Dallas Voice (Dallas, Tex.), Vol. 28, No. 34, Ed. 1 Friday, January 6, 2012 Page: 23 of 40
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Black, lesbian and troubled home life? New film 'Pariah' hits as a middle-class 'Precious'
While politicians debate
whether life begins at concep-
tion, dudes know it begins at
puberty, when we start mastur-
bating hourly until we can in-
teract sexually with others.
An exception might be for
gays, who begin life when we
come out, becoming aware of
who we are and finally know-
ing for sure what n e want.
Pariah is a realistic portrait
of a young woman who, at 17,
knows who she is and what
she wants but hasn't quite fig-
ured out how to act on it.
Things are complicated be-
cause she's lesbian and has to
worry about the reactions of
peers and parents.
Alike (Adepero Aduye)
doesn't care about the kids at school, who have figured
out from her butch demeanor that she's not exactly a
girly-girl, but her folks are something else entirely. Her fa-
ther, Arthur (Charles Parnell), is a police detective with
homophobic friends, but he's clueless
where Alike (ah-LEE-kay) is concerned.
Her mother, Audrey (Kim Wayans), is a
control freak who can't wait for Alike to
outgrow her "tomboy phase."
On the positive side, Alike is lucky to
have Laura (Pernell Walker) as a BFF, con-
fidante and tour guide through the coming out process
and the lesbian subculture. "You need to pop that damn
cherry of yours," Laura tells Alike, going so far as to buy
her a strap-on (though perhaps not the most appropriate
Perceiving Laura as a bad influence on her daughter,
Audrey tries to keep them apart. She forces Alike to
spend time with Bina (Aasha Davis), the daughter of a
church friend. But the plan backfires for better — and
worse — than any of them could have expected, as Bina
unintentionally drives a wedge between Alike and Laura.
SHARE AND SHARE ALIKE | A closeted 17-year-old (Adepero Aduye, right) shares a
moment with her clueless mom (Kim Wayans) in 'Pariah.'
Anyone who's ever been a teenager can relate to the
emotions involved when one changes besties, and it gets
more complicated when sex is involved.
When Alike finally comes out at home the reactions are
predictable. Audrey is too bourgeois to go
all Mo'Nique on her ass, but the scene is at
Indeed, with its hard look and African-
American setting, Pariah easily recalls Pre-
cious; though it's more reined in in just
about every way, so it doesn't afford the
opportunity for attention-getting histrionics that win
This has been a long project for filmmaker Dee Rees,
who wrote it as a feature several years ago, then made a
short version in 2007 that played the festival circuit. The
result is praiseworthy and I suspect Rees will feel re-
warded when she sits in a theater and hears even straight
girls cheering on Alike, as you'll want to.
At any rate, life begins for Alike in the course of Pariah
— and careers begin for Rees and Aduye as a result. ■
— Steve Warren
Adepero Aduye, Pernell Walker,
Aasha Davis, Kim Wayans
Rated R. 85 mins. Now playing at
3 WALK FREE
3 WALK FREE
'Paradise' found: After nearly 20 years, a documentary comes full circle
In the movies, the scene where the intrepid reporter/lawyer/medical examiner, after
years of effort, finally clears the name of the wrongly convicted druggie/teen/single mom
never rings true. It's a cliche created in Hollywood for dramatic effect.
Except in the case of Paradise Lost, it's true.
In 1996, HBO aired the documentary Paradise Lost: The Child Murders of Robin
Hood Hills, a compelling real-life whodunnit about three teens seemingly railroaded by
closed-minded Arkansas yokels for allegedly killing three young boys in 1993. The de-
fendants mostly had alibis and no motives, but they didn't "look" normal — they were
Goth and had piercings and wore black. Murmurs spread of Satanism (because, appar-
ently, that's the natural consequence of listening to Marilyn Manson). The doc raised
questions of their guilt, but the three men festered in prison, one on death row. Afollow-
up documentary in 2000 introduced more exculpatory evidence, but nothing happened.
The finale of the unintended trilogy, Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory, does the remarkable:
It basically ties up all the questions, and even points audiences in the direction of the
real killer. (It's a doozy, especially if you've watched the other documentaries intently —
as I have — for 15 years.)
It's almost unsettling how everything comes full circle, both for the men — Damien
Nichols, Jessie Miskelly and Jason Baldwin — and the documentarians. (You don't
need to have seen the previous films; a lot of 3 is recap.) There are the requisite "Where
are they now?" updates about the defendants and other principals, and the legal wran-
gling to get courts to reexamine the flimsy evidence and flaws of due process that
landed them in prison.
But what makes Paradise Lost 3 so exciting — and not always in a good way — is
seeing how hardened the opinions of many of those who blamed the West Memphis
Three have become, despite all proof to the contrary... and how some unexpected ac-
cusers have softened. It truly is a story of human growth and understanding. I don't
know how the filmmakers could have known it when they named the first film nearly two
decades ago, but Paradise Lost really has become a tale of redemption, and if the reso-
lution is imperfect, it is nevertheless more real for it. And it doesn't require Matthew Mc-
Conaghey in a courtroom to accomplish it.
— Arnold Wayne Jones
Four stars. Airs Jan. 12 on HBO.
■ TABLE, From Page 21
Mesa, south of the Trinity, is less slick-looking
that Komali (the exterior looks like a wig shop)
but the food boasts soaring flavors from the Ver-
acruzana region, with deft technique. And both
have bar programs worthy of a cocktail hour.
(118 W. Jefferson Ave., MesaDallas.com)
4 throi h 6 — Eastern artistry:
Baboush, Malai Kitchen, Pho Colonial
Whether you're talking the Far East or the
Middle East, exotic cuisine gained a foothold in
Dallas. Baboush claims the closest inspiration —
a North African-influenced restaurant that
brings a touch of the Mediterranean to the West
Village. Forward flavors dominate even though
the lush, genie-in-a-bottle atmosphere has its ap-
peal. (3636 McKinney Ave., BaboushDallas.com)
Go to the Far East for two inventive restqs.
Across the street from Baboush is Malai
Kitchen, one of the few eateries on this year's
list that takes decor seriously, but not as seri-
ously as its food (especially its curries and a fan-
tastic brunch). (3699 McKinney Ave.r
MalaiKitchen. com). Downtown's Pho Colonial
(there's another in Far North Dallas) takes
counter-service that should feel like Vietnamese
comfort food and turns it into haute cuisine with
expertly cooked meats, big portions and a wal-
lop on the tongue. (164 N. Ervay St., PhoColo-
7 and 8 — Traditional Fine-Dine:
Private I Social, Marquee Grill
Two Dallas chefs who gained national fame as
fan favorites on Top Qief— Tiffany Derry and
Tre Wilcox — ventured out on their own with
favorable results. Derry's Private | Social, with
its seafood-heavy menu, interesting concept and
sparkly interior, has the edge over Wilcox's old-
school eclectic New American cuisine at Mar-
quee Grill, but both harken to event restaurants
that were common before the New Casual took
over. 3232 McKinney Ave., PrivateSocial.com; 32
Highland Park Village, MarqueeGrill.com)
9 and 10 — Street Food Goes Big:
Taco Ocho, Good 2 Go Tacos
Food anthropologists 100 years from now will
probably note a straight line from waist girth, the
legitimization of food trucks and the indulgent
taco stand in 2011. As gourmet taquerias prolifer-
ated, these two — Taco Ocho, a slick, likeable,
well-lit suburban place and the woman-owned
Good 2 Go Tacos, a glorified lunch counter in
East Dallas — made the most significant impact
on us, forever and finally making the Old El Paso:
paradigm on thing of the past. (930 E. Campbell
Road, Richardson, TacoOcho.com; 1146 Peavy
Road, Good2GoTaco.com) ■
For a review of Good to Go Tacos, see sidebar on
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Nash, Tammye. Dallas Voice (Dallas, Tex.), Vol. 28, No. 34, Ed. 1 Friday, January 6, 2012, newspaper, January 6, 2012; Dallas, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth239201/m1/23/: accessed April 24, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Special Collections.