Friday, December 23, 2016

This is not a slice of pie. This is a slice of heaven.

Wait, you're saying he took her out on a date, in the daytime and....and had thoughtful conversation about relevant topics? What? And people voted for him?

Talking? Art exhibits?  Community organizing? A f--king Spike Lee movie? Really? I thought when Presidential types were interested in a woman...well, I thought it was much simpler than that.

I mean, that's a lot of work. Don't you just grab 'em by the p---y?

As the Obamas prepare for their last day in the White House, Southside With You carefully chronicles their first day together outside of it. Director Richard Tanne's feature debut is much like the future couple: fairly reserved, undeniably picturesque and for some, endlessly inspiring.

In the summer of 1989, Michelle Robinson has been assigned to keep tabs on a charismatic young law student named Barack Obama. You may have heard of this dude. Even though she's his advisor, Michelle begrudgingly accepts his invitation to attend a community meeting in a rough part of town. This area is trying to keep their kids safe, but due to a lack of funding, can't get the kids a rec center. This is an important meeting, sure...but it's not a date.

Well, it wasn't supposed to be, but ol' Barry picked up Michelle about four or five hours before the meeting....and well, they had to make a day of it. Going to a gallery to see an art exhibit? Enlightening, sure. But not a date. A quaint walk through a sunny park? Totally serene. But not a date. But by the time that Barack takes the podium at the meeting and does his thing? Still, not a date. 

Okay, fine. Maybe just a little bit...

I once took a girl I was in love with to an art gallery. Fine, it was a coffee shop.
But it totally had coloring books, so it's pretty much the same thing.

(Inadvertently?) Taking a page out of Richard Linklater's Before films, Tanne captures a perfectly normal day between two perfectly normal people. Almost, anyway, as even the tiniest bit of flirtation, innuendo or disagreement foreshadows an upcoming relationship that will truly change the world. Sure, we've seen two nice people have fall in love before countless times, but not two people that we know so well. It's refreshingly honest and impeccably performed, resulting in charming 82-minute get-together  But it's not a date.

Speaking of a relationship women have been ardently trying to avoid for years, here are the Yays and Boos. Hopefully you don't find either one under your tree this year....

Maybe the only scene in the film where Barack isn't smoking...
 ....a cigarette.

  • So you're saying there's a chance? Turns out our current President is habitually late and drove a shitty car? Maybe I am qualified after all...
  • Miss You Much by Janet Jackson is not only featured on the soundtrack, but it will also be tattooed on my face...January 21st, 2017.
  • Dude, we have to see if Parker Sawyers is a mutant, because his resemblance to Obama is uncanny.
  • Michelle is fightin' the good fight, for real. She lays out all the shit she has to deal with real quick, saying what would people think if they saw her dating the first cute black guy that joined the firm? How far would that set her back?
    • To which Barack responds thoughtfully, You think I'm cute?
  • Maybe they didn't expect you to be the best. Maybe you put that expectation on yourself.
  • Barack's speech at the community organizing event is magic. Flipping no to on? One of his smooth moves from the day. (I also dug how Michelle sniffs out his plan at this point, too)
  • Let's go for drinks and debate which is the best Stevie Wonder album. Yes, that's from the movie, but it's also an invitation. You free over the holiday?
  • And finally, I don't even want to know if it's really how their not a date ended...but what we're shown is just about perfect. Even if you've been kinda lulled into sleep by this gentle breeze of a film, the last five minutes should make you wake up, lean forward and smile. Aww, you two are so cute together! Could you sign my yearbook?
Michelle ain't playin' around. At all/first.
  • Uh...I'm not comfortable seeing the First Lady in her bra. Well, unless she's on a private jet, of course.
  • You can tell Obama is like, extra smooth, still getting the girl driving that piece-of-shit car of his. Damn, Barry.
  • Who didn't watch Good Times? Are you kidding me? What are you doing, Michelle? Using the time to make something of yourself?
  • Not gonna lie, even at sub-90 minutes...this one can feel a bit long at times. Even if just a little...
  • Barack has to explain, though sarcastically, that yes, Hawai'i is a part of the United States. Apparently this is something all of us from the islands have to do. Often.
  • Nice day at the park? Makes sense. Michelle shaking her booty when stumbling upon African percussion group? Highly illogical. Maybe the First Lady that we know now would dance around without a problem? But young(er) Michelle? Seems like a bit of a stretch...
  • Remember when you were a kid and your parents were fighting? Uh...we get a couple of those moments. Yeah, I'll get that drink of water later on, thank you very much.
  • Thanks a lot, Avery, you sonuvabitch. We were gonna have a nice time at the cinema, and then Old White Guy from the office shows up and ruins everything. Screw you, cosmic justice!
  • And finally, as much as I enjoyed the film, it's kind of, well, how do I put this? Super f--king weird to see a movie about the first date of two people that are, all things considered, not that old. Clearly I'm not smart enough to describe it (or anything, really) coherently, but it's somewhat disconcerting to memorialize such a personal event of two people halfway through their lives. And it's such a small event, too, you know? 

Full disclosure, I voted for President Obama each time he ran, and am honestly sad to see him go. I know that he has his detractors, and that's entirely okay with me if you feel that way. But like that first day with Michelle, I've always felt that with him as our President this could actually turn into something good, you know?

Like any guy chasing the girl of his dreams (figuratively, dammit), all I've ever wanted was to believe that good things could happen, that the future was full of amazing possibilities. I had, in a word, hope.

What's weird, is that now? After our most recent election? I really, really believe that anything is possible.

So why am I so short on hope?


  1. I don't think I'll ever watch this, but I'm going to miss Obama as president so much. :'(

    1. It's pretty short and paints an interesting picture of both Michelle and Barack, but it's definitely not mandatory. I liked seeing the younger version of them, but it does drag a bit.

      I heard something about it on NPR and decided to roll the dice. That ol' 82 minute runtime doesn't hurt, you know?