Judas and the Black Messiah: a sleek, exciting look into the life and death of Fred Hampton

Fred Hampton (Daniel Kaluuya) and Bill O’Neal (Lakeith Stanfield) are joined by fellow Panthers for a late-night ride. The film is filled with strong performances, with the two leads delivering the expected knock-outs. Photo: Warner Bros. Pictures

I love film as education. Though as audiences we should be careful to accept as truth those works that ultimately present themselves as fiction, they can no doubt be fantastic catalysts for further edification. And, I will be honest: before this year, I had never before heard of Fred Hampton, my only inkling of an overture being his minor role in The Trial of the Chicago 7.

After having now seen Judas and the Black Messiah, I am disappointed in myself as both a leftist and anti-fascist for my ignorance. How could I not have known the incredible story of this man, my dear political predecessor? Thankfully, Judas did not leave me sulking. It is an absolutely exciting tale, one that has energized me for further learning. Spoilers below:

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30 Years of Silence: a retrospective on struggle, lessering, and objectification

Clarice Starling (Jodie Foster) interviews Hannibal Lecter (Anthony Hopkins). The performances will likely be remembered as the greatest in both of their careers. Photo: Orion Pictures / Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

I was a very young boy when I first saw The Silence of the Lambs. Not the movie itself, but rather its cover.

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Precedent and precipice: the Marjorie Taylor Greene situation

Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) wears a “censored” mask while speaking on the House floor. Greene’s address to the chamber was broadcast on national television.

Today on this day, February 3 2021, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD), announced that a chamber-wide vote will be held to strip Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) of her committee assignments.

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The White Tiger: a smart, stylish commentary well worthy of awards season attention

From left: Adarsh Gourav, Priyanka Chopra, and Rajkummar Rao star in Netflix’s The White Tiger. All three leads give this in-your-face script everything that they’ve got. Photo: Netflix

The White Tiger is a fantastic film, and I’ am absolutely flummoxed that I had only heard about it this week.

I think part of my disbelief stems from what I recognize as one of the greatest strengths of 2020-21 COVID awards seasonstrengths which I believe Tiger expertly exhibits. Some of the most talked about films of the year (and the likely Oscar front-runners) include such great works like Nomadland, Sound of Metal, Minari, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Da 5 bloods, Never Rarely Sometimes Always, Pieces of a Woman, Promising Young Woman, Malcolm & Marie, and One Night in Miami.

If that sounds like a long list to you, that’s because it isand that’s a good thing. We should always be thankful for more great movies, and part of what makes all these movies so good is that they are telling us stories that we simply just don’t hear enough. They’re fresh and exciting, while remaining entertaining.

The White Tiger is no exception. The eighth film by writer-director Ramin Bahrani, Tiger is an evasive predator of a film, avoiding all award season buzz until its release. It is an honest commentary on several facets of Indian society, supported by cinematography of oftentimes thoughtful artistry, and one of the best cast performances of the year. Spoilers below:

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The Party’s Over: Gaetz, Trump, and the future of conservatism in America

Congressman Matt Gaetz (R-FL) speaks on the steps of Wyoming State Capitol to decry Liz Cheney, a fellow Republican and the state’s solely elected congressional representative. Photo: Michael Ciaglo

On Thursday, January 28th, 2021, Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz of Florida traveled to Cheyenne, Wyoming. It would be Gaetz’s first-ever visit to the Cowboy State, and in only about an hour of his arrival he would find himself speaking on the steps of the state’s capitol building.

“I love Wyoming!” announced Gaetz, his first words to a crowd of roughly 700 spectators. It would seem, then, that even for his short time being there, Big Wyoming had made one heck of an impression on the 38-year-old lawmaker.

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Promising Young Woman: fresh and fun, but never meeting full potential

Carey Mulligan as Cassie, a “promising young woman” who has left behind any standard version of success she could have had to wage a one-woman war against “nice-guy” sexual predators. Photo: Focus Features

Written and directed by Emerald Fennell, Promising Young Woman is the story of Cassandra Thomas (Carey Mulligan), a coffee shop worker and medical school-dropout who goes out at night pretending to be drunk and vulnerable so that she may lure predators into taking advantage of her, only to later confront them on their bad behavior. When she becomes romantically involved with her old classmate Ryan Cooper (Bo Burnham), she begins a quest of vengeance against those who she holds responsible for the rape, alienation, and suicide of her best friend. It’s a fun, fresh take on a genre that is just inundated with toxic masculinity, but it is not without a few of its own artistic hiccups. Spoilers below:

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Sound of Metal: a journey of masterful production

“Let me get there,” come some of the first totally intelligible words of Darius Marder’s Sound of Metal. It is an expression that carries a sense of some yearning, of some search for something that is not yet had. Where “there” exactly is, and what happiness it can give to those who find it, is the fundamental question of this film, one of the most beautifully composed in recent history. Spoilers below:

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One Night in Miami: a heavyweight contender of historical fiction

Some of the most persistent images that we have of famous historical figures are due, in part, to their even more famous representations in fictional media. Shakespeare comes to mind, who has immortalized, among others, Richard III (in reality a man of a for-the-most-part average build and typically ambivalent ideas of governance) as a drastically deformed, vile, scheming political manipulator. One Night in Miami offers no such radical departures from the truth, however. Though based in a pretend set-up, the film is a highly entertaining, highly informative piece of art not in spite of its adherence to the reality and true nature of its characters, but because of them.

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