There's a beauty that lies in these shots, I kept saying to myself as I watched Night Catches Us. Simplistically, yet wonderfully told, is a story we have no seen yet. A truth that existed in 1976, not only in Philadelphia, but in Detroit, Chicago, Oakland, New York City and many other cities and towns across the country. This truth told us that, while the panthers were growing larger and simultaneously being eradicated all across the country, there were those who had non-romanticized lives outside of their affiliation with the party.
While Mario Van Peeble's 1995 version of this truth was indeed true, we fell in love with the party, not with the individuals. We knew the workings of "the pig" and the maneuvers of the Panthers. Tanya Hamilton brings us to a neighborhood, to a house, to a family that wakes up, breathes and lives because they have to do these things to keep moving. Their sub story is their involvement with the Black Panther Party. Their true story is the one we don't see, but it's told to us in ways only a great filmmaker can tell it: between the lines, between the scenes. It lies in the perfect chemistry between Marcus (Anthony Mackie) and Patty (Kerry Washington). Rarely do we get lost in characters, forgetting the actor, and this was one of those rare occasions, and credit must be given to all for such a feat.
These were real lives we watched on screen, real emotions, real situations, realness. There was a raw love being shown that hasn't existed since Love Jones (Written and Directed by Theodore Witcher).
I would be extraordinarily surprised if Tanya Hamilton, the writer and director, was not an admirer of Charles Burnett, writer and director of Killer of Sheep.
I highly recommend this film and would love to one day work with Tanya Hamilton, the creative genius.
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