#JudasAndTheBlackMessiah, #LAND, and more – Movie Reviews

Table of Reviews

Judas and the Black Messiah – Review

Judas and the Black Messiah – Budget of $26 million – 2 hours and 6 minutes

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In 1968 Chicago, Bill O’Neal stands outside Leon’s bar and notices a cherry red GTO.  He goes inside, flashes an FBI badge, and starts body-searching the patrons.  When he finds the keys inside a man’s pocket, Bill arrests the man for grand theft auto.  Another man looks Bill in the eye and recognizes him.  He knows Bill is a con-artist, not FBI.  Bill grabs the keys, jumps in the car, locks the doors, and drives off as the patrons try to stop him.  Later, the police catch Bill in the stolen car.  They arrest Bill and put him in a room for questioning.  FBI Special Agent Roy Mitchell tells Bill he will do 18 months for the robbery and five years for impersonating an FBI agent.  Or he can pick another option.  J. Edgar Hoover decided to change the focus of COINTELPRO.  Instead of focusing on communists, he wants to focus on civil rights groups and their leaders.  He considers these groups to be the most dangerous terrorist threat to the United States.  Hoover wants the FBI to infiltrate the organizations and destroy them by any means necessary.  Mitchell offers to drop Bill’s charges if he becomes an FBI informant to gather intel on Frederick Hampton.  Fred is the chairman of the Black Panther Party of Chicago.  Under constant threat of arrest, Bill is the lynchpin to one of the darkest days in FBI, Black Panther organization, and American history.

While the title seems extreme, the story of Bill and Fred mirror that of Judas and Jesus.  Bill pretended to be a friend, traded information for money and died like Judas.  No matter what Bill saw, good or bad, he turns it all into the FBI.  Fred created an alliance with Chicago gangsters to stop the violence and grow their free breakfast program.  Fred talks to poor whites and Puerto Ricans to help them see they had some same problems.  Fred creates the first Rainbow Coalition.  Before he could see his biggest accomplishment come to fruition, the police arrested Fred, and he served several months in prison.  You will notice that when Bill is the focal point, the camera follows behind him.  You will feel like you are on his back trying to warn him of things to come.  When he is with others, the camera is always in front or on the side of him.  This change in camera angle helps the viewer change perspective mentally and visually.  The music, setting, makeup, technology, and clothing were in line with the period.  In the beginning, you see Bill sitting down for the Eyes on the Prize 2 interview talking about how it all started (FTC Affiliate Disclaimer).  At the movie’s conclusion, the interviewer asks Bill how he feels about everything he did and how he explains it to his son.  His answer says one thing, but his actions do another.  This movie and its dismal conclusion for everyone involved will stick with you.  Not only will you watch again, but you will also start researching the names that history tries to forget. 

I give it 5 out of 5 stars

Badge is scarier than a gun – Bill

Oh, it shows.  The lack of preparation, that is  – Deborah

I’m all for civil rights, but you can’t cheat your way to equality.  You certainly can’t shoot your way to it – Mitchell

America is on fire right now.  And until that fire is extinguished, nothing else mean a goddamn thing – Fred

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Land – Review

Land – Budget Unknown – 1 hour and 29 minutes

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Edee follows her sister’s advice and talks to a therapist.  After losing her son and husband, Edee considers taking her life.  Then Edee gets an idea to leave her life for a new existence.  She buys supplies, an old fashion cabin, and a trailer.  With the help of a guide, Edee drives to her new home.  She tells her escort that he can have the truck and the trailer, but he doesn’t want to take them.  In these remote parts of the world, having a car is essential, but Edee doesn’t plan on going back anytime soon.  For a few days, she tries to catch fish, hunt, and grow food, but the wildlife thwarts her.  Then a harsh winter comes, and Edee stops fighting, lays down, and prepares to die.  She wakes up with Miguel and Nurse Alawa by her side and an I.V. bag in her arm.  They nurse her back to health but don’t seek further medical attention because Edee refused.  Alawa goes back to work, but Miguel stays.  She tells him to leave, but he wants to stay.  So Miguel offers to teach Edee how to survive off the land.  She agrees, but only if he doesn’t tell her about what’s going on in the outside world.  By learning to survive the wilderness, Edee discovers how to fight for her life.

With lots of quiet contemplation scenes like Cast Away, this movie makes the most out of silence (FTC Affiliate Disclaimer).  For 30 minutes, Edee is alone with her thoughts, struggles, and pain.  She even considers taking her own life but remembers her sister begged her not to.  She states that being in the city would be more lonely than being in the wilderness alone.  You never know what happened to her husband and son, only that they died.  And you won’t learn Miguel’s need to help her until the very end.  The theater is a great place to enjoy the full majesty of the nature shots.  While this is an intriguing movie, you only need to see it once to appreciate it.  

I give it 3.5 out of 5 stars

This isn’t working.  It’s not working.  None of this is working – Edee

We have to respect her wishes – Miguel

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The World to Come – Review

The World to Come – Budget Unknown – 1 hour and 38 minutes

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In 1856 New York, Abigail tends to her chores and helps keep track of the family’s income.  Her husband, Dyer, is a farmer and has a ledger of the crops, animals, debts, and earnings.  When Abigail isn’t working on the farm, she journals her thoughts.  However, when they have a daughter, Nellie, Abigail puts her writing focus on her child’s needs.  At the age of five, Nellie died from an illness.  Heartbroken, Abigail pours her emotions into her quill and refuses to have any more children.  Abigail and Dyer’s days and nights become monotonous.  As Abigail works in the garden, a carriage on its way to church passes her, and she sees a woman sitting up front that grabs her attention.  A few days later, the woman introduces herself as Tallie.  She is married to Finney with no children, and he runs the general store.  Then, Tallie invites them to dinner and, the couples laugh, drink, and eat.  After dinner, the women make plans to see each other again.  Each time they meet, Abigail writes about the new feelings growing inside of her and the hold Tallie has on her mind.  While Dyer is curious about their relationship and Abigail’s small lies, it’s Finney that pieces it all together, and he will do anything to keep his wife and her wifely duties to himself.

While this movie has breathtaking cinematography, the plot bounces back and forth.  At first, this film starts with a forbidden love story.  Then, it switches to a murder mystery that isn’t a mystery.  With a letter, it turns into a Lifetime movie.  Finally, it descends deeper into grief and madness.  Seeing the journal dates helps the viewer see Tallie and Abigail’s romance happen over a few months instead of a few minutes.  While the affair is passionate, the dialogue feels more like poetry than a conversation.  The film gets better when you believe there is a mystery to solve.  But that mystery is a misunderstanding, and your excitement deflates.  This movie is exemplary for its cinematography, costumes, and romance, but the overall story fails.

I give it 2.5 out of 5 stars

How is ink like fire? It’s a good servant but a hard master – Abigail

It has been my experience that those who show the least do feel the most – Tallie

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