Thursday, July 2, 2015

Selma

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion (or other commenters), that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching!



Selma – 5 out of 5

With the Supreme Court’s ruling for Marriage Equality for all just recently happening, I found myself overjoyed that our country has made another step in the right direction towards being accepting and truly free. It also made me think of other members of our society that have fought, and often still are fighting, to be considered equal to the white male majority of the United States. While I contemplated this, I remembered I haven’t watched Selma yet and I felt that this was probably the best time to watch it.
I don't need to add a stupid joke or comment here because this is just a great image.

Set during the historically significant 3 months during 1965 when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (David Oyelowo) got together with his constituents and like-minded fighters for freedom and decided to march from Selma, Alabama to Montgomery in order to secure voting rights for the black population of the area. The peaceful demonstration is met with hate from the state’s governor George Wallace (Tim Roth) and the country is horrified after witnessing the march turn to violence when the white police force brutalizes the people. However, through perseverance of the people and the leadership of King, the demonstrators are allowed their march and, eventually, President Lyndon B. Johnson (Tom Wilkinson) makes history by passing the Voting Rights Act of 1965. And nope, that’s not Spoilers, friend. That’s just history.
Actually...I would kinda love it if someone did get mad for spoiling a historical drama.
That would amuse me greatly.

Wendell Pierce is in the film...which reminds me that
The Wire is amazing.
There wasn’t a doubt in my mind that Selma was going to be a powerful film because of the subject matter and how important that time was to our nation’s history. However, I wasn’t prepared for just how moving the film was going to be and I’m not going to bother to lie and will just say that several moments in the film made me opening start to weep. Director Ava DuVernay (who might direct Marvel’s Black Panther film—which I am insanely excited for because Black Panther kicks ass) really projected the hardships MLK and his followers had to deal with during a time when being black was practically a crime (which, if you look at the news, seems like we are sadly returning to). The somber tones held throughout the majority of the film only to see a bright and sunny day when Martin Luther King gives his final speech made for an emotional and rousing film that gave me goosebumps and really gave perspective on how far we’ve come as a society. I’m a young man who has only had 34 years on this floating rock in space and it’s hard for me to imagine a time when people fought for something we take for granted and DuVernay really perfectly showed how important something as simple as voting can be and how it can give power to a people that had no previous power.
If these racists existed today, they would be sharing vaguely racist pictures of Obama
on social media sites and would definitely have a pair of testicles hanging from their
muddin' truck.

Another aspect that made this film so powerful to watch was the performances from the entire cast. David Oyelowo is absolutely phenomenal as MLK. He carries a presence of responsibility in his performance and you can feel how he is carrying the weight of his brothers and sisters and their troubles in the Civil Rights Movements. There were times that Oyelowo didn’t even need to speak and just his subdued physical acting was enough to show you what King was going through. And, as amazing as he is, I don’t want to downplay how great the rest of the cast is. There are too many players to go into but there wasn’t anyone who wasn’t pulling their weight and adding to the historical feel and powerful message of the film. 
The "Hang in There Cat" ain't got shit on King's inspirational powers.
Sure, Tim Roth is playing an awful person but he plays
him well.
Whether it be Wilkinson as LBJ, Dylan Baker as J. Edgar Hoover, Martin Sheen in an uncredited role or Tim Roth’s fantastic performance as the despicable Governor George Wallace, they all contributed amazing. Additionally, you have such tremendous black actors as Oprah Winfrey, Common, Colman Domingo and Wendell Pierce (to just name a few) backing up Oyelowo as the historical figures fighting to be equal in a time where white folks really, really, really didn’t want that equality. However, a part of me questions why do I only get to see these talented black actors in films like this? Why aren’t they getting roles that (often) go towards Hollywood’s love of white washing the media? Granted, we are making strides towards diversity and I don’t want to downplay how great they were in their roles in this film but it would be nice to see a great black ensemble cast in something other than a historical drama about the fight for civil rights (yes, these films are out there but nowhere near as common as they should be). However, that being said, the cast is epic in this film.
Dude, even Stephen Root is in the film!  Who doesn't love Stephen Root?

Like all biopics and historical dramas, the questions about historical accuracy comes up and many historians have argued about the absence of certain people who were at the demonstration at the time and how LBJ comes off kinda as a roadblock to King and not the supporter that those close to the situation says he was. Heck, even the speeches in the film aren’t accurate to what King said because the rights to those speeches are owned by another studio (which I didn’t know was possible). DuVernay did uncredited rewrites and wrote all of the speeches, interestingly enough. I say it every time I watch a biopic or historical drama and that is I don’t get caught up in the factual stuff. If I want facts, I can watch a documentary (and I do watch those but, even then, sometimes the line between fact and fiction gets blurred). The real heart of what makes a good story based on actual events is adhering to the tone of the times. If the story is entertaining, emotional, and moving, I can easily—ridiculously easily—overlook the details. Of course, there are always exceptions because it is possible to change too much but, for what it’s worth, Selma works effectively well.
A little archival footage of people protesting the march...those damn fools.  Didn't they
hear about how that flag is all about heritage and history or some similar bullshit?

Selma is just, plain and simple, an amazing movie that has a great cast, tells a great story from a pivotal moment in time, and is very engaging emotionally. There were little doubts in my head that I wouldn’t walk away enjoying it but, with the current turmoil with equality still being on the forefronts of society, the film ended up being that more poignant and uplifting. It’s cheesy to say but the film, even with its inaccuracies, really shows how far we’ve come as a society and does inspire the reality that civil rights is always moving forward and is always making strides towards equality.  I'm not saying this movie made me feel hopeful but--wait, no it totally did make me feel hopeful.

Dear America, please let's never go back to this.  With anyone.

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