Tag Archive: dee rees


‘Mudbound’

 

Brody-Mudbound

Dee Rees’ latest feature might be the first great film of this era that ‘doesn’t take place right now’, but speaks directly to ‘right now.’

‘Mudbound’ tells the story of two families, one white, one black, both struggling to make ends meet while working the land in Mississippi, circa World War II.  The film/story is structured so no one actor stands out above the rest, but everyone in cast plays the hell out of their parts.  The poor whites may not be inherently racist, but they are fully aware of the benefits their skin color provides.  The older black generation is proud but they know all too well the consequences of rocking the boat too hard (translation: death).  The brothers who left America (Jason Mitchell is the standout if you had to pick one) see there’s another way to live, and has an understandably hard time coming ‘home’ and swallowing his pride and taking shit from the people whose lives he protected.

Really strong outing by all involved.  Streaming on Netflix. Worth checking out.

 

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‘Bessie’

bessie

With (well deserved) nominations in all the major Emmy categories, ‘Bessie’ tells the story of one of the early pioneers of black entertainment in America.  When you look at her whole career, it’s hard to describe Queen Latifah as ‘underrated’, but this project was a nice reminder of how talented she is.  Taking on the role of the title character, we watch her arc go from shy but talented performer, to a force of nature who bucks (and eventually reconciles with) her mentor Ma Rainey (played here by Mo’Nique).

The supporting cast here: Michael Kenneth Williams, Khandi Alexander, Charles S. Dutton, Tika Sumpter, Mike Epps.  All have or will be leading their own projects; when you can pull off that much talent in one roof, you realize (almost subconsciously) there aren’t any ‘dead’ scenes here.  Props to Dee Rees for pulling off the rare ‘black period piece.’

Now available on HBO Now.