Sunday, February 26, 2017

Make America Great Again?

I Am Not Your Negro (2016) - Peck
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American writer James Baldwin is the subject of Raoul Peck's searing documentary I Am Not Your Negro. Baldwin, extremely articulate in his own words (narrated serenely here by Samuel Jackson), tells the world, especially whites, what it is like to be a black man in America. Through the death of Medgar Evers, Macolm X and Martin Luther King Jr., Baldwin examines the hateful history of the US, supposedly the greatest nation on earth, the land of freedom and aplenty.

Juxtaposing the footage of slavery, hanging, police brutality and what's been going on these days with Ferguson, Travon Martin and Black Lives Matter, Peck never let you forget what Baldwin taught us - being optimistic means very different in the lives Americans. Being alive is optimistic for blacks. Peck shows that nothing has changed since the Civil Rights Movement era. I Am Not Your Negro is an extremely pessimistic movie in that regard. Make America Great Again? You mean for whites? On the blood and sweat of all the others? Because America was never great to others, EVER.

I watched the film with the sold out crowd at Film Forum. It is sometimes comforting to watch a film in the room full of so-called cultured left-wing intelligencia. But I couldn't bring myself up to join them applauding at the end of the movie because I Am Not Your Negro is a definitely depressing movie, not a joyous one.

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