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Monthly Archives: June 2020

LA92

This documentary chronicles the events that let up to the riots in Los Angeles in 1992 as a result of the exoneration of 4 LAPD officers who beat a Black man after a traffic stop. I watched this film right after Let it Fall: Los Angeles 1982-1992, and the difference is that LA92 focuses much more on the days during which the riots occurred. It is a powerful and sobering look at the simmering pot of race relations in the United States. There is so much footage available here; the way it is cut, you actually feel like you are …

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Let it Fall: Los Angeles 1982-1992

This documentary examines the decade prior to the riots that resulted from the exoneration of 4 Los Angeles Police Department officers who were involved with the brutal beating of Rodney King. The film starts off right away with the message that for those who lived in LA, during the decade before, they knew that something was going to happen at some point. The film provides, through interviews and archival footage, a detailed context of what life in Los Angeles was like during that decade: A police department that was at times out of control in its dealings with gang-related activities; …

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Disclosure: Trans Lives On Screen

This Netflix documentary, told exclusively from the perspective of trans male and female actors, writers, and activists, documents the history of how trans characters have been shown on the main screen and television and how those depictions have controlled the narrative of how the mainstream (and trans people themselves) views transgender. What is particularly powerful is how the intersectionality of trans and race has been portrayed on screen, starting with the first full-length feature film, and probably one of the most racist, Birth of a Nation, and taking us through current trans-positive depictions such as those contained in shows like …

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The Innocence Files

This Netflix limited series features several stories of cases of men who were convicted and sent to prison for extended sentences, nearly 30 years in some cases, for crimes that they did not commit. The Innocence Project is a non-profit that is dedicated to investigating wrongful convictions and helping get cases overturned. The stories of these men tell are powerful. Through a combination of current interviews and archival photo and video footage, the directors take us through what happened. These stories also highlight the ways in which the justice system has failed these people and others, through over-aggressive prosecuting attorneys; …

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Da 5 Bloods

Spike Lee’s latest film follows 4 African American Vietnam war veterans who return to Vietnam to find the remains of the 5th Blood and secure some gold that they came into and buried before they escaped after their aircraft crashed in the jungle. There are some parts of the film that are well done. Spike Lee’s signature of educating us about the era from the perspective of Black history, what the war was like for African American soldiers, and the immorality of the war and how it lasts into the present is really good. When you see a Spike Lee …

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Shirley

Elizabeth Moss plays Shirley Jackson, the acclaimed horror author who is probably best known for her short story, The Lottery, and her novel, The Haunting of Hill House. The film takes place later in her career as she is struggling to write her next novel. Her husband Stanley, a womanizer who is incessantly patronizing, invites a young professor, Fred, who is newly hired by Stanley’s university, and his wife Rose to stay with them, partly to help look in on Shirley, who is beginning to suffer from anxiety. Rose and Shirley develop an odd friendship that becomes the inspiration for …

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The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson

This biography explores the life of Marsha P. Johnson, a popular LGBT activist in New York City, who was found dead in the Hudson River in July 1992. Marsha and her long-time friend Sylvia Rivera were involved with the Stonewall uprising in 1969 and started the first trans activist organization, STAR, in NYC. One of her friends, Victoria Cruz, as she is getting ready to retire, decides to try to find answers to the case that police had long since closed and deemed a suicide. Victoria’s investigation was less interesting than following the lives of Marsha and Sylvia in the …

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The Invisible Man

Cecilia (Elizabeth Moss) is in a controlling marriage. She escapes and soon after gets a notification that her husband has committed suicide. Strange things happen, and Cecilia believes that her husband is following her. I really liked this movie. It is a great way to update the original (and also wonderful, though different) Invisible Man into something that is contemporary. Elizabeth Moss is excellent; I really gained an appreciation for her acting skills while watching this film. The screenplay is slick and the score unsettling; this, and incredible acting, make for a film that is suspenseful and scary. I loved …

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