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Life Here: Will the movie I want to see ever come to the Valley?

  • Taraji P. Henson plays a sports agent who gains the ability to hear men’s thoughts in the comedy “What Men Want.” MUST CREDIT: Jess Miglio, Paramount Pictures

  • Taraji P. Henson and Tracy Morgan in “What Men Want.” MUST CREDIT: Jess Miglio, Paramount Pictures

  • Deb Beaupre. Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.



For the Valley News
Friday, February 22, 2019

I want to go to the movies.

I don’t want to see a tearjerker, plastic toys moving around or people being stalked by some unearthly presence. I don’t even want to see the adaptation of the book that was on the Times best seller list. I read the book.

I want to go to the movies.

I want to see the new Taraji P. Henson movie, What Men Want. I just saw the trailer while looking for a movie during a snowstorm and it says it’s still in theaters.

I want to go to the movies, but I can’t.

Because the movie I want to see is not playing here.

It isn’t playing here, despite there being three major theaters here.

Taraji P. Henson is a full-on movie star and I can’t see her on the big screen unless I drive all the way to Massachusetts or pretty darn near. I’ll be so tired by the time I drive home, it will feel like a field trip, not a night at the movies. I’ll be tired and cranky and that will just ruin my popcorn/soda/candy high.

This happened the last time I really wanted to see a movie, the new movie with Tiffany Haddish and Whoopi, Nobody’s Fool. I looked everywhere for that movie. When the trailer came out in July, I marked my calendar for November to remind myself to watch out for it.

I needn’t have bothered.

When Red Tails, a movie about an episode in World War II when 13 black cadets from the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama helped save lives and integrate the military, came out in 2012, I had to drive to Concord to see it. My son had to make the same trip last summer when he wanted to see BlacKkKlansman.

Movies with black actors do get shown here once in a while and I mean that literally. One. Night. Occasionally, movies with black actors get a one-night screening at the Hop, but, being a working woman, heck, being a person with a life and plans, I can’t just drop everything and go to a midweek movie like a college kid. I do not have time for all that.

And anyway, this is America. In America, we pick the movie, we buy the tickets, we get oversized snackage at our convenience and settle in. We do not shove dinner down our throats, tangle with Hanover traffic and then pretend that we are having fun on a dull Tuesday. Nobody goes to the movies on a Tuesday except schools, and mothers dying to get out of the house to nap in the semidarkness.

I’m still mad that I can’t find a place to dance that isn’t contra, country, swing or line, but now I can’t do this either? What you trying to say, UV? Because I’m feeling frustrated and ignored over here.

Yes, we just had a theater festival of works by women of color. (Say, what?!) So why are the movies not keeping pace? I feel as though I am asking for a lot when in truth, we would all benefit from being able to share fully in each other’s cultures.

The movie theaters are going to say they have no control over which movies get sent to them. Don’t you believe it for a minute. This is about money like everything else is about money. People will open their wallets to see the women I just mentioned. Shoot, Tiffany Haddish was in a Maroon 5 video and you can’t get whiter than Adam Levine. (I am not explaining who any of these people are: look them up on the internet and then you will see what you are missing.) White America loves black culture, so this affinity should extend to where movies are shown as well.

There are some movies that run up here with black actors — ones about slavery, civil rights, integrating sports, anything with Denzel Washington, Samuel L. Jackson or Morgan Freeman. (Read: slavery, getting over slavery, getting past slavery, and men.) But, black people, like all people, are complex. There is more to us than Driving Miss Daisy, Rosa Parks and singing Follow the Drinking Gourd. Black History Month is not just about slavery. Come on, now. We have to do better.

Here in the UV we love good stories well told. If we are going to let Green Book — the story of a white guy teaching an African-American jazz composer to be black — run for weeks and weeks, we should let the women have their chance and then keep them coming.

Deb Beaupre lives in Meriden.