18 February 2019

Love Is What Brought You Here

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I live in a predominately white area where I have to remind myself not to stare at a black person if I see one in the street because it's just such an uncommon sight. In fact, the area is so white that if my friends and I were to find ourselves in a horror movie then I'd almost certainly be the first to die simply because I have the most basic hint of a tan about me. However, whenever I've been to the cinema to see a film about any kind of minority then in every single case that minority has been in the audience too. This was the case with Crazy Rich Asians, Black Panther and most recently If Beale Street Could Talk in which there was a single black lady sat in the seat that I'd actually booked for myself. Every time I see this happen I'm reminded of why representation really does matter and how refreshing and needed it must be for those individuals. Still.. I did say that in this case that the lady was sat in the seat that I'd booked for myself. I know it was her fuck up but considering the film we were seeing, I have to admit that I did feel proper shitty having to tell her to go back to wherever her cinema ticket says she belongs.

The film itself was pretty much perfect in every way though, which I'm aware of despite the fact that I spent the first ten minutes feeling like Rosa Parks' bus driver. If Beale Street Could Talk tells the story of a young black couple in the 1970s in which he is arrested for a rape that he didn't commit and she finds herself pregnant with his child. Not that the film is a tense thriller in which everybody races to prove his innocence before the kid is born or anything. It's mostly a film about the love that these two characters share for each other and the shit that they have to endure simply because of who they are and the colour of their skin. The critic Roger Ebert once referred to cinema as an 'empathy machine' and although that's probably lost on the teenagers that just use it as a room to shag in, it's hard to argue with him in the case of this film. When the girl discovers that she's pregnant, the film is suddenly less interested in the drama that this might cause than it is in how she feels about it. Not that I'm any the wiser as to why people have kids I guess. As far as I'm concerned a child is just what happens when you find a way to put a downer on banging and is the reason that you can no longer afford Xbox games.

However, the pregnancy is shown to be nothing but good news in the movie with the exception of the fathers' own mother who can't see past her own bullshit religion and her son's lack of marriage. I think the film is about the love that the two main characters share for each other and how important love is in overcoming the bullshit that is thrown at us. Not least of all because the second that soon-to-be grandmother starts mouthing off about God, she receives a quick backhand from her own husband and that's pretty much the last we see of her. I don't know if you've seen that youtube video in which Sean Connery talks about how he'll occasionally slap a woman that's pissing him off? Well, I think the guy in this movie that slaps his wife had been taking private lessons on how to do it from the Scottish fucker himself because the bitch is literally never seen again. The second that she got “open-palm smacked” in the face, it was as though she and her negativity were being swept out of the entire movie to make way for the characters that actually care about each other. Although if anybody at all brings God into a conversation for no reason whatsoever then I suppose that there's no reason a quick slap won't get rid of them too.

The film is more concerned with the internal life of its characters than it is in racing towards its next plot point. Due to its non-linear nature and an occasional artsy-fartsy shot, the movie has a poetic feel to it which is helped along by a pretty perfect score. You'll notice I said “artsy-fartsy' there to make it sound like I'm not pretentious before comparing the film to a poem. Not that I know any fucking poems of course, but you get my point. You'll understand even more if you saw the director Barry Jenkins previous film Moonlight which is not only a masterpiece but my favourite film to feature a couple of guys having a wank on a beach. In both cases, there's an almost timeless quality to the movie in which it could almost have taken place during any period. I don't tend to read books because they're full of spoilers for the movie that will one day be made of them, but I'm told that this film is based on one. I presume that book was set in the 1970s which is why the film is too however you almost suspect that Jenkins has kept the time period the same as a way of highlighting how little has actually changed in the last few decades. And when I say 'suspect' I mean I heard him say it in an interview, but in honesty I'd like to pass it off as my own astute observation.

When it comes to the film's depiction of racism and the injustice of having this innocent man arrested for a rape that he didn't commit, we see what happens when power is in the wrong hands. The whole situation essentially arises from a racist policeman forcing a rape victim to identify the main character as her attacker, which obviously highlights how rigged our society is against those without a voice. I've been in situations in work in which somebody has been promoted above me and the second they get a little bit of power you can literally smell their erection whenever they get a chance to prove they're in charge. It was, therefore, watching this movie that made me realise why so many psychopaths might be drawn to the police force in which their word is considered the law and thus they can instantly feel superior to almost anybody. Presumably, racism stems from an insecurity and I'm guessing people who need to prove their own authority are pretty insecure and so you can see why this job might appeal to them. Not that I'm suggesting that me being told that I'm not allowed a cup of tea in the office by some tit on a power trip is the same as being falsely accused of a crime because of the colour of my skin. But I'm sure that we all agree that both situations are at the very least pretty annoying.

It's probably worth pointing out at this point though that despite the downer of a story, this movie isn't a two-hour misery-fest. In order to highlight how traumatic this event is for all involved, the film spends most of its time showing the two main characters' love for each other and the love of their family around them. It's a story about two people whose love is so pure that if it could be crushed and snorted then you could probably cut it with a fuck-tonne of baking soda before selling it on. The two main characters are soul mates which is something I can relate to because that's the exact kind of relationship that I'm in with my own self-hatred. Love is also the only emotion I felt for this movie which should be seen by everyone especially now that I've already seen it and they're less likely to ruin my screening by talking through it. I mean, I wouldn't mind, but I booked five seats to avoid having to sit next to any strangers and not only had a woman sat in my main seat but she'd also scattered all of her shopping bags and her coat along the others. It was even more awkward when she then only moved two seats along and we both turned out to be the only people in the screening. Still, if I'm seeing a film as incredible as this one then I'll take awkward silence over any noise pretty much any day of the week. Thanks for reading and see you next time, motherfuckers.

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