Commentary - Precious & Interview with Lee Daniels

Monday, October 19, 2009

Lee Daniel's Film Precious is uncomfortable in the raw injustice of this young girl's life and all she must endure. The underlying premise of the film does speak to the prejudice in all of us, but the story is her's and her's alone- Clareece "Precious" Jones (Gabourey 'Gabby' Sidibe). She is a dark-skinned, hugely overweight, 16 year-old, illiterate girl, who is able to dream of having a "light skinned" boyfriend and being totally fabulous, despite her life of being repeatedly raped by her father, and abused physically and mentally, but her jealous mother (Mo'Nique).

Both Gabby and Mo' Nique have turned in Oscar award winning performances, truly.

In the past, I've wanted to support Daniels' work, Philly native and all, but I've always felt put off by his choice of material, too sad and too intense for me. And I was right, this story based on the novel "Push" by Sapphire will move the most hardened heart to tears.

However, there is triumph, there is hope, there are good cinematic touches that are effective in story telling, and also allow you to remember it is a movie, not just a voyeuristic view of this unfortunate girl's life.

Rating: It deserves a Pretty Big Toe, but because it's not the kind of film I find pleasing, I have to give it a Pretty Middle Toe

Lee Daniels was in attendance for a Q & A after the film. Here's some excerpts from his interview with Festival Artistic Director, Harlan Jacobson:

LD: "From Egypt to Cairo to Miro to Switzerland- I'm home! I love you Philadelphia, I'm so happy, so honored, so humbled, to be home showing this film to you all this evening at this Festival. I made this movie with the spirit of Philadelphia in mind; thinking that Philadelphian's black and white would be able to understand this story.

Philadelphian's, I found that when I was at Sundance and Berlin and around the world with it, that it was not just a story about black Philadelphians or Philadelphians, but a universal story, so when you are watching this, know that we put a lot of soul and a lot of heart into it and I made it with you all in mind."

HJ: "So many of your characters, Monster's Ball, The Woodsman, Shadowboxer are characters that really have to fight for themselves, that's a link through many of your films, why do you think that is?"

LD: " Hmm, I think that I am a fighter, I left Philadelphia to go to Hollywood with a dream, and $7 in my pocket. I think that the streets of Philadelphia live in me and in my work. I think that Philadelphian's are tough. I see enough movies with a perfect ending, I can go to the studios to see that, I like to see stuff that make people think".

HJ: "Did you know growing up that you could be a director in Hollywood. Did you dream like that?"

LD: " Yes, my mother taught me to dream. I have a Godfather here who also taught me to dream, he was in dance class and took me to dance class. Yes, I was encouraged to dream."

HJ: "And were they your champions?"

LD: "Yes."

HJ: "When you had to take this dream and get it financed, did you have to fight to convince people that this could be a (sorry couldn't hear this word on my recorder) picture?"

LD: "I believe this film has been blessed with Angels. This was the easiest film ever to get financed. I knew not to go to the studios with it. I'd learned from Monsters Ball that they thought I was crazy; a movie about a fat boy dying and a white man, black woman, impossible to get that financed through the studios. Same thing with Woodsman. So I knew better than to go to a studio and say do you want to do a movie about a 355lb black girl. But I had grown and my reputation had grown, in a such away that these people (Smokewood Entertainment Group, Garry Magness and Sarah Siegel-Magness) just said "what do you want to do Lee?" And I said I want to do this movie and they just gave it to me, so they were my angels.

And then that Sapphire, whose work is unbelievable, [a lot of audience applause and hooting and hollering] it's mind boggling that she gave it to me, she didn't have to give me this book, she didn't want anyone to have this book. She a true auteur and a scholar in the biggest of ways. She thought that if someone made this into a movie, it could "f-up" her book. And she trusted me with it. And I'm honored.

The other angel was that we didn't go to DVD. I thought we were going to go straight to DVD and we didn't. I got accepted to Sundance and I won. (Distributors: Lionsgate) And as I'm winning, Oprah Winfrey is calling me. I'm walking up to the stage to accept my award and my phone rings and it's unknown, and I answer and she says "It's Oprah." Huh? "It's Oprah Winfrey". And I say, "Hi, I can't talk right now cause I'm getting my award now at Sundance. And she says, "Why are you picking up the phone?" But the only person that would pick up a phone is an independent filmmaker, cause and unknown number means you've got money or your famous, so that's why I picked up the phone. And so she called me back and that's another angel. She said she would do anything she could to support the film and that has really been a God send."

HJ: Music is such an incredible part of this film. It's also part of the fantasy life, the life line of Precious. What did you ask from your music guy Mario Grigorov to provide you to really help sell that message that there's a heart beating inside this girl that was going to carry her forward?"

LD: "Right. The music is again, Philadelphia inspired, the sound of Philadelphia. Gamble and Huff plays an import role in the movie. Labelle, vintage Labelle brings us in and takes us out. We brought them together after 25 years. Lenny Kravitz, I talked him into producing and bringing the girls back after all those years to sing a song together called system, about the welfare system."

Audience Q: "Was this Gaby's first experience acting? And does she have any other projects that she intends to do?"

LD: "Yes, that was her first job. 400 girls later. Literally, 400 girls I interviewed and Gaby auditioned for our genius casting director, Billy Hopkins and uh, and so she came in, and I saw the tape and when she came in she started talking like a white girl. She don't talk like Precious. The girls that I had auditioned where girls that were Precious. And I hired her because if I had hired any of those other girls, I would have been exploiting them. They would not have been acting. And yes, Gaby does have another job, she plays a bad girl in high school, beating up other girls."

Audience Q: "I have a question about writing a first time screenplay about a personal story. Do you have any advice?"

LD: "My advice is to reach me on Facebook".
Applause and end.

Philly Events Calendar

ADD YOUR EVENT for FREE! - which includes SOCIAL MEDIA BLASTS!  Click AGENDA VIEW to see complete list of happenings.

Featured Post

Emerging Cinema: VOICELESS The Movie

  Highlighting Philly Made Film - "Voiceless"  by Le Anne Lindsay, Tinsel & Tine Editor The Philadelphia Independent Fil...

Food n Film: BURNT

Food n Film: BURNT
Bradley Cooper has more than charisma, he has an over abundance of Chi, which radiates out from him; so for me, this role as temperamental and damaged chef Adam Jones, who also inspires great love and admiration from those around him, works on the level of characterization. In fact, I think he's among a very short list of actors who would be able to pull off being so self-involved and yet likable. Doesn't hurt that he really speaks French too! READ POST

Eater Philly - All

Food n Film: CHEF

Food n Film: CHEF
Much of the movie centers around the father/son relationship, and how much they learn from each other. But the real star of the film is all the food preparation, every other scene made me groan with want of everything up on that screen! Particularly the perfectly roasted and rubbed brisket, the crispy fat of the pork belly, sizzling bacon and the much ballyhooed Chocolate Lava Cake. READ POST


The key to deciphering both the city it beautifully depicts and the man who eats it best - City of Gold

By Tinsel & Tine Contributor Denine Gorniak (The Bicycle-Chef)

What Jonathan Gold, Los Angeles Times food critic/writer, has done for food writing journalism and for the restaurants that he loves, the movie, City of Gold has done for Jonathan Gold and Los Angeles and its surrounding environs – it has planted taco covered kisses on them... READ POST

Food n Film: CHOCOLAT

Food n Film: CHOCOLAT
If you’re a foodie movie lover who saw Lasse Hallström’s The Hundred Foot Journey (see T&T post), this summer you may be wondering what delicious visual journey might be awaiting you in the theater next. Well, how about a look back at his film Chocolat (2000), which stars French actress Juliette Binoche, Judi Dench and Johnny Depp. Hallström’s has a special talent for turning cooking into a dramatic movie journey...READ MORE


...young Hassan, a soulful-eyed boy with lush, thick eye lashes, places his face into the sea urchin basket, and breathes in the exotic briny scent. He sticks his fingers into the aquatic ooze, takes it to his mouth and is transfixed by the taste. The vendor, oblivious to the thrusting arms of frenzied women, notices the boy and realizes he is the only one worthy of this oceanic prize; he is the one who can “truly taste.” ... READ MORE

Food n Film: JULIE & JULIA

Food n Film: JULIE & JULIA
Personally, I like the unevenness of it, because I fell in love with the post World War II, Parisian sights, sounds, food and romance between Julia and Paul. I always felt a bit jarred back into reality when the scenes returned to Julie's meltdowns and cramped kitchen.READ POST

Food n Film: EAT PRAY LOVE

Food n Film: EAT PRAY LOVE
Six months into my 38th year of this life, I had my first panic attack. I didn't know that's what it was until months later. Symptom after symptom starting piling up on me until there were days I could no longer move my arms or neck. The doctors told me I was suffering from an auto-immune condition that they felt was most likely Lupus. And so began my much deeper journey and exploration into the world of spirit, alternative medicine, yoga, meditation and Eat, Pray, Love. READ POST

Philadelphia Magazine » Blog » Foobooz


With a film like this, food plays a main character in the story and I was lucky enough to get an interview with the film's Food Stylist, Janine Kalesis.READ POST

Food n Film: WAITRESS

Food n Film: WAITRESS
In this 2007 film, Keri Russell stars as Jenna - a desolate diner waitress seeking solace in the art of pie-making. Trapped in an unhappy marriage, she’s eager to escape her husband and her small-town hell and sets about to make a run for it by entering an out of town pie baking contest. READ POST


Those of us in attendance were not only given the opportunity to see Babette's Feast, the Oscar winning, Danish film, considered one of the all-time great "food films"; we also got to taste Babette's menu! READ POST


I participated in WalkMS Philly on 4/30/16
Thank you to the readers who donated to the cause - It's not too late to support! Click badge below

15 Top Food in Film Flicks

15 Top Food in Film Flicks
Cozy Quilt of Food Movies, we'll add more patches as T &T discovers more films where food plays the biggest "roll"

Tinsel & Tine on

Tinsel & Tine on
Really love this platform, you feature your stuff and other people's stuff you follow, and it all configures like the front page of a newspaper. Click to see what I mean

Visit Our YouTube Channel

Visit Our YouTube Channel
View Q & A's with visiting Filmmakers to Philly

Philly Food and Film

Videographer Oliver Gallini 5 min short featuring organic-chemist-turned-chef, Townsend Wentz, who got his start at The Four Seasons Philadelphia.


Cross Content Blogs


Large Association of Movie Blogs

Tinsel & Tine was nominated for a VBA



group of 10,000 women bloggers dedicated to supporting one another by leaving comments

Women Online

The Blogstress Network

The Blogstress Network
Female Bloggers Unite

Contributor from 2010 - 2012

About This Blog

is about discovering what I find pleasing in screening & eating - in case you missed it, the name is a play on Tinseltown using the Tines of a Fork.

Feel free to send me info on a film or new restaurant you'd like me to highlight.

Will there ever be a cap on movie prices?

Will we one day pay $20 a pop?

Why don't we pay on a scale?

A crap movie like everything Adam Sandler has ever done should cost about $4.50.
Big action movies like"Lord of the Rings", "Iron Man," "Transformers" are worth $10.
Woody Allen movie or something like "Silver Linings Playbook" $6-$7.
A chick flick or light comedy $5.75 and most Indie Films $5.25.

You could even do it by seasons - all summer block busters from May to August - $10
Sept - November 15th $3.50 - $4
Back to $10 for Thanksgiving and Christmas etc...

Or you can do it by A Actors ($9 - $10), B Actors ($6 - $7) TV actors on the big screen ($3.50 - $4)

Surely I'm not the first person to realize this makes sense. Has it been voted on in the Motion Picture Industry and then vetoed? If so, why?
There was an error in this gadget

Camera Tips


  © Blogger template On The Road by 2009

Back to TOP