Currently browsing the "Civil Rights" 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: Son of the South

“Not choosing sides is a choice,” Rosa Parks (Sharonne Lanier) tells white college boy Bob Zellner (Lucas Till) when he talks to the civil rights icon a few years after she infamously refused to give up her seat on the bus. It’s the early 1960s in southern Alabama and Zellner is on the verge of a transformation from good ol’ boy grandson of a Klansman, to civil rights activist. Son of the South is based on Zellner’s autobiography, “The Wrong Side of Murder Creek,” which recounts his brave choice to defy his family and white southern norms in order to fight against social injustice and align himself with the likes of John Lewis and the Freedom Riders.

Review: John Lewis: Good Trouble

“When you see something that is not right, not fair, not just — say something, do something…” Make trouble. Good trouble. Necessary trouble. That’s the message from civil rights icon, and longtime U.S. Congressman from Georgia, John Lewis. He’s been talking the talk – and walking the walk – since the 1960s: The 1961 Freedom Rides from DC to New Orleans? Lewis was on them; The historic 1963 March on Washington with MLK? Lewis helped organize it; The treacherous walk across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama on what became known as “Bloody Sunday” in 1965? Lewis was there – and badly beaten.

I Am Not Your Negro

This brilliant documentary walks its audience through the Civil Rights era with undoubtedly the most articulate and engaged guide possible – James Baldwin, writer (The Fire Next Time, Notes of a Native Son, Go Tell It on the Mountain), intellectual and social critic. Using archival footage from his many speaking engagements on television and at key locations during the Civil Rights fight, along with voice-over from a book that Baldwin never finished (read by a very reverential Samuel L Jackson), the film is told entirely in his words. And his thoughts about the state of the black life in America in the 60s sadly still apply today.

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.

The Help

Fans of the book will be relieved to know that the movie does it justice, evoking all the same emotions – from disgust, disgrace and dignity to honesty, humor and hope.