Kinky Puss’n Boots

DATELINE:  A Really Big Shoe

 kinky boots Kinky-Dinky!

Kinky Boots may kindly be called an old-fashioned character drama. The difference is that it’s about drama queens in men’s shoes. It was later turned into a smash stage show, but the 2006 version is one of those working class British angry young man movies (except the young man dresses like a woman).

The two characters in juxtaposition are, first, the son of a shoe factory heir facing bankruptcy for making traditional footwear for men when disposable sneakers are the rage.

The second young man likes to wear high-heels and becomes a cabaret star in drag shows.

Under normal circumstance, you almost would expect the two men to slip into each other’s loafers at some point. Thank heavens, Kinky Boots keeps us in our own lanes and avoids any moments with glass slippers.

Joel Edgerton is the scion of shoemakers who learns that market niche for men’s boots with stilettos is high end. He meets Chiwetel Ejiofor in a career-busting role as Lola, the giant man in glitter. They kick up the story. Chiwetel also sings us a torrid version of “Whatever Lola Wants.”

Unfortunately, to walk a mile in one man’s shoes, or high-heels, may be a stretch too far. The movie makes its points early and often but keeps on giving us more. The climax on the runways of Milan for shoe biz is too much glitz for our own good. Hero and audience fall flat.

Lessons in what defines masculinity and manhood are made a few times too many. It’s always hard to figure out British men anyhow since, to American eyes, they all look ready to put on a feathery boa and dancing shoes.


Roots of an Oscar Best Picture


Roots Revisited

When television produced Roots in the 1970s, the fictionalized sensational story of Alex Haley’s purported slave ancestors, there was controversy and fireworks around the water-cooler. It upset many young black people.

Forty years later comes 12 Years a Slave, which is a fictionalized story of a slave. Just as before, a variety of famous white actors have the chance to play racist Southerners who are at best apathetic and at worst sadistic. Not many people were surprised by the message or upset by the historical situations this time.

The biggest difference is that now, on the big screen, the sex scenes around the plantation can become R rated.

Like Roots, this film is celebrated, but won some big Oscars for actress Lupita Nyong’o and John Ridley as writer as well as Best Motion Picture of the Year. So, this is Roots on steroids.

Chiwetel Ejiofor stars as Solomon Northrup, illegally sent down the river as a slave when he was a free man—and a cultured and literate man far beyond any others of his era. Whether he turns out to be Levar Burton of a new era, only time will tell.

There is nothing modest in this man’s success. He lives like a robber baron—and he plays the fiddle for a living. That surely makes the film identifiable to modern black people as a horror story. In fact, it is far more of an intellectual’s tale of terror when living among the savages.

Along the way he runs into Paul Giamatti, Brad Pitt, Benedict Cumberbatch, and Michael Fassbender. Each has a pivotal cameo role among a huge cast that never allows anyone to make a film-wide impact.