanworld.org.

In the meantime, Catch a film … Share the Popcorn … Feed Your Soul!

Sparkle delivers Beauty, Charm, and Elegance in the Quest for the Dream

Sparkle is a lush cinematic cultural artifact sustained by a sumptuous set, a dynamic soundtrack, and the rigorous artistry of its cast. Akil Production Company, along with two-time Emmy nominee Debra Martin Chase (The Princess Diaries; Just Wright), pay a respectful homage to its 1976 predecessor. No cameos needed.

The film opens in 1968 to a cacophony of voices broadcasting newsworthy events: The Vietnam War, The Beatles, civil rights and Martin Luther King, Jr. The camera swoops into Discovery, a juke-joint whose ambience of smoky rhythm, saucy blues, and salty sweat, is thickened by R&B crooner, Black (Cee-Lo Green). As his soulful “I am a Man” opens the action, placards held by Memphis Sanitation workers in 1968 captured by African American photographer Ernest C. Withers flash in my mind.

This socio-cultural context signals that Akil Production Company and Chase have crafted a film that expands the 1976 story but stands on its own. The operative word? Story. Rather than inundate the audience with a multitude of song and dance routines, the film focuses on the story of a single African American mother, Emma (Whitney Houston) who successfully has raised three attractive, well-adjusted, and talented daughters, Tamy/Sister (Carmen Ejogo), Dolores “Dee”, (Tika Sumpter), and Sparkle (Jordin Sparks) in the bustling city of Detroit, Michigan. Emma’s story is that of 1960s upward mobility despite setbacks she endured in her youth–the harshest being her teen-age pregnancy. Her rule is “respect, education and loving the Lord”. The cinematic presence of the Black church denotes her anchor, and this institution no doubt facilitated the upbringing of her daughters and made possible the acquisition and preservation of her middle class existence.

Emma’s home, beautifully shot by cinematographer Anastas N. Michos, highlights the trappings of her success: a two-story with a staircase; the Queen Anne and Bergère chairs; the small library with piano; crystal chandeliers; and the sugar and spice bedrooms replete with iron beds, vanities, and full length mirrors emphasized by pink and white flowered wallpaper. Craig Anthony’s spectacular costumes showcase each lady in her sartorial splendor. For church, gloves, hats, and coat dresses trimmed in fur; and for daytime, suits and sheaths. Even the bedtime wardrobes are luxuriant: sheer nylon peignoirs accentuated with ruffles and bows, and quilted satin bathrobes in colors of aqua, champagne and pink.
The wall art of encased butterflies and birds, however, betray this charm. These set props give nod to Paul Laurence Dunbar’s poem “Sympathy”, whose first lines inspired the title of Maya Angelou’s book, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. On the whole, Sparkle is a graceful exploration of generational anxiety aggravated by socio-cultural changes. Emma’s daughters are coming of age, and the painful transition causes domestic seismic shifts that disquiet Emma but feed her daughters’ yearnings. Like the butterflies and the birds, the women in this household are trapped; yet, as does Dunbar’s caged bird, each dares to break free from pasts that have held them and Emma hostage.

On another note, the Akils skillfully dramatize the forgotten art of courtship, and the duo’s brilliant virtuosity of storytelling glistens here. Stix (Derek Luke) and Levi (Omari Hardwick) shines as wordsmiths coaxing the young women to consider them worthy suitors/partners. Hardwick, especially, translates with splendid bravura Levi’s torment when he discovers that his words cannot compete with the conspicuous bling of the wealthy, but mean-spirited Satin (Mike Epps). Epps, in turn, gives a marvelous performance as the successful stand-up comedian whose jokes are contemptuous of African Americans. He brazenly flaunts his material success in front of Levi as Levi expresses his desire for Sister; later, however, he reveals his insecurity over his new material.

Expectedly, references to Motown and its talent line-up abound, yet do not overwhelm the story. The Akils, however, gently manipulate Motown’s reputation to fuel the mother/daughter conflict and the quest for the dream. “I want to be bigger than Diana Ross,” reveals Sparkle to Stix under the stars.

The sparkle, nonetheless, shines on Whitney Houston, Carmen Ejogo, and Tika Sumpter. Houston embodies Emma, and plays her with a cool, yet fierce sophisticated determination. Her life trials dance in her voice in His Eye is on the Sparrow. Ejogo, with artful efficiency, deftly manages the heart of Tamy/Sister, a restless 30-year-old young woman caught between her past failures and that of working as a domestic while living in her mother’s house. Finally, Sumpter, with intelligent wit, steadies the sister-trio, as she moves between the tempestuous Tamy/Sister and the gentle-minded Sparkle.
Honorable mention to Michael Beach (Rev. Bryce) and Tamela Mann (Ms. Sara Waters).

If you have not seen Sparkle, you should. If you already have, see it again. This film is worth the price of the ticket. Twice.

(This Review was first appeared in the August 30, 2012 Edition of The Washington Informer at http://washingtoninformer.com/index.php/lifestyle/entertainment/item/11734-sparkle-delivers-beauty-charm-and-elegance-in-the-quest-for-the-dream.)

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