Friday, June 5, 2020

What to Watch This Weekend: June 5, 2020

This past week, the world has come together in unity to protest racial inequality behind the movement of #Blacklivematters.  We have seen people go to the streets and protest for the notion that black lives do in fact matter and that systemic racism is a very real problem in our society.  Due to their efforts, the country and the world are focused on an issue that is often ignored in our current society.  This has happened despite an unprecedented pandemic and economic slowdown.  In order to help raise awareness of systemic racism and the very real problems that our black brothers and sisters experience on a day-to-day basis, here is a selection of recommended movies that highlight this inequality.  For those that experience these injustices on a day-to-day basis, these films are a powerful reminder of everything that the current protests are fighting against.  And for those that have not grown up experiencing these racial biases, seeing these injustices--if only for a brief moment--is important to try and understand the perspective of our friends and neighbors, and in some way try to empathize with the anger and frustration that has led to these recent protests.

Queen & Slim (Redbox, Digital Rental / Purchase)
Queen & Slim takes a very real--and unfortunately increasingly common in America today--situation and builds an eye opening, empowering Bonnie and Clyde-esque movie around it.  It gives a window into racial injustice in America, told through stellar performances, strong writing, and a commitment to realism that preaches a powerful message.

Just Mercy (Redbox, Free Digital Rental, or Purchase)
Just Mercy is an inspiring, timely, and sadly appropriate movie for our times.  It has Oscar-worthy acting, amazing cinematography, and tells an important story about injustice and the disparity in the criminal justice system that that doesn't leave a heart untouched or an eye dry at its conclusion.

The Banker (Apple TV+)
The Banker tells an important, timely story about inequalities in the 1950s and 1960s that made it nearly impossible for African Americans to become landowners.  This story has great charisma between its stars and manages to entertain while educating about complex issues.

Blindspotting (HBOMAX)
Blindspotting blends buddy comedy with powerful social commentary to tell another story of race in our country.  It highlights that inequal justice in our country can be based on skin color, and how that system can target one individual and affect their lives.

Fruitvale Station (Tubi)
Fruitvale Station tells the story of Oscar Grant, a young black man who was shot by a police officer at a Bart station on New Years Day in 2009.  This shooting shook the nation, and seeing Oscar's day and his plans to change his life make his death all the more tragic.

The 13th (Netflix)
This thought-provoking documentary has scholars, activists and politicians analyze the criminalization of African Americans and the U.S. prison boom.  It is a wonderfully crafted documentary that balances insights from talking heads with painful archival footage.

If Beale Street Could Talk (Hulu)
If Beale Street Could Talk is another painful look at the justice system and the inequal administration of that justice.  The popular play turned movie has powerful performances and artistic cinematography that only heighten the sense of injustice portrayed in this wonderful film.

Do The Right Thing (Digital Rental / Purchase)
Spike Lee's classic movie about racial tension was controversial when it came out and is sadly still relevant today.  Although it has aged, the nerves it touches are still exposed and painful.

Selma (Free Digital Rental)
The film chronicles the tumultuous three-month period in 1965, when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. led a dangerous campaign to secure equal voting rights in the face of violent opposition. Selma draws inspiration and dramatic power from the life and death of King, but doesn't ignore how far we remain from the ideals his work embodied.

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