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St. Anthony Messenger

Reel Time

March 29, 2017
Issue
Reel Time

A United Kingdom

In postwar London, Muriel (Laura Carmichael) convinces her sister, Ruth (Rosamund Pike), an office worker, to accompany her to a dance at the mission society. There Ruth meets Seretse Khama (David Oyelowo), a law student and prince of the African country of Bechuanaland (now Botswana). They bond over a mutual love for jazz, and soon Khama proposes marriage. But their interracial union evokes resistance from her family and the British government. Bechuanaland is a protectorate of England with deep mineral interests in nearby South Africa—a country implementing apartheid into law.

The couple make their way to Bechuanaland to find more resistance from the regent, Seretse’s uncle Tshekedi (Vusi Kunene). When the people choose Seretse, despite their initial dislike for Ruth, Tshekedi leaves the village with his followers to begin a new settlement. The British manage to lure Seretse back to London to settle things, but then he is exiled. Ruth, who stayed in Bechuanaland, is pregnant, and it is almost two years before Seretse can join them. Things are not going well in England, however. Prime Minister Winston Churchill goes back on his promise to the prince to allow him to return home. Seretse fears that if diamonds are found in his country, it will never be independent. 

This politically charged love story is beautifully told even as the timeline of events is rearranged and compressed for a two-hour film. Based on the 2007 book Colour Bar: The Triumph of Seretse Khama and His Nation, the narrative draws the audience into an almost impossible romance, while addressing racial bias, interracial marriage, and reconciliation, as well as European colonization and exploitation of Africa

Not yet rated, PG-13 ♦ Mature themes, racial violence, and explicit bigotry.


I Am Not Your Negro

I Am Not Your Negro

In this stirring, poetic, yet unsettling documentary by Raoul Peck, American author James A. Baldwin (1924–1987), through the narration of Samuel L. Jackson, tells us: “There are not more white people in the world; there never was. White is just a metaphor for power.”

This documentary, produced by Amazon Studios, looks at the history of race in America. Using powerful images, the film pushes the genre in a new direction by folding the past and the present together. Baldwin’s words are taken from notes from his unfinished memoir (Remember This House). They bind centuries together by telling the story of how Baldwin knew and understood the lives of Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King Jr.—all of whom were assassinated before the age of 40.

Most jarring is how much Baldwin’s literary and philosophical genius are unknown to many in this country—and how little things have changed. His words, over 40 years old, rightly eviscerate the
notion that white America can absolve itself of racism today. Baldwin invites us to step into the lives of black people and see what they see. This is how social transformation begins.

Not yet rated, PG-13 ♦ Racial violence, police brutality, bigotry.


Graduation

Graduation

One morning, someone throws a rock through the window of the apartment where Romeo (Adrian Titieni), a physician, his depressed wife, Magda (Lia Bugnar), and teenage daughter, Eliza (Maria-Victoria Dragus), live. They reside in a decaying Sovietera apartment complex in Romania. Romeo is with his mistress when Eliza, about to take her final exams for a scholarship to study in the United Kingdom, is assaulted. 

Desperate that Eliza should leave Romania for a better life, he is afraid she will fail the exams due to the trauma. He visits an official and arranges for her to cheat on the exams. She is confused because he and Magda have taught her to be honest. But everyone in Romania, from customs officials to investigators, rationalizes cheating to get ahead. Then someone throws a rock through Romeo’s windshield—a metaphor for his life—shattering glass all around him.

Graduation is an interesting and intricate film from the accomplished young director Cristian Mungiu, who won the best director award at Cannes in 2016 for this film. Graduation, like all Mungiu’s films, addresses the depths of the heart caught up in moral uncertainty and the choice to do wrong even when the protagonist teaches the opposite. Romeo is good at finding flaws in
others but is blind to his own. Eliza is the child teaching the parent.

Not yet rated ♦ Infidelity, mature themes.

 

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