Dear White People Screen 15 articles

Dear White People

2014

Dear White People Poster
  • Having something important to say isn’t the same thing as making an important movie, or even a good one. “Dear White People” is a skitlike film that conceals its schema under a familiar naturalism. Its ostensibly authentic characters are constructed from the traits that fit the needs of the plot. The film hints at fascinating directions that Simien didn’t pursue and wild energies that he filters out.

  • Rarely have I so longed to reach out from my seat and grab a movie by the shoulders and shake it in frustration while yelling "Be better!" America needed a film like this one so badly that it was almost painful to watch Simien gingerly tiptoe through scenes that needed to be daringly confrontational, rarely risking much. Making someone like me (smug liberal) slightly uncomfortable should have been priority one.

  • Like all great satire, Justin Simien's Dear White People is fueled chiefly by anger — at the everyday racism which endures across the United States, but also at the ignorance and complacency that encourages its persistence even among those who consider the problem more or less solved... Simien has a sharp ear for comedy, and the film is certainly hilarious. But it's anger that gives Dear White People the charge lifting it from funny to great.

  • Simien treads a fine line, his dialogue replete with sharp repartees that usually hit their marks, and mimic well the status of language among upscale students... His satire, albeit intelligent, and witty, remains skin-deep – but, in the “sea” of white-on-white movies that make up Hollywood and the indie scene, the sheer presence of Dear White People, due in part to the efforts of producer Effie Brown, is quite an achievement, and I am eager to see what Simien will do next

  • Not all the jokes are funny or timeless. Some of them are simply tired. But themes of what kind of black person — and, for that matter, what kind of white person — one should be are modern and loaded. They’re not post-anything.

  • Undeniably snappy and smart, with a knack for fiery dialogue that Jake Mulligan is right to point out as screwball in nature, it’s nonetheless hard not to feel like Dear White People is a strewn-together collection of wittily discussed talking points attractively framed and filtered through the mouths of baldly representative types.

  • The trouble is that the level of debate in the film makes Winchester feel like such a bastion of racial hyper-awareness that you can’t believe such a plainly incendiary shindig would ever happen there... Still, Simien’s actors save the film from feeling like a lecture. At its best, it’s many lectures at once, wittily delivered, rarely in accord, and interrupting each other with raucous abandon.

  • Dear White People is a comedy explicit about the topic of race, peppered with casual asides like, “Don’t worry, the negro at the door isn’t going to rape you.” If it’s less focused than the righteous sketch humour of Hollywood Shuffle, it is still witty, and Simien’s visual style is smooth and accessible, with a warm mahogany grade and a grace to the structure of chapter intertitles and tableaux vivants.

  • Just because Simien knows what he’s doing doesn’t mean it works, at least not entirely. Dear White People is less than the sum of its very polished parts – a first feature that’s just impressive enough to be frustrating.

  • ...The film holds nothing back in presenting Spike Lee as its strongest influence... Given the depths he's willing to plumb, and the boundaries he doesn't see in regard to social and racial analysis, it's not hyperbole to suggest that Simien might be Lee 2.0—not just the next essential black voice in filmmaking, but a voice curiously, magnanimously attuned to the development of the times.

  • Dear White People’s narrative splinters in so many directions that it almost assumes the properties of a multi-stranded Twitter argument. That it never becomes overly diffuse is down to Simien’s adoption of two distinctly (Wes) Andersonian tropes: chapter titles for that story-book feel; and a precise, rigorously color-coded aesthetic rife with strikingly symmetrical framing.

  • While the tone here is broader and brassier than that of David Fincher and Aaron Sorkin's Harvard rhapsody, we eventually get to see much further beyond the surface of these calculating, thin-skinned brats, to an intensely sensitive and searching core. You can see it in the eyes of Tessa Thompson, who plays mulatto campus radical Samantha White with such implosive rage and heartache that her closeups feel like grand set pieces.

  • I’ve thrown a lot of big names around — Spike Lee, Godard, Kubrick — but I’m genuinely wowed by Simien’s ability to juggle big ideas while not losing sight of his characters, by his gorgeously assured filmmaking, by the little pirouettes of dead-on observation that dance between the film’s broader strokes. Dear White People and its director are the real deal. This is one of the best feature-filmmaking debuts of recent years.

  • Simien uses Troy and his dean daddy (Dennis "Are You In Good Hands" Haysbert) in an intriguing way... [The dean's] lower-pay position is why he's so adamant about his son being down with the swirl created by the college president's daughter. This is the dean's ultimate revenge because, as we all know, a major component of racism deals with the fear of jungle fever sex! The university is sticking it to me, and my son is sticking it to your precious daughter.

  • [There are] a number of audiovisual references to Barry Lyndon: from the use of Schubert in the soundtrack to the telescopic zooms in and out of the frame, creating a perpetual instability in the viewer’s spectatorship, which is absolutely relevant to gauging the tumultuous dynamics of identity among the film’s ensemble. These aren’t superficial homages but clear signs of a special subspecies of film geek – one who applies his adopted film legacies not just to produce style but meaning.

More Links