Judas and the Black Messiah (2021) Review

RATING: 4/5

An FBI informant is tasked to learn and behave like a Black Panther Party member to get close to revolutionary Fred Hampton.

Director Shaka King’s showcases wonderous talent with his first mainstream smash hit.

Daniel Kaluuya did a fantastic job at portraying Fred Hampton. For starters, I didn’t know a single thing about Hampton until watching the film. After the picture was over, I have to say I was genuinely impressed. Whether it was his speeches or the actions he committed, the man was the center of the attention. When he spoke, the angry and passion was heard very clearly. The actions he committed, were justifiable and you didn’t want the cops (pigs), to stop him and his revolution. Hampton may seem like a dangerous man based on the falsified media by the white majority. But deep down, he cared not only about his race, but also for unifying the various groups from all over Chicago, to send a powerful message to the leaders on wanting a positive change.

Lakeith Stanfield was great as William O’Neal. Once a car thief turned informant for the FBI through the 70s. One understood why he had to do what he did and it was something that he himself, wasn’t too fond of. Whenever he was feeling anxious, stressed, or filled with another powerful emotion, one felt it. Heading into the dark side was not an easy task for O’Neal. He didn’t want to dive deep into his job, but with a little financial and get-out-of-jail persuasion, his hand was unfortunately forced. Like I mentioned, one felt the pain he portrayed, especially toward the end during the scene just before the raid.

The rest of the supporting characters gave really good performances. Jesse Plemons as agent Roy Mitchell was an interesting person as someone who was on the fence about the organization he worked in. When it came to the members of the Black Panthers, one wanted to root for them badly and not let injustice go unpunished. When it came to the other side of the spectrum, one felt the sliminess and hateful disgust they spat out especially by J. Edgar played by Martin Sheen.

The visuals and technical side of the feature was something to take major note of. Cinematography was nicely done. There were times where the camera would follow the subject with no little to no cuts and it all looked rather seamless. Perspective shots were implemented well whenever a speech was brought forth. Two shots for me that stood out were when Hampton was in the classroom sitting in front of an overblown white window. That with the fact that he was wearing a white long-sleeve, added nice symbolism. He was a man who was righteous in his deeds. Or in the case of the movie, a poet. The other shot involved O’Neal returning to his apartment. He sits on his bed with a red light piercing through the window on his right. While the window on the left side of the shot, was a whitish-green. Again, nice symbolism in that it foreshadowed a dark future and the wrongdoings he acted during that time.

Sound was quite impressive at times. One of my favorites scenes was when one of the party members was running through the plant, having a shoot-out with the cops. It felt like I was watching “Predator” with the drums kicking it. The tension and atmosphere worked great for it. Music was orchestrated well with its jazz, hip-hop, and R&B influences thrown in. It for sure can make one stand up and fight for the right thing. Or it can offer a nice moody, gritty, or foreboding feel whenever the harsh reality of the streets were taken center stage.

Watching the entire movie, I couldn’t help but be reminded of the film “Malcolm X” or Spike Lee in general. When it came down to the style or direction, this was a project I felt like Lee would have definitely made. But I wouldn’t say King ripped off Lee. Similarities sure, but different in a number of reasons.

Now the negatives.

One thing I couldn’t help but notice was O’Neal’s job as an informant. Too many times where I felt like he wasn’t trying to blend in. Moments where he was trying too hard at being a member or moments where it was clearly obvious something was off about him. But apparently the other members didn’t notice or care. Like I would know something seemed wrong in one of the last scenes where O’Neal was getting teary-eyed and no one questioned him. Also no member questioned him after the police shoot-out. Also, him being known by the party for disguising himself as an FBI agent, should have raised more red flags.

One contradictory moment that really made me scratch my head was when O’Neal was showing Hampton tons of C4. A nonsensical/hypocritical moment for that he was in the same theater when Hampton delivered his speech prior when he returned from prison. At that point in time, he made it clear that he was a valuable member of the party. Agent Mitchell himself was impressed with his academy award level of acting. To throw something like that was jarring and again, it was something that should have been more addressed afterwards rather than not mentioning it ever again.

There should have been more backstory shown of O’Neal or the things he and agent Mitchell did outside of work. Especially the latter because there was a point of dialogue where O’Neal described Mitchell as a role model. But I just don’t feel like the movie did a good job at establishing that kind of relationship.

Again, Stanfield performed the role great. He always gives a strong performance. But his character acted too out of the ordinary and needed to be toned down.

Shaka King has a future for sure. He delivered at bringing forth a strong cast of characters with great acting, well done direction, good cinematography, nice music, and showcasing very relevant themes. The injustice of the police system. The movie couldn’t have come out at a better time. HIGHLY recommend this great and inspirational picture.

RIP to all those impacted.

Malcolm X (1992) Review

One Night in Miami (2020) Review

YouTube: Tk Theater Producitons/LoneCentric Pictures

Instagram: tk_theater/lone_centric

One Night in Miami (2020) Review

RATING: 4/5

Four famous 20th century African-Americans, from different backgrounds, spend the night at a hotel and have intense talks about what it means to be who they are and it how it impacts the world they live.

Regina King, as an actress, she nails it. As a debut director, I’m looking forward to her next project.

The introduction to this was nicely done at introducing the four main characters, Muhammad Ali, Malcolm X, Sam Cooke, and Jim Brown. From their introductions, one can tell who they are based on their personalities and what they were striving in life; based on the difficulties brought onto them around a volatile and hateful time in U.S history. It also gave forth some good foreshadowing of how there different perspectives on things was going to bring about some heated conversations.

Now a majority of the movie took place in one room in a hotel. This isn’t the first where one setting is used. A great example is “12 Angry Men.” These types of film really need to strive and entertain the audience with its dialogue to distract them from being bored at looking at the same scenery for extended periods. To which “One Night in Miami” did that well.

When each of the four men’s ideologies clash, primarily Malcolm and Cooke, it was engaging and one can understand their point of views. Their goals for something better are there, but their journey in achieving that differed from one another. One wished to be militant in their approach, while one geared more into the passive path. One wanted to see who would get the best chance of one upping the other. Which journey was the best for all? It was nice to see the four men learn from each other and from their, build off some form of pact in wanting to make a rightful change for the world.

Performances in the movie were great. Though I will say the casting was a tad dodgy. Most notably for Malcolm X played Kingsley Ben-Adir. I just didn’t see him as X when looking at the face. As I said prior, the dialogue was really good. Each scene seemed to touch a different part of the character’s lives. It made one wonder how these men would take each other’s stances on touchy subjects.

The music was pretty good. The standouts scenes of course came from Cooke. One was where he had to improvise when his mic cut off and his closing track “A Change Is Gonna Come.”

Now the movie was selling on the interactions/confrontations between four men, but it felt more like two. This seemed more like an X vs. Cooke feature, while Ali and Brown were there as moral support. Brown suffered the worst in terms of development. One got tidbits of what his life was like during the time, but there wasn’t a lot shown about him for me to latch on. Ali was better for he was on the fence on whether accepting a new faith was the right choice. There was development there.

But the movie felt liked it focused more so on X and Cooke. Which made sense seeing they were practically opposites for how the movie portrayed them. Both used mics to say what’s on their minds, but their voice was different. Still entertaining, but it would have been nice if Ali and especially Brown, contributed more.

For her debut, King soared. She proved herself that not only she can be a great actress, but also a great director. “One Night in Miami” had great performances, good characters, nice music, and engaging and thought-provoking dialogue. Highly recommend it.

Check out: Malcolm X (1992) Review

YouTube: LoneCentric Pictures/Tk Theater Productions

Instagram: tk_theater/lonecentricpic

Queen & Slim (2019) Review

queen

RATING: 3/5

[SPOILERS]

After a run-in with a corrupt white cop, two African-Americans have to escape across the country.

A debut film for music video director “Melina Matsoukas.” Despite this project having its flaws, she definitely has the talent and skill to make some worthwhile projects in the future.

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District 9 (2009) Review

district

RATING: 3/5

[SPOILERS]

Aliens who crash land on Earth are not given the best living conditions and arn’t treated with plenty of respect. Things don’t get better when they’re asked to move out. Things also don’t go better for the main character who crosses paths with one alien and his son who wish to return back to their planet.

Director Neill Blomkamp’s feature film debut. He and producer Peter Jackson bring forth a film that had garner acclaim 10 years ago. Understandably since it deals with pretty heavy and relevant themes/issues that to this day are still alive today. I just wish it was executed a smidge better.

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