The Movie House: Civil Rights edition

Hidden figures (US, 2016): 

Starring: Taraji P. Henson, Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monáe, Kevin Costner, Kirsten Dunst, Jim Parsons.

Written by: Allison Schroeder, Theodore Melfi. 

Directed by: Theodore Melfi.

Genre: Biographical drama. 

Running time: 127 mins. 

Curiosities: Katherine Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), graduated from High School at age 14, and at 18 she earned bachelor degrees in mathematics and French language. 

The film tells the story of Katherine, Dorothy and Mary, hired as “human calculators” by NASA. We find ourselves in Virginia in the 60s: an historical picture in which racial segregation was present and rooted in the foundations of the society, reason why the three protagonists are relegated to the margins of the Space Agency. The three “hidden figures”, want to achieve their freedom in a society too busy looking towards the stars and the unknown of the space to worry about the social problems of their same home.

They get the opportunity, working at NASA, to stand out for what they are, and not for what they seem.

The progressive change in the living conditions of the three protagonists is reflected in the gradual openness of mind of Al Harrison (Kevin Costner), head of the department in charge of the Mercury project, and of Vivian Mitchell (Kirsten Dunst), white supervisor of the group of color calculators.

Real, touching, true-story based.

Score: ⭐⭐⭐⭐/5

Available on: YouTube, Google play movies.

Trailer: click here. 

 

Loving (USA, UK 2016)

Starring: Ruth Negga, Joel Edgerton, Michael Shannon, Alano Miller

Written by: Jeff Nichols

Directed by: Jeff Nichols

Genre: Biographical drama

Running time: 123 min

Curiosities: The story of the Loving couple has already been told in the 2011 documentary The Loving Story, from which the film draws inspiration.

(pic by en.wikipedia.org ) 

Loving is a movie that narrates about the difficult story about the Loving spouses, Mildred and Richard. Indeed, they were protagonist of the famous law-case “Loving V. Virginia” which prompted the Supreme Court to break down laws prohibiting interracial marriage in the United States. When Mildred get pregnant, they marry in  Washington DC, as interracial marriages were prohibited and severely punished in Virginia. Back home, they are arrested and sentenced to one year in prison. They are suspended on condition that they do not return to Virginia for 25 years, or at least not together. Five years later, they live in Washington DC with their three children, even wishing to return to their homeland. One day Mildred attends the civil rights march on Washington on television. Conquered by Martin Luther King’s speech, she writes a letter to Senator Robert Kennedy, asking for help. The Loving case thus comes to the lawyer Bernie Cohen, component of the American Union for Civil Liberties, who promises to help them to the end. Life magazine also deals with their case, giving it great media coverage. Thus began the lawsuit that led them to change the United States Constitution. 

A little more about it:

One of the major innovation concerning the American Constitution in 20th century was about an improvement in fundamental rights. 

Indeed, in 20th century America was still a conservative society where, even if slavery was abolished, there was a really clear distinction between black and white people. The segregation was even more confirmed by “Plessy V. Ferguson” case that affirmed the idea of “separate but equal”. 

The turning point was given by the Chief Justice Warren, that used one of the tool provided by the 14th amendment: the equal protection clause. 

The two major achievements about Warren’s career are “Brown V. Board: Education Of Topeka” and “Loving V. Virginia”. 

 

True story based, melting, romantic. 

Score:⭐⭐⭐⭐/5 

Available on: Netflix

Trailer: Click Here.

 

The Green Book (US, 2018)

Starring: Viggo Mortesen, Mahershalla Ali, Linda Cardellini

Written by: Nick Vallelonga Brian Hayes Currie Peter Farrelly

Directed by: Peter Farrelly

Genre: comedy-drama, biographical

Running time: 130 minutes

Curiosities: Green Book received numerous accolades and nominations. It won Oscars for Best Picture, Best Original Screenplay and Best Supporting Actor. The film also won the Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture- Musical or Comedy, the National Board of Review award for the best film of 2018, and was chosen as one of the top 10 films of the year by the American Film Institute. 

New York 1962, Tony Lip finds a job as a driver for Dr Don Shirley, a black pianist that is going to do his eight-week concert through  the Midwest and Deep South. Before the start of the tour, Tony receives from Don’s record label a copy of the green book, a guide for African-American travellers looking for accommodation, restaurants and stations that will serve them. The tour begins in the Midwest, the relation between the two initially is not easy due to their characters. As the tour progresses, Don’s talent on the piano impresses Tony who is also horrified by the discriminatory treatment received by Don when he is not on the stage by his public and hosts. The relationship between the two starts to change when Tony helps him in different situations as when a group of white men threatens Don’s life in a bar and Tony rescues him. It is a story of a friendship that goes beyond the race and the social class. The end titles stated that Tony and Don remained friends until they died, within months of each other, in 2013.

 

Emotional, thought-provoking, memorable

 Score: ⭐⭐⭐⭐/5 

Available on: Amazon Prime

Trailer: Click Here. 

 

The Butler

Starring: Forest Whitaker, Oprah Winfrey, Mariah Carey, John Cusack, Jane Fonda, Cuba Gooding Jr., Terrence Howard, Lenny Kravitz

Written by: Danny Strong

Directed by: Lee Daniels

Genre: Historical- drama

Running time: 132 min

Curiosities:  The movie is inspired by the true story of Eugene Allen, an Afro- American man who served as White House butler for 34 years since 1952. 

Cecil Gaines began working as a chief butler at the White House in 1952. For over thirty years, he served six different presidents of the United States, including Dwight D. Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, and Richard Nixon.

Despite her “invisible” role within the White House, Cecil works closely with the world’s most influential heads of state, he will be a direct witness to the radical transformations of American history that he has helped inspire more than once. Cecil signs a contract of secrecy. He is used to being discreet, immobile and invisible, not just at work but even in life. But in those years inflamed by the struggles his eldest son, determined to fight for the rights of his people, resisting alongside Martin Luther King or ‘arming’ the arm of Malcolm X.

After initial conflicts and long years of observation Cecil will become aware of himself and his rights, resigning and taking the field alongside his son.

It will be a great victory for them to see the new president enter the White House: Barack Obama. The narrative makes light, through the eyes of the protagonist,  to the great changes that have affected the African-American community from the middle of the 20th century onward: a piece of American history. 

 

True story- based, iconic, impressive

 Score: ⭐⭐⭐⭐/5 

Available on: Google Play., streaming 

Trailer: Click Here. 

Leave a Reply