Posts Tagged ‘Khalil Kain’

Colored Girl vs For Colored Girls:A Review-Part 2

In Take 2: Film/TV Reviews on 9 November 2010 at 12:43 pm




 Please ready Review Part 1  FIRST before reading this. Click HERE. Thanks!

7 Nov 10

          This morning I woke up to pitch black darkness surrounding me in my bedroom as my conscience pulled me out of a nightmare, a nightmare where I envisioned my college friend who had been out drinking with all of us and I allowed one of our guy friends to drive her home. I mean, this was the south, stuff like that doesnt happen in the south, right? He was a friend of all of ours and had been for years so I didnt feel like there was anything to worry about. But fear struck my core when she told me that he fell asleep in her bed next to her, undressed.  Friend or no friend, fear can shake a girl that way. She was intoxicated and had nothing to go on but his word that nothing happened. But she would never be the same after that, and the thought of him being in the house while she was passed out shook me to my core and stalked me in my sleep years later. This was one of the realities that I took home with me after watching For Colored Girls. There were so many eye-opening moments, but that one hit home the best like, like…….. like an abusive boyfriend with fists of steel coming with the strength of hurricane Katrina. For Colored Girls had done something to me that was unexpected; it made me rethink what it meant to be a Colored Girl TODAY and not remain the colored girl of 1997 when I first picked up the book and rose to success without accepting or issuing any apologies. What kind of Colored girl was I today? And what kind of audience needed For Colored Girls: the movie?

          Walking into Potomac Yards’ Regal Theater at 4pm ,directly after work,  was like me rushing to see Deep Throat; no one was supposed to like it but it was the IT thing to do of the day. The crowd of women rocking one dominate color or another was a secret sign to those of us who had knowingly been Colored Girls for years, that we were here to stake claim to something that had been ours for decades, some longer than others, but ours just the same. I found myself sitting dead center in the upper rows next to a mature woman rocking a powder blue beret and matching sweater who was as poised as she wanted to be. And as I looked around the room I saw colors that weren’t apart of our Colored Girl sisterhood and I just assumed that they were the Neos begging to find out what our sisterhood was all about, but I didn’t have the courage to tell them that this may be a hazing of sorts rather than the traditional induction expected by Nationals. Besides, I would have sounded crazy to a woman who just wanted to come and see a movie, like my co-worker who didn’t even know it was a book or a play before she saw my book placed on my desk earlier that day. The 15 minutes of previews was not enough time for me to fill these women in, and so I sat back quietly with my Icee and held my judgment close as the lights went dim.

          As a person who has her Masters Degree in Theatre Arts, me watching a movie is like doing the job of the Continuous ( the person who gets paid to make sure that every time they do a retake the glass is filled to the same level and a purse is on the same shoulder…..notices all errors so the shot looks continuous) instead I am doing it for free. And even though there is no stage, I am still sitting against the fourth wall begging the movie to suspend my moment of disbelief, to pull me in. Immediately, as the movie began, the violinist sitting upon the piano, leg crossed, toes pointed inches away from the pianist’s face drew my disbelief’s attention clear into the room. Who does that in real life? I immediately was aware again that this was a movie and some of the creative effects were going to be there, rather than make this as real as possible, or at least that was my initial fear. Anika Noni Rose, supposedly assigned Lady in Yellow, but performing Lady in Brown’s poem, opens up with a beautiful dance that draws us all in, but this collage of voices that jack-up the opening make it hard to understand if the women are saying the same thing or different things, and all of it gets lost in the surround sound as jumbled mess before the last line if cursively scribbled across the screen. I think that it was a unneccesary dramatic effect, or improperly executed effect. Allowing each woman to speak was clean and would have been enough. But that wouldn’t be the last thing I had wrong with this movie.

          The introduction of characters was another area that jolted my senses. In the play, they were just colored girls retelling stories, some theirs and some of the people they knew, but you were never quiet sure. Half the time it felt like they were telling your story but changed the name to protect the not so innocent. SO as soon as Kerry Washington gives Kimberly Elise the name of Crystal, she no longer becomes a color to me. She becomes the woman in the poem with a face, with a figure, and a name. It takes away some of my emotion because I now have someone to judge, someone to stare at and say…honey, you don’t have to live in this situation, rather than wonder who tried to help her. And as much as I tried, Kerry’s interaction with Michael Ealy the first time was so unbelievable. Maybe there are guys who hit female strangers, but I would think that he would have taken the stereotypical stance that all abusive men took; subtly. He would have held in all that rage until after she left so that nothing would seem out of the ordinary. Because if he indeed hit her, she would have called the cops for hitting a city employee and not just left some damn voicemail. Then BAM! Phylicia began a portion of the Beau Willie poem, so was she Lady in Red? It felt like a great place to put it, but then it dawned on me….. THE POEMS WERE INCOMPLETE AND OUT OF ORDER!!!! This was no longer For Colored Girls Who Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Was Enuf, this was like Passion of the Christ versus Jesus Christ, Super Star! Okay, Okay…. I get it now. He may have used the foundation of my Bible, but he remixed the order of the scripture…..it was okay. My own Bishop doesn’t read the Bible in the same order every Sunday, but I get the same message. I could relax….almost.

          In comes Loretta Divine, OBVIOUSLY the Lady in Green, but why in the HELL was she doing the Lady in Red’s “water it your damn self” poem? Confused. So, people weren’t keeping their own poems either? Okay, so this went from Passion of the Christ, to Jesus Christ Super Star to Mel Gibson yelling anti-Semitic phrases on a freeway. I couldn’t understand. Each Colored Girl had her own traits, why were they being mixed around? And for the life of me…..who in the hell casted Tessa Thompson? While doing the Lady in Yellow’s graduation poem in a purple leotard ( Thought I wouldn’t notice,huh?) she destroyed everything I am still paying student loans off of for was based on. She rambled through that piece just to hear herself speak. There were no revelations, no pauses,  no tone fluctuations to suggest a change in who she was, and it was too damn sing-songy.  I could hear Shakespeare clawing at the dirt in an attempt to get to her trailer to recite “Bitch, speak the speech I pray you as I pronounced it to you, trippingly on the tongue; but if you mouth it as many of our players do, I had as lief the town-crier spoke my lines“. And I don’t know that many girls who would tell how they lost their virginity to a class full of females. I just think that her execution could have been better. Just like I wondered why was Whoopi in the film? The ONE poem that she received was mumbled in with that of Thandie Newton’s and very inaudible. It was as if some theatrical effect went wrong and had a wardrobe malfunction in the middle of Super Bowl and no one was willing to apologize for it. That poem deserved its own light as well, they both did. They both were of equal importance. I spent half the time trying to hear Whoopi’s poem and drown out Thandi’s, who was supposed to be the Lady in Orange…signified by her double-sided taped orange robe. I felt as if I lost something there that I can’t get back. And the close up of Whoopi saying, “He said I was ugly” sucked all seriousness out of the theater as we all laughed at an aged Ceily and imagining Sug pointing her long, bony finger in her face, because this scene “Shol was ugly”. But maybe, and this could be a stretch, maybe Whoopi became the symbolic precense of all of us who know the play,have strayed from it and the minute your faults have been thrown in your face you run back to the old play and claim to hold it sacred. I say this from the rounds of critique’s I’ve seen on the internet. Are we the mothers of this movement dressed in all white wearing dirty draws full of our bullshit that we want no one else to see? So many women, self included, claim that the purpose of the play means so many things to them, but most importantly that they can change and rise above those things….only to refuse change the moment they heard this movie was coming out. Are we the theatrical cult mothers baptizing the new generation with honey and ash to convert them back to colored ballerinas in jazz shoes the moment that we see them engaging in the activities that For Colored Girls once saved us from all those years ago? Are we the ones wishing them well but leaving the theater abruptly because this new adaptation is ” the devil’s music“? Just a thought.

          With the whole Beau Willie poem, and Crystal…. I think that Kimberly Elise did a good job. I still couldn’t take my mind away from the Lynn Whitfied & Oprah scene in Brewster Place where Oprah tells her to breathe after the loss of her baby. I can’t remember if I cried during that scene. I teared up more with her scrubbing the blood off of the sidewalk. That graphic brought home that I was judging and made me think of someone very close to me and her two children and the men she has chosen to love. It brought fear in my heart, since I knew that no one but my personal Crystal could choose to help herself once she decided to take responsibility for her part in such an abusive situation. I couldn’t save her. And that stung.

        The men…..outside of me visualizing Maino (Khalil Kain, who has gained some weight) raping Anika….the other guys really just floated to the back of my memory. That rape scene was the most graphic I think I’ve seen Tyler get since Medea Goes to Jail with the guy on top of Keisha Knight Pulliam. The clock was dramatic, but I caught myself laughing at the fact that at least he was a 2 minute brother. I had to detach for my own mental safety.  If anything I wanted to blame the guy and not Anika for letting a guy into her house on the second date. Those damn guys!!!! They were there….but they weren’t there. It was never about them. I still question their having been there in the first place. Loretta Divine’s speech to the door was powerful because no man was there. I think that the men could have very well been abstractly there. I think that would have been more powerful than me hurting my eyes trying to squint to see a private part or two of the hot ass guy butt naked behind some beads in Thandi’s house. But…it is what it is.

          I finally figured out why Janet was dressed in Red….she was supposedly the Lady in Red, all be it imposing that she delivered the Lady in Blue’s speech. Sorry Kerry…she stole your poem. Also, the big reveal of her marital situation…. I WISH I WOULD sit on a bed all calm delivering some kind of poem to the back of my Down Low husband’s head after receiving the news that I received. THAT SHIT WAS SO UNPLAUSIBLE!!!! ARE YOU SERIOUS!!! She should have reached back into her acting bag from Why Did I Get Married, Too and imagined that he was coming in her house trying to take her stuff again. THIS is where she should have lost her damn mind!!! And then she went to a damn party!!!! Oh, somebody was smoking crack when this part of the script came to be. Sorry, Janet baby…I don’t blame you because you were allowed to do it….but it didn’t fly with me. You behaving like Cruella Deville was a nice surprise, but not much else. Okay, I take that back, your change around and revelation was nice as well. But the message that was sent with her being all calm was such the wrong message to send to colored girls. We didn’t see her break down over her health, but we saw her break down over her assistant’s children? We didn’t see her break her composure over the discovery of his lies, over the uncertainty of what was ahead? There should have been something a little more believable here…..but it was that “ONE YEAR LATER” jump that we were suppose to guess what happened. Tyler should stick to a 48hr window period of  believability because things get left out.

          I personally think that with 9 women being housed in a 7 woman script there were some things that were going to get left out. I think that Kerry’s character could have been combined with that of Whoopi’s and Phylicia’s. She could have still been the social worker who was a hypocrite and preying on everyone else’s business. And she could have still been Nyla (Tessa) and Thandi’s (Thandi) ….am I the only one who noticed that Thandi kept her own name in the movie, or was it Tangi?……mother. I think that Loretta should have been Lady in Red and Janet Lady in Green…for the most part. But with the mixture of parts, its hard to tell who should have been what. I just think that the backdrop for these women were not quiet right for this play. Maybe it should have been a Girlfriend’s kind of setting where Joan comes in and tells about the people she works with, or a few of Maya’s “Oh Hell Nawls”, and Lynn’s inability to see the world as it is to make us all wonder just where in the hell did Toni go. It would have made us, or at least me, believe half of the movie. I would have been able to believe that there were people out there who stuff like this happened to with it being told over cocktails in an upscale bar. Hell….they could have even turned it into a play about poets living out their lives on stage in poems, and that would have helped with the cadence of some of the poetical lines that most people would never say in regular conversation or description. But this is all…..should’ve, could’ve, would’ves.

          After getting over the whole Women of Brewster’s Place vibe, I did walk away with two or three bells of personal wisdom; Anika Noni Rose & Phylicia Rashad. Anika Noni Rose should definitely get an award, a certificate, or a cover for her scene in the hospital. I cried. I sat there and internalized every thing she said because the scene was done beautifully. Having been assaulted by a member of my own family, I understood and I agreed. It made me take notice of the numerous times I dated a guy and he kept trying to have sex with me when the answer “No” never wavered. It made me wonder if we weren’t surrounded by other people, or if I hadnt driven myself home…what would have happened. Or I think back to the times of having my hands pinned down after I try to push him off of me and his refusing to stop. Do you press charges when someone refuses to stop, no matter how far you initially intended to go? Are you not allowed to change your mind when you no longer feel comfortable? After he is already in your house? I already dont let many people, male or female, into my house…but who am I really allowing into my space. And just because I gave him a kiss, was seen in public with him, or hugged him….does that send him a signal that more could be in store? I was frightened. It was a good frightening, it was a frightening of awareness. That was an awareness that I never took home with the play.  Just like, I heard Phylicia speaking to Thandi…..I have some things that I need to “pluck out at the root”. And I was Thandi sitting on the table facing her baby sister trying to explain to her that I didn’t hate her and never had. No one had ever taught me how to love myself so I didn’t know how to love her. It was as if it was me saying ” being a colored girl is a metaphysical dilemma that I aint got quite good at yet” into the eyes of a sister who wasnt willing to see me try. I was Thandi accepting her reason for needing $300 and going to pay it to find out that it was all a lie. I’m not perfect, and I can’t go back, but I will not stand around and take the blame for the actions of a person I don’t know any more. I just dont know how to get my life to play out as beautifully as their scene. But I’ll keep praying. It was these amazing women who spoke to me the most. But I was still Thandi’s character, running from being touched through continuous touching. I was Tessa’s character, having been pregnant and having had an abortion at the age of 20. I was Phylicia, being in everyone’s business wanting to help solve their problems and my help not being welcomed. I was Janet, being a powerhouse and people not respecting that,and sometimes abusing that power. I was Kerry, wondering would I ever be able to have a child with a man who I loved and who loved me back after a guy who had seemingly destroyed my world. I was Kimberly, staying in situations that would never benefit me but never having the strength to leave. I was Whoopi, tugging between hypocrisy and the hypocrite. And I was Loretta, not knowing that I could love myself more than any man could make me believe that he could.  I walked out of that theater feeling like I was still a Colored Girl. This movie didn’t confirm it, I knew it all along, and I was okay with letting another generation find their way back to the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. This movie wasnt taking anything from me…it was to remind me what I had, and I had it….but I expressed it through pre-judgment and an unwillingness to accept change. Indirectly, through all of its mistakes, this film, too, was a Colored Girl that needed to find its way…and it doesn’t need to apologize for its mistakes. It just needs to exist and touch those who can be touched by it. But just for dramatic effects it should scream to the mountain of complainers on critic sites and twitter, “Shut up bitch, I said I was sorry” just to prove a point that it wasnt trying to live up to their high ass expectations in the first place. Nothing can ever be an original, but the original. And this was no Ntozake Shange, but it was a Tyler Perry. Like it or not….it exists. And I took something away from it.

          And as I pulled into my house and plugged in my dead cell phone, it began to buzz like a pack of bees at a honeycomb. I check my text messages…and low and behold there is a text from the guy I cut it off with last week. His text read:

MRH: Afternoon! I know I haven’t talk with you n a couple of days, but I was down south. I would like to see you tonight an hold an talkk to you if not I got ya

I swear my life matches up better than most. His improper grammar taunted me and my intellectual capacity to understand how he just refused to put a “d” on the end of “an” when needed. I stared at the implied “Bitch, you’re stupid” tattooed to the tail end of his reason for not calling, as if the South has yet to discover phones. Here I was trying to figure out if I as the Lady in Green or the Lady in Red, and then I thought “What the hell” I became greedy and became both. You see, “ever since I realized there was someone called a colored girl, an evil woman, a bitch or a nag….. I’ve been trying not to be that” but moments like this just push my buttons and test my commitments to myself. But I was a Colored Girl….and I was better than anything he could ever do to me. And so I replied:


I just got back in the house and about to head back out. I really don’t see us EVER hanging out again. Just from the lack of respect you showed me BEFORE you went down south. But I wish you the best & early congrats on graduation. May God cover you in his favor. Goodbye!

          There it was….. mission accomplished and Colored Girl approved. I could hear the women high-fiving me in my spirit. I think that I have come full circle. “I had found God in myself and I loved her fiercly!” Whether it was the film or my history with the play….I was a Colored Girl Who Once Considered Suicide When My Purpose Became Too Much…..and I am sitting here rethinking that choice….because my Purpose IS Enough! *bundles up in my purple and green sheets and comforter & hits Save.”


~*My Mother’s Daughter*~

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