All posts in Movie Reviews

The Great War

I have to admit I’m a sucker for historical documentaries. I have tried making them myself so I see and appreciate all the work that goes into them. That being said I want to recommend the three part PBS series “The Great War” to any who are interested. Full disclosure: I had a tiny contribution to it in helping them identify a photo I had also used in one of my documentaries, but that is not why I recommend it. There are several chilling comparisons to the present circumstances. On his best days Pres. Trump can’t hold a candle to

Another “White Folks Done Black Folks Wrong” Song?

I just saw the 12 Years a Slave movie.  To get this out of the way first it is an excellent movie with top notch writing, acting, cinematography and directing. I have used the book in my classes at times and of all the slave narratives I have assigned it is the one that has elicited the most response.  There is something about the tale of once having been free and then becoming unjustly enslaved that amplifies the injustice, cruelty and inhumanity of slavery. Steve McQueen has done an excellent job of translating the essence of the book to the

Movie Review: Lee Daniels’ The Butler

I have to admit that my expectations of a Hollywood movie actually doing a decent job explaining the United States’ racial history are pretty low.  In that sense Lee Daniels’ The Butler did not disappoint.  If I understand the movie correctly white people raped, murdered, kept African Americans ignorant and subservient just because they could.  Why? I have no idea.  Kenneth Tynan writing in the Los Angeles Times finds this one dimensional view of whites insulting but welcome to our world. Hollywood has a lot to do to even the scales of one-dimensionality that African Americans have suffered for a

Fruitvale Station Review

I just came back from viewing the new movie Fruitvale Station and I thought I’d jot down a few thoughts while it’s fresh in my mind. First of all I saw it in the middle of the day at a small art house theater within a gigantic cineplex where it was tucked away in the back.  We probably didn’t have to leave a popcorn trail to find our way back, but I did anyway. There was only one other couple in the theater with us. In short it wasn’t the type of movie that Hollywood has rallied around and didn’t

Movies and History: Lincoln vs. Django

I must admit that the thought of somebody learning their history from movies makes me despair for the future of the human race. Imagine learning about World War 2 (or even just about spelling) from “Inglorious Basterds,” about U.S. Reconstruction from “Birth of a Nation,” or the American revolution from Mel Gibson’s “The Patriot,” just to take American history.  When it comes to world history United States produced films are even worse.  I am sure that there are people who learn history that way and please excuse me but I am not talking to you. The simple truth is that

Moneyball: The New Structure of Ideological Change

The book I read the most during my undergraduate career decades ago was Thomas Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.  In it Kuhn analyzed the difficulties of changing from one set of scientific (read ideological) accepted truisms to another. Scientists might howl at calling their systems of thought  “ideologies” (a word they associate with religion or other “false” systems of thought from which they want to differentiate themselves) but if it quacks like a duck treat it like a duck.  Kuhn believed that each scientific ideology whether that of Ptolemy that the sun revolved around the earth or Newtonian physics