And the 2022 Oscar Nominees Should Be…

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Media Archive, United States on 2022-01-18 02:18Z by Steven

And the 2022 Oscar Nominees Should Be…

The New York Times
2022-01-14

Illustrations by Ben Denzer

If our chief critics Manohla Dargis and A.O. Scott had their way, these are the films and the people who would be up for Academy Awards.

  • Best Picture: Drive My Car, Passing, The Power of The Dog
  • Best Director: Jane Campion, The Power of the Dog; Rebecca Hall, Passing
  • Best Actress: Kristen Stewart, Spencer; Tessa Thompson, Passing
  • Best Supporting Actress: Ariana DeBose, West Side Story; Aunjanue Ellis, King Richard; Kathryn Hunter, The Tragedy of Macbeth; Toko Miura, Drive My Car; Ruth Negga, Passing
  • Best Adapted Screenplay: Drive My Car, Passing, The Power of The Dog

Read the entire article here.

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Who is Florence Price?

Posted in Arts, Biography, Book/Video Reviews, Media Archive, Monographs, United States, Women on 2021-12-03 19:33Z by Steven

Who is Florence Price?

Schirmer Trade Books (an imprint of Wise Music Group)
2021-11-18
48 pages
5.75 x 0.4 x 8.25 inches
Hardback ISBN: 9781736533406

Written and Illustrated by Students of the Special Music School at the Kaufman Music Center, New York, New York.

Young musicians tell the story of a girl and her music

Florence [Price] loved her mother’s piano playing and wanted to be just like her. When she was just four years old she played her first piano concert and as she grew up she studied and wrote music hoping one day to hear her own music performed by an orchestra.

The story of a brilliant musician who prevailed against race and gender prejudices to become the first Black woman to be recognised as a symphonic composer and be performed by a major American orchestra in 1933.

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Passing into Film: Rebecca Hall’s Adaptation of Nella Larsen

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Communications/Media Studies, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Passing, United States, Women on 2021-12-03 15:18Z by Steven

Passing into Film: Rebecca Hall’s Adaptation of Nella Larsen

Modernism/modernity
Volume 6, Cycle 2 (2021-11-10)

Rafael Walker, Assistant Professor of English
Baruch College, City University of New York

Fig. 1. Promotional poster for Rebecca Hall’s Passing (2021). Image via IMDB.

Director Rebecca Hall’s recent adaptation of Nella Larsen’s exquisite second novel, Passing (1929), is visually stunning. I had the pleasure of seeing the film on the big screen, during its limited theatrical run and before its Netflix release. It was the ideal atmosphere for absorbing this cinematic rendering of Larsen’s eerie, anxiety-ridden plot: ensconced with a sparse audience (my companion and I comprising two of the four patrons for the 5:10pm showing) in a small independent theater in Manhattan, just a few miles from where the story is set, and with Halloween everywhere looming on this late-October evening.1

These qualities of the novel were only enhanced by Hall’s decision to film it in black and white, a daring choice that she, a first-time filmmaker, had to fight for, as Alexandra Kleeman of the New York Times reports. On the one hand, this artistic decision conjures all the nervous palpitations that Hitchcock made synonymous with black-and-white mise-en-scène, maintaining the unshakable uneasiness one experiences while reading Larsen’s novel. On the other, it hurls the either-or terms of Jim Crow racial binarism into conflict with a predominating grayscale—an all-pervading sign of the fictionality of the dichotomizations structuring American culture. Nothing could be more in the spirit of Nella Larsen’s novel. I suspect, however, that Hall’s departures from the source text will attract the attention of modernists far more than her convergences…

Read the entire review here.

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Passing Is a Film About Race from the Black Gaze

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Media Archive, Passing, United States, Women on 2021-12-02 17:39Z by Steven

Passing Is a Film About Race from the Black Gaze

Harper’s Bazaar
2021-11-11

Imani Perry, Hughes-Rogers Professor of African American Studies
Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey


Netflix

Rebecca Hall’s adaptation of Passing expertly uses the craft of cinema to explore race and colorism from a Black point of view, Imani Perry argues.

Nella Larsen’s 1929 novel, Passing, was part of a tradition. Writers, both Black and white, had been depicting the practice of extremely light-complexioned African Americans slipping into the white world for at least 70 years prior. Passing literature is the term critics have applied to it. In a racially segregated and stratified society, passing was powerful fodder for the literary imagination. Being discovered came with the risk of shame, violence, incarceration, and even death. In Black communities, passing itself was at once frowned upon and protected, as the secrets of passers were guarded.

Understandably, depicting passing today, when the rules of racial membership have shifted, is challenging. Members of Generation Z are skeptical of the historic “one-drop rule” of African-American membership. Initially, that rule was a way of marking Blackness as inferiority and even a sort of contagion. Over time, African Americans used it to develop an expansive idea of what it meant to belong to “the race.” But today, young people often wonder how much one can claim to belong to a group without carrying the weight of being seen as such.

Director Rebecca Hall, who adapted the 1929 novel for the screen nevertheless succeeds in making a film that brings contemporary viewers into the intimate realm of its Black women protagonists, both of whom “pass”; one completely, the other conditionally. Most impressively, Hall captures the tensions of passing in a manner that is effective in the 21st century. Whereas the novella is a masterpiece of sumptuous yet suggestive prose, the black-and-white film’s luxuriousness is found in texture, light, and gesture. Hall avoids a problem that all too often afflicts Black actors. When directors fail to shift light appropriately, bodies that are luminous too often are made muddy and shapeless. Hall’s effective light is not just visually satisfying; it is a narrative tool…

Read the entire review here.

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“Passing,” Reviewed: Rebecca Hall’s Anguished Vision of Black Identity

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Media Archive, Passing, United States, Women on 2021-11-28 17:12Z by Steven

“Passing,” Reviewed: Rebecca Hall’s Anguished Vision of Black Identity

The New Yorker
2021-11-08

Richard Brody

Ruth Negga and Tessa Thompson star in Rebecca Hall’sPassing,” a drama of images and self-images. Photograph courtesy Netflix

With a remarkable fusion of substance and style, Hall’s adaptation of Nella Larsen’s 1929 novel unfolds inner lives along with social crises.

Rebecca Hall’s directorial début, “Passing,” based on Nella Larsen’s 1929 novel of the same name, is one of the rare book adaptations that brings a literary style to the screen. The film’s sense of style is more than mere ornament; it embodies the confrontation with circumstances—practical, emotional, historical—at the heart of the story. “Passing” (coming to Netflix on Wednesday) is a period piece, set in Harlem during Prohibition, just before the Depression. The movie achieves an ample, resonant reconstruction of that era, but it doesn’t feature colossal sets or give the sense that entire neighborhoods were transformed for the purpose of shooting. Instead, Hall uses sharply defined locations imaginatively and conjures the time through her original way with light, texture, and gesture, all redolent of a storied yet troubled past. The result is an emotional immediacy that’s all the sharper for its subtlety, all the more intense for its contemplative refinement, and that, above all, gives apt expression to the film’s mighty and agonized subject.

The movie stars Tessa Thompson as Irene Redfield, a woman of about thirty who lives in a Harlem town house with her husband—Brian (André Holland), a doctor—and their two sons, one a child and the other on the cusp of puberty. She’s an activist who works as a volunteer for a (fictitious) charitable organization called the Negro League while also running the household. A light-skinned Black woman, she’s taken for white by white people in the course of her errands outside Harlem on a hot summer day. At a hotel café, Irene encounters Clare Bellew (Ruth Negga), a friend from high school whom she hasn’t seen in a dozen years. Clare, too, has light skin—but, unlike Irene, she intentionally passes for white. She’s married to a wealthy white banker named John (Alexander Skarsgård) and lives her entire life amid white society. Clare’s reunion with Irene (whom she calls Reenie) awakens a long-suppressed desire to exist among Black people, to affirm her own identity without shame or fear. Clare imposes herself on the Redfield household, befriends Brian and the boys, takes part in Negro League social events run by Irene—and, in doing so, knowingly confronts the grave risk that John will find out that she’s Black…

Read the entire review here.

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New Film “Whole” Looks at Daily Struggles of Mixed-Race Japanese

Posted in Articles, Asian Diaspora, Book/Video Reviews, Interviews, Media Archive on 2021-11-26 20:38Z by Steven

New Film “Whole” Looks at Daily Struggles of Mixed-Race Japanese

Nippon.com: Your Doorway to Japan
2021-11-25

Matsumoto Takuya

As the population of mixed-race Japanese—popularly called hāfu—grows, entertainers and athletes with bicultural backgrounds are increasingly prominent. However, most of those considered hāfu in Japan live normal, private lives, struggling daily with curiosity, prejudice, and their own identity conflicts. Whole, a new short film, takes up the issues facing just such people through the story of two young men. We spoke with the director, writer, and leading actor about the film…

Read the entire interview here.

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Mixed-Race Melodrama: Métisse

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Communications/Media Studies, Europe, Media Archive on 2021-11-22 17:57Z by Steven

Mixed-Race Melodrama: Métisse

Dr Zélie Asava: Rethinking Representation
2020-12-14

Zélie Asava, Academic. Speaker. Author.

Métisse [Mixed-Race] (Kassovitz, France, 1993) adheres to the ethics of beur cinema by reimagining the French nuclear family as black, mixed and white through its central characters. As a pioneering work it is flawed but, by directly engaging with issues of race, class, gender and sexuality, the film challenges the culturally embedded assumptions of its socio-historic moment and space.

Like Kassovitz’s 1995 film La Haine, Métisse visualises a France infused with Americana – various scenes feature fast food chains, basketball, drug dealing, graffiti, and hip hop. This cross-cultural focus belies the mixed history of the French nation, and locates the film in a society and industry profoundly changed by the post-WWII period of American commercial domination.[1] Métisse’s mise en scène evades traditional Parisian tropes – key landmarks are absent and there is little philosophising or romance (only its troublesome consequences). The protagonists are immature anti-heroes – rather than effortlessly chic intellectuals – and embody a mixed-race France. As such, they stand as a contrast to contemporaneous cinema culture – e.g. Amélie (Jeunet, France, 2001) or Les Apprentis [The Apprentices] (Salvadori, France, 1995) – where Paris is visualised through a white lens. Métisse is a conscious attempt to rewrite the city as its ordinary inhabitants know it; to show characters driven by tangible problems rather than ennui

Read the entire review here.

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Rebecca Hall’s Passing Says The Most In The Silences

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Media Archive, Passing, United States, Women on 2021-11-19 22:40Z by Steven

Rebecca Hall’s Passing Says The Most In The Silences

Elle
2021-11-12

Christine Jean-Baptiste
Montréal, Quebec

Passing opens on a busy street in 1920s New York. A mysterious woman (Tessa Thompson) is roaming through Manhattan. In this part of town, she anxiously hides behind a wide-brimmed hat covering half her face. It’s every bit intentional. When she later settles down in the grand tea room at The Drayton Hotel, she stays camouflaged among a sea of lily-white couples. As she people-watches, her eyes lock on an almost unnoticeable old friend, Clare Kendry (Ruth Negga), who blends in perfectly with the crowd.

In her directorial debut, Rebecca Hall takes on an ambitious adaptation of Passing, a 1929 novel written by Harlem Renaissance author Nella Larsen about two Black women who live parallel truths: one, Clare, is passing as white, and the other, Thompson’s Irene, envies the privileges that come with the act. When it first premiered at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival, Passing was touted as a “psychological thriller about obsession, repression, and the lies people tell themselves and others to protect their carefully constructed realities.” But the film is less potent than its subject matter. Instead, race identity in America is a soft whisper that is meant to haunt instead of educate.

Though both of these light-skinned Black women have shared a similar upbringing, Irene and Clare could not have grown further apart. Irene lives in Harlem with her two children and charming husband (André Holland), who is Black. Clare has dyed her hair blonde and lives partially in Europe with her daughter and racist husband (Alexander Skarsgård), who is white. After catching up over champagne in Clare’s suite, the dynamic between the two women tightens, emphasized by the enclosing camera shots. While Clare seems delighted to be reunited with an old friend, Irene appears hesitant and reserved. It doesn’t make Irene any more comfortable when Clare says dating a rich white man is “well worth the price,” implying that she’s comfortable passing as a white woman and benefiting from it. Or when Clare’s husband walks in, expressing his gratitude for Clare’s “whiteness.” Irene soon realizes that her childhood friend was now someone with a secret, because the man who hates Black people so much did not realize his wife was one…

Read the article here.

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What To Know About the Novel Passing Before Watching the Netflix Movie

Posted in Articles, Biography, Book/Video Reviews, History, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Passing on 2021-11-14 03:06Z by Steven

What To Know About the Novel Passing Before Watching the Netflix Movie

TIME
2021-11-12

Cady Lang

In Passing, the film adaptation of Nella Larsen’s seminal 1929 novel of the same name, two women reckon with who they are and how they identify. Although both are Black, they are light-skinned enough that they can “pass” for white. The film, which premiered at Sundance and hits Netflix this week, takes a nuanced approach to parsing out the complexities of race and its role in our lives—not just the construct of it, but the performance of it. Larsen’s novel centers on two childhood friends whose chance encounter as adults shifts not only how they see themselves, but how they view their places in the world, with dramatic consequences.

This complex friendship is the inspiration for Rebecca Hall’s film adaptation, which is also her directorial debut. Actors Tessa Thompson and Ruth Negga play Irene and Clare, respectively, the two women whose reunion will upheave both their worlds and cause them to reconsider the lives they have chosen and the reasons behind those choices.

Here’s what to know about the Passing movie adaptation and the book it was based on…

Read the entire article here.

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Commentary and Book Review: Multiracials and Civil Rights: Mixed-Race Stories of Discrimination

Posted in Articles, Book/Video Reviews, Law, Media Archive, United States on 2021-11-14 02:05Z by Steven

Commentary and Book Review: Multiracials and Civil Rights: Mixed-Race Stories of Discrimination

Journal of Civil Rights and Economic Development
Volume 34, Issue 1 (Spring 2021)
pages 1-11

Jasmine Mitchell, Associate Professor of American Studies and Media Studies
State University of New York, Old Westbury

Can a drop of whiteness or “looking white” save someone from anti-Blackness? Are mixed-race peoples special, and should they be a protected class under the law? Did Loving v. Virginia’s legalization of interracial marriage lead to race becoming insignificant? Tanya Hernández’s Multiracials and Civil Rights: Mixed-Race Stories of Discrimination debunks persistent myths that racial mixture will eradicate racism and heal the racial wounds of the United States. Using cases and other legal sources, Hernández persuasively argues that multiracials are not exempt from racial discrimination. Multiracials and Civil Rights crystalizes the pervasiveness of white supremacy while offering a sociopolitical lens by which to tackle racial injustices.

Hernández’s book hails from legal studies and offers a much needed lens to augment understandings of race, law, and the state. Much of the scholarship on mixed race studies comes from sociology, political science, psychology, history, media studies, and literature. The book accomplishes an important intervention, with an evident dedication to engaged research and scholarship, marking the tangible material realities of multiracials in the legal system. Presenting a valuable archive of legal records, Hernández addresses how multiracials experience discrimination and captures a U.S. landscape of white supremacy and racial discrimination coexisting with ideologies of colorblindness and racial progress. Multiracials and Civil Rights: Mixed-Race Stories of Discrimination converses with literature in several fields and joins a recent plethora of scholarship on mixed-race identities, stories, and experiences.

Read the entire commentary and review here.

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