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The Only Reason You'll Ever Need To See Ava DuVernay's 'Middle Of Nowhere'...

Features
by Tambay A. Obenson
October 11, 2012 2:44 PM
11 Comments
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So here we are folks - a day before Middle Of Nowhere makes its commercial theatrical debut, 9 months after its Sundance Film Festival premiere, where I first saw it (and loved it), and where its director, Ava DuVernay, made history as the first African American woman to be crowned with Best Director honors.

Have you bought your ticket(s) yet - those of you who live in NYC, LA, ATL, Philly and DC, the 5 cities where the film will be opening this weekend?
 
Far be it from me to suggest that we (black people) are a monolith, with the same interests and tastes when it comes to cinema; but in talking about the film here on S&A, based on your responses to each entry about the film, since January, I'd say that I'm preaching to the proverbial choir, and that most of you reading this are likely already set on seeing the film, whenever it comes to your city.
 
Or, maybe I should instead say that, at this, the 11th hour, most of you have already made up your minds as to whether you're going to see it or not, and nothing that I, or anyone else says, or writes, will convince you to swing over in the opposite direction, whatever that is for you; not a glorious New York Times profile (although there was one HERE); not a Variety Womens Impact recognition (there was one of those too HERE); not a shout-out from Oprah Winfrey, acknowledging the film and filmmaker to her millions of followers on Twitter (yes, she did! Read it HERE); not Tavis Smiley dedicating an entire episode of his nationally syndicated show to the director of the film (Ava DuVernay) and the film itself (yup, he did that! Watch the entire episode HERE); not the director's conversation with CNN's Don Lemon (there was one; watch it HERE); not an appearance on T.J. Holmes' new BET series Don't Sleep (she was present; watch it HERE); not an Academy Awards push for the starring actress (Emayatzy Corinealdi) and the screenplay (check out Awards Daily's thoughtful piece HERE); not a strong 90% Fresh rating (thus far) on movie review aggregator site RottenTomatoes.com (it's THERE); not an army of mission- and passion-driven AFFRM soldiers working feverishly and diligently to ensure that you know that the film opens in 6 theaters in 5 cities across the USA tomorrow, Friday, October 12, 2012 (they most certainly are); not because it's a black woman's story told by a black woman filmmaker (but it is); not because the future of black cinema depends on its success (I don't think it does); not because it's a black film, you happen to be black, and feel an obligation (some embrace the obligation, others don't); I could go on...
 

But as I said, nothing that I, or anyone else says or does (short of putting a gun to your head and forcing you to make a decision) will make much of a difference at this point, 24 hours before the film opens. Think of it in much the same way as the current presidential election - specifically, the debates. They really aren't meant for the majority who've already made up their minds as to which of the 2 candidates they'll be voting for. They are more for the so-called *undecided voters;* although, really, every eligible voter should have enough information by now to have made that decision, just as I started out saying that most of you should already know if Middle Of Nowhere is a film you want to see.

However, if you're one of those on the fence, waiting for a wind of opinions to swing you over to one side or the other, I'll just say this - see it because it's... well, it's a good film! That's it! Not a good black film; or, good for a black film. It's a well-made, technically sound (acting, cinematography, directing, editing, etc) work of cinema, that'll invigorate you. It's a breath of fresh air. 

You were maybe expecting some dissertation, speech or sermon that comprised of every argument/motivation I mentioned earlier above, in this post, but I know you all are smarter than that. You're like me - ultimately, what it comes down to is whether or not it's a film worth leaving your home, going to the movie theater, coughing up your hard-earned dollars, and sitting through 100 minutes for. And I can say unequivocally, that it most certainly is.

I have yet to meet anyone who's seen it, some time over the last 9 months, who hasn't loved it. Is it perfect? Of course not! There's no such thing, in my humble opinion. But it's a rare occurrence when a diverse group of people from different backgrounds, and with varying tastes in art, reach a near consensus as is the case with this film. 

I'll leave you with the line from Spike Lee's Mo'Better Blues, spoken by Shadow (the character Wesley Snipes played in the film), during an impassioned conversation with Bleek (Denzel Washington's character), on the under-representation of black people in the audience of jazz music fans who come to see their band perform. As Bleek tries to emphasize that absence, by essentially placing the blame on *the people,* Shadow replies, dismissing Bleek's argument swiftly and forcefully: "The people don't come because you grandiose muthafuckas don't play shit that they like; if you play the shit that they like, the people will come; simple as that!

Middle Of Nowhere is the kind of *shit* that *the people* will definitely like, so *the people* should come... hopefully... simple as that!

Or for you older folks, let me take you back to 1975, when many of us were still in diapers, when The O'Jays sang, Give The People What They Want. That's exactly what Ava, AFFRM and Participant Media are doing, starting tomorrow: giving YOU, the people, what you want... what you've been asking for, of black cinema.

But seriously folks... really... see Middle Of Nowhere; your soul, your heart, and - for those of us who continuously lament the *dismal state of black cinema* - your sanity will all thank you for doing so.

Don't forget to enter the S&A "Guess Middle Of Nowhere's Box Office" contest; the deadline is tonight at midnight, EST. The winner gets a $100 gift certificate to Amazon.com. Click HERE to enter.

And finally, here are Middle Of Nowhere's opening weekend (and second weekend) playdates:

OCTOBER 12

NY - AMC Empire 25 Times Square

LA - Sundance Cinemas at Sunset
LA - RAVE 18 The Bridge
Philadelphia - UA Riverview
Atlanta - Landmark Midtown
Washington DC - Regal Gallery Place

OCTOBER 19

Chicago - AMC River East
Miami - AMC Aventura
Detroit - AMC Southfield
Oakland - Landmark Shattuck
Seattle - AMC Southcenter
Houston - AMC Studio 30
New Jersey - AMC Cherry Hill

 
And here's the trailer, as a refresher, if you need one:
 

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11 Comments

  • Dankwa Brooks | October 27, 2012 12:09 PMReply

    I finally saw it yesterday and all I can say is it deserves all the praise heaped upon it. Truly.

  • WriterGal | October 14, 2012 1:17 PMReply

    Orville,

    People want white people to like their stuff because white people are, by and large, the gatekeepers to wider distribution. White people liking your stuff means having both critical and commercial success means having to fight just that little bit less when you gear up for round two. It's not a matter of wanting them to like you; it's how them liking you can ease your career trajectory. So yeah, unless you want your audience to be artificially limited, it matters.

    Also, focusing solely on the opinions of black community only makes sense if you live solely within the black community. A lot of people don't. I've been the token black girl my entire life; it would be foolish for me to ignore the opinions of my white peers - they're as much a part of my life and my audience as anyone else.

  • Dankwa Brooks | October 27, 2012 12:05 PM

    Word WRITERGAL. Word.

  • Jerome | October 24, 2012 10:37 AM

    I agree. Wider distribution and recognition of stories that engage on multiple levels is a motivating for many artists. To those who disagree the question is simple: Should we create our art in a vacuum?

  • Jerome | October 24, 2012 9:56 AM

    I agree. Wider distribution and recognition of stories that engage on multiple levels is a motivating force for many artists. To those who disagree the question is simple: do we create our art in a vacuum?

  • Jerome | October 24, 2012 9:54 AM

    I agree. Wider distribution and recognition of stories that engage on multiple levels is a motivating force for many artists. To those who disagree the question is simple: do we create our art in a vacuum?

  • Orville | October 13, 2012 11:14 AMReply

    I am sure Middle of Nowhere is going to be successful for Ava DuVernay. However, I think one subconscious issue the editors at Shadow & Act don't discuss is there seems to be this feeling or need from some black artists that they need white validation or acceptance in order to be successful. I hope the film makes a lot of money and black people go and watch it.

    However, I am concerned about this desperation, this need for white people to approval of what a decent " black film" is that seems to be an underlining tension on this website. Okay, does it really matter if the so called white film critics "love" this movie? Also, the black community as Tambay said isn't a monolithic group. I don't think this movie is going to appeal to a broad section of the black community I think it will appeal to the black film snobs.

  • U | October 16, 2012 5:17 PM

    Yes! it matters to Tambay and it definetly matters to Ava. Absolutely! She's a former publicist and if you know anything about publicist is they know how to tell a lie. don't call it "Shadow and Act" call it "Middle of Nowhere and Act"...good grief. Ava's a bit much! she kind of reminds me of the guy that was on Oprah who said he had all his teeth taken out only to find out that he was a fraud....sorry. that's just how I'm feeling about her. there's something that doesn't vibe with me about her. I hope I'm absolutely wrong about her,

  • PRISS | October 12, 2012 2:03 AMReply

    Very much looking forward to this. Impressive post, Impressive campaign, hope the film is as impressive. Looks to be.

  • Andre Robinson | October 12, 2012 12:23 AMReply

    Now that is a "command performance" review. Can't wait to see it tomorrow. Thanks Tambay Obenson. Brilliant pitch for what i hope will be on many favorites lists.

    andre

  • ALM | October 11, 2012 10:32 PMReply

    I'll be there opening weekend!

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