Category Archives: The Arts

Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner: Racial Tension

By: Micaela Shambee– Editor, The Drive

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Photo Credit: CourtTheatre.org

–Romanticism, Realism, and Modernism converge in Marti Lyon’s 2018 production of Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, which chronicles an interracial couple’s request for approval to marry from their parents. Despite the weight of this request, the play’s premise rushes the parents and the audience through each scene to a final climactic decision, which must come before the couple departs to New York together. Driven by both a metaphorical and literal timer (10 days to fall in love and 24 hours to make a decision), the racial tension in the play rises to a boiling point at Dr. Prentice’s (Michael Aaron Pogue) dialogue with his visibly angry, work-ridden Black father (Dexter Zollicoffer), then slows to a heart-stopping beep, only after Matt Drayton’s (Tim Hopper) monologue, where he finally bestows his blessing upon the mixed-race couple. Though the play is very similar to its predecessor, the 1967 film by Stanley Kramer is different in its approach to setting, plot (scenes) and character.

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Photo Credit: IMBD.com

Surprisingly, the 1967 film, which Todd Kreidler’s 2012 play was adapted from, does not have the same sense of urgency. The film has moments where the characters can at least enjoy quiet introspection, usually coupled on the terrace with colorful bushes in the background or in Mr. Drayton’s cozy study. Lyons’ adaptation, however, is marked with the added tension of a stark-white setting, a quickly defunct art deal, and Mr. Drayton’s secret vice, his smoking habit, picked up by Dr. Prentice to calm his nerves after his explosive argument with his father. The smoking adds another layer of tension to the already tense atmosphere, which is a noticeable deviation from the original screenplay.

“Lyons makes up for these deviations by essentially adding tension between cigarette puffs, the actor’s speedy delivery of lines, and demanding more of supporting characters to bring outside tension in.”

 

In fact, the play tends to deviate from the film in a multitude of ways. Most notable is the obvious deletion of any scenes outside of the Drayton’s home. Considering the constraints of theater, director Marti Lyons’ choice to exclude scenes from the original screenplay, such as the mixed-couple’s lengthy walk and cab ride from the airport to the Drayton’s home, and Mr. and Mrs. Drayton’s (played by Spencer Tracey and Katherine Hepburn) trip to the Ice Cream Parlor, where Mr. Drayton is forced to confront racism through the choice of a bunch of ice cream flavors (that leads to an accident with another African American man), are understandable, given the lack of the play’s physical mobility. However, the deletion of these scenes makes the play lose the influence of outside forces upon the couple and their parents’ decision (which the movie relies on), ultimately losing the slow build of rising racial tension that makes the 1967 film feel authentic. Lyons makes up for these deviations by essentially adding tension between cigarette puffs, the actor’s speedy delivery of lines, and demanding more of supporting characters to bring outside tension in, such as Mrs. Drayton’s outspoken assistant Hilary St. George (Rachel Sledd), and Irish, liberal-religious Monsignor Ryan (Dan Waller). By focusing all the tension between three spaces of the Drayton’s home, the setting feels claustrophobic, which actually parallels the racial tension of the plot quite well.

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Photo Credit: Chicago Tribune

However, in certain moments the plot moves along as if it were the movie, especially in characterization. The actors’ quick comical banter reveals irony and paradoxes in the play in a palatable manner, just as Sydney Poitier’s debonair suaveness soothes racial tension at every turn in the 1967 film. Katherine Hepburn (Mrs. Drayton) and her niece, Katherine Houghton’s (Joanne) emotive eyes reveal as much about hope, liberalism, and romanticism as Mary Beth Fisher (Mrs. Drayton) and Bryce Gangel’s (Joanne) performances render. The elegance of the Drayton’s home and decor, the characters’ stylish costumes, and wit all resemble that of the 1967 film.

Despite the nostalgia, the play is effective in its approximation of the screenplay, successfully capturing the sympathetic tone the film made about interracial marriage in 1967. The play comically manifests liberal hypocrisy in Mr. Drayton, somehow finds a way to bring Mr. Drayton and Mr. Prentice Sr. together, despite their obvious difference in attitude towards race, and gives the women of the play (apart from “Tillie”) a chance to explore hopeless romanticism, despite the peril of the couple existing as an interracial couple, which was a bit more sensational in 1967. Doctor Prentice and Tillie seem to be the only two that are able to look at the problem of race in the marriage with a balanced, realistic viewpoint. The characters are thus separated into three groups: those that believe the marriage is doomed, those that believe the marriage will be a success (because real love exists within), and those who are on the fence, unable to look away from the real pros and cons of the situation. However, special scrutiny is needed for Matilda “Tillie” Binks, the Drayton’s maid.

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Photo Credit: New City Stage

Tillie (Syndey Charles) is a special character in the play. Syndey Charles’ take on Tillie seems to slightly rewrite the 1967 loving, realistic, but stereotypical “Mammie” character Beah Richards made famous. Charles’ Tilly dishes out tough love, and fierce skepticism about Dr. Prentice that nearly makes one believe that the doctor is a trickster (and that Tillie may harbor internalized racism). Charles’ performance thus allows Tillie to move within the Drayton’s family drama as a person both hyper-aware of her race and also as a race-invisible family member. (Whereas Beah Richards’ Tillie wears her race on her sleeve at all times).

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Photo Credit: Sidney Poitier and Katharine Houghton in Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner. Photo: Columbia Pictures. NYMAG.com

Despite the obvious deviations from the original film, the play does not seem to improve the original story, but rather reinforce the same message. What Lyons allowed Sydney Charles to do with Tillie, should have been done with each of the characters as the others are quite similar to the original characters in the film. Sydney Charles’ Tillie, being one of the more modernistic characters in the play, departs from the stereotypical character just as a Modernist would break from sudden tradition, and that is where the play truly shines. A more modern approach to the other characters would have been appreciated, considering the six year difference of the film’s screenplay. However, the play and the film’s setting, characterization and plot create enough tension to offer a tantalizing race issue, enough to nearly wage a gender driven war.

∗∗∗∗ 4 out of 5 stars∗∗∗∗

Did you see the play? Do you remember the movie? What did you think? Sound off in the comments below!

 

–And remember,

Stay informed, open-minded, and driven.

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Chicago State University Honors Gwendolyn Brooks with 1st ever Gwendolyn Brooks Poetry Festival

By: Micaela Shambee– Editor, The Drive

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— On Friday, April 13th 2018, at Chicago State University, the first Gwendolyn Brooks Poetry Festival took place in honor of the late Gwendolyn Brooks (1917-2000). Held on the fourth floor of the recently renamed Gwendolyn Brooks Library, the day long event treated attendees to inspiring speeches and performances by young poets from High schools and Grammar schools across Chicago.

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The honorees, Nora Blakely (Gwendolyn Brooks’ daughter), Haki Madhubuti (Third World Press), and Emily Lansana (University of Chicago) gave rousing speeches, and shared stories of their experiences with Gwendolyn Brooks. In addition, attendees were treated to amazing performances by Chicago State University MFA students Reshay Ingram, and Jerimah Moore, spoken word community group Rebirth/Reborn and student poets from Wendell Philips Academy.

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Honoree-Haki Madhubuti (Third World Press)
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Honoree-Emily Lansana (University of Chicago)
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Honoree–Nora Blakely (Brooks Permissions)

Click here to see MFA Students Reading from our Facebook live: facebook.com/thedrivestudentblog

 

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The festival left attendees with a full understanding of the impact that Gwendolyn Brooks has had on Chicago State University, poetry, and children. Gwendolyn Brooks was known as the first African American to win a Pulitzer Prize for her 1949 book Annie Allen. (Also paving the way for new Pulitzer Prize winner Kendrick Lamar).

According to PoetryFoundation.org,

“Gwendolyn Brooks is one of the most highly regarded, highly influential, and widely read poets of 20th-century American poetry. She was a much-honored poet, even in her lifetime, with the distinction of being the first black author to win the Pulitzer Prize. She also was poetry consultant to the Library of Congress—the first black woman to hold that position—and poet laureate of the State of Illinois. Many of Brooks’s works display a political consciousness, especially those from the 1960s and later, with several of her poems reflecting the civil rights activism of that period. Her body of work gave her, according to critic George E. Kent, ‘a unique position in American letters. Not only has she combined a strong commitment to racial identity and equality with a mastery of poetic techniques, but she has also managed to bridge the gap between the academic poets of her generation in the 1940s and the young black militant writers of the 1960s.’

Learn more about Gwendolyn Brooks at the PoetryFoundation.org

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Photo Credit: PoetryFoundation.org Gwendolyn Brooks at her typewriter. Courtesy of Getty Images.

The Gwendolyn Brooks Center

Also, check out the Gwendolyn Brooks Center to learn more about Brooks’ impact on Chicago State University in the Gwendolyn Brooks Library.

From the Library’s Website:

“Gwendolyn Brooks Center for Black Literature and Creative Writing (GBC) was founded in 1990 on the historic campus of Chicago State University (CSU). It is named after Ms. Brooks, the former Poet Laureate of the State of Illinois and Distinguished Professor of English at Chicago State University. This Gwendolyn Brooks Conference for Black Literature and Creative Writing is sponsored by [sic] The W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation, the Illinois Arts Council and the Chicago State University College of Arts & Sciences.”

The Gwendolyn Brooks Creativity Festival Flyer Master Final Updated for Email
Design by Micaela Shambee for the Gwendolyn Brooks Poetry Festival

Did you attend the Gwendolyn Brooks Poetry Festival? What was your favorite moment? Who was your favorite speaker? Sound off in the comments below!

–And remember,

 

Stay informed, open-minded, and driven.

Event Photos courtesy of The Drive Student Blog and Dr. Kelly Norman Ellis (Chicago State University)

 

The Seconds I Kissed You By Micaela Shambee

The Seconds I Kissed You

A moment in time

By: Micaela Shambee

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Photo Credit: Tumblr

You in front of me, me in front of you,

arms stretched forth to collide,

energies bursting to embrace

a place where waves and sand subside

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Photo Credit: Quora.com

Insides, a jumbled mix

of fumbled nerves,

Gleaming eyes fixated

on womanly curves

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Photo Credit: Quora.com

Two planetary bodies

destined to align,

atoms forming incandescent liquid rock

where mutual heat radiates inside.

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Photo Credit: Pulse.com

“Can I kiss you?”

a question to my core

heart palpitations

How energy soars

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Photo Credit: 360nobs.com

Reverence to confide

these virgin lips.

their first kiss,

new life formed inside

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Photo Credit: Buzz.com

Seconds to minutes

to hours to days,

to memories

of years aged like fermented wine

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Photo Credit: Tumblr

the seconds I kissed you

rang longer in my heart

and have lived longer in my mind

Robert Johnson

By: Amber Wilder

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Picture can be found here

I first heard  mention of Robert Johnson in season two, episode eight, of the television series Supernatural, appropriately titled “Crossroad Blues.”  The focus of the episode is on people that make deals with crossroad demons in pursuit of fame and fortune.  The way the deal works on Supernatural is that a box has to be buried with certain items at the point of crossroads.  Once the demon appears, if the terms are accepted, a ten year deal is made.  Many believe that Johnson made a deal to be the best guitar player of his time.  Apparently, in accordance with the episode, he made a deal for talent instead of fame and fortune.  His death is still shrouded in mystery.  I believe this is because he died so young.

Robert Johnson died at the age of 27.  However, if you believe the stories about some of the great musicians that sold their souls to the devil, they all died at 27.  Could all of this be coincidence or superstition?  There are reports that attribute his death to the deal that he made (a la Supernatural), while others purport that he was poisoned.  The theory that he was poisoned has two versions.  In the first version, he was infatuated with the wife of his employer who subsequently sent a bottle of poisoned alcohol over.  In the second version, Johnson was sleeping with a married woman and she poisoned him.  Neither theory has conclusive evidence of who poisoned Johnson, but the general consensus is that he was poisoned.  His existence is still clouded in mystery because there are only two verified pictures of the man.

Several songs that hint at the possibility that Johnson sold his soul are “Hellhound on My Trail,” “Me and The Devil Blues,” and “Crossroad Blues.”  All three refer to or mention the devil in some way.  In “Me and The Devil Blues,” Johnson sang “And I said hello Satan,/ I believe it’s time to go.”  I do not think he could be more blatant than that.  Although his cause of death has not been confirmed, one can only speculate whether he was actually poisoned or if his deal was up, the devil sent his hellhounds to collect Johnson’s soul.  In the episode, George Darrow, a man who sold his soul escaped hellhounds by spreading around a special powder to stall the hellhounds and keep them at bay.  However, he was only able to keep the hellhounds away until he decided to help other people that made the same deals.  In the song “Hellhound on My Trail,” Robert Johnson sang, “You sprinkled hot foot powder, mmm, around my door/ All around my door/ Your sprinkled hot foot powder, all around your daddy’s door./  It keeps me with ramblin’ mind rider/ Every old place I go, every old place I go.”  The powder is used to keep evil spirits away, whether in a person or the devil.

In some cultures, protection against evil is very important.  Otherwise, an individual is left susceptible to possession, hauntings, curses and possibly dying at the hands of evil.  Whether this practice is rooted in superstition, old wives’ tales, or true occurrences, one can only imagine that something occurred to give this idea some validity at some point in time.  In “Crossroad Blues,” Robert Johnson sang, “I went down to the crossroad/ Fell down on my knees/ Asked the lord above “Have mercy now/ Save poor Bob if you please.”  I interpret the lines to say that Johnson regretted his deal and went back to the crossroads to ask the Lord to save him.  Perhaps, his prayers were not answered or he was reminded of the deal he made.  Those agreements are the deals that cannot be taken back for once they are made, they are binding.

I honestly believe that sometimes when these deals are made, the people that make them do not realize that these deals are irreversible.  These deals are binding contracts with no allowances for modification.  Instead of honing one’s desired craft, the fast track is taken.  The medium of an artist should be dynamic not static.   For example, the music of Michael Jackson and Ray Charles evolved with their growth over the years.  They did not have the same sound in each song, album after album.  The variety in their music was ever present.  I believe the same can be said for Robert Johnson.  Johnson’s music would have evolved into something far greater than the catalogue he left behind.  It would be very interesting to listen to how his music would have evolved 10 and 20 years after his last recording.


Robert Johnson earned money by “cutting heads,” or competing with other street musicians to lure over crowds (and their money)
Photo can be found here

In his music, Johnson talks about demons, the devil, and hellhounds.  His music, when one really listens to the lyrics, can be troubling, but the way he sings and plays allows one to be sucked in so to speak.  I can listen to Robert Johnson like I listen to Ray Charles and Sam Cooke.  I listen to those two over and over for countless days in a row without fail sometimes.  There is something haunting about Johnson’s music that continuously draws one in, at least for me.  I do not know how to explain the feeling of listening to his music other than to say it is almost mesmerizing in a way.  Johnson’s music is not saturated with synthesizers or false beats.  It is just his voice and guitar.  Perhaps, the reason I appreciate his music so much is because it tells a story, or maybe it is the raw sound of him and his guitar.

Today, a lot of people believe in the Illuminati and believe that many music artists sell their souls to the devil in order to become famous.  There are pages and websites dedicated to artists who are said to be a part of the Illuminati and detailed theories behind the Illuminati itself and the artists.  It appears the trend for what people view as evil has changed.  Now, it is considered acceptable to sell your soul to the devil to make it in today’s music scene.  Whereas, two or three decades ago that was looked upon unfavorably.  A lot of people view the music business itself as evil and warn others away from it because it is very challenging to make money as a new artist.  For many that seek the fame and fortune of the music business, if a hit record happens with the release of the first album, the record company reaps the majority of the profits.  It seems that only if the artist is exceptional and signs the right contract will he or she experience any longevity in the music industry.  Perhaps the reason why some artists choose to sell their soul is because they feel that since the record company is going to attempt to rob them of their of money, they may as well make a deal to have the talent and keep the money.

Whether Robert Johnson sold his soul or not, his music lives on. His music, in my opinion, is timeless.

throwing on the wheel

rolling the fresh clay with vigor and aggression and slamming it onto the wheel. manipulating its shape into a spiraling tornado, only to compress and center it into the form of a circular disk. spinning to the rhythm of the foot like a high-wire balancing act. puncturing a hole in the middle just far enough to familiarize with its mass, but not enough to penetrate it altogether. pulling at its chubby cheek from one side, outward ’til its grin deepens and pinching upward ’til its smile bends. acquainting itself with every arch, the steel scraper smooths out excess water which trinkles down and down. whirling round, it goes, the pointers comfort the rim slowly, easing their way to its trust. voila! a masterpiece. a nice and even slice to its roots and it sits again, still and ready. ’til a wave starts to brew in the arms of coupled hands. forward, back, lift, and sit. resting a couple of nights until leather-hard becomes bone dry. not too concealed for it’ll stay wet. not too exposed for it’ll crack. feeling for its hardness, the hands measure its strength. into the kiln. while leaving rosy kisses, the earthware firing shields its skin. soon the hibernation ends. it’s glazing time. dipping it into the pool of chiapas blue and coating it, nice and snug. attention to purpose as the bottom is wiped clean for it to roam freely from table to table. in the kiln it goes again, my friend, until its baked to perfection. cooling off, it finally sits comfortably. it marinades in all its glory.

then a pair of dahlias come by and plop their butts on its head.

 

By Cynthia Suarez

Tormented Love (BOP) By Micaela Shambee

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Photo Credit: Tumbler

Tormented Love

By: Micaela Shambee

I have lived like a butterfly to a flame.

Burning myself, disgusted again, so much, too tired…Fucked.

I’ve been the betta sucka.

Becoming your rancor, gutting out my love ‘till my bile bleeds, dripping

Rustic to the ground like decaying autumn leaves.

Is this what you like?

 

Since I’ve been loving you, I’m about to lose my worried mind.

 

Every, every, every time, another lonely Friday night,

‘til you said to me, “Coffee?  Or a mouthwatering tangled tango of toffee cream?”

It must’ve been the burning candles; you know how I love the flames;

It must’ve been your cologne’s notes of sandalwood; or just loneliness…

I laughed, said yes, let you, some stranger, kiss, and kiss my pulsing lips.

Spilled coffee grounds, bent over some barista’s kitchen counter crazing your cocky, jockey,

Suaveness, falling deeper into hellish bliss.

‘Til I kissed her sweat in your mustache.

 

Since I’ve been loving you, I’m about to lose my worried mind.

 

Damn, I kinda like the taste of it…

Am I a soft masochist?

Lying languidly on the hall floor.

You, spent, drying, heaving over my worn body.

Another cut wrist wound…wet blistering drips of passion.

I watched a butterfly die today.

 

Since I’ve been loving you, I’m about to lose my worried mind…

 

This BOP poem was inspired by Led Zepplin’s Since I Been Lovin’ You. 

Press play while reading!

*This poem contains copyrighted material. Do not repost without explicit permission.

I Don’t Remember: The Universe By Micaela Shambee

I Don’t Remember: The Universe

By: Micaela Shambee

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Photo Credit: Gizmodo.com

I don’t remember the swirling of energies,
The hot, dense, single point in time.
The oneness that split into two.
The big bang.
Or Pangea.
Or the forming of the daffodils in the fields of the country side.
I don’t remember the rose that formed the sweet smell of Chanel No.5.
I don’t remember the dirt that formed my grandmother’s grave.
Neither the fights over her possessions, nor the way her children behaved.
The last argument that lead one of my cousins astray.
I don’t remember what broke our family like watches with seconds that stand still,
I don’t even recall taking the morning after pill.
I don’t remember when I fell in love with you,
when one became two,
our first date, or what we ate.
Or the birth of our kids,
One named John, the other Kate
Two from one womb
A boy and a girl
Never thought they would leave us,
and go off into this world.
But wait, just wait…
Can’t remember the future,
When I can’t remember the past.
I don’t remember the creation of the Universe,
I just know our time here ticks away too fast

How Momma Gave Me that Swang by Micaela Shambee

Growing up black and a girl in America means that there are certain cultural rituals that are a rite of passage…one of them being a girl’s first perm.  The process of changing one’s hair texture to another gave black women a sense of identity, one that challenged our ability to be apart of society.  Unfortunately, this process stripped away important facets of our original identity, all in an effort to be accepted. This poem looks into the process of this ritual, and its importance to Black women’s cultural identity in America.

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Photo Credit: Google Images

How Momma Gave Me that Swang

By: Micaela Shambee

Momma grabbed the box from the shelf.
“Should we get super, regular or mild?”
Momma looks at my nappy head,
feels the coils of curls atop my crown.
Without pulling too hard,
Momma finally makes a decision.
“Super.”
We home now.
Sitting between her legs she
mixed the chemicals in the kit like a cocktail.
Rotten eggs stirred with a wooden spatula.
Held my breath as she stirred, rickety legs on the oak table nearly buckled under the weight of her churn
In our wrought worn kitchen

Momma gave me that swang

Twice a year
Wide tooth black power pick parts my naps
Grease slathered ‘round my hairline.
Laid the cold cankered mix on my scalp at last.
“You better tell me if yo head tingling now.”
Momma scolds me.
Last time,
Told momma when my head started to tingle,
and hair didn’t come out straight.
For every straight follicle, their was a nap
So while my head tingled this time,
my lips stayed shut.
30 minutes ’til

Momma gave me that swang

Scalp burning now.
Race to the kitchen sink,
dirty dinner dishes filled the other side,
Lukewarm water running
through my strands,
Eyes stay shut, as water soothed raw scalp.
Blow drying next, hot comb after,
raw scalp, brand new crown
that’s how

Momma gave me that swang

Black Boy Bang (BOP) Micaela Shambee

 

This poem uses the popular line from Billie Holiday’s hauntingly beautiful song “Strange Fruit.”  The refrain, “Strange fruit hanging from poplar trees,” is as true today, as it was in 1939.

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Photo Credit: American Song Book

Black Boy Bang

By: Micaela Shambee

 

I inhale morning fresh dew,

As another headline flashes across the screen.

Peering out the poverty stricken window

With coffee in hand, devoid of any fancy hazelnut cream.

Stands an ethereal presence by a familiar family tree.

As the TV blares, a voice hauntingly sings

 

Strange fruit hanging from poplar trees

 

News crying like gossip during double Dutch.

Avalanche, quake, riots; Baltimore is on fire!

Red, white, blue; by evening your country will hang you!

Tasers and clubs by the strong arm of the protect and serve.

Familiar flanked skin,

Different names blowing in the hot wind.

But all the same, Martin, Dunn, and Gray

Is another black, boy, bang.

 

Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees.

 

By daybreak there, still I see

Black lives like dead leaves scattered amongst poplar trees,

Dead leaves lying like precisely ordered deaths.

Casket filled black bodies with dark, burnished flesh.

As the blowing air hums with death’s cries,

Protect and serve preserves white pride.
Strange fruit hanging from poplar trees.

La La Land Film Review

By Cynthia Suarez

Damien Chazelle, director and screen writer of La La Land, has definitely made his mark in Hollywood’s world of cinema. Critics are raving about La La Land for its story about two dreamers who aspire to make their dreams a reality. It has made an unprecedented number of wins including seven Golden Globe Awards and eight Critics’ Choice Awards. Though it is a 2016 film, many have deemed it reminiscent of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer musicals, the likes of which include the famous Singin’ in the Rain and Three Little Words. La La Land revisits classic Hollywood during the 1940s and 1950s, times where lavish, love, and passion roared.

Illustrious movie star Ryan Gosling plays the role of Sebastian, the jazz musician, who refuses to be bound by the progressive and digital world of music production. Golden Globe Awards winner Emma Stone portrays Mia, an aspiring actress struggling to make a cut in the entertainment industry. Together, they enchant audiences with their dance sequences and sunny voices. Though their chemistry stems from previous films like Crazy, Stupid, Love, they reach a new high of love and magnetism in La La Land. Indeed, they do share intimate moments with each other. Still, each person has his personal ambition, something like that of a priceless gem, delicate and treasurable.

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Courtesy of Dale Robinette/Summit Entertainment

Damien Chazelle welcomes the visual experience of old-fashioned films by shooting La La Land on film versus digital. This anamorphic format is ideal for long acting takes and fluid dance movements, a medium far more raw, sensual, and romantic than digital movies. What’s more, Chazelle uses 35mm film for much wider shots, so no intricate detail goes unnoticed. Directors Guild of America (DGA) describes La La Land’s cinematography as “a Technicolor vision of contemporary Los Angeles.” Technicolor is a motion-picture process that superimposes primary colors onto synchronized films of the same scene. The end product is a simulacrum of traditional musicals and La La Land is no exception. It takes its audience on a psychedelic trip of sorts through the use of saturated colors. The eye-popping colors found in the actors’ makeup, costume design, and setting of this film all play up a theme of freshness, growth, harmony,  and sensuality.

The big song sequences song by Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone are captivating. No lip-syncing is necessary with vocals as soothing and effortless as theirs. They provide a level of authenticity unmatched by any non-diegetic sound. Gosling and Stone pair their vocal stylings with synchronized dance numbers that leave their audience mesmerized. The two naturals have contagious rhythm and flair, giving their audience a reason to jump out of their seat.

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Courtesy of Dale Robinette/Summit Entertainment

Furthermore, the Los Angeles sites that become the mise-en-scène are effective for this anachronic narrative; the film comes full circle when flashbacks to specific scenarios are later adequately explained. Everything in frame, from the actors to the lighting choice, works collaboratively to reinforce the tone of each scene. Take the sunset scene for instance. One would think better than to insist on a sunset that lasts for only 30 minutes, but not Damien Chazelle. His meticulousness needed to be fueled. This shifting setting gave the cast and crew only five chances to film the scene successfully. Nonetheless, The New York Times shares that Chazelle wanted the specific Technicolor glow best achieved by a sunset.

For some time now, musicals had been overlooked in the film industry. Not anymore. La La Land gives life to the term “modern-original musical.” It revitalizes the spirit of traditional musicals with a modern twist, and rejuvenates the love people once had for them. Furthermore, it is a tale of two creative dreamers whose passion and commitment are put to the test. La La Land celebrate the livelihood of music and dance, for both often express more than words can say.

La La Land is a visual satisfaction and a must-see film for the modern day romantic.

Related articles

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Damien Chazelle gets romantic with La La Land; the Oscar-nominated writer-director says film was the “only option”

Fun in “La La Land”