One Challenge at a Time

So as I mentioned a few posts ago, I am currently a graduate student majoring in choral conducting. If you’re a graduate student, your major field of study becomes your life, and appropriately so. I was given multiple challenges this week by my choral professor, including rehearsing/conducting the piece pictured below during a rehearsal of the Chorale, our top/select choral group:

Oremus

It’s called Oremus, from the Gloria Patri by Urmas Sisask and you can hear it here if you wish:

It’s basically a choral piece all on vowels and hums, and creates a large atmospheric presence. The concept behind it is pretty cool musically, but it is largely intimidating to look at and attempt to perform. This was also my piano sightreading exercise during my audition into the music dept. Both then, and when I was asked to conduct this piece, I had this face:

IMG_0088

The hardest thing about conducting this piece is that the cues are everywhere. One hand must keep strict time while the other bounces all over the place to keep the group together as they change to a new pitch (not always in an obvious way). This as where my biggest stress went while preparing it. I was literally sitting in the library for a few hours before the rehearsal working up a sweat/silent spaz session trying to do this perfectly, and I was going to any lengths necessary to do it effectively. I put my metronome on and continually practiced just cueing each voice part, and always missing a section somewhere. This went on for a while; I took a break, did something else, then resumed hardcore.

When I actually did this in class, while I didn’t hit everything I wanted to accomplish (nor did I do everything perfectly), I did feel personally accomplished that I hadn’t done as horribly as I thought I potentially could. Not only that, but I tried not to show how internally nervous I was…for a couple reasons.

a) This wasn’t a slightly more normal song with text, a meaning that is easier to interpret, simply dynamics, etc. This was a complex piece that took a lot of mechanics to create.

b) The idea of leading a top collegiate ensemble in itself was intimidating, to be honest. Granted, this is now within my goals for a future job – but I’d gotten used to boiling things down for public school music programs during my undergrad training, and now I had to really rise to the challenge of people who are not only smarter than that/capable of more, but who may also be smarter than me in some ways.

Having to do this taught me (or reminded me of) this: we must not only seek new challenges, but be ready to rise up to them – and then put our money where our mouth is with work! I’ve been wanting to do more and complex things with music and use it towards my career, and now that I am getting these opportunities more and more, I have been welcoming them – but this one definitely raised the bar a lot more. That, however, is the kind of life we should seek to live out: one in which we are constantly learning and bettering ourselves. I’ve often told adults that I can’t wait to one day be as intelligent and wise as they are from experience and age, and they always reply with “HA. I’m over 50 years old and I STILL don’t have all the answers.” At first this is discouraging, but it makes sense – there’s always something new to learn and always new ways to push yourself, especially as life consistently morphs and changes. After all, isn’t this what we as people are always doing, morphing and changing?

I look forward to the next intense challenge I get. Let’s just hope it doesn’t make me spaz too much.

(BTW…I was supposed to record myself conducting that song…and somehow I didn’t hit the record button before starting. There is now no evidence of how hard I worked on that and [hopefully] achieved something. I have mixed tears on that situation. Lol.)

-BB2

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My Favorite Sister

Today is my sister Rachel’s 20th birthday. Like what?

I’m the oldest of 4, with Rachel being the only girl. While I have a few very close female friends whom I consider being like a sister to me, there’s no sister like Rachel Black. As kids, we were all raised very close with each other – we were each other’s best friends, playmates, comforters in hard times, support in many endeavors, reality check when someone didn’t really shouldn’t have or said that…everything. This made for one of the strongest sibling dynamics I’ve ever known of anyone, and I love it. Rachel is my music/harmonizing buddy, the one who keeps all her brothers in check, and can always make you laugh at any given moment. She’s always been there for me in some of my darkest times jut to be herself and make me laugh – which was just what I needed. I’m so proud of this kid – I’ve watched her grow into the talented, blossoming flower of a young woman in life, and continues to blossom each day. She sings, plays piano, writes like a beast, steps, mimes, dances, and is the only one who can handle Benjamin, Gabriel & I when we’re all together at the same time. (That’s a huge task. Honestly).

Wouldn’t be a full family without her. Happy birthday negro! Love you and stuff.

IMG_0683The Blacks – Christmas 2013

What am I?

This is certainly a question we all wrestle with at some point in life, or multiple points. I’ve been dealing with that especially for the past 8 months. By the time I turned 24, I started wrestling more and more with who I was, what I wanted to be, what hadn’t happened in my life yet, and consistently compared myself with other peers as well as older adults who I wished to be like in some form or another…people who had accomplished things I wanted to accomplish. This varied from career achievements to life achievements (friends getting married, etc.) When this happens to a 40-something, it is labeled as a midlife crisis, and I certainly watched my Dad go through his when he hadn’t accomplished certain aspirations by this period in his life. However, I’ve seen it labeled for 20-somethings as a quarter-life crisis. The major difference here is that 20-somethings have a larger frame of time ahead of us to achieve what we may desire from life, but we are having a hard time seeing that when our friends are getting married or we aren’t using our college degree the way we wanted to, or other peers of ours are advancing in their jobs and we feel like our desired successes are a long way off.

I wrestled with this self-doubt for some time, and it factored into other day-to-day areas of my life as well. However, I eventually ended up resuming life as a student recently to pursue a long-time goal of obtaining my masters degree in conducting. My goals now consist of hoping to conduct collegiate/university choral ensembles while getting the masters and likely going for the doctorate after. (Many adults have told me, in their own hindsight, to stay in school after you start until you’ve earned the highest degree – it can be tough to go back to school once you’ve started “real life”.) This is ideal for me because I love music – singing, choirs, choral literature and other styles (a capella, gospel, jazz) have been passions of mine for years. But what does this have to do with who I am?

It’s important to know who you are and what makes you YOU. Despite the cliched picture-quotes that wander around our twitter or tumblr newsfeeds (we believe those WAY too fast…), it’s not your job, that one weird thought you had once, the mistakes you made, or what someone else called you. God put us put on this earth for a reason – it’s up to us to figure out what we are to do, and not get in the way of it. We ALL make mistakes – big and small – but how we learn from them, what we choose to do about certain things, how we react, how we treat people, and of course our reasons for doing what we do help to determine what makes us tick.

Last week, I was trying to get a better sense of why I do certain things or think certain ways, and I re-took a Myers-Briggs personality test. I hadn’t took it in some years, and this time I got ISFJ – Introverted, Sensing, Feeling, Judging – which is labeled as “the Nurturer”. About 10%, I believe, of the population has this personality type, and I’d say this was the closest to accurate description of myself that these 16 different personality types had to offer. I am definitely one to care for others much more than myself, I am slow to converse in larger groups but am fine in small groups or one-on-one (esp. when bouncing off someone more extroverted), I’m usually very loyal, and typically most comfortable with written communication the most (texting, social media, emails). ISFJs also highly value relationships with families and only a few close friends. I certainly can say that about myself as well. The bulk of the description of ISFJs is quite relatable to me, in a way that is more eye-opening to me at this point in my life as I am seeking the answers. I’ve been trying lately to do more and more self-awareness in order to properly guide my present, and therefore, my future. The more you know about yourself in general and in certain situations, the better choices you will make all around.

One thing I will say about “life-crises”, no matter what age – to counteract letting your thoughts take over too much, here are things you MUST do in order to avoid letting it all get to you (they definitely helped me):

1. Pray (God probably has something better for you around the corner…the timing is just frustrating. But worth it later.)

2. Talk to someone who gets it – parents and adults who are past this are great, but definitely include someone a year or two older than you who may have just been there not-too-long ago. Watching others’ journeys often help us think about ours.

3. Do something constructive! A fun old hobby or a new hobby, something physical, something artistic or musical – just something to take you mind off of things. I know those did not do this, and the result was the negative thoughts transpiring into negative actions. LAST thing you want.

So who else out there thinks about these things? Any other 20-somethings out there on a quest to figure themselves out? I’m certainly not done with mine, and I’ll keep sharing as I learn more.

-BB2

Meet the Browns…or “Brenda’s Story”

Meet the browns

This movie is based on the stage play of the same title. The play focused on Brown & Cora gathering with their family at the time of Pop Brown’s funeral (while all the family members’ subplots being the place to find the messages/obstacles). This worked really well, demonstrated David Mann’s talents as well as how far Tamela Mann had come as a supporting actress willing to do anything, and it was well-balanced between Brown family comedy & the conflicts to resolve – ALL of which told a story. In THIS story, however, the family becomes secondary, and the focus takes a backplot from the play What’s Done in the Dark about a woman named Brenda. Brenda raises 3 children on her own, struggling to make ends meet, while keeping hope in her son Mike who plays basketball in school and wants to help his mother make ends meet. In the movie, this is expanded as the main plot, and we get the added character of Rick Fox (he has a character name, but face it…we’re all very aware that it’s Rick Fox), who both trains Mike for the NBA and serves as Brenda’s romantic interest. On it’s own, this isn’t a bad story. The problem is: the Browns gathering for the funeral is now the plot device to connect the two stories, and the Browns get the shaft.

In our family, we don’t call it Meet the Browns. We call it Brenda’s Story.

SUMMARY

Long story short: Brenda, struggling to make ends meet and losing yet another job just before the electricity gets cut off, is at her wit’s end as a mother. Her children are her only joy. She somehow finds out that her father was Pop Brown, and is invited to the funeral with the rest of the family. Down there she meets the other Browns, who reveal that she was born out-of-wedlock. Meanwhile, Rick Fox is there, and wants to work with Brenda’s son Mike on his BB skills. He spends a lot of time with both him and, eventually, Brenda, who is hostile at accepting kindness from anyone after all her experiences of being taken advantage of. Mike’s father won’t give her the time of day to help take care of their son’s necessities, which she begs for out of desperation a few times in this movie. This ultimately drive Mike to attempt drug dealing to help his mother, which lands him getting shot. He soon bounces back, Rick Fox lands him a possible NBA deal, and they move to the house Pop Brown willed her down south. Despite the kindness, Brenda overhears gossip about Rick Fox’s past and starts to doubt him again, and has to ultimately learn to finally accept someone’s love in the end.

WHAT WORKS:

  1. Bassett/Lance Gross’ chemistry – I like the chemistry between them as mother and son. This relationship is the most important one in the movie, and it’s one of the best things about it, period. Lance Gross does a great acting job in this as well.

  2. Angela Bassett – This won’t be her most memorable role, but she does bring her all into carrying the movie’s story. She’d better, since the plot is now all hers now. (Thanks, What’s Done in the Dark…) But really, when she hurts, you hurt with her. When she’s finally finding things to be happy about, you rejoice with her. That’s one of the great marks of this actress.

  3. David Mann & Jennifer Lewis – This is David Mann’s first time in a movie, and of course Jennifer Lewis is a grand actress. They are the most memorable Browns…but this is also a problem I address in the next category, as they are the ONLY memorable Browns. The film is named after a very underwhelming adaptation of the play…but at least we get some laughs out of Lewis and Mann (who probably had the most fun in this movie).

  4. Sophia Vergara – she is a fun & supportive friend for Angela Bassett, and she’s not in the movie too much for me to resent her comedic endeavors.

WHAT DOESN’T WORK:

  1. The transfer from the plays to the movie. This is a BIG problem, and it’s mostly character-based. To break it down:

    1. Tyler really assumed a lot when making this movie. He basically combined a few different stage plays into one, but Meet the Browns was both the one that was minimized in story/likeability the most, while also getting the title somehow. The crowd of fans from the play at least know who the characters are and why certain things about them are funny. But even so, as one of these people, I couldn’t stand how shortchanged and tacked-on the representations of them were (explained below specifically).

    2. The movie-only crowd may think of the Browns’ side of the story as a potential distraction from Brenda’s story. Yes, Brenda’s story is the focus of the movie, and it IS way, way better done than in the play with the room a movie gives a story. But when you label it with the Browns, that is what I expect to see: THE BROWNS. And they’re not even played up to be remembered that much, except for David Mann and Jennifer Lewis. NONE of the rest of them are memorable at all, which I understand because the movie would have been far too crowded…but the movie is also named after them. Big problem.

  2. Cora – if you don’t know her yet, do NOT try to get to know her here. Cory’s story arc as a character starts in the middle in this movie, which doesn’t make for a good introduction to who she is. As soon as we meet her at the bus stop, she’s normal and whatever…and then she jumps to yelling at Jennifer Lewis about the guns in her bag (ala Madea) in the next scene. See, this was fine in the play b/c everyone followed who she was by now. The movie-only crowd does not.

  3. Transitions – Man, are they lame. Sophia Vergara goes immediately from hitting Bassett’s baby daddy to talking about the plot again right outta nowhere, just because now it’s time to move the plot along. Then they say “oh there’s the bus!” And next thing we know they’re getting off the bus in GA. That’s not clever editing. Later we see the house Pop Brown willed to Brenda, and it takes way, way too long for the camera to reveal the house.

  4. Man, do I miss Sarah Brown (LB’s wife) from the play. Good grief, this movie needs her. In the play, she was the main straight-person holding the family together in advice, wisdom and love. Here, she’s just a bland, bland, bland cardboard cutout who you’ll forget in t-minus 10 seconds. What a waste of a great character.

  5. Also, Jennifer Lewis’ son Will is played by that one guy who’s name I can never remember, but he’s never wowed me in anything b/c I just think he’s pretty underwhelming in everything I see him in. You’ll forget him too.

  6. Why do we have to see the dead body in this flick? Maybe that’s just me.

  7. Rick Fox’s romance w/Angela Bassett – I know I should be happy for Bassett when she finally has something to be happy about (and generally I am), but…it kind of hits points we’ve seen in other generic romance flicks. We get the frustrating “misunderstanding” scene at a point when so much drama/sorrow just took place, that this just brings the sadness down a lot more. (Also, it’s edited back & forth with Madea’s cop scene…which doesn’t give me any space to digest either scene properly.) Oh and…yeah, Rick Fox…well, I’m just very aware that I’m looking at Rick Fox the entire time.

  8. How dare you put Jonathan Slocumb in your movie and not let him be funny? Shame on you, movie!

CONCLUSION

In general, this movie is not good whether you have seen TP plays or not. If you have, you’ll feel like the characters are really missing something, and some of you may even feel tired of hearing the exact same lines over and over again. Yes, it’s great that TP set out to use movies as a larger venue to promote strong messages, and does take new creative risks – but there’s nothing wrong with avoiding the copy/paste temptation. Maybe I’m a hater, I don’t know. As a fan of his plays, I missed the original a lot. Thinking as someone who did not see the movie, the drama feels like it goes on forever, it’s not balanced well with the comedy, and there’s too much room for you to be confused by the comedic stunts trying to live on from the plays (outside of an inside joke-type of feeling). The strongest assets is the mother-son relationship, followed by David Mann & Jennifer Lewis. But it’s just not enough. My advice: Find the stage play, gather the family, and enjoy David Mann at his best.

But the good news is: at least it’s not the TV Show. (Good heavenly Father…)

Blackometer: 4/10

Let me know what you thought!

-BB2

Madea’s Big Happy Family

Big Happy Family

SUMMARY

The story centers around a woman named Shirley (Loretta Devine), a mother who has been battling cancer in secret from her 3 kids. She’s not upset about this however, because she’s strong in her faith and is grateful for the days God already gave her on this earth. But now she wants to gather all of her family together to tell them the news at once – by having them over for dinner together. The biggest problem with this is that they all have their own back plots that keep them from enjoying each others’ company. Kimberly is married to Isaiah Mustafa (huge upgrade of this character from the stage play) but she is consistently snapping at him and her family when she is “bothered” by them. Anytime she’s near them, she turns instantly bitter – especially to her mother. Tammy is married to Harold, a wimp of a man who’s let his marriage and parenting fall to crap and needs to stand up & be a man. Then there’s the youngest, Byron (Shad Moss), who’s trying to leave his drug-selling/ex-convict past behind to move on with his girlfriend and his son, but is constantly being thwarted by his [HILARIOUS] baby mama. This chick goes to every extreme possible to make Byron’s life a living hell, the worst of which is the famous “BY-REEEEEEEEEEEN” siren. (My name being often confused for Byron, don’t think I haven’t paid for this.)

Shirley’s first attempt at getting everyone together falls apart when the daughters all explode at each other over their issues with each other, but this is just the start. When Shirley finds out her illness is terminal, Madea steps in to help her get them together one last time. Madea goes on a driveby to collect the kids again, by any means necessary. By this point, all the crap has pretty much hit the fan (Byron got arrested & lost his job, Harold’s kids and marriage are falling apart as he gets wimpier and wimpier, and Isaiah Mustafa is appalled that Kimberly won’t help her mother bail Byron out of jail). Once they’re finally together, we get the scene where all the secrets are dropped on the table. Kimberly is Byron’s mother after being raped as a child, and Shirley raised him all these years without ever telling him or Isaiah Mustafa. Mustafa has grown sick of how terrible she treats him and her son, and leave her after dinner. Byron leaves to get back into the drug game after feeling defeated from trying to do the right thing and still coming up short. On the positive, Madea convinces Harold to stand up to Tammy, and for Tammy to stop treating him so rudely, and for both of them to actually raise their kids. Once Shirley dies, all but Kimberly are there as she tells them to love each other after she is gone, and from here, Madea gathers them all after the funeral to give them the final pieces of advice to adjust their lives & move forward. Kimberly must let go of all the hurt/pain, and accept Isaiah Mustafa’s love. Byron’s baby mama must stop using her energies to run his life, and he needs to continue to stay on the right path – which also means his new gold-digging girlfriend has to go.

WHAT WORKS:

1) Isaiah Mustafa! I know it’s an odd compliment to start with, but he is seriously one of the coolest things about this film. Not only is his presence cool – boy, does he really deliver in his role! He was a great mentor-figure for Byron.

2) It was fun to see David & Tamela Mann. Even if they had nothing to do with this (and we did get a tacked-on PSA from their What’s Done in the Dark backplot), it did lead  to a fun final scene with Maury. By now, Tamela had become a pretty good actress.

3) The Baby Mama – Good LORD is this actress brilliant. Especially in her introduction with Madea at the drive-thru. To think, this scene happened because TP didn’t get what he wanted one day at a fast-food restaurant one day. (Wait, he advocated for black male health…what was he doing there? Oh well. We got to see Madea drive into a restaurant, I’m not complaining.)

4) Madea slapping Harold’s kids – We’ve all seen those kids who we just WISH we could check (right in the face). This is almost up there with the restaurant scene.

5) Kimberly missing her mother’s death – this is a dark plus, but hear me out. It really does add to the depth of her character in a way that makes sense. When her family calls, she’s always “too busy” and making excuses. But this time it was too late, and it throw her bitterness through a terrible loop. This was a pretty deep and realistic twist that I thought added to her character/story.

6) CHANDRA CURRELLY SINGING AT THE FUNERAL. So glad she was allowed to be in the movie in this capacity. In the play, her being to do this song and have us watch her ascend into heaven was the most (literally) uplifting musical moments to show Christians why death is not something to fear if you’re prepared for the eternity with Christ. (Listen to it here Chandra Currelly: Heaven Waits for Me)

WHAT DOESN’T WORK:

1) Aunt Bam…I’m sorry, she gets in the way of this movie for me. It would have been better if Madea was her one friend/foil throughout the show, and I really like Cassi Davis…but she tries to implement a lot of comedy stylings that fit so much better on the stage when you have an audience to work off of their energies and a chance to improvise as much as you want. For example, the opening scene consists of way too much Aunt Bam commentary that slows the story down for 5 mins. before it can start…and it’s just not as funny here as it is on the stage play with Chandra Currelly as Shirley. In general, she really doesn’t add as much here because the movie’s story and characters have so much going on that there’s really no room for Bam to do what her character is supposed to do – add comic relief. Madea does this well enough on her own without her. Therefore, all she really does for this movie is slow it down; and I know the jokes in a stage play have the room for this, but in a movie it just really gets in the way. Also, I know people find the weed jokes funny…for some reason, whenever he uses them in his movies (i.e. Uncle Joe…ugh, we’ll get to him in another review), I can’t help but cringe at how long they go on and how unfunny they are.

2) Stage play-movie adaptation. Other than Aunt Bam’s existence in the movie being the biggest example, there are just some things that don’t transfer from the stage to the movie so well because of the different dynamics. Stage shows are restricted in a sense b/c of the space, what characters can get away with, etc. but you can also work off of an audience’s energy as a part of your performance in the moment, which often happens in a TP stage show. In a movie, however, you are given more space to tell a story in more dynamics ways than you can on stage due mainly to resources (when you boil it all down). Madea ranting on stage about sagging pants to an audience works way better than her halting the plot to do it in the movie to Byron.

3) The tacked-on health PSA. TP had the best of intentions in his plays, TV shows and movies when he would try to throw in health messages about diabetes, colonoscopies, etc. However, whereas with What’s Done in the Dark which took place in a hospital that served this as a plot, or an episode of House of Payne that focused on this, Big Happy Family just throws it in there with Brown & Cora, randomly, expecting us to remember it after everything else that happens. (I’m sorry, but I won’t leave the theater thinking about prostate exams after everyone else is yelling “BY-REEEEEEEN!!!”) What’s worse is that the movie goes from all that health talk to us later seeing Aunt Bam & Uncle Joe being allowed to get as high as they want, and the movie allows this because they are “comic relief”…and old. Old, funny people on weed is funny, I guess.

4) Lauren London as the gold-digging GF – okay, she’s not terrible. She’s just blander than rice on a paper plate. The chick in the play was kind of overacting, especially towards the end. London looks like she’s probably enjoying being rude, but it comes off as underacting by far. I love laughing at when Byron gets arrested, and Shirley is at the end of her rope – and then London is standing there, and Shirley asks “what are you doing here?” to which London ever-so-blankly replies “huh.” And that’s the end of it. Next scene.

5) Loretta Devine as Shirley – Now, I have NOTHING against Loretta Devine. I think she’s a fine, talented actress who’s had a lot of deserved success. But this is one role that I don’t think she quite fit. Chandra Currelly, hands-down one of the BEST actors/singers TP ever hired, did a great job of portraying a mother who remains strong in her faith even at death’s door as she prepares to leave a family who is hurting and full of secrets. Even when things were at their breaking point, she held it together the best she could, while still being believable of a mother in these circumstances. Loretta Devine seems to start this way at the beginning, but soon goes from being deeply troubled to weak & desperate. By the time Kimberly rejects her at her doorstep, I felt more desperation in a truly saddening way, and it just made me dislike Kimberly, not feel sorry for her and await her turnaround. Is this more realistic to some? Perhaps, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But I did appreciate in the play how Madea was not the only strong character – Shirley was the strong woman of faith. The movie takes that away from me, and it was a major issue to the story in my opinion in terms of the prospect of hope. But maybe that’s just me.

6) Jokes – A few jokes have setups that are too long for a punchline that wasn’t worth it. This happens in comedy movies often, to be sure. Aunt Bam definitely has a few. Most would have been funnier in the play. The WORST ONE…is Uncle Joe’s fat joke to Bam, Brown, Cora & Madea all being on the kitchen floor.

7) Byron’s lecture – I’m sorry, but I hate how the movie turns on Byron when Madea approaches him towards the end. She chastises him for not doing the right thing and turning to drug dealing, because this is what happened in the play. However, this Byron is different – we actually watch him TRY his hardest for a long time to do the right thing no matter how tough the pressure, and it isn’t until 2/3 into the movie when he finally breaks and starts to sell drugs to make money. However, he gets no credit for his good attempts before this. That’s really frustrating when I was led rooting for this character. Also, Shirley defends his arrest to Kimberly by saying “a mother knows”…but earlier when he tried to tell her that he WASN’T in trouble, she didn’t believe him. This just further proves how confusing Loretta Devine is in this role…or the writing. I’m not sure. You decide.

CONCLUSION

So overall, yes, this movie does have it’s problems.  In general, the story and what it was trying to do is great. Some of these actors really match the story that TP was trying to tell here, and the film does a good job of showing a dysfunctional family trying to learn how to improve themselves and embrace each other in spite of everything surrounding them. It pays a good homage to it’s influence, as mentioned earlier. There are some good key moments when I really believe/am rooting for these characters to get what they need. It’s worth a watch, mainly for Shad Moss, the Baby Mama, Isaiah Mustafa, and Chandra Currelly’s song. Otherwise, I’d say watch the play; this movie is not the best place to start to get to know Madea, however.

Blackometer: 6/10

Let me know what you thought!

-BB2

Why I’m reviewing Tyler Perry movies

Before I get into this review w/my thoughts, let me say this first:

I LOVE Tyler Perry productions. I’ve come up with him since the stage plays since the early 2000s as a kid. Over the last decade, he’s taken his stories and colorful characters from stages around the world to television and the big screen to broaden his audiences, with the hope of getting positive messages to varied audiences. The messages, usually baked in comedy and drama (dramedy) usually have to do with faith, forgiveness, love, relationships, etc. The stage plays were wildly loved successes, while the movies had many mixed reviews.

Since his transition into movies, I feel that there are two kinds of TP audiences nowadays:

1) Those who, like my family and I, have been watching his productions for years on both stage and on the silver screen, know/love the characters out of ability to identify with them, will support anything he does, and generally don’t find as many possible flaws with his plays/movies because they’re generally having a good time.

2) Those who did not likely see the stage plays, jumped into Madea & friends with the movies (maybe or maybe not with the first couple films that were more well-done), don’t identify with the characters, are generally confused/frustrated trying to understand the jokes that make these characters funny and feeling like they are not “in on the joke” (having not seen the plays), and therefore judge his movies on a pure movie-scale basis, not understanding the fun time that the fans are having.

My problem is that I don’t think the two different audiences understand (or even try to understand) each others’ point of view. Yes, there are many great messages, characters, and relatable things about a TP movie or play that make it work so well. However, there are times when somethings in his productions really just don’t work – the same way other movies don’t work (overacting/underacting, over-convoluted plot lines, etc.) My goal in writing about his plays is to bring both sides together – appreciating the good but pointing out the not-so-great. There is no better place to start than Madea’s Big Happy Family. (Well, there might be…but this is where I’m starting b/c I have notes about it, so there. Lol.)

I do like this movie! It started as a stage play that Tyler wrote after his mother passed away, and the central plot plays a special influence from this that is really touching, leading to one of the best scenes/songs he’d ever put in his stage plays. But I will say that there are some transfers of this story to the movie that…well, see my next post.

We’re all on the journey together…

Hello all!

I’ve seen multiple people utilize blog sites such as this to document many things, whether useful or jut for pure entertainment. I figure that we are all on some kind of journey in this thing we call life, and I can certainly attest to the one that I’m currently on. I’m in my mid-20s, and dealing with trying to “find myself” and what/who I want to be (slash am) in this crazy world. And sharing it whilst on the journey can be good for both the person sharing and the people listening.

I also want to take a crack at blogging about some movies! I’ve been wanting to do this for a while, and plan to start a column giving my critique/opinion about movies I’ve come up with/just saw/enjoy/hate just for fun, as a new hobby. To start with, I want to focus on movies featuring centrally African-American casts, as I don’t think many of these got as much attention from movie reviewers as much as other for the most part.

So yeah; I plan to enjoy using this thing to have fun and to keep track of delving into myself; maybe (just maybe) it’ll be good for someone else too. Join me on the Journey if you want since we’re all in a journey together as it is!