Is it time to retire the term ‘black film’?

by Austin Cross and A Martínez | Take Two

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Still from the film “Moonlight.”DAVID BORNFRIEND

For the past two weekends, two films with black directors and mostly black casts have garnered considerable attention.

LISTEN HERE: Is it time to retire the term ‘black film’?

Boo! A Madea Halloween” and “Moonlight,” a coming of age tale of a young African American finding his identity as a gay man.

Tyler Perry’s latest Madea film cost about $20 million to make and has already brought in more than $56 million.

Barry Jenkins’ “Moonlight,” shot on a shoestring budget, has been almost universally praised by critics and has earned more than $1.5 million playing in just four theaters over the past two weeks.

These successes have led some to wonder if black film is entering into a new chapter, and if the title “black film” ought to be retired for the term: “film.”

For answers, Take Two’s A Martinez spoke to Filmweek contributor Tim Cogshell.

Highlights

BY CALLING A FILM A BLACK FILM, DOES THAT CONFINE IT?

You know, it depends. If we say ‘French film,’ we understand that we’re probably talking about a film that is in the French language, but we’re probably also talking about a film that references French culture. I could say ‘a French film,’ and it might be made by an Algerian or a Moroccan, and it will be in the French language but it will very much not be about the French culture.

I think that what we have to do is to allow the notion of black film to evolve just like we have every other genre of film: German film, Japanese film, all those films can carry those monikers, but they’re all just films. They’re all cinema.

WHAT IF THE MOVIE HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH THE BLACK EXPERIENCE? SAY A BLACK FILMMAKER IS HIRED TO DIRECT A FILM ABOUT UNICORNS AND RAINBOWS?

Then you’re going to have yourself a film about unicorns and rainbows that is a black film. It’s gonna be a black film about unicorns and rainbows. And by the way, if it were a woman directing that film, then it would be a film about unicorns and rainbows that’s very female.

SO THE IDENTITY WILL ALWAYS BE THERE. MOONLIGHT DIRECTOR BARRY JENKINS WAS ASKED WHETHER HE SAW HIMSELF AS A BLACK FILMMAKER OR JUST A FILMMAKER. HIS RESPONSE WAS THAT THERE’S NO TIME WHEN BLACK CEASES TO BE A DEFINING CHARACTERISTIC.

This is absolutely true. It’s true of us. Me, I’m a film critic, but I’m unequivocally a black film critic. My thoughts about film are filtered through my blackness because I’m black all day, every day.

ARE WE GOING TO START CLASSIFYING MOVIES DIFFERENTLY GOING FORWARD OR WILL THEY ALWAYS GO BACK TO THOSE LABELS?

You know, I think that they will always sort of go back to those same categories. What we need to expand is our understanding of what those categories mean. ‘Black film’ don’t necessarily mean Tyler Perry and Kevin Hart and “Boys in the Hood.” It can also mean Daughters of the Dust, wonderful Julie Dash’s movie. “Killer of Sheep,” by Charles Burnett. It might even mean a film that stars a white kid doing things in a white neighborhood that some black guy thought of.

Press the blue play button above to hear the full interview.

(Questions and answers have been edited for brevity and clarity.)

‘Loving’ inspires a DIY Film Festival of miscegenation films and shows you need to see…

by Tim Cogshell | Off-Ramp   

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You don’t need to wait for the local art house to put on a themed film festival. Tim Cogshell, film critic for KPCC’s Filmweek and Alt Film Guide, and who blogs at CinemaInMind, is producing a series of DIY Film Festivals for Off-Ramp listeners to throw in the comfort of their own homes.

WATCH HERE:

 

LISTEN HERE:  ‘Loving’ inspires a DIY Film Festival of miscegenation films and shows you need to see

This DIY film festival is about miscegenation. Don’t know or remember what it means? Good.

Miscegenation is sex or marriage between people of different races — usually whites and blacks. It was illegal in much of the U.S. until the 60s, and was also either taboo or forbidden in cinema. This DIY festival, including a documentary, a short silent film, and even a few TV episodes, is inspired by Jeff Nichols’ new film “Loving,” which is about the 1967 miscegenation case that changed the law and the movies.

1. “The Loving Story” 2011

“Loving” was inspired by the HBO documentary, “The Loving Story,” which is the first film of our festival. Mildred and Richard Loving were an interracial couple who married in 1958, despite Virginia’s anti-miscegenation laws.

 Richard and Mildred Loving in "The Loving Story," the 2011 documentary
Richard and Mildred Loving in “The Loving Story,” the 2011 documentaryTHE LOVING STORY

As good as the new narrative film is, the 2011 doc is better.

The Hays Code, the rules the movies were governed by, stated explicitly: “Miscegenation (sex-relationships between the white and black races) is forbidden.” When the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Lovings, the 1930 Hays Code was replaced by the Classification and Rating System Administration. But before that, miscegenation was still fodder for Hollywood.

2. “What Happened in the Tunnel” (1903)

The earliest film to take on miscegenation may have been Edwin S. Porter’s very short 1903 film “What Happened in the Tunnel.”  It was considered funny in 1903, but the film probably contributed to the earliest rules on the miscegenation.

3. “Imitation of Life” (1934)

In the first “Imitation of Life,”  Fredi Washington plays Louise Beavers’ fair-skinned daughter who rejects her black heritage — and her mother — in favor of passing into the white world and landing a white husband. It barely made it past the censors, but today it’s in the National Film Registry, and Time called it one of “The 25 Most Important Films on Race.”

You might also want to check out Douglas Sirk’s 1959 “Imitation of Life,” which is still popular among African American women of a certain age.

4. “Pinky” (1949)

In “Pinky,” Jeanne Crain is a young woman who slips into passing as white almost by accident when she goes away to nursing school. She feels guilty, but yet so aware of what being white could mean to her life. Pinky doesn’t hate being black, she just wants what life being white could offer … including the white man who wants to marry her.

5. “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?” (1967)

Next on our list, Stanley Kramer’s “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” from 1967, in which a white girl falls in love with a black man, played by Sidney Poitier, and when the families meet for dinner, they hash it out earnestly. This film took a beating from the left and the right from the day it was released, as we saw in “The Butler,” when David Oyelowo’s young Black Panther disparages Sidney Poitier. It’s problematic for any number of reasons, but I defend its intention — fervently. Before the change in the movie code or the Loving decision, “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” faced down the nations’ bigots.

6. “Movin’ with Nancy” (1967)

After the Loving case, the notion of miscegenation in film and television evolved. Soon we saw the first kiss on American prime time network TV when Kirk and Uhura kissed in a 1968 episode of “Star Trek.” The suits from the network resisted the interracial kiss — but the tepid peck made it to air and is said to be the first such kiss on network TV.

Or maybe it wasn’t:

The December 1967 episode of “Movin’ with Nancy” features a kiss between Nancy Sinatra and Sammy Davis, Jr. more than a year before that “Star Trek” episode. The easy, friendly kiss comes at the very end of the photo session scene. A few years later,  in February of 1972, Sammy would go on plant the kiss that sealed the deal for anti-miscegenation attitudes in America once and for all.

Sammy Davis, Jr. kisses Carrol O'Connor on "All in the Family"
Sammy Davis, Jr. kisses Carrol O’Connor on “All in the Family”CBS

When Sammy kisses Archie Bunker, it was effectively the first kiss between a Protestant-white-male-bigot and a black-male-converted-Jew on American television.

It was on the cheek, and in many ways is reminiscent of that original kiss in Edwin S. Porter’s short silent film. Only this time it’s not racist and is actually funny. It left the nation a little stunned and ended the issue of miscegenation in American media — forever — although the state of Alabama would not repeal its miscegenation laws until the year 2000.

Tim is Critic At Large for Alt Film Guide (http://www.altfg.com/blog).  His reviews are archived at:  http://www.rottentomatoes.com/critic/tim-cogshell/

FilmWeek: ‘Jack Reacher,’ ‘Ouija: Origin of Evil,’ ‘Moonlight’ and more, plus complaints about an insular culture at Netflix

FilmWeek: ‘Jack Reacher,’ ‘Ouija: Origin of Evil,’ ‘Moonlight’ and more…

by FilmWeek

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Tom Cruise attends the World Premiere of ‘Jack Reacher’ at Odeon Leicester Square on December 10, 2012 in London, England.TIM P. WHITBY/GETTY IMAGES

Larry Mantle and KPCC film critics Tim Cogshell, Charles Solomon and Peter Rainer review this week’s new releases including the promising Halloween flick, “Ouija: Origin of Evil;” Tom Cruise in the return of “Jack Reacher: Never Go Back;” the acclaimed indie “Moonlight” with Mahershala Ali; and more.

TGI-FilmWeek!

Tim’s Hits

Charles’ Hits

Peter’s Hits

Mixed Reviews

This Week’s Misses

Guests:

Peter Rainer, Film Critic for KPCC and the Christian Science Monitor

Charles Solomon, Film Critic for KPCC and Animation Scoop and Animation Magazine

Tim Cogshell, Film Critic for KPCC and Alt-Film Guide; Tim tweets from @CinemaInMind

 

Tim is Critic At Large for Alt Film Guide (http://www.altfg.com/blog).  His reviews are archived at:  http://www.rottentomatoes.com/critic/tim-cogshell/

FilmWeek: ‘Deepwater Horizon,’ ‘Masterminds,’ the new Tim Burton, and more, plus a closer look at ‘Command and Control’

by FilmWeek

Larry Mantle and KPCC film critics Andy Klein and Tim Cogshell review this week’s new movie releases including: the dramatic portrayal of the 2010 man-made disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, “Deepwater Horizon,” plus the new Tim Burton fantasy, “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children;” an action funny starring the biggest names in comedy these days including Kristen Wiig, Leslie Jones, and Zach Galifianakis; and more.

TGI-FilmWeek!

Tim’s Hits

Andy’s Hits

Mixed Reviews

This Week’s Misses

Guests:

Tim Cogshell, Film Critic for KPCC and Alt-Film Guide; Tim tweets from @CinemaInMind

Andy Klein, Film Critic for KPCC

DIY Film Fest: You know Jack Nicholson can act, but did you know he directed three films?

by Tim Cogshell | Off-Ramp

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You don’t have to wait for the NuArt or the American Cinematheque to throw a film festival. Make one of your own! Every few weeks, Tim Cogshell, film critic for KPCC’s Filmweek and Alt Film Guide, releases another in his series of DIY Film Festivals for Off-Ramp listeners to throw in the comfort of their homes.

Listen here: DIY Film Fest: the 3 movies Jack Nicholson directed are better at home

Jack Nicholson has over 70 credits as an actor. But — pop quiz – how many movies did he direct?

Nicholson has 12 acting Oscar nominations and three wins. He and Michael Caine are the only two actors to be nominated for an Academy Award in every decade from the 1960s to the 2000s. From Easy Rider in 1969 to About Schmidt in 2003. Jack’s acting rightly overshadows his directing efforts – of which there are three or four – if you count his un-credited work on Roger Corman’s “The Terror,” with Francis Ford Coppola, among others.

1. ‘Drive, He Said” (1971)

Nicholson’s solo directorial debut is the 1971 adaptation of Jeremy Larner’s novel, “Drive, He Said.” The title is from a Robert Creeley poem about human disconnection in an uncertain time. It perfectly suits the  subject of the movie: the unease of zeitgeist. It’s about a horny  college basketball star who has an affair with one of his professor’s wives, played by Karen Black. It touches on the social revolution and the still lingering sexual revolution, featuring a long single take sex scene between William Tepper and a dazzling Karen Black, which Nicholson says he filmed “contranudity,” with Black wearing a huge fur coat, so the stars look like two bears wrestling.

“Drive, He Said” premiered at Cannes to mixed reviews, with equally tepid reviews and box office upon it’s release, tho’ Roger Ebert called it “often brilliant” and Vincent Canby liked it greatly. The original score is extraordinary and was composed by David Shire, then married to Coppola’s sister, Talia.  I just watched the other day for the first time since 1990 and it’s still relevant – and even  better than I remembered.

2. “Goin’ South” (1978)

Jack directed his second film, “Goin’ South” in 1978. It’s an odd caper comedy set just after the Civil War. The plot is nuts – tho’ apparently based on something they actually did during those days when men were sparse because so many died in the war: men could be spared from hanging if they could find a woman to marry them.

The movie failed at the time and most critics give it faint praise today. But it’s what I call a “chuckle in every scene” funny.  You never really laugh out loud, but you never stop chuckling, because there’s something funny happening in every scene; including a good bit of slapstick. It’s a movie that actually plays better in an intimate setting – like in your own personal DIY film festival — when you clock every nutty expression Jack Nicholson, John Belushi, and Christopher Lloyd make,  and hear every very funny line of dialogue … of which there are many.

“Goin’ South” was meant to star Elliott Gould and Candice Bergen, with Mike Nichols directing. But, when another film Nicholson wanted to make fell through, Jack stepped in to direct and found himself drafted to star.  His best work on “Goin’ South” was his discovery of his leading lady, Mary Steenburgen, who was working as a receptionist. It was great call. In her second feature – “Melvin and Howard” – she won an Academy Award.

3. “The Two Jakes” (1990)

Jack Nicholson’s third directorial effort is the sequel to Roman Polanski’s 1974 neo-noir classic “Chinatown,” “The Two Jakes.” I really like this movie. It only has one problem, it was made 10 years too late – literally. Originally set for 1985, and meant to be the middle film of a trilogy, “The Two Jakes” had issues from the start.

“Chinatown’s” producer, Robert Evans,  wanted to play the “second” Jake, a role that went to Harvey Keitel. And “Chinatown’s” writer, Robert Towne, wanted to direct, and didn’t want Evans … in the picture. (Ha ha ha!) But it finally got made in 1990, with most everyone in their original role  and Jack Nicholson directing and reprising his role as Jake Gittes. But for the “The Two Jakes” it was too late. Once again, reviews were mixed, though Roger Ebert gave it 3.5 out of 4 stars and Vincent Canby called it “…an enjoyable if clunky movie.”

“The Two Jakes” polls  6 out of 10 on Rotten Tomatoes these days, and if in fact it turns out to be the last film Jack Nicholson directs, he can and should be proud of it, along with other directorial efforts, each are worthy additions to our DIY Film Festivals.

Tim is Critic At Large for Alt Film Guide (http://www.altfg.com/blog).  His reviews are archived at:  http://www.rottentomatoes.com/critic/tim-cogshell/

FilmWeek: ‘Sully,’ ‘The Wild Life,’ ‘Other People’ and more…

Listen here:  FilmWeek: ‘Sully,’ ‘The Wild Life,’ ‘Other People’ and more, plus we’ll discuss your favorite foreign language films

by FilmWeek

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Actor Tom Hanks attends the screening of The Warner Bros. Pictures “Sully” in West Hollywood, California, on September 8, 2016.VALERIE MACON/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

Larry Mantle and KPCC film critics Christy Lemire, Tim Cogshell and Charles Solomon review this week’s new movie releases including “Sully,” the Clint Eastwood-directed wide release starring Tom Hanks about the “miracle on the Hudson;” plus an animated feature in wide release, “The Wild Life;” some promising indies including “Kicks” and “Other People;” and more.

TGI-FilmWeek!

Christy’s Hits

Tim’s Hits

Mixed Reviews

This Week’s Misses

Review Don’t Breathe

By: 

Don't Breathe movie Dylan Minnette blind man Stephen Lang unlike Audrey HepburnStephen Lang and Dylan Minnette Don’t Breathe image: Screen Gems / Sony Pictures.

Horror filmmaker Fede Alvarez avoids the fate of the sophomore curse with his second feature film,Don’t Breathe, which establishes the director of the 2013 remake of the iconic Evil Dead as the real deal when it comes to genre films that keep audiences on the edge of their dampened theater seats.

At only 88 minutes, Don’t Breathe, co-written by Alvarez and Rodo Sayagues, is not only meticulously paced, but also remarkably clever in how it handles its characters and their motivations, and its audience and their expectations – titillating, but never quite letting either have exactly what they want.

But while laid out as a horror thriller, Don’t Breathe is really a love story. It’s about the things we do for love. It’s also about the choice between the wrong thing, a worse thing, and an evil thing.

A blighted and mostly abandoned contemporary Detroit Rock City is our setting. The wrong side of the city’s eight-mile divide. This is a great location because not only do the filmmakers get the tax credit that comes with shooting in such blighted neighborhoods these days, but they also get an authentic blighted neighborhood.

Our heroes are young thieves. They break into the homes of the well heeled using inside information provided by Alex (Dylan Minnette), who is mostly doing these crimes for love of Rocky (Jane Levy), even though she’s Money’s (Daniel Zovatto) girlfriend, and is more or less oblivious to Alex’s affections.

The chump with a crush is a classic and always effective setup.

This time the home they intend to invade is not a fancy mansion where the owners are away, but rather the single inhabited house in blocks of un-patrolled blight.

It’s the home of a blind Iraq War veteran whose only daughter was killed in as senseless drunk driving incident. And it’s said that the old blind veteran has nearly a million dollars in insurance money somewhere in that house.

Alex is weary of both the mark and the circumstances, while Money is a pig and a thief who will go in whether Alex helps or not. Besides, Money will take Rocky with him.

Rocky, for her part, is highly motivated to get the stash of cash for reasons that involve her mother, who is a pig; her mother’s boyfriend, who is also a pig; and a baby sister whom she needs to take away from the pigs.

.

The blind vet whose home these thieves invade is played by veteran actor Stephen Lang, likely best known for his role as the rampaging Colonel Miles Quaritch in James Cameron‘s Avatar, hellbent on killing all things alien and blue in that movie and its three upcoming sequels.

The guy Lang plays in Don’t Breathe is kinda like Col. Quaritch – only blind and much angrier and hellbent on killing the bastards who have broken into his house.

Needless to say, things don’t go as planned. This is the hook of the movie: things don’t go as planned for anybody. Not for the three thieves, not for the angry blind vet, and definitely not for the audience watching it all – from the edge of their slightly dampened theater seat.

For co-writer and director Fede Alvarez, however, it all goes very well.

Don’t Breathe (2016). Dir.: Fede Alvarez. Scr.: Fede Alvarez. Rodo Sayagues.
Cast: Stephen Lang. Dylan Minnette. Daniel Zovatto. Jane Levy. Emma Bercovici. Franciska Töröcsik. Christian Zagia. Katia Bokor. Sergej Onopko. Olivia Gillies. Dayna Clark. Jimmie Chiappelli. Michael Haase.

FilmWeek: ‘Pete’s Dragon,’ ‘Sausage Party’ and more…

 

by FilmWeek

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Stephen Frears, Nina Arianda, Simon Helberg, Meryl Streep, Hugh Grant, Tracey Seaward and Nicholas Martin attend the “Florence Foster Jenkins” New York premiere at AMC Loews Lincoln Square 13 theater on August 9, 2016 in New York City.  MICHAEL LOCCISANO / GETTY IMAGES

Larry Mantle and KPCC film critics Lael Loewenstein, Tim Cogshell, and Charles Solomon review this week’s new movie releases including Disney’s “Pete’s Dragon” that blends animation with live-action; another summer raunchy comedy, but animated, called “Sausage Party;” Meryl Streep as a laughable opera singer in “Florence Foster Jenkins,” and more.

TGI-FilmWeek!

Guests:

Tim Cogshell, Film Critic for KPCC and Alt-Film Guide; Tim tweets from @CinemaInMind

Charles Solomon, Film Critic for KPCC and Animation Scoop and Animation Magazine

Lael Loewenstein, Film Critic for KPCC

Tim is Critic At Large for Alt Film Guide (http://www.altfg.com/blog).  His reviews are archived at:  http://www.rottentomatoes.com/critic/tim-cogshell/

DIY Film Fest: 5 movies with major, minor, or moot continuity errors…

by Tim Cogshell | Off-Ramp

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Film critic Tim Cogshell talks Oscars buzz at AirTalk’s FilmWeek at Grauman’s Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood on February 18, 2015.BILL YOUNGBLOOD/KPCC

Tim Cogshell is film critic for KPCC’s Off-Ramp and Filmweek, and for Alt Film Guide. He blogs at CinemaInMind.

Continuity errors in cinema are legend.  There are a some classic doozies, like the croissant Julia Roberts is chomping in “Pretty Woman” that becomes a pancake.

The errors come in a number of categories, from crew and equipment earnestly working to get the shot they are in, to props magically appearing and disappearing between cuts, to material or narrative anachronisms.

Sometimes they matter, sometimes they don’t — who cares if Rick’s trench coat is wet when he boards the train in Paris?! — and sometimes they make the movie.  Here’s a quick DIY Film Festival of films you might want to see for their dubious continuity – and you can judge for yourself if they break or make the movie.

1. Deep Purple burns Cameron Crowe’s “Almost Famous”

Deep Purple’s “Burn” figures prominently in the background of a scene from writer-director Cameron Crowe’s “Almost Famous,” set in 1973.

A precocious teen, Crowe was a writer for “Rolling Stone” in 1975. He spent time on the road with The Eagles, the band on which he based the fake iconic rock band, Stillwater, in “Almost Famous.” And he wrote the definitive cover story on The Eagles. But he got a lot of the music wrong in the movie. That Deep Purple album was released 1974. There are a few of those in “Almost Famous” – along with some T-shirts for tours that wouldn’t happen for another decade.  To fans of classic rock these errors ruin the movie, but most people don’t even notice them.

2. No Justice No Peace for Peebles’ “Posse”

Director Mario Van Peebles 1993 film “Posse” is set in 1898, but a crowd shouting “No justice, no peace” is straight out of 1992, along with the late great Nipsey Russell asking, “Can’t we all just get along?!”

These anachronisms were controversial at the time.  Some critics and audiences – out for a rooting-tooting cowboy movie – called it blunt political commentary that the broke suspension of disbelief … As if casting Big Daddy Kane and Tone Loc didn’t already do that.

3. A slice of American Pie in “Born on the 4th of July”

Don McLean’s “American Pie” is forever associated with Oliver Stone’s “Born of the 4th of July.” The song is played and heard by characters in the film several times … in scenes set 1969.  The problem? The album was released in 1971. Still – would any other song do? The of loss of an American ideal represented in Don McLean’s ode to Buddy Holly is a perfect metaphor for the American ideal lost by Ron Kovic. This movie and that song go together, continuity be damned.

4. YouTube in “The Hurt Locker?”

At one point in “The Hurt Locker,” specialist Owen Eldridge, played by Brian Geraghty, says “…. they’re going to put me on YouTube.” Nope. “Hurt Locker” is set in 2004 and YouTube did not launch until 2005, which the producers of this film, which came out in 2008, should have thought about in 2007. Or maybe not, because it won a bunch of Academy Awards in 2009.

5. Hair AND Wardrobe:  “TNT Jackson” and the magic panties

But my favorite continuity mistake of all time is in an early 70s Blaxploitation classic called “TNT Jackson.” It stars stars Jeannie Bell as a young black karate expert out to avenge her brother’s death on the mean streets of Hong Kong.

There are a number of badly staged karate fight sequences in the movie, and Jeanne kicks much fake karate ass in all of them. But this was an exploitation film after all, so one of those fight scenes takes place when the exciting TNT Jackson is wearing nothing but a pair of panties and a wicked afro. During this perfectly fabulous scene, TNT kills the lights to even her odds against her multiple attackers.

TNT JACKSON (1974)

When the lights come back on, the intrepid Ms. Jackson is wearing different panties. They were brown. Now they’re white. The lights go out and come back on again. And the panties change again. You can’t help but notice … because she’s only wearing the panties and the wicked afro. This is a perfectly crazy continuity mistake. And I wouldn’t change it for anything in the world.

Tim is Critic At Large for Alt Film Guide (http://www.altfg.com/blog).  His reviews are archived at:  http://www.rottentomatoes.com/critic/tim-cogshell/

In Review – White Like Me (2013 – Documentary)

Link

On the heels of our two major party political conventions – I’ve been considering a film or two to suggest to the politically minded. Something to set the mood or inform the electorate, in a broad way, about the issues of the day.

To that end – the disparity in the diversity of the two major conventions was the thing that was most stark (all other content notwithstanding) to me.  Since the election – and before – of the first African American, sometimes known as Black – President of the United States, this disparity has been, ironically perhaps, most stark.

It is also ironic, that as the nation has nominated the first woman to be President of the United States in a major party – that race, not gender – is still the driving prevalent issue of our nation, even beyond domestic and foreign terrorism.

To that end, I was reminded of director Scott Morris‘ 2013 documentary White Like Me, featuring race-educator and author Tim Wise. The film explores race and racism in the U.S. through the lens of whiteness and white privilege. Or, in other words, most of the people at one of those conventions as opposed to some of the people at the other convention.

The things that Wise speaks to in White Me, explains those distinctions lucidly.

As it happens, the book Black Like Me (from which this film takes its cues), by journalist John Howard Griffin, was published in 1961 – the year I was born. The corresponding film was released in 1964 – a year of landmark civil rights legislation. Fifty plus years later our two primary party political conventions suggest that while changes abound – much as stayed the same.  Little “d” democrats were often southern and racist in 1961, while republicans were still rich and privileged and – well – republican. And race is still a central issue in the republic. Whether we want to think so – or not.

You only had to look at those two conventions. You could even turn the sound down. Which, occasionally, I did.

Scott Morris’ film is clear, concise and full of fact and example and history. As is Wise’s presentation, in whatever format. The movie is neither placid nor inflammatory (unless you’re already a little inflamed). It’s also not – not angry – yet not angry.

It even manages to be funny every now and again.

Like all contemporary documentaries it’s advocacy. Such is the nature of docs these days. That’s said – it’s accurate and well done advocacy that is most relevant to the politics and the zeitgeist of the very political – race conscious day.