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my favorite episode of the series
The baby shower sketch features the funniest, grossout prop they've ever deployed. That visual, plus a generous dose of Meredith's total-commitment physical comedy, add up to a standout episode of a consistently entertaining, and often insightful, series. With its departure looming, I shall miss these ladies* - whether they choose that term, or not.
* - Hardcore PC Police poised to bristle please note that this comment is not about sexism or gender bias. It's a fan's callback to the theme of one of their skits. Lighten up.
The best episode a slapstick lover could hope for
Many of my favorite Murdoch episodes have been those centered around actual historic figures - Twain, Tesla, Edison, Teddy Roosevelt, etc. This vaudeville-themed farce, at the dawn of the silent movie era, tops them all! In one hour, we get Charlie Chaplin, Stan Laurel, and Buster Keaton in the equivalent of a Marvel Comics superhero origin story. The reviewer who quit after 25 minutes missed a climactic sequence for the ages, as well as from the ages.
A great kickoff to Season 14.
Per mille dollari al giorno (1966)
the good the bad and the ugly ... of this oater
As Spaghetti Western revenge tales go -
Very good, abundant action sequences.
Acting that's more stiff than stoic.
Terrible dialog, particularly for Pier Angeli's hand-wringing character.
Disappointing attempt at a coming-of-middle-age comedy
As any SNL fan knows from the range of her sketches, when Kristen Wiig is on her game, she can be hilarious; other characters of hers can be pointlessly or excessively annoying. In this outing, she and co-star Annie Mumolo play the eponymous gal pals who seem destined to splurge on a big vacation. They lost their jobs and were ousted from their suburban social circle (a nicely satiric group of tea-sipping Karens' Talk Club) on the same day another friend gushes over her recent vacation to the titular Florida destination. And they're off.
Unfortunately, their trip coincides with an over-the-top supervillain's elaborate revenge plot against that resort town. She is sort of a distaff Dr. Evil, whose pasty complexion makes Tilda Swinton look like a sun-baked beach bunny. That's not pale-shaming; it's key to the plot. Such as it is.
Remember Romy and Michele's High School Reunion from 1997? Lisa Kudrow and Mira Sorvino were a delight as ditzy innocents with a lifelong bond that synced their minds on a wavelength beyond most peoples' comprehension. This one plays as if those characters are back 20+ years later, having been drained of all their charm. Barb and Star work and live together, chatting incessantly over mostly meaningless minutia that has kept them on their own island of reality. Their characters grow tiresome long before they grow in their story arcs. The result is a tedious experience, relieved somewhat by a smattering of truly funny moments. Among those are a few clever songs (one going almost full Bollywood) and surprising, mostly uncredited, cameos from stars who must have assumed the final script would turn out much better than the working version they were sent.
Barb and Star is mediocre fluff. Even so, for those who watch, here's a bonus tip. During one character's semi-romantic song on the beach, watch the shadows on the sand to see how many different times of day were involved in the filming of one sequence. It's something for the unengaged to do.
The Thundering Herd (1933)
Randolph Scott's least heroic hero role?
The cast is solid, making the film's best asset the chance to see younger versions of familiar faces we mainly know from oaters of the '40s and '50s. Scott sports the sort of thin mustache mostly seen on crooked dealers and land-grabbing bankers in the Old West. Even worse, he doesn't shoot ANYONE, and gets the crap kicked out of him in his only fist fight. Humble beginnings, indeed.
one shining moment
There's a lot of soap opera subplots swirling in this episode, but it's all worthwhile. At about 40 minutes, the writers deliver the cleverest, most outrageous 911 call of either of these Monday night series, or any other prime-time cop show in what's left of my memory.
Congrats to the wielders of those pens.
A Touch of Cloth (2012)
Delightful tongue-in-cheek cop comedy to watch closely
The comparisons elsewhere to the likes of the Naked Gun and Airplane franchises are certainly accurate. But the closest analog to this series is a wonderful US basic-cable product that followed a few years later - Angie Tribeca. Both are weekly sitcoms that deserved longer runs than they got.
The versatile John Hannah leads this cast flawlessly, with everyone knocking out their deadpan lines and takes perfectly. Be sure to keep your hand on the remote. The series emulates The Simpsons in amusing-to-hilarious background signs that you'll only catch by rewinding and pausing.
The War with Grandpa (2020)
Family comedy that's a safe bet for shared enjoyment
Robert DeNiro's track record in comedies has been more erratic than with his esteemed career of dramatic outings. That differential is evident in the quality gap between his excellent pairing with Billy Crystal for Analyze This, and its unfortunate sequel three years later, Analyze That. The same can be said for the two Fockers comedies as textbook cases of large sequel dropoff. The low point was his role as Fearless Leader in the live-action tarnishing of a beloved cartoon series, The Adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkle. This one splits the difference, leading to a reasonably entertaining mix of schmaltz and laughs.
DeNiro is retired from his construction business, recently widowed and truly depressed. His daughter (Uma Thurman) persuades him to move in with her family rather than wallow in his sadness. Unfortunately, that's two parents with a son and two daughters in a three-bedroom house. The tweener son (Oakes Fegley) has to give up his room and move into the ratty unfinished attic. He loves granddad, but not enough to graciously cede his domain. DeNiro isn't happy about upsetting the lad, but sees no option and tries his best to blend in with the others.
The plot is driven by the boy formally declaring war on Grandpa, leading to a mostly-funny escalating series of pranks and reprisals within agreed rules of engagement. Both are assisted by their respective trios of friends; DeNiro's surprisingly consists of Cheech Marin, Christopher Walken and Jane Seymour. Given their small amount of screen time, the three were obviously more motivated by the chance to work with a living legend than the juiciness of their roles. The script contains a few complementary subplots involving the rest of the family, as well.
Some parents might question the rating, since the pranks raise the "kids don't try this at home" flag. If there's a demonic streak in any of your progeny, you might not want them to draw inspiration from these antics. Otherwise, it's fairly standard family fare with relatable conflicts and resolutions, and not a bad way to spend your together time.
The Doorman (2020)
Distaff version of Die Hard does the job
This action drama is a solid bet for fans of the Die Hard series, and its numerous imitators. Ruby Rose is perfectly cast as Ali - an ex-special forces soldier with PTSD that limits her career options and ability to relate to others. She settles for the best job she can find - a doorman for a high-rise New York condo. The gig quickly becomes far more complicated than most doormen will ever encounter, as it must for there to be a movie for us to savor.
During a weekend when almost all the residents are out of the building for repairs and renovations, a crew of well-armed, highly-trained evildoers takes over. They're looking for something highly valuable that one of the owners is supposed to have stashed there. When the objects of their quest prove elusive, the violence begins. Ruby's Ali becomes the wild card factor, ala Bruce Willis' John McClane and a slew of others, pitted against superior forces and heavy odds. Jean Reno plays the stone-cold head of the thieves with a chilling calm worthy of any James Bond villain.
The action is intense and well-paced by director Ryuhei Kitamura, who has a long resume of action flicks - particularly in sci-fi and horror. The bodies pile up in a satisfying variety of methods, including some cleverly fresh tactics. The R rating is solely for violence - and well-deserved. Rose is as attractive as other women who have taken such roles, and also looks more like she might actually have the protagonist's lethal skill set than others. Without naming names, many of those choices were made for box-office appeal rather than for appearing to have the character's toughness. Rose's cat-and-mouse course of attacks, chipping away at the enemy forces, will keep viewers' adrenaline pumping on the how of things, even though everyone knows where the story will take them.
The Broken Hearts Gallery (2020)
Relatable, likable rom-com, with appealing cast and non-cloying script
Perhaps I've seen too many rom-coms for too many years, but my threshold for sustained engagement has become higher and harder to cross. That's why my praise for this one may mean more than from younger, more impressionable viewers.
As always, the right casting is essential for a grabber. Some couples just don't click on-screen; others are picked for box office draw, making them too attractive to be credible or relatable in their situations du jour. This offering from writer/director Natalie Krinsky is enhanced by a lower budget and the casting of young men and women who are appealing, without being too high on the eye-candy scale to detract from the desired reflection of reality. The central character played by Geraldine Viswanathan has a perfect blend of looks, intelligence, insecurities and vulnerability to sell her relationships with men, gal pals and career fluctuations. We like her; we really like her.
Next comes the daunting task of a screenplay. The premise of a depressed "dumpee" setting up a gallery displaying memorabilia from lamented lost loves is fresh and clever. In this genre, we almost always know who will, or at least should, wind up together loooong before the couple(s) figure things out, eliminating suspense from the equation. Here's where many lose my empathy. By the time most couples go through more mistakes and misunderstandings than seem reasonable (I hope Judd Apatow, the best comedy writer with the worst sense of running time, sees this), I no longer care whether they reach that "aha" moment. Actually, I often hope they don't, rather than have them breed another generation of similarly clueless progeny. Krinsky juggles enough players and subplots to make the inevitable honey glaze of helpful people and perceptions seem relatively suitable. And it turns out to be heartwarming without cloying. That's another delicate balance many can't pull off. Overall, it surpassed my moderate expectations by a wide margin.
Colorado Charlie (1965)
Good story ruined by terrible acting, even for the genre
Rarely do we see a film whose villain's name is the title. In this case, it may have been acknowledgment that the only cast member with any personality is the eponymous head of a typical gang. The plot is fine, if not admirable in its intent, but those responsible for the casting and execution should be, well, banished, if not executed.
The stiff playing the heroic retiring lawman was severely charisma-impaired, even by low-budget Spaghetti Western standards. And the wife who nagged him into hanging up his guns, and staying the course despite several highly compelling pressures to do otherwise, starts as principled, but grows more egregiously annoying as the tale unfolds.
By the time we reach the inevitable climactic battle, it makes no difference that he fires seven consecutive shots from his six-gun. That's the least irritating aspect of his screen time.
Widow of Silence (2018)
Powerful, low-key illustration from Kashmir of women oppressed by laws and systemic corruption
This highly-personal microcosmic drama highlights the problems women face in Muslim countries - in this case, conflict-beleaguered Kashmir - on family matters we take for granted in the West. The protagonist is in the limbo state of being a "half-widow", which is apparently common there, due to all the warring factions in and around that highly-contested piece of turf. So many men are wrenched from their homes by one army or another militia, with no word of their fate for years, their wives are stuck emotionally and legally with uncertainty as to whether they still have a living spouse. Hers has been gone for seven years when the film begins.
As the system is presented, after four years of unexplained absence a woman can remarry, but she can't claim title to her husband's land and estate until he's been declared legally dead by the State. In this case, that's within the sole discretion of a registrar who refuses to simply stamp the essential document unless she either sells the home to his friend (assuring his own 20% commission), pays a bribe she can't afford, or provides other repugnant services. Years of persistent applications and regular visits to his office get her nowhere, and no other recourse seemingly exists for her plight.
The story unfolds in a slow, low-key manner, as we share her frustration and the cumulative toll of oppression from the system and its corruption, if not perversion, mounting on her and her family. We also learn that even if she gets the Death Certificate, she'd get the humble home, but retain only a small fraction of their other for herself and the children, with the bulk reverting to the husband's family. That's true even though she has always worked as a nurse, thereby creating a fair amount of their net worth. How would that kind of probate law play in the West, even without the corruption?
In the past year or so, I've watched many films from India and the surrounding region in which crooked practices by police, politicians and/or bureaucrats drive the plot. Some are comedies; most are not. Widow of Silence, which has already garnered 14 awards and nominations internationally, may be the most emotionally compelling, since it focuses so intensely on one undeserving victim, with just enough sidebars to show that she's but one of many suffering identical hardships.
Though I'm often critical of slow-paced movies with long silent stretches, in this case those scenes serve a valuable purpose in creating empathy between the audience and the women our heroine represents. If you're in the mood for insightful, important glimpses into inequities faced by many millions around the world, this film delivers a powerful experience.
amusing NON-partisan indictment of our electoral process
Those who expect Jon Stewart's political comedy to be a left-wing screed will be either disappointed or relieved. This satire is truly as "fair and balanced" as certain others deceptively claim to be. It's a gutshot to our entire electoral system, showing both sides of The Aisle to be equally guilty, guilty, guilty.
Steve Carell stars as a seasoned Democratic political strategist who finds a viral You Tube clip of a small town man (Chris Cooper) in Wisconsin, making a stirring speech for the rights of others in a city hall meeting, opposing the pompous mayor and his council.. He learns that the folksy, yet eloquent fellow is a veteran and farmer, which is just what his party needs to start winning back blue-collar and rural Midwestern voters. He knows The Party and Cooper have matching values and beliefs, even though the town and state have been voting Republican.
Carell, a city guy who's (often hilariously) out of his element when trying to fit it there, rushes to the town to convince Cooper to run for mayor, breaking the Republicans' lock on the area and state. He wants Cooper to become the new face of the party. Cooper reluctantly agrees. A Republican operative (Rose Byrne), who's Carell's counterpart and frequent nemesis, sees the threat Cooper poses to their hold on that part of the base, and storms in with her minions to help the mayor keep his seat. Both parties smell a potential national impact from this minor race, and start pouring huge dollars into the fray, cranking up all the donors and tactics usually reserved for bigger stages. Both sides seem comparably desperate, and completely out of touch with the locals they're trying to woo.
This film has all the wit and cynicism of political satires akin to 1997's brilliant Wag the Dog, or earlier efforts from A Face in the Crowd and Manchurian Candidate on the dramatic side to comedies like Bulworth and Primary Colors. Both sides court a demographic group they little understand. Both are classic fish out of water who take far too long to realize how misguided their entire approach to elections has become. Various tactics either seem to work only in the short run, or backfire - sometimes spectacularly.
The wisdom of those "regular people" is greater than the Beltway Insiders understand. The clever plot delivers laughs, poignancy and a genuinely satisfying resolution. We meet a town of good people, not a bunch of rubes to be bought or manipulated by outsiders. Everyone grows wiser and more understanding of others by the end. We can all learn while we laugh at an extremely timely tale like this.
Big payoff for the patient viewer
This is absolutely a paint-by-numbers martial arts competition flick, and standard fare for fans of its star, Michael Jai White. Or JCVD; or Scott Adkins, et. al. But after you've slogged through the main body of the production, the climactic sequence nets you a big overall win for your temporal investment. That reward begins with a truly unique and amusing cameo as a lead-in to the inevitable Big Fight all the typical character arcs and tepid dialog have been setting up. Often it ain't about what they do, but how they do it. Coffee for the closers.
Demented Life Lesson
The family that slays together, stays together.
Bonus lesson - Seann William Scott is capable of UNDERplaying a role. Good to know.
A Better Way to Die (2000)
With the right attitude, it's pretty good
As a serious crime drama, this totally sucks. But if viewed as a spoof on the genre, it's quite amusing. Every cliche is squeezed into the plot; much of the action is over-the-top. If they were trying for a hard-core, gritty flick to be taken seriously, they flopped. But if seen as a less-slapstick variation on films like Clive Owens' underappreciated Shoot'Em Up, it plays a lot better.
Jue Dai Shuang Jiao (2020)
Slow, but lavish production of oft-told tale combining 1970s Hong Kong fare with modern flights of fancy
I'm sure the title of this newly-made period martial arts saga means something cooler in its original Chinese than in English. Normally, when I see a Netflix series that runs 44 episodes, I keep scrolling, rather than invest that much time. I'm glad to have made this exception. This combines a premise and characters evoking the vintage genre films cranked out in Hong Kong around the 1970s with some of the flights of fancy (literally and figuratively) and opulence of the more familiar (on this side of the Pacific) Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon fare. The result is a highly bingeable opus that is rather slow and complex, but well worth the time.
The premise is that two brothers are separated at birth when their parents are killed. It occurs in an unspecified era before kung fu had to compete with bullets. One is raised in isolation by women who are at the peak of martial arts powers. The other is rased by a famous gang of thieves. The former grows up to be superb at his craft, but limited by his post-monastic naivete, lack of personality and strict orders to find and kill his sibling to please the "aunts" who raised him. The other is a happy-go-lucky rogue, whose martial skills are questionable, but who thrives on wit and trickery. Neither has any idea that he even has a brother. In their course of their journeys the two meet and become friends and allies, despite learning that they're destined to face the ordered duel to the death at some point.
Costumes, sets and fight choreography are superb - worthy of feature-film productions. The complicated story includes many villains, arcane plots, questionable, shifting alliances and romantic possibilities. As in the old Hong Kong fare, nothing steamy or titillating occurs on camera. The slowness and subtlety are offset somewhat by a healthy dose of comic relief, mainly coming from the brother raised by thieves. Unlike some series that end seasons with a cliff-hanger," rewarding" your binge effort with a long wait for the next round of episodes, this one does wrap up most, if not all, subplots in a satisfactory manner, while setting the table for a season two. Fans of classic martial arts dramas, laced with humor and fanciful moves, should be pleased with this one. Those turned off by the gory bits won't have to close their eyes much, since the inevitable injuries and deaths are shown with considerable visual restraint.
Mad Dog and Glory (1993)
random observation from re-watch 27 years later
While viewing the nascent romance forming between a much younger DeNiro and Thurman, I wonder whether anyone could have predicted that she'd wind up with more on-screen kills than he would?
Thus spake Tarantino.
Bad Boys for Life (2020)
In 2019's Gemini Man, Will Smith clashed with a daunting foe who turned out to be a grown-up clone of himself. They eventually bonded like father and son. Mere months later in this film, his highly-skilled adversary turns out to be his actual son, with whom he eventually bonds.
How dissatisfied must he be with his oft-criticized real-life scion, Jaden, to choose two such fantasy parental alternatives in less than a year? How much will Jaden's therapy cost?
Discuss among yourselves...
Emergence: Fatal Exception (2019)
In this episode, the demented, evil Emily takes Piper to a virtual library filled with blue books, and then tells a series of lies to brainwash the "child", turning all the covers red.
Was that conversion an accident, or a sly bit of political satire?
The Warrior Queen of Jhansi (2019)
Near-miss on a tribute to one of India's independence icons
This drama is based on the true story of India's Joan of Arc - the queen of a province in the mid-19th century who began a century of resistance to England's colonial oppression and exploitation. In this case, it wasn't The Crown committing the triggering evil acts, but its anointed corporate proxy - the East India Company, fully supported by the British army. The titular Rani Lakshmibai, impressively portrayed by Devika Bhise (also credited as co-writer with her director/mother Swati Bhise), was raised by her father with training in weaponry and fighting not usually given to young ladies. Though they knew of the rapacious, treacherous practices of their corporate overlords, they little knew how much she'd need those skills as an adult.
After the death of the Rani's husband, the greedy Brits decided to void the treaty recognizing his sovereignty, preferring to take his valuable turf for themselves ... by any means necessary. This fit a pattern of similar practices among other desirable, vulnerable realms with the needed blend of force, espionage and assorted forms of treachery. But the imperialists didn't expect such stern resistance - especially from a woman! We see much of the occupiers' arrogance and sense of entitlement that caused resentments and resistance in India and far beyond, which still have ripple effects in today's worldwide political turmoil. The Rani becomes a symbol of India's right to freedom from foreign domination that spread and endured until it achieved independence almost a century later.
The best aspects of this production are its visuals and efficiency, with impressive costumes, sets and action packed into 102 minutes. That's quite short for historical epics, especially considering India's usual running time for historical dramas. Presumably targeting a global audience, rather than primarily domestic, casting Bhise in the lead with a full cast of actors actually from their characters' homelands, was a sound decision on the merits, not just on PC grounds. Had Hollywood been involved, her role might have gone to a known, bankable actress like Alicia Vikander, who strongly resembles Ms. Bhise, and has already earned some action cred by playing pulp adventuress Lara Croft.
The low rating, above, is due to the unfortunate flatness of the film. There's far too much talking and too little action for this Asian analog to the likes of a Braveheart. We're told the Rani was a formidable military leader, but see little of her victories - however minor - during her multi-year campaign. Such scenes would have paid more tribute to her character's actual achievements, and satisfied the audience that's rooting for her side of the culture-clash. Presumably, her outgunned, outnumbered forces attained most of their success via guerilla tactics that could have added visceral enjoyment to the package, if displayed. The battle sequences we get are impressively staged, but too heavily tilted to the capitalists' victories, without enough of the wins for the Good Guys. Even so, this is an impressive tale of the sort of principled hero or heroine that's depressingly hard to find anywhere these days.
Ready or Not (2019)
Grisly humor is the skeleton supporting this gaudy splatterfest
While panning 2018's abysmal stab at a horror thriller Truth or Dare, I warned that any box-office success might spawn other flicks based on games of childhood past. The bad news is that I was prophetic; the good news is that at least the first two have been much better. Tag was arguably an outlier, since it was a comedy based on a true story of a handful of dudes with arrested development (the trait, not the TV series) at the core of their lasting bond.
Now comes a splatterfest with a fair dose of humor that comes closer to Jordan Peele's excellent Get Out in its setup, with a far messier execution. Samara Weaving, lovely niece of Hugo, that much-replicated villain fighting Neo in the Matrix franchise, is a poor lass we find on the day she's marrying into one of the country's richest families, and meeting all but her intended for the first time. Though she truly loves scion Alex (Mark O'Brien), something seems amiss from the get-go. He's stayed away from the clan for years, and all the kinfolk are either warning her not to go through with the ceremony, or otherwise boding something wicked this way to come. Their type and level of dysfunction transcends all the caution signs she's given, or anyone else's Thanksgiving gathering.
The family lives by a set of traditional rules and rituals that get stranger as the story progresses throughout the massive mansion that is their ancestral home. What seems like a twisty horror tale grows more comedic as it hurtles to the end. And that's the best part of the production. Most of the cast ranges from over-the-top to campy in suitable discharging their duties. The more you're tuned in for the funny elements (including some of the background music), the more you'll enjoy the package.
Despite these upgrades from the first one, here are my specific dreaded possibilities from 18 months ago, that I still hope won't be made: Hokey Pokey Horror - Put your left foot in... or LOSE IT!; maybe Red Rover, Red Rover - Send Satan right over! That sets the stage for the likes of Musical Electric Chairs and Wring Around the Rosie.
More laughs than learning in this fictional spin on the events that gave shrinks a new diagnosis
Did you ever wonder about the origin of the psychological condition known as "Stockholm Syndrome"? The title of this rather comical account of a bank robbery turning into a hostage situation telegraphs the answer. Although the script is fictional, it is based on the actual 1973 events that added one term to our vernacular, and one section in pertinent psych texts. Good thing. As this ordeal plays out, it would have been too absurd to make up from whole cloth and successfully pitch to any studio.
Ethan Hawke is the solo robber at the beginning. But instead of grabbing the cash, he keeps a few hostages and demands the release of a prisoner (Mark Strong), among other terms. This goes on for a couple of days with more ups and downs and zany mishaps than one finds in any of Elmore Leonard's delightful comic caper novels or the movies they spawned. Not easy to do, unless you're the Marx Brothers. True to the premise, one of the hostages (Noomi Rapace, looking more prim and uptight than her norm) becomes the first to develop the symptoms. Another novelty is seeing the invariably-bald Strong sport a full head of lanky hair. Not his best look.
The film drags on a bit too long for the claustrophobic setting, as nearly every shot we see occurs within the bank. That cost it one of the potential stars, above. Hawke's edginess is amusing for a while, but grows tedious as he loses his cool over so many setbacks and complications. Even so, it's a generally amusing and entertaining diversion. Expect a fairly farcical variation on Dog Day Afternoon to watch it in the right frame of mind.
Kona fer í stríð (2018)
Quirky Icelandic dramedy scores points on message, character and style
One of the great joys of reviewing is finding the occasional "sleeper" that unfolds as much more of a gem than expected. This quirky dramedy, that's earned a number of festival nominations and awards here and in Europe, comes from Iceland. Their exports to the U.S. rarely include films, but this one could start more of a trend.
The heroine is a middle-aged chorus director in a small town who becomes a latter-day Zorro by sabotaging a local aluminum factory that's ruining the environment. Her methods are quite impressive, as she mostly acts alone to preserve anonymity. She has her own "particular set of skills" for wreaking havoc on machinery without harm to people, while otherwise seeming to be the last person anyone would suspect.
I'll save the rest of the plot and characters so you can watch with a slate nearly as blank as mine was. Put one in the plus column for the script's making its points about protecting one's environment without ever becoming preachy or melodramatic. Take note, Mr. Gore.
The unusual method of intertwining the score with plot movement is wonderfully clever, adding greatly to the droll comic tone that makes this work. The titular warrior plays her part with a perfectly understated performance, befitting the settings and premise. Iceland's barren landscapes might not inspire waves of tourists to flock there, but this film certainly raises curiosity about what else we have yet to savor from its version of Hollywood.
Shut Up and Dribble (2018)
Superb, timely, entertaining documentary
There are two situations in which LeBron James represents the best the NBA has to offer - when he's on the court, and when he isn't. This first of three parts bodes well for a series that masterfully combines archival footage and commentary, perfectly establishing a social and political context for the equivalent of a college-level study of American culture and racial studies from the 1950s to the present. This in-depth presentation of the history of Black athletes in college and professional basketball, documenting their struggles within the game and beyond, mirrors the broader conflicts over racism in all aspects of our economy and society.
This is no polemic; we get a neutral, factual account of the times, events and key figures among players and others. If this level of quality and clarity continues through the next two, LeBron's superstar status as a player and humanitarian will make room for his chops as a producer of infotainment, with this fine offering from his Springhill Entertainment Company. ...and this assessment is coming from a white guy old enough to have lived through the years covered in Part One.