Archive for the ‘1992’ Category

Malcolm X – **1/2

Posted: October 14, 2013 in 1992, biopic, Drama, Historical, Political, USA, XX1/2

I started watching Malcolm X in an impulsive mood without checking how LONG it was. 202 minutes! That’s longer than Titanic! For some reason I thought I had seen this biopic upon its release in 1992, when I went to the movies twice or three times a week. (first year in college) But maybe I left the theatre before the movie was over. Just because it was so long. The story was very familiar, but I couldn’t recall any scene apart from the cheerful jazz dancing in the beginning.

I do know about the life of Malcolm X as I visited the Audubon Theatre back in June of this year. That’s the location where the civil right activist was murdered. I surfed the internet for some more information about the guy after that visit. I don’t agree with his points of view, but his reasoning is fascinating. The visit of the theatre in Washington Heights, which has turned into the Malcolm X center, was quite memorable. An acquaintance, who’s a devote believer of Malcolm X’s views, took me there and gave me some – biased – background information. He ended up clashing with the curator of the museum in a heated discussion, which left me baffled. There you had two African-Americans, interpreting the views of Malcolm X in a different way, arguing to the point where the acquaintance just left the place in anger. Right in the room where African-Americans shot another African-American orator who came up for their rights. How can you believe in ONE black nation if you can’t accept other black people having a different opinion! Malcolm X also blamed white society for a lot of issues that the black society was enduring. But it’s 2013 right now, Obama is president and white society is still being blamed for the same issues. Just walk around in Washington Heights. It’s the most depressing part of Manhattan.

But back to the movie. Denzel Washington only delivers after his character’s conversion to the Islam. Sure, he’s great throughout and I guess it is a shame that he got snubbed at the Oscars in favour of Al Pacino. But I was more mesmerized by his performance once he started holding the speeches and being the clever but controversial activist that we know. It’s great of Spike Lee to also spend a lot of time showing Malcolm LIttle in his younger years. He did end up in jail before he became an activist and it’s important to learn that the anti-integration guy was very much integrated before. Kuddos to the director to introduce a cheerful, smiling, crazy, angry, arrogant, wild and dominant Malcolm. But I just saw Denzel Washington be all cheerful, smiling, crazy, angry, arrogant, wild and dominant as if it was a parody. It wasn’t convincing. The rest of the movie was though and the similarities between Denzel and Malcolm are remarkable.

The first part of the movie is very different from the rest. It’s remarkably funnier and flashbacks appear out of nowhere to introduce the background of the main protagonist. It’s all very safe though. Lee had an argument with Tarantino about his Django Unchained. But if Tarantino would have filmed the first half it would have been more entertaining. With more gore and nakedness. I mean, here you have a guy whose father got murdered in a gruesome way and who had a sexually active hustler life. Okay, this movie was made in 1992 for a mainstream audience. But since Spike Lee decided to swap styles between Malcolm’s life before and after his jail sentence, then he shouldn’t have restrained himself. In the end, the rest of the movie is a very solid accurate , informative, well acted and neutral biopic. So the only part that somehow doesn’t reach that same level is the first one. And as mentioned before it feels like a parody now.

Malcolm X is a very intriguing guy. 202 minutes is still not enough to really get to know or understand this remarkable man, but it’s a good introduction. I may just go back to the Audubon Theatre one day and discuss this movie. Taking that acquaintance along.