The Race Card: Black or White Movie

Sunday, February 1, 2015

A Quick Look at Kevin Costner's Black or White

By Tinsel & Tine Editor, Le Anne Lindsay

It was 4 years ago January that I remember writing a post saying that one of my New Year's resolutions would be to see more movies with a predominately black cast, as these movies were rarely a part of the main stream press screenings. I don't believe I actually stuck to my intention that year, but thankfully things started to change and we began to see studio driven movies hit the theaters like (click for T&T posts): Redtails, 42, The Butler, Best Man Holiday, Black Nativity, Think Like A Man 1&2, Ride Along, About Last Night, 12 Years A Slave, Get On Up and Selma.  And also mixed race movies like Belle, Beyond the Lights, Annie and now Black or White.

BLACK OR WHITE stars Kevin Costner as Elliot Anderson a wealthy lawyer who along with his wife, has been raising their biracial granddaughter, Eloise (Jillian Estell) since birth. There's a death at the start of the movie which you assume is the death of Eloise's mother, at first, but soon realize it's her grandmother who has just been killed in a car accident. Eloise actually never met her mother, Elliot's daughter. Neither has Eloise had much contact with her father, Reggie (André Holland) a drug addict who seduced the Anderson's underage daughter 7 years ago, although we never find out how the two met.

It's funny, and wrong, but when I see a white mother with kids of mixed race, it's hard to believe they are really her kids, but if I see a black mother with very fair skinned mixed race children, I don't think anything of it.  Such is kinda the case here, you almost assume Reggie's mother Rowena "grandma Wewe" (Octavia Spencer) should be raising Eloise, but in reality the maternal grandparents normally have custody in a case like this, so it's not so strange that Elliot is raising his granddaughter.  And as long as Elliot's wife was alive, Rowena was fine with the arrangement, but after the accident, she feels it's a good time for Eloise to get to know her other side a little better; particularly as it's obvious Elliot's been drowning his grief in scotch. Eventually, a request from Rowena for shared custody turns into a court battle for full custody, first on her own behalf and later on behalf of her son Reggie, who claims to have gotten clean.

Despite the race card being played by Rowena's attorney/brother (Anthony Mackie) to try to win the custody battle, the movie finds black and white balance. Yes, the lifestyle of the two homes Brentwood vs Compton are vastly different, and Eloise gets that. When asked if she'd want to go live with Grandma Wewe and be closer to her large extended family of aunts, uncles and cousins, Eloise says it's fun to visit, but that's just crazy talk. And this feels authentic. It's not like "White House = Good" "Black House = Bad" Rowena runs several businesses and her brother is a lawyer, so it's not even about money, it's just a matter of being comfortable where you're raised.  More balance is found when Elliot tries to paint Reggie as the bad guy because he's got a weakness for drugs, well, actually he is rather a weak-willed individual all together; still, Elliot can't see his own alcohol abuse in the same light as Reggie's drug use, but the movie demonstrates the parallels. 

Basically Black or White directed by Mike Bender doesn't set out to make a big social commentary or ruffle too many feathers on either side, which I'm glad about. Instead, it's a lot of heart and humor and realization that family comes in all colors. #LoveHasNoColor

READ MORE on  Indiewire's Thompson on Hollywood

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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?

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