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by Peter Moskos

March 19, 2011

Movies: Adjustment Bureau & Precious

Not that you asked (you didn't), but here's what I thought of two movies I just saw:

"Adjustment Bureau." Good stuff. I liked it. Cool. Great concept. Good New York movie.

But really I'm here to tell you about the other one: "Precious."

What? "Precious"? Isn't that so 2009? Yes, but I didn't see it till 2011.

Why? Because every time somebody told me it was good I would think: "Yeah, right, like I need to sink into a depression coma for two hours watching a fat, illiterate, HIV-positive Harlem girl get knocked up (twice) by her daddy, brutally battered by her mother and laughed at by a world eager to pound abuse on her 16-year-old ass." Well it showed up via Netflix and we reluctantly put it on.

Well, take it from Rolling Stone critic Peter Travers, the above quote is from his review:
When I tell people how good this movie is — and I can't shut up about it — they flash me the stink eye. As in "Yeah, right, like I need to sink into a depression coma for two hours watching a fat, illiterate, HIV-positive Harlem girl get knocked up (twice) by her daddy, brutally battered by her mother and laughed at by a world eager to pound abuse on her 16-year-old ass."

Won't you dickheads be surprised. . . . Sorry, haters, Precious is an emotional powerhouse, a triumph of bruising humor and bracing hope that deserves its place among the year's best films.
It's true. But here's what the reviews don't tell you:

1) The movie is really cool visually; it's got style and energy. It's not at all cinema verite faux-documentary and depressing lighting. What other movie would have a father banging his daughter and I'm thinking about bed springs and the cool wallpaper?

2) It may be one of the most un-politically correct film made since Birth of a Nation. There's a baby with Down Syndrome and the baby is called "Mongo." Mongo? "You know, short for Mongoloid." Ohhh.... More significantly there is a very-bad very-racist mother in this movie. She wants kids for their welfare. She's also got good aim when chucking an ash tray. She happens to be black.

It's kind of amazing the movie gets away with everything it shows. Is the film realistic? Well, it's certain not typical... but do such situations exist? Yes (though usually the various misfortunes are divided among a few more people). And police often end up picking up the pieces. Though police don't make an appearance in the movie, police--or at least Baltimore police--will relate.

Cops I know deal with this crap all the time. But when police start describing their little slice of reality, some people just call them racist. In some ways, watching this movie made me feel like I was back in some of the so-called "homes" I saw in Baltimore's Eastern District.

But don't see the movie for the message or lack of message. See it because it's an entertaining flick. From start to finish. The acting is great, and, as Bill Cosby used to say, "If you're not careful you may learn something before it's done."

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