Currently browsing the "Biography" tag.

Review: Judas and the Black Messiah

Judas and the Black Messiah is one of those movies you should watch, even if you don’t really want to. It’s another stark reminder of how the FBI operated under a racist and reactionary J. Edgar Hoover during the 1960s, and a stark reminder of why it’s never a good idea to 100% trust government spin. File those FOIAs! Judas and the Black Messiah tells the true story of Fred Hampton (Daniel Kaluuya, Get Out, Queen & Slim), the Chairman of the Illinois Black Panther Party who was gunned down by law enforcement during an overnight raid in 1969, after a fateful betrayal by FBI informant Bill O’Neal (Lakeith Stanfield, Sorry to Bother You). The movie is filled with excellent performances – even if the material itself is far from entertaining

Review: Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

Even as a kid, I knew there was something inherently comfortable and calming about Mr. Rogers. I remember sitting in front of the television watching him put on his cardigan and tennis shoes and singing “Won’t You Be My Neighbor.” I vaguely recall his puppets and sidekicks and forays into the land of make-believe. Do I remember specific episodes and messages? Not really (I was, after all, quite young). But this documentary explains and validates why the man – and his show – were truly special, and why there are lessons still to be learned today from the classic program and the man who created it.

Loving

It’s been several weeks since I saw Loving. It was the final day of the Middleburg Film Festival and I felt inspired, almost humbled to watch the movie in Virginia, the state at the center of Loving, which is based on a true story. It never occurred to me that its wide release would coincide with the immediate aftermath of one of the most divisive Presidential elections in U.S. history. An election that would threaten the very foundation of the Supreme Court and potentially undermine precedents it has set to right the wrongs of history and protect a citizen’s right to marry whomever they want, regardless of race or sexual orientation.

Get On Up

Get On Up is on par with the recent Frankie Valli biopic, Jersey Boys, and the bottom line is the same: if you like the music, it’s worth checking out the movie. The film traces the life of the ‘Godfather of Soul’ James Brown, from extreme poverty in the deep South to musical stardom around the country and across the globe.

Captain Phillips

Captain Phillips is all the more fascinating when you realize it’s based on a true story… and a bit less fascinating if you the let the real-world facts get in the way of a good cinematic story. There’s been a lot of talk since the film came out about the ‘real’ Captain Phillips, the money that went missing from his boat, and the amount of bullets the Navy Seals fired in rescuing the captain from a band of Somali pirates. All that stuff aside, Captain Phillips is a good movie that will keep you interested, engaged and often on the edge of your seat… even if you know how the story ends.

Jobs

First, the good news. The movie isn’t nearly as bad as its title. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of people skip this flick simply because they figure it has something to do with the economy. Zzzzzzzz. The movie should have been called Apple, because it’s not so much about Steve Jobs the man (as the title might suggest) as it is about the founding of the revolutionary company that Jobs started in his parents’ garage. A company that he was eventually fired from and ultimately got back.

Lee Daniels’ The Butler

LD’s The Butler is one of those movies that shames you into thinking it’s better than it is because it features an all-star cast and tackles some poignant themes relating to politics, race relations and family. So please forgive me when I say (or write), it’s just okay. I liked the message way more than the movie, inspired by the story of a real former White House butler named Eugene Allen who was profiled in the Washington Post back in 2008.

42 – The True Story of an American Legend

42 isn’t a cinematic grand slam – but it is based on such a great and transformative moment in American sports history that you can’t help but cheer it on. 42 tells (with some dramatic, and some sanitized license) the true story of two heroes: Jackie Robinson, the first African American baseball player to play in the Major Leagues, and Branch Rickey, the baseball executive who brought Robinson into the fold – and onto the field- in 1947.

Moneyball

Moneyball is a slam dunk – oh wait, make that a grand slam – for baseball buffs. For those who don’t particularly care for the business of baseball, the movie can feel a bit draggy at times, but it’s generally worth the price of admission. It works for two reasons: Brad Pitt and Jonah Hill.

Conviction

‘Tis the season of movies based on real events. 127 Hours, Fair Game, Secretariat, and yes, Conviction – a movie that sets the bar for sibling devotion.