Saturday, January 5, 2008


(Denzel Washington & Forest Whitaker)

I was afraid this film might be too ‘preachy’, but it’s not – It’s a little preachy, but it still packs a wallop that forgives it of all the small complaints. It is an interesting, well told story that is very well acted; there’s only one scene with Denzel & Forest, but it is a pleasure to watch the two of them read their lines with such ease while staying in character – for a nitpicker like myself, it put a smile on my face to see two ‘pros’ do it right.

Denzel directed this film as well & I was impressed – partly for the job he did in getting some nice performances out of the ‘lesser known’ cast members - but mainly for telling the story from start to finish without jumping around in time. There’s one difficult to watch scene that made me think he was ‘going back in time’ as I found it hard to believe that things like that were still happening in the 1930’s... And because of that, it would have been easy to make this a ‘let’s all hate whitey’ theme - & don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty of reasons to hate whitey here, but the finale was uplifting for more than the obvious reasons (At least to this whitey)
Without giving too much away, I’ll just say that I felt that some of the white folks learned a valuable lesson during the final debate - & I’m positive that was Denzel’s intention; to mark this historical event as a major turning point in race relations in this country. To think that my parents were alive when things like this were still going on in this country just boggles my mind. But the good news is – look how far we’ve come in just a scant 70+ years... Okay, so I praised Denzel for not being too preachy & here I am preaching away when all you want to know is – what’s the movie about?
It’s about 2 hours, 5 minutes. Go see it, it’s a wonderful film.

Oh, you mean the plot & junk like that? Denzel plays Melvin Tolson, a professor at an all-black college in Texas. He is in charge of selecting the school’s debating team. Henry Lowe (Nate Parker) is the bright loud-mouthed star of the team; surprise members Samantha Booke (Jurnee Smollett) & 14 year old ‘wonder-student’ James Farmer, Jr. (Denzel Whitaker) are the back-ups/researchers.

James’ father, Dr. James Farmer, Sr. (Forest Whitaker) is a prominent member of the community & is constantly casting his ‘cocked’ eye at Tolson & his extracurricular ‘activities’.
This is ‘based on a true story’ filmmaking at its finest; sure, it’s easy to see that parts were ‘embellished’ or ‘tacked-on’ to give the tale some extra emotion – but it is done with a purpose; & in the end – if you don’t feel a rush of emotion coursing thru you, you might not be human – better go back to your home planet.

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