HAVING NOWHERE TO GO FOR the holiday a friend invited me to come celebrate with her and her family. Normally I decline such invites simply because I do not want to be the outsider at a family function. Some families are close-knit to the point where they have a shorthanded way of communicating with each other; sharing inside jokes, memories and/or conversing about family matters. I would feel out of place in this type of situation. Since I knew some of my friend’s relatives I agreed to go to their family dinner. I picked up a box of candy on the way to my friend’s house, so we could go together to her parents. Once we arrived I was warmly greeted by her parents and sister. I found it amusing when I was introduced to the different relatives who were present because I already knew about some of them from the stories my friend shared with me. Let me just say she has some crazy characters in her family and those are her words. In total there were approximately 20 relatives made up of aunts, uncles, cousins and some cousins with children; it was a full house. My friend’s parents had put up folding tables and chairs to accommodate everyone. IT IS ONE THING TO HEAR stories about people; it is another thing to actually sit down with them and share a meal. We had gotten through the appetizers and soup portion of the dinner before a verbal fight broke out between a couple of relatives. An uncle remembered a past incident a certain way and an aunt remembered it a different way. They were bickering back and forth as the main course was coming out to be served. The hostess asked the 2 combatants to settle down which surprisingly they did rather quickly. However, within 5-10 minutes the two were back at it, yelling at each other. Unfortunately, more relatives got involved so there was this crescendo of angry voices trying to out shout each other. I sat quietly as I ate my meal; I was not about to let a good meal go to waste. It was a bit surreal I admit; but on the other hand, I found it interesting to see these relatives swearing and calling each other names. My hope to stay out of the melee was dashed when one of the aunts tried to get me to agree with her point of view. It was then that I became uncomfortable and wanted to leave this family dysfunction. In a way I had the same reaction while watching this film festival winning documentary. WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY Kevin MacDonald (The Last King of Scotland, State of Play), this musical biography traced the life of Whitney Houston. I thought Whitney had an incredible voice, even buying some of her music. But once she started her decline I lost all interest in her. This is just my thing; once a celebrity becomes unprofessional in some way, I have no reason to support them. It doesn’t matter if they are gifted or incredible with what they do; once they cross that line I am done with them. This is where I was with Whitney. Seeing this documentary was eye opening in some respects. The use of past TV and movie clips were entertaining as were some of the interviews. Whether the director was getting honesty out of the interviewees is questionable; but for my needs I thought the director did a beautiful job in telling a story, albeit a tragic one. From watching this biography, I felt every person involved had a hand in Whitney’s extinction. In a way this story was not so different from other sad stories of dead celebrities; the difference here was we were able to see Whitney wanting to dance with someone, but most dancers were not suitable partners.
2 ½ stars
It does not always occur to me; only when I am telling someone the significance of an item I am showing them. The things I have purchased to display in my house all have a story. There are a few friends and family members who know the stories behind the items, but they are in the minority. There is a woven basket sitting next to a living room chair. To the naked eye it just looks like a round basket with a lid that was woven with sturdy reeds. Only a couple of people know that I bought this basket when I was in Charleston, South Carolina; at a store where all the items stocked in it were made by disadvantaged women from third world countries. The owner told me she was trying to help show these women that there was a market for their wares, with the possibility of earning a living. Almost every item in my house has some type of history that will get lost when my time here is done. For example I have a filigreed silver wine cup that came from my great, great grandfather; it looks like an oversized thimble. Since I do not have a picture of him, I can only imagine where and what he was doing with this cup since it does not look like your average dinnerware. In a way my house, I guess all of our homes; can be considered a time capsule of our lives on some level. One of the reasons I so enjoy looking at photos is because I get to see friends and family frozen in a particular time. To see what they were doing or how they lived is cool to me. You may get a better understanding why once you see this documentary. THOUSANDS of videos were submitted after the request went out, asking people from around the world to record what they were doing on July 24, 2010. A group of directors that included Kevin Macdonald (The Last King of Scotland, State of Mind) and Hiroaki Aikawa (Japan in a Day) took the videos and narrowed them down to create this fascinating montage of what people from all over the world were doing on this particular day. This film festival winner was utterly fascinating. I was mesmerized watching all the different clips; from the mundane to the extraordinary, the idea behind this dramatic documentary I felt was brilliant. The reason being, there are a variety of things we all see on television and social media that can be noteworthy events, usually celebratory or tragic kinds. A fight or hate crime can be shown, but the world is not made up of only these types of occurrences. Seeing what ordinary people were doing in their daily lives, I am a bit sad to say, offered a refreshing perspective from the abundance of violence and politics that tend to be broadcast these days. For me this was a wonderful time capsule of a single day on our planet in July.
3 1/4 stars — DVD