Windy City Media Group Frontpage News


home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor



Knight at the Movies: Pariah; Angels Crest; film notes
by Richard Knight, Jr., for Windy City Times

This article shared 6933 times since Wed Jan 4, 2012
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

You can count on one hand—literally—the number of out African-American female film directors working in the industry. Given that rather sobering statistic alone, writer-director Dee Rees' feature debut, Pariah, is cause for celebration. Also, it's a tremendous bonus that the movie, a hit at Sundance, lives to its advance buzz and offers audiences a fresh take on the stereotypical coming-out story.

In many ways, 17-year old Alike (played with marvelous intuition by the young actor Adepero Oduye, in her feature debut) is a typical teenager—sullen and secretive around her parents; and dismissive and verbally abusive to her younger sister, Sharonda (Sahra Mellesse) when the quartet is assembled around the dinner table. What Alike's mother, office worker Audrey (Kim Wayans), and her father, police officer Arthur (Charles Parnell), don't know—but increasingly suspect—is that she might be a lesbian.

Audrey is having none of it—insisting that her daughter change into more feminine attire, pushing hard for her to go to prom, and giving the stink eye to Alike's friend Laura (Pernell Walker), who is unapologetic about her dyke identity. We know from the outset that Audrey's worst fears have already been realized—that Alike has been sneaking out to dyke clubs with Laura and visiting late night dyke raves with her, too.

Although Alike tries to withstand her mother's pressure, Audrey is a force of nature. The struggle over Alike's identity—along with other problems—is causing a huge strain in her parents' marriage so she finally gives a little when her mother insists that she pal around with a "suitable friend" she has handpicked. Said friend is Bina (the sassy Aasha Davis), who turns out to be an artistic (the girls bond over music and writing poetry) and sexual mentor for Alike. (A seduction scene between the two has a tenderness reminiscent of the one between Whoopi Goldberg and Margaret Avery in The Color Purple.) Bina also inadvertently provides Alike the key in giving her the courage to embrace her dreaded "pariah" identity.

The camerawork by Bradford Young—drenched in deep shades of burgundy, emerald, midnight blue and other primary colors—gives the film a sparkle and deep sensuality that adds to the powerful intensity of the story. Rees keeps the camera very close to Alike, whose face runs the gamut of emotions, and the result is somewhat like being given entry to a secret, primal world. It's a confusing world of no absolutes where deiinitions—especially when it comes to budding sexuality—are ever-changing. The dark camerawork and pulsing, intoxicating music (it's a very hot soundtrack) emphasize the secretive nature of what we're privy to seeing.

Rees, who wrote Pariah based on her own coming-out experiences, has crafted a moving and powerful first effort (an extension of her 2007 short) that is a welcome edition to the lesbian film canon. Aside from a talented cast of fresh faces and a clearly dedicated crew, she has had the good fortune of working closely with her own filmmaking mentor, Spike Lee (who executive-produced)—not to mention her producer and personal partner, Nikisa Cooper.

Actor Thomas Dekker, a TV hunk making the transition to indie films (such as Gregg Araki's Kaboom) goes the tragic route in Angels Crest. He plays Ethan, a young father who makes a fatal error in judgment one snowy morning while out in the woods with 3-year-old son Nate. Distracted when he spots a herd of deer, Ethan leaves Nate alone in his pickup truck. When he returns, the young boy is gone and is later found dead, a victim of the elements.

The inhabitants of the tiny hamlet of Angels Crest, situated at the foot of the Rocky Mountains, take sides as to whether Ethan was negligent. The group includes a lesbian couple (Elizabeth McGovern and Kate Walsh); the owner of the town diner where folks convene daily (Mira Sorvino); Nathan's hottie best friend (Joseph Morgan), who is schtupping his ex-wife (Lynn Collins); the town tramp; drunk; and the little boy's mother. Oh, and Jeremy Piven is a young prosecutor who is determined to put Nathan away for a good long time.

All these folks have their own set of problems that are touched on but are never really explored. Although director Gaby Dellal gets some good performances out of her talented cast (with Dekker and Collins, along with McGovern and Walsh as the tender and tough dyke couple, getting top honors), nothing sticks for long in this strangely muted, depressing drama that blows from one scene to the next without any particular rhythm like one of the pretty snow drifts in the film. The scenario is incredibly tragic and when Ameko Eks Mass Carroll, as little Nate, is on camera your heart about breaks—not only at the fate of his character but for the missed opportunities inherent in the material.

Film notes:

—Queer pioneer, author, cultural and political activist Paul Goodman is the subject of director Jonathan Lee's documentary portrait, Paul Goodman Changed My Life. The film is having its Chicago premiere at the Gene Siskel Film Center, 164 N. State St., on Saturday, Jan. 7, and screens subsequently on Jan. 9 and 12.

—The Chicago History Museum, 1601 N. Clark St.—in support of its yearlong exhibition about the city's queer history, "Out in Chicago" (continuing through March 26)—is presenting a series of LGBT-themed shorts, documentaries and features throughout the month of January. The series, titled Anything But Straight, plays every Saturday, 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m. The cost is free with museum admission. The line-up:

Jan. 7—Free to Be You and Me, Hell Divin' Women, Two Spirits, The Strange History of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, Milk

Jan. 14—It's Still Elementary, Hannah Free, Small Town Gay Bar, Go Fish, Imagine Me & You

Jan. 21—Daddy & Papa, Becoming Chaz, Out and Proud in Chicago, Philadelphia

Jan. 28—Brother Outsider: The Life of Bayard Rustin, I Am the Queen, If These Walls Could Talk, The Kids Are All Right

Further information is at .

—The popular Chicago Filmmakers, 5243 N. Clark St., is hosting the Dyke Delicious series for a ninth season Saturday, Jan. 14, with an evening of shorts by South East Asian lesbian filmmaker Sonali Gulati. The filmmaker, whose documentary I Am screened at last fall's Reeling fest, will participate in a Q&A following the screening via Skype. The evening, co-sponsored by Chicago Filmmakers and Black Cat Productions, begins with a 7 p.m. social hour followed by the 8 p.m. screening. Call 773-293-1447 for further information; reservations can me made at .

Check out my archived reviews at or . Readers can leave feedback at the latter website.

This article shared 6933 times since Wed Jan 4, 2012
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


Gay News

Sisters in Cinema brings back Learn & Earn Program: Sisters in Cinema Newsroom
--From a press release - CHICAGO, IL- Sisters in Cinema, a Chicago-based 501 (c)3 recently in the news for breaking ground on their new Media Arts Center, is proud to announce the return of their Sisters in Cinema Newsroom Program, and ...

Gay News

Awards season kicks off with 2021 Golden Globes
The 78th Annual Golden Globes Awards were distributed Feb. 28 in a quasi-virtual event hosted by performers Tina Fey at the Rainbow Room in New York City and Amy Poehler at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly ...

Gay News

MOVIES Director Ali LeRoi on his LGBT time-loop film 'The Obituary of Tunde Johnson'
The Obituary of Tunde Johnson is a movie with some familiar elements—but they're used to make a novel film. The movie uses the time-loop element that's probably most popular in the film Groundhog Day. However, director ...

Gay News

Team USA defends women's soccer title with 6-0 win
The U.S. Women's National Soccer Team won its fourth SheBelieves Cup on Feb. 24 after a commanding 6-0 victory over Argentina, the Olympic Channel reported. The victory makes the team the first to win back-to-back titles; ...

Gay News

LGBTs rise to 5.6% of U.S. population
Gallup's latest update on lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender identification finds 5.6% of U.S. adults identifying as LGBT, according to the organization. The current estimate is up from 4.5% in Gallup's previous update based on 2017 ...

Gay News

National Trust advocates to protect legacy of LGBTQ+ pioneers
--From a press release - WASHINGTON, D.C. — The National Trust for Historic Preservation will testify tomorrow before the San Francisco Historic Preservation Commission in an attempt to secure a local landmark designation for the San Francisco home of pioneering LGBTQ+ ...

Gay News

MOVIES Dutch journalist talks about making 'My Friend, the Mayor'
In the Amazon Prime Video documentary My Friend, the Mayor: Small-town Democracy in the Age of Trump, Dutch journalist Max Westerman profiles friend Sean Strub, an openly gay activist, activist, long-term AIDS survivor and POZ magazine ...

Gay News

New dance film features 46 dancers from 20 countries
Films.Dance—a global film series produced by and under the creative direction of LA-based Jacob Jonas The Company—continues with Match, the single most expansive collaboration in the 15-film series. Match features ...

Gay News

Showbiz: Jodie Foster, 'Aretha,' gospel singer, Cody Newman, gay actors
While promoting her new film The Mauritanian, Jodie Foster said she "was a little scared of" acting alongside Anthony Hopkins in Silence of the Lambs, Yahoo! Entertainment noted. Of Silence (which has its 30th anniversary this ...

Gay News

LGBTQ+ film critics group unveils nominations
The Society of LGBTQ Entertainment Critics (GALECA) revealed the nominations for the 2021 Dorian Film Awards on Feb. 11. Minari leads the way with six nominations, including best film and best foreign-language film; Nomadland scored five ...

Gay News

MOVIES 'Wonder Woman 1984' coming to PVOD, Digital, Blu-Ray
The movie Wonder Woman 1984—the sequel starring Gal Gadot, with Patty Jenkins as director—is arriving on Premium Video on Demand (PVOD), 4K, Blu-ray, DVD and Digital, according to a press release from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment. ...

Gay News

Groundbreaking ceremony held for Sisters in Cinema Media Arts Center
Sisters in Cinema held a press conference Feb. 8 at the South Shore Cultural Center to commemorate the construction of its new state-of-the-art Media Arts Center that will be at 2310 E. 75th St. The event, ...

Gay News

WORLD Turkish items, Gibraltar couple, lesbian lawmaker dies, Australia
In Turkey, four students were arrested over artwork that reportedly depicted LGBT rainbow symbols alongside an image of a sacred Islamic site, the BBC reported. Students at Bogazici University in Istanbul have been protesting against the ...

Gay News

Sisters in Cinema groundbreaking Ceremony promises access, training in South Shore
--From a press release - CHICAGO, IL - South Shore will soon have access to a state-of-the art media facility now that a local organization has begun construction on its new brick-and-mortar home. Sisters in Cinema, a 501(c)3 dedicated to celebrating ...

Gay News

Wizard World Chicago moved from June to August
Wizard Brands, Inc. announced that its scheduled 2021 live event in Chicago has been postponed due to COVID-19 restrictions and in continued accordance with federal, state and local guidelines. Instead of the original dates of June ...


Copyright © 2021 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.






About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Advanced Search     
Windy City Queercast      Queercast Archives     
Press  Releases      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast      Blogs     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Privacy Policy     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.