Movie Night: “Beyond the Lights”

Bliss
January 19, 2015

My walking shoes. I participated in the Martin Luther King, Jr. march on Saturday morning. After seeing Selma, I pretty much had to. And, no, I won’t bitch that Ava DuVernay didn’t get a Best Director nomination. Oh, wait. I guess I just did.

I walked in the MLK march on Saturday morning. After seeing Selma, I pretty much had to. And, no, I won’t bitch that Ava DuVernay didn’t get a Best Director nomination. Oh, wait. I guess I just did.

I met my trusty movie buddy Martha in the lobby of the theater.

Beyond the Lights, right?” she said.

“Yes.”

“Whew.” She had already bought her ticket. “I got up to the window and realized I had no idea what movie we’re seeing.”

I guess I should be flattered that my friend trusts my judgment enough to show up at the theater without bothering to pay attention to which movie I’d proposed. Me, I don’t trust anybody enough to show up to the movie theater blind.

“It’s a lovey-dovey movie, isn’t it?” she asked.

“Of course.”

“I knew it. I was scanning the titles, thinking, ‘Which movie would Shannon pick?’ I went with the one that sounded romantic because that’s your genre—the one that you write in.”

My movie pal knows me well.

Beyond the Lights flew under the radar the first time around. Like too many “black” movies that open in Albuquerque, it ran for, like, a week. I had planned to see it over Thanksgiving weekend, but it was already gone.

It just reopened in the cheap theater, and everybody must have heard about the rave reviews and the original song Oscar nomination because the theater was packed. Black people, white people. Young people, old people. People who leaned over to their partners and said happily, “That’s the song she sang in the beginning, when she was a little girl.”

Martha kept leaning over to commentate on the male lead character, played by Nate Parker. “Oh, my God, he is so freaking hot.”

He was also one of those Captain America/Superman/Boy Scout types. Swoon.

I don’t even know where to begin with Gugu Mbatha-Raw. She can’t star in too many movies, in my opinion. She is the whole package.

The themes in this movie run deeper than you might originally assume from the trailer. It tackles the hypersexualization of female artists, the mother-daughter survival bond, the schism between what an artist really wants to say and what is commercially viable. And it has a kick-ass love story to boot.

As the credits rolled, Martha said, “Oh, I’m so glad no one died.”

Lovey-dovey movies are the best movies ever.


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