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In praise of Claudine, a ’70s rom-com with a social conscience

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The 1970s are a hallowed time in film history. As the classic studio system gave way to the rebellious innovations of New Hollywood, young independent filmmakers brought a newfound cynical grit to the screen. Even the defining romantic comedy voice of the era, Woody Allen, was a pessimistic auteur. Yet as Ann Hornaday argues in a recent Washington Post article, what makes the 1970s a great decade for filmmaking isn’t just canonized hits like The Godfather, Taxi Driver, and Annie Hall—it’s the diversity of films that emerged in an era when Hollywood was rewriting the rulebook for what audiences wanted. Some of the most fascinating films of the decade are ones that have all but faded from public memory. Like Claudine, a 1974 love story that rages against racism, social inequality, and broken governmental systems.

Released during the height of the blaxploitation movement, Claudine was a pointed attempt to do something different. The film centers on 36-year-old single mom Claudine Price (Diahann Carroll) as she falls for suave garbage collector Rupert “Roop” Marshall (James Earl Jones). Claudine’s all-Black ensemble is filled with characters who are well-aware that their lives fit some sort of cultural stereotype—a single mom with six kids on welfare, a “stud” who doesn’t see his own children, a pregnant teenager, a radical activist. But Claudine humanizes those archetypes into richly developed people. The film paints an affectionate portrait of family life on the edges of poverty in Harlem. And it offers the kind of big screen Black love story that wouldn’t become a regular part of the rom-com canon until the 1990s.

The groundbreaking elements of Claudine were very much intentional. It was the debut feature for Third World Cinema Corporation, an independent production studio founded by Black and Latinx artists like Ossie Davis and Rita Moreno. The studio’s goal was to tell three-dimensional stories about people of color while serving as a training ground for behind-the-scenes talent. On Claudine, 28 of 37 production jobs were filled by Black or Latinx creatives, although the top roles went to two white, Jewish creators. Claudine was produced by Third World Cinema co-founder Hannah Weinstein, a journalist, left-wing political activist, and TV producer. It also marked the Hollywood return of director John Berry, who’d been blacklisted by the House Un-American Activities Committee and gone into self-exile in France during the 1950s and ’60s.

Screenwriters Lester and Tina Pine specifically wanted to use Claudine to highlight the broken welfare system. As their son Daniel Pine explained in a 2018 retrospective, “At that time, the welfare system was a mess. On the one hand, recipients, mostly single mothers, were ineligible for benefits if they worked outside the home. On the other hand, most available jobs paid less than a living wage. My parents wondered how poor women on welfare managed to survive under such conditions… This was the premise of Claudine.”

To get by, Claudine hides the fact that she works as a maid in the suburbs, a job that supplements her welfare payments and food stamps but hardly leads to a life of luxury. Her family of seven lives in a small four-bedroom apartment where squabbles over the TV, the toaster, and the single bathroom are a daily occurrence. Claudine technically “cheats” the welfare system, including during repeated comedic sequences in which she and her kids switch out new appliances for older ones before their social worker stops by for a check-in. Yet the film’s larger point is that welfare is so stingy, its oversight so dehumanizing, and these “infractions” so minor, that the problem is clearly with the system itself, not with the people trying to survive within it.

As Claudine puts it, “If I can’t feed my kids, it’s child neglect. If I go out and get myself a little job on the side, if I do not tell him, then I’m cheating. If I stay at home, then I’m lazy. You can’t win.” Claudine smartly parallels Claudine’s minor rule violations with the way her white boss tries to sneak unsanctioned building material into his local trash collection. We all bend official rules in some way or another, but only some of us are scrutinized and demonized for it.

The role of Claudine was originally intended for Diana Sands, a Tony- and Emmy-nominated actor who co-founded Third World Cinema and helped shepherd the film through development. But when Sands became fatally ill with cancer at just 39, she insisted that her childhood friend Diahann Carroll take the part instead. At that point Carroll was best known for another portrait of Black single motherhood, the 1968 sitcom Julia, in which she played an elegant, upright widow and nurse.

Julia was a groundbreaking series. It was the first TV show to star a Black woman as someone other than a servant and made Carroll the first Black woman to be nominated for Outstanding Lead Actress at the Emmys. Yet the show also received pushback for depicting Black life through a lens largely designed to appeal to white audiences, something Ashley Ray-Harris explores in her wonderful piece on Black TV history. As Carroll explained in a 1975 interview with Jet magazine, “I came out of a certain era and most of the Black performers who came out of that same era have to pay a price today for striving for a kind of acceptability that I think the Black community wanted us to strive for 20 years ago.”

Claudine gave Carroll a chance to show off a different, less glamorous side of herself as a performer. Claudine is a wonderfully nuanced rom-com heroine, one who’s granted both great dignity and fascinating flaws. The film opens with its frazzled leading lady hastily signing school forms and kissing her kids goodbye as she dashes for the bus to work. An original soundtrack composed by Curtis Mayfield and performed by Gladys Knight & The Pips provides a vibrant soundscape for the carefully managed chaos of Claudine’s hectic life. While single parents are relatively common in romantic comedies, Claudine is the rare rom-com to center on truly working-class characters.

Claudine explains that what tires her out about being a parent isn’t the work, “It is the worrying all the time—the shitty neighborhood and the shitty school and the shitty world.” And as a single woman in her mid-30s, she’s also torn between prioritizing her children’s happiness and finding time to look out for her own as well. The fact that Roop approaches life with a jovial, carefree attitude leads to the push-pull of whether he and Claudine are right or wrong for each other.

Plenty of romantic comedies center on the rush of young love. By contrast, Claudine and Roop are mature enough (and tired enough) to skip past the fake pleasantries of early courtship. When their plans for a perfect first date go awry, they happily settle for an evening of takeout and a dish soap bubble bath instead. They’re practical people, and they carve out their own romanticism within that.

Much of the joy of Claudine is in watching Roop ingratiate himself with Claudine’s skeptical family. The whole young cast is wonderful, and James Earl Jones—a theater-trained actor then fresh off an Oscar nomination for The Great White Hope—brings a great mix of “cool cat” mischievousness and paternal gravitas. Roop helps one of Claudine’s sons feel less invisible and allows another to realize that his gambling skills can translate to classroom mathematics. Claudine has a keen eye for the dynamics of a big family, like the way the youngest child still gets special privileges as “the baby” long after she’s outgrown the moniker.

In fact, Claudine could’ve easily coasted along as a sit-comish story about working-class love, but the film complicates those pleasures with its biting look at the welfare system. The high stakes of starting a serious relationship get even higher when they involve government oversight. A scene where Claudine and Roop try to figure out how getting married would impact her welfare status rivals Terry Gilliam’s Brazil for its satirical sendup of ineffectual bureaucratic systems. And as social worker Miss Kabak, Elisa Loti perfectly captures the patronizing edge of a white woman who keeps positioning herself as Claudine’s friend in order to police every detail of her private life.

Claudine argues that America’s socioeconomic system is set up to dehumanize those who are poor, those who are Black, and especially those who are both. That reality creates a simmering resentment among its characters, who each respond to the weight of injustice in their own way. Claudine’s teenage daughter Charlene (a wonderfully naturalistic Tamu Blackwell) rebels in her personal life, while her oldest son, Charles (Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs), turns to radical politics. “I just want to be free,” he explains of his work with a Black activist group pushing for social and economic reform. “I want to be able to feel like a real human being. I want to be able to just breathe.”

For as much as it’s rooted in the specifics of the 1970s, there’s so much about Claudine that feels remarkably prescient today. It doesn’t suggest that love (or life) is easy, but it’s not unhopeful either. In place of a simplistic happy ending, Claudine closes on a note of joyful communal defiance in the face of oppression. Yet even though it earned strong reviews, made a decent showing at the box office, and garnered an Oscar nomination for Carroll, Claudine soon faded from the public consciousness. Rather than kicking off a trend of diverse romantic comedies that touched on vital social issues, the movie stands as something of an anomaly in the genre.

The same can be said for Third World Cinema, which announced an ambitious slate of films but went on to produce just two more projects: the 1977 NASCAR biopic Greased Lightning (starring Richard Pryor) and a 1980 PBS documentary about artist Romare Bearden. Third World Cinema was forced to cease production when the urban improvement grants that helped fund it dried up. It would take decades before its pioneering diversity efforts became mainstream in Hollywood.

Third World Cinema and Claudine are early pillars in the long-standing fight for more representation, both on screen and off. While Claudine has been hard to track down in recent years, it’s getting a prestigious Criterion Collection Blu-ray release this October, which will hopefully lead to renewed interest. It’s a worthy addition to the exalted canon of 1970s cinema, and a welcome example of the kinds of compelling, diverse human stories the romantic comedy genre can tell when its creators are willing to think outside the box.

Next time: His Girl Friday redefined the screwball comedy at 240 words per minute.

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How Las Vegas became the world’s casino capital

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These days, it’s impossible to think of Las Vegas without the image of the lights on the strip and glamorous casinos coming to mind. But the Vegas we know of 2020 wasn’t always that way; and it took a long, long time to get its reputation for being the world’s casino capital. Let’s take a trip down memory lane and get to the root of how Las Vegas became the city that never sleeps.

A historical journey

It’s hard to believe these days, but the Las Vegas region was once an abundant marshland stock full of rich vegetation. That is, until the marsh receded, and the waters disappeared, transforming the landscape into a desert, with the trapped water underground sprouting life and forming an oasis.

It was during the 19th century that the explorer Antonio Armijo from Mexico foraged the way from New Mexico to California on the first commercial caravan. It was a member of the group, Rafael Rivera who rode west to find water and venture through the desert, setting his eyes upon Las Vegas Springs. Las Vegas was therefore named ‘the meadows’ after the grasses found growing there.

Years went on and both Mormon and Mexican settlers began to filter through. In 1890 it was decided by railroad developers that Las Vegas would serve as a spot along the San Pedro, Salt Lake City and Los Angeles railroad route as well as connecting to major cities along the Pacific Coast. From there on, Vegas boomed with stores, boarding houses and saloons popping up around the area. This was the beginning of the Las Vegas as we know it — with railroad workers and ranchers enjoying the gambling and drinking through illegal speakeasies and bootleg casinos operating despite the ban on gambling in Nevada in 1910.

In 1931 gambling once again became legal in the state, with new casinos and showgirl venues opening up along Fremont Street to entertain the thousands of workers who flocked the city during the construction of the Hoover Dam. The first hotel, El Rancho Vegas, opened up in 1941 along Highway 91. Its success inspired others to open up their own hotels along the highway which would one day become the strip. Tourists began to flock to the city over the next few decades to enjoy the casino scene and see incredible artists like Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra perform.

The birth of the mega resort

It was in 1966 the businessman Howard Hughes purchased the Desert Inn hotel; this was followed by over a dozen more hotel purchases, pushing out the mobster-owned hotels that had previously dominated Las Vegas. The concept of the mega hotel came about in 1989 when Steve Wynn opened the Mirage as the first hotel resort in the city. By 1994, Las Vegas was the home of more than 86,000 hotel and motel rooms with 13 of the 20 largest mega resort hotels in the world. It was during this era that the Strip became populated with more hotels and casinos, with developments inspired by the iconic cities and countries of the globe including Egypt, Paris, New York and Rome.

Las Vegas in the 21st century

The Las Vegas of today is well and truly established as a home for entertainment and casinos — which remain the biggest source of income for the city. However, there’s no doubt that Vegas faces more competition than ever before from the virtual world, with more people than ever before opting to play at an online casino, rather than play in the old fashioned way, but Vegas will always have the advantage. For many, it’s a once in a lifetime trip that an online casino can’t replicate, but do the online equivalents help to increase interest in Vegas?

The bright lights of Vegas is attracting billions of dollars in investment as many try and get a slice of the revenue that the sector has to offer. During 2019 over 42.52 million people came to visit Las Vegas from all around the world. Domestically, it was shown to be the second most popular destination for U.S. traveller’s dream spots after New York.

These days, Las Vegas continues to thrive and be a source of entertainment for millions of visitors from around the world looking to experience what the city has to offer. With new generations becoming interested in casino games — and some incredible musical residencies continuing to be announced — Las Vegas surely will continue to be one best places to go for a unforgettable dream destination for many.

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Land-Based Casinos

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What can people find at some of the biggest land-based casinos in Canada? From Niagara Falls to Toronto, there is something for everyone at casinos in Canada, including table games, slots, roulette, blackjack, and other games. There are also many poker and blackjack tournaments held throughout the year and it is easy to find jackpots or slots with free spins at the casinos. Many casinos also have hotels, bars, and numerous restaurants which are perfect for players seeking some comfort. A relaxing casino experience for all ages can be found in many different places in Canada. Choose one from below.

Choosing a casino depends on your tastes and location within Canada. Do you want to experience the grandeur and splendour of nature while placing a bet? Then head to Niagara Falls. Do you want to see a show? Choose a casino with a show that will be perfect for you. If you are looking for pure relaxation, then check out some of the casinos with spas and world-class dining. Entertainment is also a large part of the casino experience in Canada. Musicians, bands, comedians, and other types of entertainment continue to be found at all of the biggest casinos.

Some Big Casinos Near Nature

Casino Niagara is located in one of the most beautiful places in Canada and the world. People from all around the globe come to experience the best of both worlds at Casino Niagara. Players have access to beauty and scenery while spending time at one of the biggest casinos in Canada. The casino has two floors with over 1200 slot machines, poker, and other table games. There are also many different restaurants and even a comedy club. The sports bar and casino was refurbished back in 2017, meaning that it has not lost any of its charm and shine.

ST Eugene Golf Resort: Casino of the Rockies is a golf and nature lovers’ paradise. The location could not be any more splendid. People can find the casino between the Rockies and Purcell Mountains. Furthermore, the casino has an interesting history after it was converted from an Indian Residential School. It was then opened in the early 2000s. St Eugene has table games, electronic roulette, baccarat, and blackjack. There is also a golf course, restaurant, bar, spa, and hotel that is highly rated in Canada. Overall games are limited so most people come for golfing and betting fun.

Caesars Windsor is famously located on the riverbank in Windsor, Ontario. Visitors from both Canada and the States frequent the casino and hotel. Players can see the Detroit and Michigan skyline from the area. There are two floors of slots, table games, and plenty of poker tables. Blackjack, baccarat, and roulette are also available at the casino. It has beautiful restaurants, a gym, bars, slots, and live sports. Check out the Titan 360™, a 10-foot tall slot machine with 5800 pounds of wins at the click of a button. It’s the largest slot machine in the world and great fun.

  • Enjoy the size of Casino de Montreal and Hard Rock Casino
  • Enjoy the big and beautiful Casino Niagara or ST Eugene Golf Resort
  • Enjoy High Culture at Elements Casino Brantford

River Rock Casino Resort – In Transit

Are you passing through Vancouver Airport and have a long transit? Hire a cab and spend some time enjoying slot machines at River Rock Casino Resort. There are slots galore and the different themes make it an enjoyable visit for all. There is even a Dungeons and Dragons slot for gamers. A fourteen-table game room can be found at the casino and international poker tournaments are held regularly. Other features include a VIP area, spa, live music, 24-hour food and drink, as well as other entertainment. Richmond is also worth a quick visit, especially for some delicious seafood.

Casino de Montreal – The Big Gun

Casino de Montreal is 526,488 square feet of casino excitement. The casino has around 20 thousand visitors each day and is one of the biggest casinos on the globe. If you are still unconvinced about the size of the place, then imagine five floors of slots and table games. 3,000 machines and 111 table games make the casino seem even more mammoth. Casino de Montreal games can be played in a smoke-free environment and many players comment on the user-friendly games and helpful staff. Complimentary drinks and top-rated gourmet food is all part of the experience at Casino de Montreal.

Hard Rock Casino – Another Big One

Hard Rock Casino is another large casino located in Vancouver, British Columbia. The casino is over 80,000 square feet, making it a big one in Canada. Hard Rock has gaming tables, slots, baccarat and a poker room. The casino includes 70 casino tables and 1,000 slots. Private rooms and high roller areas are also available. However, the Hard Rock name is known for excellent food and this is what people love about this casino. Many players comment on the quality of the food here. It even has a 1,000 seat theatre, making it great for dining and a show.

Elements Casino Brantford – Enjoy High Culture

Elements Casino Brantford is a historical gem for culture in Ontario. It is a charity casino that was established last century. It includes the Sanderson Centre for the Performing Arts, which is a high society entertainment venue in Ontario. The centre is well known to performing arts enthusiasts in Ontario and Canada. Players come to see a show, enjoy some gourmet food and a game. The casino also has plenty of slots, table games, blackjack, baccarat, sic bo, three card poker, roulette, and other games. There is also a 14-table Texas Hold ‘Em poker room. Enjoy all the excitement.

River Cree Resort and Casino – Sports Lovers

River Cree Resort and Casino is a sport and gaming venue located in Edmonton that should not be overlooked. It has 39 tables of various money limits and over 1,000 slots. There are also a few different places to dine while enjoying a bet and other things to experience. There is a fitness centre, spa and a 200 room resort. However, the most interesting feature of this casino is the two hockey rinks, which are often used by the Edmonton Oilers for practice. It is possible to watch the team practice and go for a meal and some gaming fun.

For the ones who fancy playing online we recomend visiting canadiancasino.org!

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Top 8 Online Games That Kids Can Play Without Much Parental Supervision

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The gaming industry has been quite widespread since its inception. With the advent of globalisation and technology, this industry is reaching new heights. Kids these days are more inclined to the internet than they are to books. 

The internet has more information about everything than anywhere else and is very easily accessible. This further makes some parental control necessary. Most parents are worried about their kids playing violent video games that can further affect their mental health. 

Nevertheless, you cannot stop a kid from finding ways to log in to the internet, nor can you keep them away from playing video games. You can always supervise them on their media consumption. But that also gets tiresome after a point. This is when it gets necessary for you to introduce them to games that are not only kid-friendly but are also of their liking. 

If you are in a similar situation, looking for a way out, this article will surely help. Further mentioned are a few games that you can let your kid play while you concentrate on your work and well-being.  

1. Gummy Drop

Finding games that you can let your kids play without supervision is quite a task. With games like Gummy Drop, you do not have to worry one bit. With beautiful graphics and interesting gameplay, it does not take long for your kid to get hooked to the game. 

With new cities and interesting content being added almost every day, this 3 puzzle game is a good choice for your kids to play. It also connects to your Facebook account, letting you play with your other friends. It is also a nice way for your kids to improve their general knowledge and problem-solving skills. 

2. Skribbl

If you were a fan of Pictionary when you were growing up, you should definitely introduce your kids to this game. While the rules of Pictionary remain the same, this game improves on the visual aspect. With all of their friends in the same server, your kid can easily get hooked to this game. 

Easy and fun to play – once the server is set up, each player will get a word that they have to draw on the screen. The motive of the game is to help the other players guess your word. Each round chooses players at random. While it is advised that you use a tablet and a stylus to play this, you can always sketch with your finger. 

3. Ludo Supreme

A classic in every sense of the word, online ludo needs no introduction. There are some new features that are added in the game version of this app. It lets you connect to your Paytm account and earn real money while playing the game. 

Along with such amazing features, you can also play it for fun with your family or friends. It has other versions as well that come in different languages, especially in India, given the diverse nature of the country. You can download the LUDO for your android phones

4. Houseparty

There is no doubt that Houseparty has been one of the most popular downloads this pandemic. This is a networking app that lets you add as many as seven friends and play different games face-to-face via video calls. 

The novel approach of phone gaming made this a very widely chosen app. While playing games with your friends is always fun, this app lets you see and talk to them as well. Some of the most played games in this app include Heads Up!, Chips and Guac, Trivia and Quick Draw. With such amazing features and games, this is a worthwhile download for your kid. 

5. Monopoly

Monopoly is a very interesting game, which you can get your kids. Along with being fun, it can be played by any age group and is always stimulating your brain. This board game is an all-time classic that is now available on mobile platforms. 

The good thing about it being on the phone is that now your kids can play it with their friends as well, and all from the convenience of your home. 

6. Rocket League

If you have ever wondered what it would be like to play soccer but with cars, this game is exactly that. You get to pick a car at the beginning of the game in an oversized field with an oversized ball. Then start the five-minute matches where you have to score goals against them. 

To make it even more fun, this game allows the player to add up to three friends on the same server. It also has options where you can choose between casual play and ranked online play. Nevertheless, in both gameplays, you can earn new cosmetic looks for the car and get a chance to score more goals. 

7. UNO

Another all-time classic, UNO has been a very celebrated game all these years. The original company of UNO came out with the online version that is available on both iOS and Android devices. Since they are the copyright holders, you already know, the gameplay cannot get any better than this. 

Nevertheless, since it is a multiplayer game, you can play it both against your friends or strangers. It’s fun aesthetics, and new rules make it more interesting. It now has different modes of play and tournaments as well. You can also partner up and play 2v2 to win together. With servers available all around the world, you can connect to anyone you know. 

8. Guess The Word

Very obvious from the name itself, this game is known to be one of the most popular downloads in this list. It not only helps your kids spend some unsupervised time with themselves but also ensures that they learn new things in the process. 

The game contains different levels which get harder as your kid progresses, further making it more interesting and attractive. If you have some free time on your hands, you can also jump in and play with your kids.

Final Thoughts

So, these are the 8 games that kids of all ages can play without any tension. Above all, parents don’t have to panic or keep an eye on them all the time. 

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