Friday, 6 February 2015
The Power & The Glory.
127 Minutes. Starring: David Oyelowo, Tom Wilkinson, Carmen Ejogo, Andre Holland, Tessa Thompson, Giovanni Ribisi, Lorraine Toussaint, Stephan James, Wendell Pierce, Common, Alessandro Nivola, Keith Stanfield, Colman Domingo, Cuba Gooding, Jr., Martin Sheen, Dylan Baker, Tim Roth & Oprah Winfrey. Director: Ava DuVernay.
As a writer I did nothing! I failed! Even with my minor position as a writer with a meagre at best influence I sat and did nothing when I should have stood for something. I should have stood up for the countless number of young black men across the United States Of America who lost their lives and their justice to the hateful hands of violence from some in positions who abuse their power as well as the people. But did I? Even being abroad last fall during the protest in the Times Square world watching heart of New York City. Then days later in the capital of the U.S., Washington D.C. checking out the historical landmarks and the monuments statues of some of the worlds greatest leaders and then at night seeing one young girl standing outside the White House alone with a banner singing, "no justice, no peace". Still, no I did nothing. Wrote not word. Even in this social media advanced word of mouth, worldwide opinion sharing age. Even as everybody, even my heroes took to basketball courts wearing 'I Can't Breathe' t-shirts. I wore only cowardice, not courage. The shame. This fact made me a lot of things...but not the man I had intended and the beliefs I was supposed to be about. And I say Martin Luther King Jnr is my childhood hero?! Come on! Time to apologise again Tim and time to write this wrong. Now...
I may have let people down but fellow Brit David Oyelowo, director Ava DuVernay and the rest of the Hollywood walk of fame cast haven't in a powerful and important film that couldn't come at a more appropriate or needed time. One that leaves you an emotional lump. A film as brutally but critically important as '12 Years A Slave' and 'Schindlers List' bludgeoned with the black eyes of histories rawest reality. Ready to march for 'Selma' all the way to the doors of the Academy and what should be a 'Best Picture' Oscar. Especially to make up for Oyelowo being robbed of a 'Best Actor' nod in a year where many great actors from James Brown portrayals (Chadwick Boseman 'Get On Up') to this films prolific producers (Brad Pitt 'Fury') have already lost out to the likes of Cooper, Carell, Keaton, and favourites Cumberbatch and Redmayne. With all due respect to these note perfect, deserving nominee's, Oyelowo should be there too. Like he was a year ago, directly listening to the words of the great Martin Luther King Jr for early doors inspiration. But this time from the brief but brilliant biopic take of Nelsan Ellis (a great actor who should also have been in Best Supporting consideration for his role in 'Get On Up') in another criminally critically and Academy underrated movie moment in Lee Daniels' 'The Butler'. Some of that epic cast join Oyelowo here too at your service for civil rights. From rising star Colman Domingo to rejuvenated standout Cuba Gooding Jnr. And of course Oprah who once again shows us we should never forget that she was an actress first, before the billions of household televised fame. In a distinctly different, yet dynamic role of importance. She joins the big name likes of a raw and sinister Tim Roth, offset by the inherently do-gooding shine of Martin Sheen. In this West Wing however its a brutally brilliant Tom Wilkinson who gets to play president. Lyndon Johnson to be exact, ageing against his old ways and what political promises should pay. All whilst having to keep Dylan Baker's J. Edgar Hoover (another great portrayal of the F.B.I director after 'Public Enemies' and then DiCaprio's darker definition in Clint Eastwood's film...a man who would be proud of 'Selma's' subtle but strong DuVernay direction) at bay all with the help of an amazing aid in Giovanni Ribisi. The Brits make their States statements here as Wilkinson's back and forth with Oyelowo make for some dramatic and defining race relations and its no position of non-message coincidence that they do this standing under the watching portrait of George Washington.
More messages come from a made to measure cast, like the amazing Andre Holland who wrote himself into our casting consciousness alongside Chadwick Boseman's Jackie Robinson in the equal rights, game changing '42'. And that whole idea that Harrison Ford told his young, big-hitting ball player there runs through here. You have to have the guts to NOT fight back. Now Holland needs his leading acting moment of glory. Just like the wonderful Wendall Pierce of 'The Wire'. Forget Michael K. Williams' sensational success for a minute, here's a veteran coming to the game with as much lasting versatility as life experience. Even in cameos this guys got soul. From the bluegrass to the blockbuster. From the old to the new the education of ground and barrier breaking moments in history are brought to life for the youth of today. Young actors of the future Stephan James, Keith Stanfield and Tessa Thompson help illustrate this decades to generation inspiration with a new influence. Whilst even the greatest rapper in hip-hop right now, Chicago's Common looks like he's going back to his 'One Day It'll All Make Sense' days with consciously his best clips in cinema to date. Collaborating with his rising, inspiring 'Glory' track with leading soul man John Legend. One of his best records in a classic, conscious catalogue that should give his Grammy and Golden Globe some Oscar company making him raps Springsteen. Otherwise everything will not be awesome! Where's Carmen Ejogo's award too? Far from the 'Metro' Murphy days, the wife of detective 'Alex Cross' now plays the ultimate other half for an incredible turn as the irreplaceable Coretta Scott-King...with that ladies beautiful blessing. This actress was once married to the great Jeffrey Wright...an actor years ago we thought would be perfect for Dr. King. Still this is Oyelowo's crowning moment as the King. Even making us forget about that shelved and maybe dusted away Oliver Stone movie with the 'Ray' to Tyson king of biopics Jamie Foxx. As much as we sorely want to see that here we see M.L.K. and not the 'Planet Of The Apes' and 'Jack Reacher' actor who only the other week did the detective business in our other underrated Oscar favourite 'A Most Violent Year'. Preaching peace and non-violence here this man is as great as his fellow countryman and 'Luther' star Idris Elba was in following Morgan Freeman and playing Nelson Mandela. Notice there was amazingly no Academy nod there either. From the preaching to the marching, the star David is word and walk perfect in mannerisms of vision. Transforming in body and soul Oyelowo is the next great, showing you the real man behind Martin in all his humbling humanity. And that's what makes this short but significant part of his life that much more personal and that much more than 'Selma'. This is more than a movie...its a movement. TIM DAVID HARVEY.