This true story from 19th century America feels eerily relevant today in its depiction of the divisions that define society. It's an engaging film, sharply written and directed by actor Nate Parker to pull the audience into the world of a black preacher whose conscience simply can't take the injustice any longer. Some of the themes feel a little pushy, but the film has real power.
It opens in 1809 Virginia, where the soft-spoken Nat (Parker) works as a slave for benevolent owner Sam (Armie Hammer). The two grew up together, so Sam is familiar with Nat's intelligence and passion, and also with the fact that Sam's mother (Penelope Ann Miller) encouraged Nat to read and study the Bible. In fact, Nat is such a great preacher that Sam loans him to fellow slave owners to convey the Old Testament "slaves obey your owners" message. But Nat realises that he can't continue with this after his wife Cherry (Aja Naomi King) is brutally attacked by the cruel slave tracker Cobb (Jackie Earle Haley). And once Nat decides he can no longer support the immorality and injustice of the system, he has little choice but to lead a slave revolt.
Parker's script recounts Nat's life story with telling details, contrasting his engaging courtship with Cherry with the series of insults they suffer at every turn. Living amid such systemic degradation, exploitation and violence simply gnaws away at Nat, and Parker underplays him beautifully, letting the charisma surge quietly under the surface. Hammer is solid as Sam, although his innate compassion leaves Haley to play the villain of the piece. As always, Haley is great at this, igniting loathing from the audience with his first appearance. All of the surrounding characters are played with a lovely sense of realism, adding hints of texture to each scene but never too much personality.
Continue reading: The Birth Of A Nation Review
Nat Turner was a former slave who on witnessing the scope of slavery across America chose to head a liberation movement in the form of a slave rebellion that resulted in a violent retaliation from the white supremacists in Virginia, 1831. This periodic drama film introduces the audience to the world in which Black people were enslaved in - inhumanly treated at the peril of the white race. The chilling shot of a young white child playing a game with a lynching rope around another black girls neck represents this serious period of history in a thought provoking scene.
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Malcolm Adecombi is not having such a good time in high school. He's constantly bullied for being a geek, as are his best friends Diggy and Jib. But things aren't about to get any easier as he approaches college. He's determined to get the best grades possible and hopefully go to Harvard, but a sexual awakening, a desire to be seen as cool and his love of music might just get in the way. Living in the tough suburb of The Bottoms in Inglewood, California, there's a lot of underground gang and drug crime happening, nonetheless when he is invited to a secret party he is determined to go and prove himself. As bad luck would have it, hitting up an illegal gathering can only see his life go from bad to worse, and when he inadvertently gets caught up in some serious trouble, he has to do some hard thinking to get himself out.
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Malcolm (Shameik Moore) is not a cool kid. Growing up as a geek in 1990s Inglewood, CA, is a sure-fire way to ensure that you are far from cool. He spends his time working hard on his school work and desperately trying to get into Harvard University - all while living in The Bottoms neighbourhood, surrounded by gangsters and drug dealers. However, a sudden invitation to a small underground party for him and his friends, leads him into a strange adventure in the world of hip hop during its golden age, and establishes him as DOPE, a character who may truly be his actual self.
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This film tells a very familiar tale of a talented fighter discovered by an opportunistic but ultimately good-hearted manager/trainer and shoved into a world of money, greed, and empty glory that he may not be prepared for. But Never Back Down, this is not. The moment Shawn (Channing Tatum) enters the screen, it's obvious he is not wise nor even very intelligent for that matter. He's lean and muscular but he doesn't have it over on anyone, and this is partially how he comes under the wing of Harvey Boarden (Terrence Howard), a street hustler who has connections to the world of private boxing. There's a hint of imperialism in the way the very white Shawn squares-off against four fighters, beginning with a brawny Eastern European type and ending with Evan (Brian J. White), a black, brutal fighter who Shawn's father taught and loved more than his son.
Continue reading: Fighting Review
This new version of Hamlet, directed by Campbell Scott (The Spanish Prisoner) and Eric Simonson does just that, and beautifully so. The setting is Americanized (the post-Civil War-era South), the production design simple, and nobody is forcing an accent unknown to them. It makes you want to scrounge for the books you packed away in high school because you didn't feel like figuring them out at the time.
Continue reading: Hamlet (2001) Review
Eve's Bayou is a film shocking in methods and motives.
Continue reading: Eve's Bayou Review
Ice Cube and Mike Epps, co-stars of the stoner satire "Next Friday," trade their ganja for gunplay in "All About the Benjamins." Cube is a rebellious, hotshot Miami bounty hunter and Epps is his frequent petty-criminal quarry, but they become partners looking to score some fast cash when one of their regular foot chases lands them both in the middle of a diamond heist.
Actually, Epps isn't interested in the diamonds. He dropped his wallet while hiding in the back of the jewel thieves' van and he just wants it back because the wallet contains his girlfriend's winning $60 million lottery ticket.
Cube doesn't buy that story, but he plays along because he wants to start his own private detective agency and he figures he could get some great publicity out of collaring a couple killers who stole $20 million in stones.
Continue reading: All About The Benjamins Review
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