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Posts Tagged ‘Ferguson MO’

Amandla Stenberg (center)

“THE HATE U GIVE” My rating: B

132 minutes | MPAA rating: PG-13

“The Hate U Give” begins with an African American father swallowing his rage and giving his children “the talk,” instructing them how to behave if they’re ever pulled over by the cops. For starters, don’t argue. Put both hands on the dashboard and don’t remove them until told to do so.

The film ends with a race riot of the kind seen in Ferguson MO in 2014.

Between those cringeworthy moments this movie — based on Angie Thomas young adult novel and brought to the screen by director George Tillman Jr. (“Notorious,” “Soul Food,” “Men of Honor”) — explores the world of Starr Carter (Amanda Stenberg in a star-making perf), one of the few black students at her mostly white private school.

Starr is our narrator and she points out from the get-go that she’s living a dual life.  Evenings and weekends she’s a resident of a mostly-black neighborhood, where she can just be one of the girls.

Miles away at school, though, she’s got to be whiter than the white kids (who are free to appropriate gangsta manners while Starr must cling to the straight and narrow). She’s got a white boyfriend (K.J. Aha), who seems a decent enough guy, even if he is making noises about taking their relationship up a step (nudge, nudge).

“The Hate U Give” (the title references one of Tupac’s raps) is set in motion by the death of one of  Starr’s childhood friends, Khalil (Algee Smith) in a police confrontation to which she is the only witness.

The authorities expect Starr to testify about the incident, including her knowledge that Khalil was peddling dope for local drug lord King (Anthony Mackie).  King wants to stop her from talking and will threaten Starr’s family to do so.  It doesn’t help that there’s bad blood between King and Starr’s father, Mav (Russell Hornsby), a grocery owner who broke away from the  gang years before.

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“WHOSE STREETS?” My rating: B+  

90 minutes | MPAA rating: R

The 2014 killing of unarmed Michael Brown by a Ferguson MO police officer was a watershed moment in American race relations, spawning the Black Lives Matter movement and creating widespread resistance among African Americans to social, economic and law enforcement inequality.

It’s one thing to talk about these issues.  It’s another to live them.

After  the Brown shooting,  filmmakers Sabaah Folayan and Damon Davis took their cameras to the streets of Ferguson to record the aftermath: protests, looting, rioting (whether by protestors or police depends on your political outlook) and grass roots organizing.

The result is “Whose Streets?”, an incendiary 90 minutes that doesn’t even attempt a conventional evenhanded analysis of the situation.

Folayan and Davis’ film jumps feet first into the action, recording events in the streets in the immediate aftermath of the shooting and, as months go by, examining the growing resistance within the black community.

“Whose Streets?” wants us to feel African American outrage and dismay. It does’t analyze it. It doesn’t provide commentary or counterpoint. It simply observes.

And in doing so this documentary allows viewers to feel  what it’s like to be a black person in Ferguson.

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