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Detroit: Film Review PDF Print E-mail
Written by Kam Williams   
Thursday, 24 August 2017 13:12


Claustrophobic Docudrama Revisits '67 Riots through the Prism of Infamous Interrogation at Algiers Hotel

Detroit's '67 riots broke out in the wee hours of July 23rd, in the wake of a police raid on an unlicensed bar where folks had been toasting a couple of vets who'd recently returned from Vietnam. Word spread like wildfire through the Black community that the cops had arrested all 82 people they found inside, and it wasn't long before mobs began looting and firebombing stores all around the 'hood.

The rebellion would last five days and result in over 1,000 injuries and 7,000 arrests, while also claiming 43 lives. In terms of property damage, about 2,500 businesses were destroyed and hundreds of families were left homeless.

The insurrection was quelled by the Motor City's police force in conjunction with the state of Michigan's National Guard as well as federal troops from the 82nd and 101st Airborne divisions. While the arrests at the speakeasy ostensibly served as the flashpoint for the civil unrest, the revolt was really the result of long-simmering frustrations with the poor quality of housing, employment and education in the ghetto.

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Jean-Michel Basquiat: The Radiant Child Film Review PDF Print E-mail
Written by Kam Williams   
Monday, 29 May 2017 16:22

 

 

Jean-Michel Basquiat (1960-1988) was born in Brooklyn to a Puerto Rican mother and a father of Haitian extraction. Blessed with a rebellious nature, he ran away from home a lot during adolescence, finally leaving for good at 17. Moving to Manhattan, he dropped out of school to fritter away his days spray-painting his alias, "Samo," all over the place, because as he put it, "The whole object of doing graffiti is fame."

Fortunately, some well-connected folks in the high-priced art world recognized that Jean-Michel Basquiat actually had some talent and convinced the kid to go legit. He agreed to give it a try, and watched with amazement as his paintings rapidly escalated in price from $200 to $30,000 a piece. It wasn't long before he found himself rubbing elbows with celebrated icons like Andy Warhol and Julian Schnabel.

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Hidden Figures: Film Review PDF Print E-mail
Written by Kam Williams   
Monday, 03 April 2017 23:12

 


NASA Docudrama Belatedly Credits Contributions of Unsung African-American Mathematicians

All of the astronauts picked by NASA to participate in its maiden manned space programs, Mercury and Gemini, were White males. However, behind the scenes, there was a dedicated team of African-American, female mathematicians who played a pivotal role in ensuring that they launched and returned safely, whether from orbiting the Earth or a mission to the moon.

Hidden Figures equipped only with pencils and slide rules, these so-called “human computers” were among the best and the brightest minds recruited by NASA to do the critical calculations needed to win the space race with Russia. Author Margot Lee Shetterly gave these unsung heroines their due in Hidden Figures, a best seller belatedly crediting their quantitative contributions to the cause.

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I Am Not Your Negro: Film Review PDF Print E-mail
Written by Kam Williams   
Tuesday, 07 February 2017 00:31

 

 

Oscar-Nominated Documentary Inspired by James Baldwin's Unfinished Manuscript

When novelist/social critic James Baldwin passed away in 1987, he left behind an unfinished opus entitled Remember This House.  The 30-page manuscript assessed the plight of African-Americans in the United States while specifically reflecting upon the assassinations of three civil rights icons: Malcolm X, Medgar Evers and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

With I Am Not Your Negro, director Raoul Peck (Lumumba) fleshes out Baldwin's musings, cinematically, into a searing indictment of the United States as an unapologetically-racist nation. Narrated by Samuel L. Jackson, the movie has been nominated for an Academy Award in the Best Documentary category.

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Miracles from Heaven (Film review) PDF Print E-mail
Written by Kam Williams   
Monday, 21 March 2016 23:32


12 Year-Old Recovers from Incurable Illness in Faith-Based Drama Recounting Real-Life Miracle

Annabel Beam (Kylie Rogers) was born in Burleson, Texas where she was raised by her parents on a farm surrounded by cats, dogs, goats, cows and a donkey. She enjoyed an idyllic childhood there with her sisters, Abbie (Brighton Sharbino) and Adelynn (Courtney Fansler), until the age of 10 when she started experiencing severe stomach pains.

Christy Beam (Jennifer Garner) rushed her daughter to an emergency room doctor who snap-diagnosed the malady as a combination of lactose intolerance and acid reflux. But when his course of treatment for those conditions failed, the frightened mother next took Anna to a a gastroenterologist (Bruce Altman) who determined that she was suffering from an obstruction of the small bowel which called for immediate surgery.

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Concussion: Film Review PDF Print E-mail
Written by Kam Williams   
Wednesday, 30 December 2015 21:04

Headline: Will Smith Delivers Oscar-Quality Performance as Fearless Brain Researcher Who Fought the NFL


In 2002, Will Smith landed his first Academy Award nomination for Ali, a riveting biopic about Muhammad Ali directed by Michael Mann. Although a cultural icon in his own right, Smith managed to disappear into the role in the process of delivering a brilliant performance as "The Greatest" boxer of all time.

Despite his being able to "Float like a butterfly and sting like a bee!" the sport eventually exacted a devastating toll on the champ. For Ali would become afflicted with a host of neurological disorders as a consequence of taking so many hits to the head.

While fans call it being "punch drunk," the clinical term for the condition is Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE). What's ironic is that Will Smith is on the verge of landing another Oscar nomination for Concussion, a picture in which he plays Dr. Bennet Omalu, the Nigeria-born physician whose discovered the link between football and brain damage while working as a forensic pathologist in Pennsylvania.

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Top 20 DVDs for Spring 2015

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These DVDs are not presented in any particular order. You can find most of them on www.amazon.com , .ca or www.barnesandnoble.com. It is also possible to find some of them in a Blu-ray format on these Web sites.

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What I Learned from Watching Selma PDF Print E-mail
Written by William Jackson   
Thursday, 19 February 2015 01:45

 

There are movies that inspire, there are movies that excite, there are movies that create an effect on multiple levels of human psychology, sociology and passions. Selma takes the viewer on a journey of emotional mixtures, psychological enlightenment and rationalization to the realities of how important voting rights are.

The realities of societal civil rights and the connection between the criminal justice system and juries are rife with inequality and racism.  Having a jury of your peers in many cases is not possible because peers have lost voting rights and serving on a jury is not possible because many are not registered or have felony convictions that keep them from earning their rights.

Selma touched people in a way that encouraged and demanded discussion on many levels beyond emotional turmoil and conflict that many experienced from viewing movies that address Civil Rights issues, the institution of slavery that Blacks have experienced during their captivity to the Americas hundreds of years before is still evident. There isn’t a conclusion to this story because the descendants in generations carry the emotional and psychological baggage from slavery to freedom, from institutional bondage to the denial of societal rights and privileges that are denied based on skin pigmentation.

The movie Selma offers an opportunity not just for Blacks, but the diversity of culture in America to see and experience a small portion of the Civil Rights movement, the importance of voting rights, serving on juries and having a knowledge of the justice system. Historically Blacks are disproportionally denied fair trials, they are historically given harder and longer prison sentences, and Blacks lack the opportunity of fair and impartial juries of their peers because too many “peers” have criminal backgrounds that deny them from serving on juries.

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The Best Man Holiday: A Film Review PDF Print E-mail
Written by Kam Williams   
Friday, 15 November 2013 17:30

 

Seasonal Sequel Finds Reunited BFFs Romancing and Reminiscing

When released back in 1999, The Best Man was dismissed by some as merely an African-American variation on The Big Chill, and by others as the Black male answer to the sassy sisters dishing the dirt in Waiting to Exhale. But the romantic romp revolving around a sophisticated set of college grads was actually entertaining enough to stand on its own, and was even well-enough received to land a trio of NAACP Image Awards, including Best Picture.

Set 15 years later, The Best Man Holiday is an eagerly-anticipated sequel reuniting the principal ensemble for a mix of reminiscing, rivalry and sobering reality unfolding during a very eventful Christmas season. Written and directed by Malcolm Lee (Undercover Brother), the film features Morris Chestnut, Nia Long, Terrence Howard, Sanaa Lathan, Taye Diggs, Harold Perrineau, Regina Hall, Melissa De Sousa and Monica Calhoun reprising the roles they played in the first episode.

At the point of departure, we find the gang gathering at the sprawling mansion of Lance Sullivan (Chestnut), an NFL running back on the brink of retirement after a recording-breaking career with the New York Giants. The God-fearing family man is relishing the prospect of spending more quality time with his wife, Mia (Calhoun), and their children.

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The Butler: A Film Review PDF Print E-mail
Written by Kam Williams   
Friday, 23 August 2013 16:31

Headline: Forest Whitaker Delivers Oscar-Quality Performance in Emotionally-Searing Civil Rights Saga

Eugene Allen (1919-2010) served eight presidents over the course of an enduring career in the White House during which he rose from the position of Pantry Man to Head Butler by the time he retired in 1986. In that capacity, the African-American son of a sharecropper felt privileged to be an eyewitness to history, since his tenure coincided with the implementation of most of the landmark pieces of legislation dismantling the Jim Crow system of racial segregation.

Directed by two-time Oscar-nominee Lee Daniels, The Butler is a father-son biopic relating events in Allen’s life as they unfolded against the backdrop of the Civil Rights Movement. This fictionalized account features Academy Award-winner Forest Whitaker in the title role as Cecil Gaines, and his A-list supporting cast includes fellow Oscar-winners Cuba Gooding, Jr., Jane Fonda, Vanessa Redgrave, Robin Williams and Melissa Leo, as well as nominees Terrence Howard and Oprah Winfrey.

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