Black History Month: Selma

Ava DuVernay’s Selma is apparently the first feature-length attempt at a biopic of Martin Luther King, Jr. I say “apparently” because it didn’t even occur to me that I haven’t seen a movie about him that hasn’t been a documentary — his voice, his words, his image are so omnipresent in the United States, especially during the federal holiday devoted to him and the month following it, that I didn’t even consider there wasn’t a major fictionalized version of him out there. But this is definitely a version of him we needed — one that contradicts the safe-for-white-folks version of him we see most of the time. DuVernay wanted to show King as a radical speaking truth to power, and in Selma, she succeeds.

selma

In Selma, MLK is a larger-than-life hero and a flawed human, an irreplaceable leader and one part of a movement much larger than any individual. This is the kind of movie you want to see made about your heroes, where the sanitizing is kept to a minimum and there’s no melodrama or clumsy foreshadowing. It’s also cleverly kept to a short but important period in his life, with no sepia-toned flashbacks or tired story beats we see from so many moviemakers who seem to think that in order to capture the essence of an extraordinary person’s life, you need to show the entire timeline. Continue reading

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Taking and Making: January 31

Today, I took in:

“Footprints in the Snow” by Maurice Leblanc in Foreign Bodies, a collection of stories from around the world from the ‘golden age’ of crime/detective fiction

a couple chapters from Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States

Colossal, a movie that bears little resemblance to its lighthearted trailer — it’s a really good film, but it turns dark around the halfway point and stays that way to the end, so be prepared

 

I made:

a nice walk around my neighborhood park