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Recommend Women's Pictures - Dee Rees's Bessie (Email)

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Considering how oftenPariahis called "a critical darling,"it's disappointingly shocking that it took another 4 years for Dee Rees's next movie.Bessieis an HBO biopic of singer Bessie Smith,the Empress of the Blues,who rose to prominence in the 1920s and died in a car accident in the mid-1930s.When the movie premiered earlier this year,Angelica Jade Bastién wrote a fabulous personal review of it which I highly suggest you read.As Angelica points out,Rees's sophomore effort is a well-directed film that gets a lot right,even though it falls into a lot of the typical biopic pitfalls.

While the plotline of Bessie's meteoric rise,humbling fall,and return to semi-greatness followed a predictable biopic path,what really struck me about this collaboration between Dee Rees and Queen Latifah was how unapologetically individual it was.Unfortunately,fact-based films about black characters,if they are expected to attract a wider (whiter) audience,incorporate white characters to a large degree.Selmaand12 Years A Slaveboth have white antagonists who gain a lot of screentime - in the case of12 Years A Slave,it was enough screentime to net Michael Fassbender an Academy Award Nominations.

InBessie,blackness and queerness dominate...


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