Archives for posts with tag: Harry Lennix

There’s nothing wrong with epics, per se, but every movie about the slave experience doesn’t have to be a 145-minute Oscar hunter. There’s plenty of other stories, and storytelling conventions, and it’s nice to see Hollywood starting to diversify artistically in its effort to be culturally diverse. “Emperor” (2020) is an action movie set in the pre-Civil War South about a slave, Shields Green, fleeing a murder rap. Dayo Okeniyi plays Green. From the beginning scenes on the plantation to the climax at Harper’s Ferry, the story is tight and compelling. Who cares whether it’s “based on a true story?”

If you took a Sunday newspaper op-ed on Chicago gang violence and tried to turn it into a feature-length motion picture, you would get something like “Chi-Raq” (2015). I don’t fault Spike Lee for trying. It’s a worthy subject and his idea of using the ancient Greek play “Lyisistrata,” in which women use sex as a weapon – withholding it until their men declare peace – is inspired. But as a movie, it seemed more like an unfinished work. Lee has a bunch of creative ideas he is trying to work out on film, but never develops any kind of narrative flow.


Shirley MacLaine is pretty much awesome and Nicholas Cage is good when he has to play an actual character and not a “star,” so it was a foregone conclusion that “Guarding Tess” (1994) would be a decent movie. MacLaine is the president’s cantankerous widow and Cage is the stoic in charge of her Secret Service detail. It’s pretty much “Driving Miss Daisy” with no black people. (That’s a description, not a value judgment.) Dealing with mortality. Dealing with the fact that your calling doesn’t match your ambition. Plus some wacky hijinks. And the president is a George W. Bush premonition.