For Black History Month, check out some of my favorites!
There will never be another...
Purple Rain the movie on Blu-Ray
A voice gone too soon...
Miss Sharon Jones! on DVD
And perhaps the most moving film I've ever seen...
Moonlight on Blu-Ray
Two movies I recommend about Black history are Eyes on the Prize (about the civil rights movement) and Pioneers of African-American Cinema (1920-1940s neglected films by Black filmmakers) And here are some lesser known films by Black directors that I love:
To Sleep With Anger, starring Danny Glover (not to be confused with another super talented actor/director/comedian/musician Donald Glover aka Childish Gambino), came out in 1990. I saw it in the theater and really loved it. A charismatic old acquaintance from the South drifts into town, stirring up trouble for a mild-mannered black family in southern California. This character reminded me of the folkloric "trickster" with a little bit of magic. Even so, the film is very realistic and the family itself is so relatable. At the time I didn't realize that the director and writer is Charles Burnett, who wrote and directed another excellent film:
Killer of Sheep Charles Burnett submitted this film for his thesis at the UCLA Film School in 1977, Made on a budget under $10,000, it’s an intimate portrait of a black working-class family in Watts, Los Angeles. It received a limited release 30 years later when it was restored and produced for dvd by Steven Soderbergh, and has been widely praised as a lost classic. In 2015 the BBC named the film the 26th greatest American movie ever made.
Jimmie Fails co-wrote and stars as himself in Last Black Man in San Francisco, a wonderful movie that came out in 2019. The story is semi-autobiographical and centers on the efforts of a fictionalized version of Fails, who wanders around town with his aspiring playwright best friend, and then attempts to reclaim his childhood home, a now-expensive Victorian house in a gentrified neighborhood of San Francisco. Danny Glover and Thora Birch are also in the cast.
Spike Lee has many popular and critically acclaimed films, but I recommend two of his lesser known ones. Unlike most of his movies, these don't concern the African-American community. Inside Man is a sophisticated and clever heist thriller starring Denzel Washington, Clive Owen and Jodie Foster, with some interesting twists and turns. The 25th Hour features Edward Norton as a convicted drug dealer re-evaluating his life in the 24 hours before facing 7 years in prison. The fabulous cast also includes Philip Seymore Hoffman, Brian Cox and Anna Paquin. It was the first movie to portray NYC after the 9/11 attacks.
I didn't know what to expect from the new movie Zola, directed by Janicza Bravo and co-written by playwright Jeremy O. Harris. It's definitely a love it or hate it movie, but I'm in the love-it camp. It's adapted from148 tweets by Zola King that went viral, detailing her zany, hellish and hilarious road trip to Florida with a fellow stripper. It's been compared to Thelma and Louise, Tarantino films, Tangerine, and Palm Springs, but it’s totally unique.
Movies & Music - Question of the Week
The 2005 documentary film March of the Penguins was narrated by this distinct voice.
James Earl Jones0
Samuel L. Jackson0
Last Week's Trivia Answer: Fast Times at Ridgemont High