That Was Wild

Among the titles from this year’s Sundance that have made it to my Netflix recommendations, Wild Wild Country is the first that I’ve sat down and watched so far.

Now off rip, I wasn’t swayed by the title. Wild Wild Country: I didn’t know what I’d be getting myself into with that. But after reading the description and learning that the Duplas brothers had a hand in producing the series, I reconsidered. The Duplas brothers, Mark and Jay, have been working in film a long time and I’ve been an admirer of theirs for some years now.

So I said, “fuck it, I got some time to kill” and pressed play.

This series has me feeling all kinds of ways.

The doc is about this “cult” of Rajneesh. Baghwan Shree Rajneesh a.k.a Osho. I certainly wasn’t familiar with the title Baghwan, but Osho I was familiar with. People like to quote him a lot on Instagram and Tumblr. Osho was a spiritual teacher who believed that utopian society was possible and developed a whole spiritual teaching based on this belief. He had an ashram in India, but where this series starts is when he and his followers decide to pick up and leave Puna, India and set up shop in Oregon, near the town of Antelope, Oregon.

Already I’m like, “Oregon, tf?”

But it gets crazier. Evidently, the Baghwan had bags and he bought several thousand acres of land – 80,000 to be exact – to build his new utopian city. And oh, did people come out.

These “sannyasins” were out in Oregon deep af. ENTER Ma Amand Sheela. personal secretary to Osho who managed the newly established Rajeeshpuram in Wasco, Co., Oregon.

You can say a lot about her but all I’ll say is that, she was strategic in making sure that her job, as the “spokesperson” for the Baghwan and his ashram, was done efficiently and effectively………. even if those methods were illegal/not entirely ethical.

List of charges against Sheela:

  • Attempted murder
  • Voter fraud
  • Wire tapping
  • Arson
  • Conspiracy
  • Immigration fraud

In a timeline of about four years, Ma Amand Sheela and her “cabinet” of sorts, transforms this sex-positive, peace promoting, truth seeking sannyasin movement into an army, having so much control over those closest to her that she could talk them into murder. MURDER.

It’s truly an enthralling tale and it all went down in little ole’ Wasco County, Oregon.

I don’t know about y’all, but I must have missed this page in my history books. Or maybe it was conveniently left out, who can really say?

Moral of the story: The series raises philosophical questions and grapples with some seemingly contradictory forces: hippies strapping up, Christians being intolerant, the nature of conviction vs. control. Sometimes, in life, there are moments where I’m like “Y’all serious right now?” Real life is often times more fantastical, frightening, and unexpected than what any imagination can conjure. The world is as frightening as it is fascinating. Even if you couldn’t care less about the philosophical implications of this whole Rajneeshpuram debacle, the series is sure to make you think, “What the fuck,” on more than one occasion.

 

 

Expanding the Canon of Black Film

Sorry to Bother You is the first film of the Sundance Class of 2018 to pique my interest thus far. In short, it’s a comedy, but mix in elements of surrealism and sci-fi and you’ve either got something really amazing or something not so much.

This is director Boots Riley’s, a musician by trade, debut into the independent film world. At first glance, he has a disposition of quiet confidence and his personality seems as ambitious and interesting as the vision for this film. With Sorry to Bother You, Riley adds his name to a growing list of black writer/directors emerging in film.

The movie stars LaKeith Stanfield, Tessa Thompson, Terry Crews, Steven Yeun, Armie Hammer, and Omari Hardwick and it follows the story of telemarketer, Cassius Green who discovers the “secret to success,” catapulting Cassius into a world of fantastical fuckery. It’s set to come out in July.

LaKeith has been a favorite of mine for a while now. His role as Darius in Atlanta is what endeared me to him initially and though his role in Get Out was small, that meme will last for ages.

Tessa, Tessa, Tessa Thompson. *bites lip* From what I understand, she plays Cassius’ girl in the movie – an interesting pair. I’m excited to see what her performance brings to the table. She’s always been such a talent to me, attraction aside, and her presence on screen is always refreshing.

My expectations are always high when Terry Crews’ name is attached to a project. Not only is he hilarious, he’s intelligent and always delivers a performance that is as endearing as it is daring.

All in all, my expectations are quite high for Sorry to Bother You. I’m always excited to see how the independent film scene is moving and changing. As of the past five years, independent film has been especially popping, particularly as it pertains to black folks. Films like Dear White People, Tangerine, Night Catches Us, Mississippi Damned, Pariah, and Middle of Nowhere are all indies that came out within the last 5- 10 years. These films, among many others that I do not have the space to mention, ushered in a renaissance era in film for black filmmakers and auteurs that continues to push the boundaries to give us shows and movies like Insecure, Queen Sugar, The Chi, Black Panther, A Wrinkle in Time, and now, Sorry to Bother You.