Bones and All

Posted in Drama, Horror, Romance with tags on December 1, 2022 by Mark Hobin

Rating: 1.5 out of 5.

According to the press materials. Bones and All is a tender tale of first love. Maren is a young woman learning to survive on the margins of society. Lee is a disenfranchised drifter. An unforgiving world cannot accept them. These youths drive off together on a “liberating” odyssey where they come to terms with who they are. You may ask, “Who are they?” because the official synopsis hides a salient reality. They’re cannibals! The title refers to the ultimate level: eating the entire human.

So that’s a weird concept. Remember the Fine Young Cannibals? The British band got its name from a movie starring Robert Wagner and Natalie Wood. A literal interpretation would be a perfect title for this film too. This romantic cannibal road picture is a parable about star-crossed loves who cannot resist devouring people. Based on cultural references, I’d say the year is about 1983. Maren (Taylor Russell) is a teen coping with her true nature. She wants what anyone wants, to be loved. However, Maren’s preferences have forced her into a shameful exile. She didn’t choose to be this way. After her father (André Holland) abandons Maren, she meets Lee (Timothée Chalamet), and the two go off on a journey together. Each geographic location gracelessly announced by the official state abbreviation in bold white letters across the screen.

These are morally reprehensible individuals. This duo is akin to the ones in classics like Badlands or Bonnie and Clyde. Writer David Kajganich (2018’s Suspiria) adapts this edgy drama from Camille DeAngelis’ 2015 young adult novel. The screenplay wants us to embrace their lamentable status as misunderstood loners. Oh, they have their “morals.” Maren attempts to limit her victims to ones who have already died. Lee tries to only kill souls whose deaths won’t affect others. He fails. At a slaughterhouse, Maren and Lee observe that cattle have families too—as if to plead that killing humans is the same as consuming meat. The fact that DeAngelis is vegan bears a mention.

It’s impossible to ignore that these teens do eat innocent people. The movie graphically reminds us of this. Bones and All is directed by Luca Guadagnino, who did the far superior Call Me By Your Name. This is a different kind of love story. I enjoyed the art-house aesthetic. Nuanced performances (when they’re not chowing down on humanity) are shot by Arseni Khachaturant using sentimentalized soft-focus cinematography. A hip indie cast includes Mark Rylance (Bridge of Spies), Michael Stuhlbarg (A Serious Man), André Holland (Moonlight), and Chloë Sevigny (Boys Don’t Cry)

Nevertheless, the smattering of positives wasn’t enough to overlook the overwhelming negatives. The plot is simplistic and empty, with only intense — no stomach-churning — violence at its core to distinguish it. These cannibals enthusiastically dine on dead bodies. The demise of one poor older woman who fell over and couldn’t get up still haunts me. I’m talking Grand Guignol. Feast your eyes on close-ups of mouths tearing into her flesh and pulling out chucks. Yes, body tissue will be mutilated and devoured in a bloody fashion. Some may find more to like if they can see past the blood and gore into the metaphor the screenplay is trying to push. I couldn’t get past the idea that this is simply a saga about bad people doing things I don’t want to watch.

11-25-22

The Fabelmans

Posted in Biography, Drama with tags on November 29, 2022 by Mark Hobin

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The most basic (and oft-repeated) piece of writing advice is “Write what you know.” When directors hear that, it translates to “make a movie about your childhood.” It seems to work. Woody Allen (Radio Days), Barry Levinson (Avalon), Richard Linklater (Boyhood), Greta Gerwig (Lady Bird), Alfonso Cuarón (Roma), and Kenneth Branagh (Belfast) have all taken the advice to heart and delivered superior work. Now Steven Spielberg has entered the fold and created a beautifully realized portrait of his formative years.

The Fabelmans defies easy categorization. The chronicle of the director’s life from ages 7 to 18 features a screenplay with frequent collaborator Tony Kushner (Munich, Lincoln, West Side Story). The narrative is basically a coming-of-age tale that begins with a memorable experience. Sammy Fabelman (played by Mateo Zoryan at first, then Gabriel LaBelle) falls in love with cinema after witnessing the spectacular train crash in Cecil B. DeMille’s 1952 circus drama (and Best Picture winner) The Greatest Show on Earth. The spectacle has such a profound impact on him that he re-creates it with his Lionel electric train set. Unfortunately, his numerous attempts break the toy. So his mom gives him a movie camera and suggests he record the event so he can watch it over and over.

It’s the perceived authenticity of these reminiscences that captivate the viewer. Seeing the depth of Sammy’s creativity and the admiration he incurs for his directorial efforts is so exciting. His appreciation for motion pictures develops with the early productions he helms. Sammy’s early actors include his sisters Reggie (Julia Butters), Natalie (Keeley Karsten), and Lisa (Sophia Kopera). In one, they’re riding on a stagecoach. In another, he wraps the girls in toilet paper to be mummies for a horror picture. He directs a western while in the Boy Scouts for his photography merit badge. His abilities are growing more skillful and adept. Later, his war movie receives a warm reception from the entire troop and their families.

What commences as a chronicle documenting the seeds that inspired his passion for film morphs into a deeper portrait of his family. Life isn’t all smooth sailing. His film of a camping trip will expose a devastating truth. Spielberg has cast these personalities with an eye for charismatic people. Newcomer Gabriel LaBelle is a likable presence that suggests the director as a teen in temperament and looks. Michelle Williams as mother Mitzi has garnered significant praise for her performance. She is a kooky individual that demands to be the center center of attention. As a concert pianist, the clickety-clack of her fingernails can be heard when she plays the piano. This talent is sidelined to raise her children. Her decision to put Sammy, Reggie, and Natalie in the car and drive toward an oncoming tornado implies eccentricity verging on undiagnosed mental illness. In contrast, Paul Dano is his straight-laced father. Burt is a successful electrical engineer who hopes his son will follow in his dependable footsteps.

The social dynamic is particularly engaging around the dinner table. Here the clan eats off paper plates and uses plastic utensils on a disposable tablecloth. (Mitzi hates doing dishes). She cleans the table by grabbing the four corners of the covering in one fell swoop. His grandmother Hadassah is slightly annoyed but tolerates these shenanigans nonetheless. Jeannie Berlin stands out in that small part. Seth Rogen is his Uncle Bennie, who is really just his father’s best friend, and Judd Hirsh portrays his jaded Uncle Boris. He’s a black sheep who shows up unannounced and delivers his unvarnished view of Hollywood. Boris paints the industry as a struggle between art and family, and his rant is intense.

As with any cinematic depiction of one’s life, there’s an expected blend of fact and fiction. This is a “semi-autobiographical” story, so not everything rings true. However, it’s hard to tell what’s real and fake. Sammy grows up in an Orthodox Jewish family. He’s embarrassed by how their dark house stands out as an undecorated eyesore during the Christmas holidays. After moving from Phoenix to California with his family, he attends high school in an affluent Bay Area suburb. Tensions arise. Being Jewish and terrible at sports makes him the target of two bullies. Jocks Logan (Sam Rechner) and Chad (Oakes Fegley). The worlds of socialization and art collide when he is tapped to record the “Senior Ditch Day” at the beach as a fellow senior. His document makes an indelible impression on his peers, and one in particular. Despite his outsider status, he meets Monica Sherwood (Chloe East), who takes a liking to him. She is a Christian girl who tries to convert Sammy to accept Jesus as his savior. The methods she uses do strain credulity, but they are amusing. Oh, and at one point, a random aside details the day his mom comes home with a pet monkey.

Steven Spielberg lovingly reflects on the childhood that shaped him. The art of filmmaking and the complicated relationship between his parents intertwine in this fascinating saga. There’s no question that Spielberg is a master storyteller. The filmmaker has honed his craft since the early 1970s. Think of The Fabelmans as a gymnastics routine. The vignettes are like a series of leaps and turns. They seize the viewer’s focus like the choreography of impressment movements. Perhaps The Fabelmans most memorable and authentic moment arrives at the end with the meeting with a famous director. That scene truly sticks the landing.

11-23-22

Fast Film Reviews on talkSPORT radio

Posted in Podcast with tags on November 27, 2022 by Mark Hobin

I do reviews for UK-based talkSPORT radio. On Sunday, November 13th, I reviewed one of the most anticipated films of the year, BLACK PANTHER: WAKANDA FOREVER. Also, the goofy biopic WEIRD: THE AL YANKOVIC STORY on the Roku Channel. My segment begins 3 minutes into the 2:30-3:00 hour (27 minutes from the end). Enjoy!

Source: Live Radio, Breaking Sports News, Opinion – talkSPORT

Fast Film Reviews on talkSPORT radio

Posted in Podcast with tags on November 27, 2022 by Mark Hobin

I do reviews for UK-based talkSPORT radio. On Sunday, November 6th I talked about potential Oscar contender THE BANSHEES OF INISHERIN. Also, the TV series THE WHITE LOTUS started its 2nd season on HBO. My segment begins just a minute into the 2:30-3:00 hour. Enjoy!

Source: Live Radio, Breaking Sports News, Opinion – talkSPORT

The Menu

Posted in Comedy, Horror, Thriller with tags on November 25, 2022 by Mark Hobin

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

“Eat the rich.” The expression is a rallying cry against capitalism and class inequality. It’s commonly attributed to Jean Jacques Rousseau, a political philosopher and leading figure in the late 18th century during the French Revolution. However, the idiom has been invoked many times since. The words are never uttered here, but that ethos is all over this movie and is especially apropos, given the account is all about eating. Not literally “people,” as the phrase somewhat humorously implies, but gourmet fare. However, this narrative does not celebrate fine dining. Obsessive foodies, celebrity chefs, and tasting menus will be roasted to the death..and it isn’t pretty.

The Menu is a dark and nasty satire on the art of fine dining. Hawthorn is the name of an elegant restaurant in the Pacific Northwest run by Chef Julian Slowik (Ralph Fiennes). It’s likely a mash-up of many haute cuisine destinations. Director Mark Mylo — best known for his directorial work on TV shows Succession and Shameless — is working from a clever screenplay by Will Tracy and Seth Reichs (The Onion). A visit to Cornelius, a prestigious destination for seafood in Norway, inspired this production. Living in Nothern California, my mind went to The French Laundry, which charged $850 per person at the height of the COVID pandemic. There’s also a more direct geographic comparison of La Isla, the isolated private island in Patagonia of chef Francis Mallman visited by affluent gastro-tourists. There’s no cell coverage or Wi-Fi there either.

Guests travel by boat to a remote island to dine at an exclusive venue where the chef has prepared a lavish multi-course culinary journey with a sinister agenda. That’s the plot in a nutshell. This is a world where the top 1% spend hundreds (even thousands) of dollars on an epicurean experience. The “Breadless Bread Plate” merely features dollops of oil and emulsions on a plate. “The Island” course is a rock with a raw diver scallop carefully adorned with pickled seaweeds and algae using tweezers. These chefs have reduced their craft to an intellectual exercise by taking the joy out of eating. The final insult? The diner is still hungry after their meal of minimalism is all over.

Then there are the 12 chic and shallow elites who have each paid $1250 a head. The guest list includes Nicholas Hoult as Tyler, an obsequious foodie who has watched every episode of Chef’s Table. He worships Julian Slowik. His date is Margot, portrayed by Anya Taylor-Joy. She is different, a cynic, unimpressed with all the highfalutin nonsense. “You’re the customer,” she chides a sycophantic Tyler. “You’re paying him to serve you.” Reed Birney and Judith Light play a wealthy couple whose marital problems are exposed during the service. Janet McTeer is a pompous delight as a powerful food critic. John Leguizamo is a name-dropping has-been actor.

Ultimately, this is a hilarious food film with stylish horror influences. It’s like Saw blended with Jiro Dreams of Sushi. The script mines a smug contempt for establishments that flaunt their farm-to-table practices like a badge of honor. Yet, one should approach the tongue-in-cheek tone with a grain of salt. Despite the semi-serious horror milieu, the atmosphere’s evolving sense of silliness must be embraced to fully enjoy these shenanigans. Airplane! represents the airline industry about as closely as The Menu embodies a high-end restaurant. Time and again, these idiotic victims do not behave like normal people. There are numerous examples, but any patron that would happily pull out their wallet to pay for the experience they get here would have to be either suicidal or certifiably insane. A healthy suspension of disbelief is required. Nevertheless, I still enjoyed this far-fetched parody.

11-22-22

The Good Nurse

Posted in Biography, Crime, Drama with tags on November 23, 2022 by Mark Hobin

Rating: 3 out of 5.

The good nurse is Amy Loughren (Jessica Chastain), a single mother working in the intensive care unit of a hospital. But the reason this feature exists is because of a bad nurse. The depiction is based on the real-life tale of Charles Cullen (Eddie Redmayne), who worked at ten healthcare facilities from 1988 to 2003. A series of mysterious deaths followed him. It turns out he was a serial killer who would later plead guilty to 29 murders. However, some investigators believe that number to be in the hundreds.

This saga recounts the developments that eventually led to his capture. In retrospect, it’s bizarre that Charles and Amy started as good friends. In this dramatization, they meet in 2002 at Parkfield Memorial Hospital. Charles is an experienced RN hired to help Amy work the night shifts. She confides in him, and he gives her emotional support. Things get strange when an elderly patient named Ana Martinez (Judith Delgado) unexpectedly dies under questionable circumstances. Amy and Charles were attending to her. The health center’s administrative board contacts the state police. When detectives Danny Baldwin (Nnamdi Asomugha) and Tim Braun (Noah Emmerich) show up to investigate, hospital board risk manager Linda Garran (Kim Dickens) downplays the severity of the situation. Even Amy defends Charles …at first.

These true crime stories are often more shocking than fiction because they genuinely happened. That’s the part that shook me. It’s an unsettling portrait of a very disturbed man. Jessica Chastain and Eddie Redmayne elevate the account with straightforward performances. Although what makes a monster like Charles Cullen tick remains an enigma. This is adapted from the 2014 book The Good Nurse: A True Story of Medicine, Madness, and Murder by Charles Graeber. There’s a lot more to this tragedy. If you crave details after watching this, there’s a documentary: Capturing the Killer Nurse (also on Netflix). It gives more information, particularly on a U.S. healthcare system that allowed these crimes to continue for so long. It likewise highlights that Amy was instrumental in getting the evidence needed to put this murderer behind bars. The undeniable fact in both movies: Amy Loughren is a hero.

11-15-22

The Wonder

Posted in Drama, Mystery, Thriller with tags on November 21, 2022 by Mark Hobin

Rating: 2 out of 5.

Anna O’Donnell (Kíla Lord Cassidy) is an 11-year-old girl in rural Ireland who has allegedly been fasting for four months. She appears perfectly healthy and contends that she survives on “manna from heaven.” The devout townspeople hail it as a miracle, but skepticism arises. Local authorities call upon Elizabeth “Lib” Wright (Florence Pugh). She is an English nurse tasked to simply observe the child to test the veracity of these claims. As a woman of science, she is skeptical. Meanwhile, the all-male town council, which includes the town doctor (Toby Jones) and a priest (Ciarán Hinds), believes in divine intervention. Their disdain for Lib and her opinion is increasingly evident.

I don’t know who the audience is for this film. Believers who want to see a drama that affirms religion and faith will be disappointed because it’s not uplifting. However, it also fails as an exposé on how the desires of a little girl, her parents, and the Catholic Church intertwine. The developments are so deliberate and gradual that it tests the viewer’s patience. The more we learn, the less interesting the narrative becomes. The austerity of the surroundings effectively creates a sinister atmosphere. I’ll concede that. It’s a depressing mood piece but not much else.

The Wonder is a slow, methodical characterization of two people. Director Sebastián Lelio (Gloria, A Fantastic Woman) has achieved critical success with his cinematic portraits of women. Lib, the nurse, is an empathetic person. Anna persists as an enigma. Her behavior will give someone pause. Is she the real deal? The two personalities compel the viewer to keep watching to find out. However, the lethargic pace is plodding, and the resolution is unremarkable. The screenplay is based on the 2016 book of the same name by Emma Donoghue. The author also penned the novel Room, which she adapted into the Oscar-winning movie starring Brie Larson. I “wonder” if Donoghue considers her previous adaptation to be vastly superior…because I do.

11-16-22

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

Posted in Action, Adventure, Drama, Superhero with tags on November 14, 2022 by Mark Hobin

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The mood of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is somber. That’s to be expected. The shadow of Chadwick Boseman looms large, and his absence is felt. However, director Ryan Coogler addresses this head-on right at the beginning. Ramonda (Angela Bassett), the Queen Mother, announces that T’Challa has succumbed to an unknown illness. His passing is then followed by a grand funeral procession to celebrate his life.

At first glance, the country of Wakanda may appear to be a ship without a sail, but Coogler reframes the production around the strong women. The chronicle finds room to detail the poignant journeys of Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o), Okoye (Danai Gurira), and Aneka (Michaela Coel). However, no one individual is more troubled by the loss of T’Challa than his sister Shuri. Actress Letitia Wright ably carries most of the emotional weight. Trying to cope with the fact that her brother is now gone and accepting new responsibilities defines Shuri. Her mother, the Queen, provides significant support. When Ramonda arrives at the United Nations, Wakanda is chastised for keeping the rare metal vibranium to build weapons of mass destruction. She forcefully deflects that accusation with a dynamic response. Ramonda gives another passionate monologue later before the Tribal Council. “I am queen of the most powerful nation in the world, and my entire family is gone! Have I not given everything?” I wouldn’t be surprised if Angela Basset gets a Best Supporting Actress nomination for her role here.

The African-based Wakanda managed to avoid colonization, and now another land must do the same. The CIA unknowingly infringes upon the kingdom of Talokan when it uses a special machine to detect a deposit of vibranium underwater. This exploration awakens a civilization of blue-skinned, sea-dwelling people. They suggest the inhabitants of Avatar but with Mayan and Mesoamerican cultural influences. The Talokanil lure the ship’s passengers to their death using a siren song. The leader of Talokan is a mutant with superhuman strength. Namor (Tenoch Huerta) is a malevolent presence but fiercely protective of his people and wants the creator of the vibranium-detecting machine dead. He appeals to Ramonda and Shuri for help. However, conflicting ideologies ultimately pit Wakanda against the underwater city of Talokan.

These are the underlying conditions for an overstuffed story that succumbs to a frequent problem: editing. The second-longest film in the MCU is stretched to a bloated 2 hour 41 minute runtime. Only Avengers: Endgame is longer. Unnecessary characters are shoehorned into a crowded ensemble of various tangents to further other properties. The most blatant example is child prodigy Riri Williams (Dominique Thorne), an MIT student. She’s introduced as a prelude to the upcoming Ironheart Disney+ series. However, actors Martin Freeman and Julia Louis-Dreyfus, as CIA operatives with intersecting backstories, also divert focus away from the main saga.

Despite some minor quibbles, this is a rousing sequel. Wakanda Forever manages to pull off the daunting task of respectfully honoring Chadwick Boseman’s memory while delivering the action-packed entertainment we expect from Marvel. The best scenes are quiet moments that provide an emotional foundation from engaging performances. These set the stage for the special effects-laden setpieces we expect. Featuring one of the more memorable villains in the MCU, Namor is a pointy-eared antihero who goes to battle while flying around on little winged feet. The action may not be the most vibrant we’ve ever seen in a Marvel production. Nevertheless, the spectacle resonates because the screenplay has established compelling stakes. Oh, and I can’t forget to give a special mention to Ludwig Göransson’s score. The eye-popping visuals are beautifully enhanced by rich music that hits hard when it needs to and pulls back when the feeling is enough. “Wakanda Forever” isn’t just the title of the movie. It’s also the most soul-stirring instrumental of the year. This is a superhero picture firing on all cylinders.

11-10-22

Weird: The Al Yankovic Story

Posted in Biography, Comedy, Music with tags on November 9, 2022 by Mark Hobin

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

“Weird Al” Yankovic is nothing if not self-aware. “It’s odd to be like a footnote in musical history,” he opined in 2019. “Like you pick up a Kurt Cobain biography, and you’ll look in the index, and there I am.” Yankovic was referencing “Smells Like Nirvana,” which was his spoof of that band’s song “Smells Like Teen Spirit. His parodies of famous songs have sold millions, so some would argue he’s more than a footnote. “Eat It” and “White & Nerdy” were massive hits. His discography includes four gold albums and six platinum. He’s even earned five Grammy Awards. Some of the most celebrated artists of rock and roll can’t boast those statistics.

Yet given the comedy genre in which he works, “Weird Al” has always preferred jokes over great art, and that’s precisely the spirit in which this so-called memoir is presented. Weird: The Al Yankovic Story is a satire of the biopic genre. As such, it has more in common with This Is Spinal Tap or Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story. Even then, it falls far short of the high bar set by those films. For one thing, it would help if there was more than a kernel of truth. The events depicted here bear little resemblance to anything he actually did.

There is one laugh-out-loud sequence. It occurs about 30 minutes in. Radio broadcaster Dr. Demento (Rainn Wilson) takes “Weird Al” (Daniel Radcliffe) under his wing and offers him an opportunity for success. At his pool party, Demento introduces Al to various celebrities. It’s an incongruous gathering of eclectic individuals that includes Andy Warhol (Conan O’Brien), Tiny Tim (Demetri Martin), Pee Wee Herman (Jorma Taccone), Salvador Dali (Emo Philips), Divine (Nina West), Alice Cooper (Akiva Schaffer) and Gallagher (Paul F. Tompkins). Unconvinced of his talent, Wolfman Jack (Jack Black) dares him to come up with a new parody song right there on the spot. Someone shouts out, “Another One Bites the Dust” as a suggestion. Turns out it’s John Deacon (David Dastmalchian), the bassist for Queen. The fact that no one at the party has ever heard of him is a hoot.

The rest of the movie isn’t as inspired. The narrative follows the same formulaic beats of a music documentary but with all sorts of random feats the man never accomplished. His debut album goes quintuple platinum. He gains fans worldwide, including talk show host Oprah Winfrey (Quinta Brunson) and drug lord Pablo Escobar (Arturo Castro). Weird: The Al Yankovic Story is a mishmash of developments so far-fetched that this could have been fabricated around any celebrity. In an extended tangent, Al has a torrid affair with Madonna (Evan Rachel Wood). Their relationship would make this a better biography about, say, Vanilla Ice — a singer that did, in fact, date Madonna. A kidnapping plot involving the “Material Girl” grows tiresome. The point is the whole thing is a complete joke. By the end, the chronicle descends into a Jim Morrison-esque fall from grace. It’s so stridently relentless in attempting to be funny…it isn’t. I give this movie the same response “Weird Al” offers after John Deacon invites Al to perform with Queen on stage at Live Aid: “Hard pass!”

11-05-22

Till

Posted in Biography, Drama, History with tags on November 7, 2022 by Mark Hobin

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

Emmett Till was a Black teenager, abducted, tortured, and brutally murdered in 1955. A Chicago native, Till was visiting relatives in Mississippi. While shopping at a small grocery store there, he was accused of whistling at the proprietor, a white woman. Several days later, her husband and his half-brother kidnapped the youth in the middle of the night. They savagely beat and killed him. Emmett’s body was recovered in the Tallahatchie River.

Till details that tragedy. Yet it’s not focused on Emmet or the physical attack. Instead, director Chinonye Chukwu (Clemency), who co-wrote the screenplay with Michael Reilly and Keith Beauchamp, has fashioned this historical record around the subsequent fight for justice spearheaded by Mamie Till. This is the portrait of a devastated mother who must contend with the murder of her son and figure out what to do next. As such, it is a fascinating drama that evokes genuine emotion from heart-wrenching events.

Any discussion of this film must begin with actress Danielle Deadwyler. She delivers a searing performance galvanized by that horrific slaying. I can’t fathom how she prepared to portray this woman. Her achievement is pure and honest. When first confronted with the sight of her dead son, she expresses a loss so unbearable it’s primal. Her manifestation of agony is profound. Later on, during a memorable scene in court, the camera fixates on her compelling visage in an unbroken shot while the defense attorney tries to disparage Emmett’s character. The rest of the cast — while solid — isn’t required to extract the same depth of despair. Whoopi Goldberg– the only bona fide celebrity in the ensemble — is an understated presence as Maime’s mother. Also worthy of mention is Jalyn Hall as her smiling, beaming 14-year-old son and Frankie Faison as Mamie’s supportive father.

Mamie Till is presented as an icon. When the account focuses on a mother’s grief for her son, the production shines. The exceptional costume and production design further elevate this document into the pantheon of movies on social justice. Less successful is when the saga adheres to the story beats you expect from a Hollywood production. It eventually climaxes as a courtroom drama. Anyone familiar with the well-documented outcome will not be surprised. Nevertheless, the movie wisely downplays the verdict and Till’s attackers and redirects focus on Mamie and her tenacity.

The tragedy of Emmett Till is profoundly depressing. It could have been even more harrowing. Till spares us a depiction of the lynching. Still, this is a hard film to watch. Mamie Till famously insisted that the casket containing his body be left open. The exhibition is vividly explicit in its shocking detail. “I wanted the world to see what they did to my boy,” she proclaimed. That fueled the civil rights movement. The chronicle has reframed her suffering as the spark that inspired a hero. Audiences willing to brave painful subject matter will be richly rewarded with Danielle Deadwyler’s performance. She brings this courageous woman to life.

11-03-22