Civil rights activist and Black Panther, Fred Hampton was 21 when he was assassinated in his apartment during an FBI raid.
There are moments in ‘Judas and The Black Messiah’ where Lakeith Stanfield looks like he might tear at the seams. He plays William O’Neal, the infamous real-life FBI informant who infiltrated the Black Panthers and gave information that leads to the death of charismatic revolutionary Fred Hampton (Daniel Kaluuya).
On Tuesday, February 2nd The Critics Choice Association hosted the 3rd Annual Celebration of Black Cinema, via a virtual ceremony, to honor 10 visionary films and 15 actors, producers, and directors of the season.
A true story of an informant in the Black Panther Party, ‘Judas and the Black Messiah’ is powerful in performance but mediocre in storytelling.
Shaka King, Ryan Coogler, & Charles D. King Release ‘Judas & The Black Messiah’ Trailer on Black Panther Fred Hampton
Judas and the Black Messiah honors the life and legacy of Chairman Fred Hampton of the Illinois Black Panther Party.
The romantic drama, The Photograph, written and directed by Stella Meghie, is set to release in theaters this Valentine’s Day.
Issa Rae stars in The Photograph as Mae Morton, an assistant curator at a New York museum, who has just received a series of letters from her late mother, Christina Eames (Chanté Adams). She also comes across an old photograph of her mother, perhaps the only one that exists, and begins to unpack all the secrets she left behind.
Opposite Issa is Lakeith Stanfield as Michael Block, a notable journalist who digs deep into the Christina Eames story, leading him to meeting and pursuing Mae Morton shortly after a tumultuous breakup of his own.
As anticipated, Issa and Lakeith have great chemistry on screen, and each represent characters with a complicated past but a new future ahead. They fail in making progress, at first refusing to confront the true issue/s, but through a single photo, and a journey intended upon discovering Eames, all those connected to the frame discover themselves. As a result of not letting a single screenshot be the parameters of their full picture, they learn to take the limits off of love and beyond.
Lakeith and Issa are able to smooth over the rough edges of the quick-moving timeline. There’s a questionable amount of back story missing from Michael Block’s perspective, with a narrative that heavily focused on Mae’s motives and fears and not much placement to Michael’s. But it is a love story after all, and though the timeline feels unrealistic, it’s not disruptive.
All the love stories are intertwined. The double narrative—starting with the Eames story—helps us to understand how one could forfeit true love in the first place, and it feeds that curiosity behind the hunger for a better life at any cost.
There were moments when I was more invested in Christina’s drive and her ability to command her first interview than I was watching Mae and Michael settle into their new and unexpected love. However, one plot drives the other and we wouldn’t fully understand Mae’s motives without the mother’s story at the sublayer. And while every action in the film is linked to a single photograph — the film is beautiful in that way — moving through flashbacks and present-day so poetically, the movie could easily be split into two separate parts.
The minor characters are some Hollywood veterans and rising stars: Courtney B. Vance, Kelvin Harrison Jr., Teyonah Parris, Rob Morgan, Jasmine Cephas, Lil Rel, and Chelsea Pareto.
The culture of the film and the music reminds you of Love Jones, and settles you like the ending scenes of Love and Basketball. It’s a unique black love story that should not be missed in theaters on February 14, 2020.
Exclusive: “Uncut Gems” Star Lakeith Stanfield Talks NBA Legends, Authenticity, and What’s Ahead for 2020
If you haven’t seen the gritty quintessential New York film Uncut Gems, then it’s pretty obvious your gems are cut. Simple as that.
Another great work from a filmmaker who clearly loves the mystery genre!
The Knockturnal’s OJ Williams sits down with ‘Sorry to Bother You’ stars Lakeith Stanfield and Tessa Thompson.