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Since closing the door to a violent past, quiet and thoughtful Moses Stanton everyday existence is running a small neighborhood store, and watching over his daughter who doesn't know he ... See full summary »
A social satire that follows the stories of four black students at an Ivy League college where controversy breaks out over a popular but offensive black-face party thrown by white students. With tongue planted firmly in cheek, the film explores racial identity in acutely-not-post-racial America while weaving a universal story of forging one's unique path in the world.Written by
Sam makes a student film that is critical of what she sees as white people's widespread fear of Barack Obama and titles it "Rebirth of a Nation." This is a reference not only to D.W. Griffith's notoriously racist 1915 Civil War movie The Birth of a Nation (1915) but also to something that filmmaker Spike Lee experienced while he was a first-year student at NYU's graduate film school. After being required to watch Griffith's film and objecting to the fact that his professors taught it only as a milestone in the technical development of cinema with no attention paid to its racism and its legacy of helping to relaunch the KKK, Lee made a student short film titled The Answer (1980) that responded to The Birth of a Nation himself. "The Answer" so offended many of his NYU professors that Lee was nearly expelled from NYU, but was ultimately saved by a faculty vote. See more »
When Sam is in the dining hall and chastises Kurt for eating in their dining hall - just before she stands up; she closes her Macbook twice. See more »
Justin Simien's directorial debut should be lauded for its ambition, but as both a director and screenwriter, he has a long ways to go. An attractive cast of varying ability is saddled with an overstuffed script that has unnecessary subplots and diversions (while still having a convenient economy of characters), leaving a movie that lurches around from plot point to plot point, with some areas of that plot being underdeveloped and unconvincing.
Meanwhile, Simien the director is all over clever visuals and storytelling devices, yet he has a hard time dealing with various tones of the movie. More importantly, the pace of the film is leaden, which sucks the life out of some of the potentially humorous situations, while making some of the social commentary come off as more strident than need be. A lot of scenes feature awkward staging, with some actors seeming to not know what to do as a scene winds down.
The result is a movie with more than its fair share of nice moments and some winning performances, with almost no cohesion whatsoever. This is a shame, as Simien makes some good points throughout the movie on the state of race relations in America.
Roger Ebert noted that it's not necessarily what a movie is about, but how it is about it. The high praise for this movie represents the flip side of this notion, as it's getting plaudits for what it's about rather than its execution.
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