Archive for the ‘Civil Rights’ Category

Passing by Leukerbad on the bus, I mention the remarkable stay of James Baldwin in this charming little town along the Rhone in Switzerland. Most of the time, the bus is very silent as if they’ve never heard of the man before.

Sure, he wasn’t Malcolm X or Martin Luther King, but he was nevertheless important as an African American activist. He was ‘just’ a writer and a homosexual on top of that.

This documentary is based on a book he never finished, in which he reflects on the legacy of the aforementioned leaders and the lesser known Medgar Evers. It’s a good documentary, because they use a lot of footage (especially pictures) from that era and it’s narrated by Samuel L. Jackson, who reads from the unfinished novel in the most surprising and fascinating way. Not sure if there are awards for narrators, but he deserves one.

You do need to have some background of the civil rights movement in the United States though. This isn’t a explanatory documentary about that fight. Nor will you learn much about Baldwin himself. You’ll want to learn more about him after this documentary and maybe that’s the point of this production. It’s interesting how the things he wrote about in the fifties are still relevant sixty years later.

www.imdb.com/title/tt5804038/

 

Green Book – **(*)

Posted: February 13, 2019 in 2018, Civil Rights, Dramedy, USA, XX1/2

Mahershala Ali wins all the supporting actor awards this season for his portrayal of a black piano playing genius who wants to go on a tour in the Deep South. The story takes place in the sixties and a black musician touring in the south wasn’t the greatest plan at the time. He needed a good driver and found an uneducated, but tough Italo-American bodyguard who could do the job. That guy is interpreted by Viggo Mortensen, who is nominated a lot for his performance, but never wins. That’s a shame, because he’s doing an excellent job. In fact, he kinda outshines Mahershala in this gentle dramedy. Not that Mahershala isn’t doing a great job. He is. But he’s not the focus of the story.

It’s a nice movie. But it’s very superficial and predictable. It focusses on an idealized buddy relationship between two men that have almost nothing in common. It’s entertaining, but very light hearted. And just like with Bohemian Rhapsody, the homosexuality of the musician is briefly suggested, not shown at all and hidden behind the well pronounced fact that he was married to a woman at one time.

www.imdb.com/title/tt6966692

BlacKkKlansman – **

Posted: September 1, 2018 in 2018, Civil Rights, Drama, Dramedy, Political, USA, XX

The story is interesting. A black cop calls the local KKK branch to ask for membership. He makes one mistake though: he tells his real name, so he can’t actually go and meet the white supremacists. The chief of police gives the okay for him to investigate the organization, but someone else has to pretend to be him. They find the Jewish kid in the corps to do it. And so he infiltrates in the white supremacist group to see if they plan a violent attack.

The execution of the story however isn’t as impressive as you’d expect it to be. Spike Lee is directing, which is a good thing. But instead of focussing on the story, he focusses on making references to the current situation in the United States. It’s so obvious. The references aren’t subtle at all. It’s annoying. It’s like Spike Lee assumes his audience is dumb. The members of the KKK are also depicted as illiterate, mentally unstable retards. Which they might well be. But it makes the movie feel like a comedy at times. Which is annoying as well.

The movie ends with the most obvious reference of it all: footage of the neonazi march in  South Carolina and Trump’s reaction to it. It’s the most dramatic scene in the movie. It’s the most shocking one as well. It’s only 2 minutes, but it make you leave the theatre thinking more about that event than thinking about the 2 hour-long movie you’ve seen leading up to it.

That said. The movie has a cool vibe though. Maybe Danny Glover would have been a good alternative to play the main character, but John David Washington is doing a great job as well. (why has this guy not been in more movies?) Robert John Burke is another of those gems. Even Adam Driver is doing a fine job. Some scenes are really well done, but others are overlong.

Spike Lee knows how to make a good-looking and visually interesting movie. And he knows how to stir up some controversies. But this movie isn’t really telling something we didn’t already know.

www.imdb.com/title/tt7349662

Marshall – **

Posted: March 10, 2018 in 2017, Civil Rights, Courtroom, Drama, USA, XX

Chadwick Boseman may now well be the hottest guy in Hollywood after the stellar success of Black Panther, but his previous movies didn’t really do well at the box office. Nor has he really been in a lot of movies. Regarding his age. Which is sad, because he’s a fine actor. This time around he’s playing yet another icon of black America: Thurgood Marshall, the first black Supreme Court Justice. No biopic this time, but one moment in his life: The State of Connecticut vs Joseph Spell.

In fact, that should have been the title of the movie, because that’s what it is all about. It’s an interesting case where a white socialite claims to have been raped by her black driver, but he claims to be innocent. In comes this Marshall, a prominent and notorious black lawyer, who is sent by the NAACP to make sure colored people get a fair trial. He isn’t really allowed to plead, so they find a Jewish lawyer who has no experience with criminal cases and just represents insurance companies, but who should be willing do to whatever Marshall tells him to do.

It’s an okay movie. It’s a court room drama. It doesn’t really tell much about this Thurgood Marshall. But Chadwick’s performance makes you believe he was an intriguing man. Sterling Brown is great as well as the alleged rapist. But it’s Josh Gad who is doing the best acting as the Jewish lawyer. However, it’s just a court drama. Set in a historic time. Stressing the injustices that were put onto black people and jewish people (it’s set during WW II). It’s the kind of movie you watch, like and then forget.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5301662

Detroit – **(*)

Posted: October 29, 2017 in 2017, Civil Rights, Drama, USA, XX1/2

Injustice: the movie, part 654!

Luckily for all the movie makers out there, there’s a lot of injustice going on in the world. There are thousands of movies that focus on inequality, discrimination, abuse, outrage etc… Some are very factual. Others twist the events and rewrite history. And most add a little bit of drama to the actual story, such as in this retelling of a hostage situation in Detroit during the riots of 1969.

It’s interesting to see how, before the end credits roll, a notion is made of this.

Nevertheless, extra drama or not, this is an entertaining and gripping story. It’s well-directed by Kathryn Bigelow and the little known cast performs really well. Especially Algee Smith and Will Poulter. The former plays a talented singer, who after the evacuation of a concert hall during the riots, ends up at a motel with his best friend. The latter plays a racist cop, who decides to search the motel for an alleged sniper who fired at them. The situation gets out of hand and all guests from the hotel are being detained by the cop and his colleagues…

The movie is about racist cops who get away with killing innocent black people. The story is set in 1967. However, similar events have happened over the past years as well. And so, it’s pretty obvious that not every cinema going movie fan wants to be confronted with this reality. The movie flopped – people prefer fiction – and that’s a shame. Maybe it will do better here in Europe. It’s a good movie. But as the events were written down during the court hearing, more drama was needed. It’s good drama, but it still feels pretty superficial. We don’t really get to know anything about these people’s lives before ending up at the motel. Maybe this would have been better as a four-part miniseries.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt5390504

Hidden Figures – ***

Posted: April 5, 2017 in 2016, Civil Rights, Drama, USA, XXX

Hidden Figures is light-hearted, but memorable. It’s a movie for the largest audience possible. It’s a chick-flick with a masculine theme. It has three black women in the lead who anyone can relate to, regardless of the color of their skin. It’s a period drama, with references to today’s society. It’s a movie for young and old. For black and white. For men and women. It’s positive. It’s good. It’s a jackpot. It only has one flaw: Jim Parsons. Of all people they could cast as an annoying math scientist they chose Sheldon! But he only has a few lines. So you’ll survive. Watch it. Period.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt4846340

The Loving Story – *(*)

Posted: February 20, 2017 in 2011, Civil Rights, Documentary, USA, X1/2

After watching Loving, you may want to watch the documentary that was the main source of the movie: The Loving Story.

Mr and Mrs Loving were the interracial couple who were sentenced to exile in the state that they lived (Virginia) just because they married ‘a different race’. Their case ended up being brought to the Supreme Court, which allowed interracial couples to be married all over the United States.

The most interesting thing about watching this documentary is the realisation that the casting director of Loving did a tremendous job looking for actor that ressemble the real life characters. The actors must also have watched this documentary over and over again. The HBO special itself isn’t giving that much extra information about the case. It’s pretty much all covered in the movie. You get to see still pictures of the couples, home videos of the family, interviews with the lawyers (at the time of the trial and later on in life). They also add vintage footage of tv interviews from back in the days when people just openly talk about wanting to keep segregation…

That said. It’s 2017 and you have the alt-right KKK-clones claim the same things on tv.

It’s sad that you don’t really get to know much more about the family members. They interview the daughter, but she’s basically telling general stuff about her parents.

So, watch the movie and leave it at that.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1759682