Bessie is a 2015 HBO film starring Queen Latifah in an excellent portrayal of 1920’s blues legend Bessie Smith. The film also features a solid star supporting cast masterfully portraying a collection of interesting characters. The movie primarily covers Bessie’s rise, fall, and comeback during the 20’s – 30’s with brief peeks back into her childhood. Bessie is quite good due to the great performances and cinematography but the story itself felt a bit lacking. I recommend checking out Bessie if you’re into music, a fan of any of the actors, or you’re just looking for a good movie to watch.
The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst is a six-part HBO documentary about the life of Robert Durst, a member of a wealthy New York City real estate dynasty. Durst was suspected by many of being responsible for the 1982 disappearance of Kathleen Durst, his first wife. He was later suspected of murdering his close friend Susan Berman in 2000 and was tried and found not guilt in the 2001 murder of his neighbor Morris Black. The documentary revisits these three cases and includes commentary from Durst along with friends and family members of the victims, investigators, and lawyers.
The reenactments and a few other aspects of the documentary were a bit tacky but I thought it was very engrossing overall. I highly recommend The Jinx if you’re interested in true crime, the justice system, or psychology.
Kingsman: The Secret Service is a send-up of classic spy and espionage movies complete with the suave agent, cool gadgets, and a super villain with a slightly ridiculous plan to take over the world. There’s action and comedy from start to finish and the special effects during fight scenes make them even more enjoyable.
Kingsman probably won’t be nominated for any Oscars but it’s a fun movie. I’d recommend this film for people who are into spy flicks or comedies. However, there’s quite a bit of violence and sexual content so it’s probably not acceptable for kids and young teens.
“Selma” provides a snapshot of Martin Luther King, Jr. (portrayed by David Oyelowo) and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference’s (SCLC) efforts to the end the systematic suppression of black voting and other civil rights in the South. While blacks legally had the right to vote, various forms of intimidation along with voter registration tests were used to dissuade them from exercising their right.
I’d recommend checking out “Selma” if you’re interested in history, dramas, social / civil issues, or the Civil Rights Movement. 2015 will mark the 50th anniversary of the Selma to Montgomery marches and the Voters Rights Act of 1965. In light of recent events and the Supreme Court voting to amend sections of the Voters Rights Act the movie felt especially relevant to modern times.
Solomon Northup (Chiwetel Ejiofor) is a freeman working as a violinist, happily living with his wife and two children in Saratoga Springs, NY in 1841. While his family is out of town on a trip he is introduced to two men that invite him on a trip to Washington, DC under the premise of an opportunity to earn a good deal of money for a short stint as a violinist in the circus. During a night out, Northup is drugged by the men and loses consciousness only to awake shackled in a small dark room. We witness the theft of Northup’s freedom and his initiation into slavery as he goes through the forced transformation of becoming “Platt”, the slave.