"}
Film

Southside With You

Barack gets the girl

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

A 20-something woman living at home prepares for a day out. Her parents tease her as she fixes her hair. Is it a date? No, just a work associate, a Harvard law student with the firm for the summer, taking her to a community meeting to discuss “broken faucets and underfunded schools.” Across town, a man in an undershirt chats with his grandmother by telephone between cigarettes and says, “Yes, her skin is of the darker persuasion.” This is how Barack met Michelle, and Southside With You will detail, in rather exaggerated, one-act-play form, how they fell in love.

He picks her up in his busted down car (forget the scuffs on Adlai Stevenson’s soles, the interior of Barack Obama’s late ’80s ride had a full-blown hole in the floor) and—surprise—turns out the event isn’t for a few hours. Barack’s been haranguing Michelle for a date for some time but, since she is technically his advisor at the corporate firm where they work, she has demurred. Some might argue his tenacity wasn’t exactly appropriate for the workplace, but Michelle’s true reason to decline invitations was more straightforward: if she, a black woman, were to date the first cute black man at the office, it would just get too many tongues wagging.

We learn all this early on because this movie is somewhat allergic to subtlety. Characters face forward and blast one another with sincere oratory, stating precisely what they feel as if they are under oath or shot-up with sodium pentothal. But as one’s ear adjusts to the, let’s call it “stylized dialogue,” it preps you for some pretty striking speeches by the third act. Michelle may protest at the start that “this is not a date” but by the time they visit an art gallery, eat sandwiches in the park, hit that community meeting, stroll along Lake Michigan, get beers, argue over Stevie Wonder albums, share their dreams, catch Spike Lee’s Do The Right Thing, squirm (for just an instant) under the gaze of their white colleagues and finally get ice cream, you know these two are going to be together forever.

To quote the 43rd President of the United States, let me be clear: there’s something admittedly odd about Southside For You’s very existence. Films glorifying sitting leaders are a little more North Korea’s bag. It is, without question, pure hagiography. That said, by all accounts Barack and Michelle Obama are warm, caring people. Considering the absurd lengths the rightwing has gone to defenestrate the man, and have yet to uncover any monkey business, it’s fair to say that their love is true.

The surface-level comparison for the film is Richard Linklater’s Before trilogy (Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy walking around various cities and falling in love), but that level of depth is very much lacking in writer-director Richard Tanne’s script. But Southside With You uses our affection for the Obamas to add urgency to the otherwise simple script. We want these two to get together, and we want them to say things like: “I just want to do more to help out.”

The heart of the film, and the sequence that may cause some true believers to retrieve their hankies, is seeing young Barack rallying the disenfranchised members of the the Gardens, explaining that the way toward any goal is not to hate their adversary, but to try and understand them, and to switch the letters of every bureaucratic “no” into a rally “on.” Knowing his prowess as a public speaker, did he invite Michelle there just to see him strut his stuff? Hard to tell, but when Spike Lee’s Mookie hurls a trash can through the window of Sal’s Famous to rage against injustice, he’s also helping our hero Barack get the girl. It’s a pretty astounding moment in meta-cinema.

Ticket Cascadia
More Film...
Hell or High Water
Making them like they used to

Oh, they do not make heartland crime dramas like they did back in the ’70s—smart, ornery, low of budget and high of attitude. Steeped in seedy characters and lousy luck. Above all lacking in the least amount of body fat, moral or cinematic.

Two-Lane Blacktop, Vanishing Point, Badlands.

more »
Florence Foster Jenkins
The flat lady sings

Perhaps she was a tragic figure, or a clinical case worthy of Oliver Sacks, or the incarnation of a dishonest middlebrow culture. But in the end, Stephen Frears’s enjoyable, sentimental movie turns this bizarre real-life figure into a version of Eddie the Eagle, swooping and crashing…

more »
Sausage Party
Kids need not apply

For those of you who have ever envisioned Seth Rogen reconstituted as an anthropomorphic processed meat product—and you know who you are—Sausage Party may be savored as, if not a dream come true, then a drug-fueled hallucination without the potentially harmful side effects. A madcap crazy…

more »
Events
Today
Skagit Tours

10:00am|Highway 20

Bard on the Beach

12:00pm|Vanier Park

Boating Center Open

12:00pm|Community Boating Center

Plover Rides

12:00pm|Blaine Harbor

A Little Night Music

7:30pm|Performing Arts Center

Discover Birch Bay Days

10:00am|Birch Bay Drive

A Swinging Weekend

12:00pm|Fairhaven Village Green

Chuckanut Classic

6:30am|Boundary Bay Brewery

Veterans Breakfast

8:00am|VFW Post 1585

Rabbit Ride

8:00am|Fairhaven Bicycle

Run to Fight Blindness

9:00am|Cascadia Eye

Marsh Mucking

10:00am|Tennant Lake Interpretive Center

Anacortes Open Streets

11:00am|Commercial Avenue

International Concert Series Finale

2:00pm|Peace Arch Provincial Park

Cirque Literary Journal Reading

3:00pm|Mount Baker Theatre

Chuckanut Writers Info Session

4:00pm|Village Books,

Sunday Night Fusion

7:00pm|Presence Studio

Swinomish 2016 Artifacts Wine Bar
Tomorrow
Skagit Tours

10:00am|Highway 20

Bard on the Beach

12:00pm|Vanier Park

Boating Center Open

12:00pm|Community Boating Center

We Grow Market

3:00pm|Northwest Youth Services

Music Enrichment Project Meet and Greet

4:00pm|Piper Music

Open Mic

7:00pm|Village Books

Get Out More Tour

7:30pm|Backcountry Essentials

Poetrynight

8:00pm|Bellingham Public Library

Guffawingham

9:30pm|Green Frog

Swinomish 2016 Artifacts Wine Bar
Tuesday
Bard on the Beach

12:00pm|Vanier Park

Boating Center Open

12:00pm|Community Boating Center

Hiking Basics

6:00pm|REI

Final History Sunset Cruise

6:00pm|Bellingham Cruise Terminal

All-Paces Run

6:00pm|Fairhaven Runners

Final BIFT

6:30pm|Boundary Bay Brewery

Amnesty International Meeting

7:00pm|Community Food Co-op

Skagit Folk Dancers

7:00pm|Bayview Civic Hall

see our complete calendar »

Andrew Subin Bellingham Farmer’s Market Village Books Swinomish 2016 Northwood Steak and Crab Artifacts Wine Bar Cascadia Weekly Subscribe Ad 1