REVIEW: Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom [2020]

I got my time comin’ to me. It’s all there in the opening scene. Ma Rainey (Viola Davis) belts “Deep Moaning Blues” to a full house in Georgia as her band accompanies from the back of the stage. Toledo (Glynn Turman) and Slow Drag (Michael Potts) hit their notes with feeling, keenly watching the subtle yet damning chaos about to unfold. Not only is trumpeter Levee (Chadwick Boseman) angled to serenade young Dussie Mae (Taylour Paige)—Ma’s “girl”—while Cutler (Colman Domingo) shoots a disparaging, fatherly look of judgment, he also dares…

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TIFF18 REVIEW: If Beale Street Could Talk [2018]

Flesh of each other’s flesh. Fonny Hunt (Stephan James) puts out his arms for a hug upon seeing an old friend in Daniel (Brian Tyree Henry) after too much time and too many men their age have passed. Smiles and laughter enter the scene before they are soon replaced by beers and reminiscing. And then comes the hard truth of absence—the explanation of his disappearance. Daniel had been in jail two years for a crime he didn’t commit and Fonny feels for his plight. Despite anything he could possibly say…

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REVIEW: The Birth of a Nation [2016]

“I pray you sing to the Lord a new song” It’s impossible to watch Nate Parker‘s The Birth of a Nation today without making note of the controversy surrounding him. Emotions have run high and the first-time director has met a backlash of calls for boycott stemming from a 1999 rape case of which he was acquitted. The victim later committed suicide and his public response upon discovering this news didn’t necessarily show remorse like many believed it should. It’s tough to say now whether he was innocent of wrongdoing—look…

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