Tag Archives: diversity

Duck Butter

Naima is having a bad day: she’s not fitting in on the set on an indie Duplass Brothers movie and her roommate is a bit of a wet blanket. So she’s in the right kind of mood to fall in love with the beautiful and exotic lead singer at the club that night, and she does. Naima and Sergio go home together and have an amazing time but when Sergio proposes that they should spend the next 24 hours together in an intense, sex-forward, date-skipping, get to really REALLY know you kind of thing.

Naima (Alia Shawkat) cuts and runs of course, as any sane person should. But when the Duplasses fire her she kind of has a change of heart and begs Sergio (Laia Costa) to forgive her reluctance and cowardice and soon enough, their little love experiment is in full swing. And how. These two ladies are not afraid to let shit get REAL. And it’s shot in nullsuch a way that things feel authentic and raw, and the intimacy translates so that we too are made uncomfortable by the too much, too fast. I totally get the wanting to fast forward past the awkward part of dating, the artifice of it,the hiding of one’s true self, but if there’s a way past it, all this movie does is prove that this isn’t it.

But it pretty compelling to watch. I mean: Alia Shawkat. She is a gift to the indie movie scene. She’s versatile and has a pure and brave energy. Her chemistry with Costa is terrific, as it absolutely must be to make this movie work. Shawkat and Costa are impressively willing to go there. It must have been emotionally draining to be so present and in the moment, but they give the movie a bold and brazen but fleeting vibe that’s unique to this 90 minute capsule.

The film is imperfect just like the characters, just like their romance. And if you can imagine spending 24 hours with a stranger who is also your lover and new best friend, it flags a bit in the middle, just like you’d do in real life. But there’s something just so refreshing and weird about this film, about the collision between two people in a certain time and place, that I couldn’t look away.

Now, if you need any more convincing that representation matters, here’s an interesting tidbit. On Rotten Tomatoes, Duck Butter is rated Fresh by nearly every single female critic, and it is rated Rotten by all the men save one. Movies mean different things to different people, and that’s okay. Just don’t let half of those people convince you theirs is the only opinion that matters.

Yes, #OscarsSoWhite, but can we really blame the Academy?

The truth is, the Academy’s demographics are a problem. They’re too damned white. But this year’s white-washed ballots are only a symptom of a much larger problem: the fact that talented black actors just aren’t getting cast.

A lot was made earlier this year when a role that was originally meant to be male (and in fact was based on a real-life man) was rewritten for Sandra Bullock (in Our Brand is Crisis). That movie aside, it turned out to be a banner year for women in film. So why can’t we do the same for people of colour? White has been the de facto race for far too long, the product of unimaginative directors and casting agents who refuse to acknowledge that most parts could and should be colour-blind.

The race for best actor and best actress Oscars this year lacks diversity. It’s a fucking vacuum where only white people may enter. But what choice did the voters really have? Last year we could easily feel that Selma had been grossly ignored, but can you think of a black actor, or any non-white actor, who was unfairly overlooked this year?

Don’t say Will Smith. Sure the Globes love him, he’s the freaking Fresh Prince, but he didn’t deserve an Oscar nomination for his work in Concussion. You could maybe argue Idris Elba, for Beasts of No Nation, but you’d have to argue. It’s a tight race this year, and only 5 roles can be acknowledged. Mark Rylance, Tom Hardy, and Sylvester Stallone are likely locking up most votes for best supporting actor. Christian Bale and Mark Ruffalo are more interchangeable, but it’s not clear cut. I do wonder, though, if perhaps the roles those two played could have been fulfilled by a non-white actor? I realize they’re both based on real-life people, but don’t we have a moral obligation to represent all people a little more fairly in the mainstream media? Movies are supposed to represent and reflect the audiences watching them, but they’re failing to do that over and over and over. And relying on “black movies” like Selma or 12 Years A Slave to provide the only colour at an awards ceremony is egregious and embarrassing. It’s also a little embarrassing that the only nominations for Creed and Straight Outta Compton, movies that actually did feature black talent, still somehow went to white people.

We can do better.