As Cecil Gaines serves eight presidents during his tenure as a butler at the White House, the civil rights movement, Vietnam, and other major events affect this man's life, family, and American society.
When her husband is sentenced to eight years in prison, Ruby drops out of medical school in order to focus on her husband's well-being while he's incarcerated - leading her on a journey of self-discovery in the process.
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Navy S.E.A.L. sniper Chris Kyle's pinpoint accuracy saves countless lives on the battlefield and turns him into a legend. Back home to his wife and kids after four tours of duty, however, Chris finds that it is the war he can't leave behind.
As the American Civil War continues to rage, America's president struggles with continuing carnage on the battlefield as he fights with many inside his own cabinet on the decision to emancipate the slaves.
The unforgettable true story chronicles the tumultuous three-month period in 1965, when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. led a dangerous campaign to secure equal voting rights in the face of violent opposition. The epic march from Selma to Montgomery culminated in President Johnson signing the Voting Rights Act of 1965, one of the most significant victories for the civil rights movement. Director Ava DuVernay's "Selma" tells the story of how the revered leader and visionary Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr and his brothers and sisters in the movement prompted change that forever altered history.Written by
Miss W J Mcdermott
One of the actors in Selma is Henry Sanders, who starred in Killer of Sheep (1978), a film that the Library of Congress declared a "national treasure" and one of the first fifty on the National Film Registry. The National Society of Film Critics selected it as one of the "100 Essential Films" of all time. In the movie Selma, Henry portrays octogenarian Cager Lee, who was brutally beaten by Alabama law enforcement officers who would then slay his grandson while he lay bloodied and helpless. See more »
Martin Luther King replaces a transparent plastic trash bag. In 1965, home garbage cans were lined with a paper shopping bag, if at all. See more »
Last year's "Pride" brilliantly demonstrated how far gay rights have come in the UK in 30 years. Selma does an equally superb job in showing how far racial equality has come in the US in 50 years.
The year is 1964 and racial tension is rife in the Southern states, with attacks and murders of black citizens going unpunished by the combination of a white-majority policing and legal system. Enter Martin Luthor King (English actor David Oyelowo) at the point of receiving his Nobel Peace prize. King insists at a Presidential level (with Tom Wilkinson playing Lyndon Johnson) that black citizens be allowed unfettered rights to vote in elections, with the aim of securing a more just and balanced society. Looking for a suitable location to mount a media-led stand, in an age before social networking and 'Arab-Springs', King centres his attention on the Alabama town of Selma, mounting a series of non-violent (at least on their side) protests and marches. The local redneck police chief, Wilson Baker (David Dwyer), and the state governor, George Wallis (Tim Roth), are not going to stand for this and the tinder-box reaches ignition point during a march from Selma to the state capital of Montgomery.
Nominated for the Oscar for Best Picture (but only that in the major awards, so winning chances are probably near-zero), Selma is primarily an excellent example of an ensemble cast that works particularly well together. There are a wealth of outstanding performances: Tom Wilkinson's Lyndon Johnson comes across as a surprisingly sympathetic character (jerking me out of my natural Vietnam-coloured perception of the politician); Oprah Winfrey (also a co-producer) provides a text-book example of acting without acting, her expressions doing all of the work; Dylan Baker (so fantastic in "The Good Wife") is chillingly sinister as J. Edgar Hoover; English-born Carmen Ejogo plays (extremely well) a similar role to Sienna Miller's in "American Sniper" as the wife alienated by her husband's calling; and Giovanni Ribisi ("Saving Private Ryan", "Friends"), Cuba Gooding Jnr and (a bizarrely uncredited) Martin Sheen turn up in great cameo performances.
But towering over all of this great acting is Oyelowo's performance which is simply outstanding: every death and injury is etched on his face. This is a Martin Luthor King that you can really believe in. I would have personally bounced Bradley Cooper in the nomination list for him, and it is astonishing (given his English background) that he was also overlooked at the BAFTAs. He must be feeling pretty aggrieved right now. Mr Oyelowo – if you are reading this – this critic thanks you for an outstanding performance.
As a relative newcomer to direction, at least for a movie of this scale, Ava Duvernay does a great job with some of the action scenes (with particularly the shocking opening to the film showing enormous style). Paul Webb (apparently with this as a screen writing debut – – how on earth did he get THIS job?) does a creditable job, with lots of memorable sound-bites that stick in the mind. Where the film ran into soft mud for me however was in the personal scenes between the married couple: they don't really provide enough insight into the stresses of King's serial adultery, and the plotting becomes slow and dull . I personally lost interest in most of these scenes and was desperate for the film to get back to the 'action' in Selma.
Also of note is the end title song – "Glory" by John Legend and Common (who also stars in the film) – which is also nominated for an Oscar and won the Golden Globe.
Both gay rights and racial equality undoubtedly still have much further to go, but this does make you proud that as US and UK societies we have come so far within my own lifetime. A recommended watch, particularly for those with an interest in sociology and/or American history.
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