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Wednesday
May022012

Best Shot: "Pariah"

On this season of Hit Me With Your Best Shot we've looked at 80s fantasy (Ladyhawke), 60s zeitgeist drama (Bonnie & Clyde), 40s musical (Easter Parade), 30s gamechanger (Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs), 00s science fiction western (Serenity), and a 90s Asian masterpiece (Raise the Red Lantern). For this week's film, I chose something up to the minute, Dee Rees' Pariah (2011) just out on DVD. 

I found this film so moving late last year that I cursed Focus Features for letting it be crushed in the December glut where it had no business being in the first place. The coming out story of a shy Brooklyn lesbian was far too small and ethnic and gay and feminine an indie to hook Oscar voters so why make it compete for that attention? This selection was my excuse to promote the film as it enters its second and hopefully warmly embraced life for home viewing; it gets better!


I say that with a wink but without a trace of sarcasm. You see though I didn't have time to rewatch -- I've been struggling lately offblog. Apologies -- my most vivid memory of the film visually, and what I thought I might choose, is either of the bookending shots on the bus. I still remember the curiousity and sympathy I felt near the beginning when watching "Lee" travel home on the bus late at night after visiting a gay bar and the cathartic mix of peace and tears I experienced at the finale when light floods on to our humble heroine. The two shots are like beautifully symmetrical start and end points on her gorgeously executed character arc, a curved frame if you will for Adepero Oduye's breakout performance. Not that this character arc is ending. Lee's journey has only just begun.

I'm thrilled to discover that both of these shots were chosen by one of our 'Hit Me' participants. Since Pariah is as much about Alike trying to find her community as it is about her self-discovery, I think this is an ideal opportunity to say a genuine and loud THANK YOU to the participating blogs that make "Hit Me" such a rewarding communal series I hope you're always clicking and reading them for multiple views on all these fine films! 

 

  • FILM ACTUALLY looks at clothing as a public declaration of sexuality
  • ENCORE'S WORLD finds light from within
  • AWWW, THE MOVIES cocoons you in the moving poetry
  • SKETCHY DETAILS finds Rees use of color masterful and compares it to the work of Dario Argento (!)
  • CINESNATCH loves the performances but can't quite connect with the film
  • THE FILM'S THE THING is disappointed in the acclaimed indie but found Alike's double life reflections interesting. 
  • ANTAGONY & ECSTASY discusses the promise of Dee Rees and the bold recurring choices of artificial and "real" light...

 

...if all indie filmmakers thought about how to communicate visually as much as Rees has, American cinema would be in far better shape."

Next Wednesday on "Hit Me"The Exorcist (1973). Why don't you join in? I'll start early this week and make sure it happens. Nobody can ever believe that I've never seen it!

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Reader Comments (6)

It gets better ... tee-hee.

May 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCinesnatch

I can't wait for your post on The Exorcist.

May 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBeau

A lot of attention was paid to the moody, color-coded lighting employed in the scenes, but my favorite use of color was in Bina's polka-dotted rainbow room. It reminded me a lot of the home in Fish Tank-- a simple detail that brings some badly-needed comfort to the film.

May 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterEvan

Blurgh I feel bad for not participating in this. Loved this at TIFF

I love the colours here and since Robert already compared Pariah to Argento's work I feel as if Pariah is part of recent movies (Black Swan, Rampart, Shame) that uses warm neon cinematography to showcase the real New York or gritty lifestyles or sexuality, etc. Then the lighting gets more naturalistic/blended when she comes out, which is very symbolic of her life getting better.

May 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPaolo

I think these posts have convinced me to invest in an import DVD seeing as it looks like it'll never be released here.

May 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKL

What a fantastic movie. Great choice.

May 3, 2012 | Unregistered Commentereurocheese
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