Directed by John Singleton
Written by Gregory Poirier
Starring Ving Rhames, Don Cheadle, Jon Voight, Esther Rolle, Robert Patrick
My Advice: Matinee.
I consider this film one of those that you might not necessarily want to see, but you need to. Because it's that necessary harsh kind of art, another example of which that readily leaps to mind is Alice Walker's book, Possessing the Secret of Joy. Based on a true story, this is Singleton's interp of the destruction of Rosewood, an all-black town in Florida. The incident occured in 1923, brought on by one woman's trumped-up rape charges. The film gets kudos all the way around. First of all, the script by Poirier is is dead-on, giving you characters that have significant depth to them. Singleton directs the material well, helping to make you care about these people before the insanity begins. And the good news is that the cast is superb and definitely up to the challenge. Rhames, always an SDI favorite, shows that he can carry a leading role as the enigmatic Mann, a veteran who shows up just in time to try to facilitate some of Rosewood's citizens surviving the onslaught. Voight is in fine form as well as a store owner in Rosewood who is uncertain where his loyalties lie when the bullets start flying. Cheadle gets points as well as the proud Sylvester who knows when it's time to stop talking. The strength of this film is that it's brutally honest about the interp that it's providing. The inhumanity is not glamourized or backed away from, it's put in front of you with the understanding that you're there to witness it and learn. It also provides an important lesson in racism, and how the belief system functions, by being passed down from generation to generation. Excellent filmmaking on the part of Singleton and unfortunately lost once Oscar-time rolled around.
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