page contents data-mobile="true" data-tablet-width="1100" data-tablet-small-width="840" data-mobile-width="640">
Log in

Harriet . . . Hurry it up and See It! | MOVIE REVIEW

Harriet Tubman is a name like Sojourner Truth and Frederick Douglas; all were courageous members of the abolitionist movement. Ms. Tubman, short in stature, barely five feet tall, is a giant in history. And, the film, Harriet, tells the story of Ms. Tubman, the most well-known of all the Underground Railroad's "conductors” and her amazing ability to move in and out of the south. According to the PBS’ Africans in America series, Ms. Tubman made 19 trips into the South and escorted over 300 enslaved Africans to freedom and without capture.

Harriet brings to life a character whose story, without any embellishment, is amazing. Cynthia Erivo in the title role nails it. She’s authentic, credible and exceptional. There was some pushback over Director Kasi Lemmons’ selection of Erivo, a British actress, in the role of an African American icon. But no one can legitimately challenge that choice after seeing the film.

Ms. Tubman created her own true-life Mission Impossible scenarios. Once she alone escaped to Philadelphia, her accomplishment was widely celebrated in anti-slavery circles. But ignoring warnings about repeating the incredible feat, she made multiple returns, and as her reputation grew, each trip became more dangerous.

At first, it was believed that the person who had become known and wanted as “Moses” was a white male abolitionist in blackface. Because only a white male would be capable of pulling off such cunning and dangerous exploits. But once it was learned that Moses was black and female the outrage and determination to capture her grew.

The film opens with one of the claims associated with Harriet. She prays for her owner’s death. His son, Gideon (Joe Alwyn) overhears Harriet’s imploring to the heavens and tells her God doesn’t listen to Ni. . . people like her. Gideon’s father dies that night.

Harriet and Gideon grew up together and as was often the case with enslaved people and their slaveholders, their relationship was complicated.

Maybe I am a coward. But if I had seen Harriet pray for the death of someone and that someone died shortly thereafter, unlike Gideon, I would have been very kind to her from then on.

One feature of Director Kasi Lemmons’ films that I like is her black characters have depth. They fall in love, make emotional connections with each other and pursue hopes and dreams.

But this film also has the typical Hollywood fairytale gloss. There were always perfectly timed messages from above directing Harriet throughout her journeys. Also, as was the case in another story from that period, 12 Years a Slave, blacks in the North are portrayed as full and equal citizens, dressing in the finest wear, living comfortably and interacting with whites as friends and colleagues. And that was simply not the case.

While blacks were free in the North, they were neither the social nor the professional equals of whites and rampant discrimination was the norm.

As to cast diversity, Harriet follows the racial demographics of that time.

Harriet, also starring Leslie Odom, Jr. and Janelle Monae, is a historical, educational and entertaining event, and you should See It! It’s rated, PG-13 for thematic content throughout, violent material and language including racial epithets. Harriet is 125 minutes in length.

 

Murder on the Orient Express; take this thrilling train ride

English crime writer, Agatha Christie’s 1934 classic whodunit, Murder on the Orient Express, first filmed in 1974, returns to the big screen for the second time. In the 2017 film version of Murder on the Orient Express, Kenneth Branagh directs and leads an all-star cast including Penélope Cruz, Willem Dafoe, Judi Dench, Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer, Daisy Ridley, Leslie Odom, Jr, and Josh Gad. Murder on the Orient Express is the story of 13, first class passengers traveling on a luxury train to London when one of the passengers is found dead in his cabin, the victim of multiple stab wounds.

Hercule Poirot (Branagh), the internationally known, fictional, detective happens to be on board and is coaxed into solving the brutal crime. The film takes viewers though Poirot’s painstakingly, thorough examination of the suspects and their possible motives.

Murder on the Orient Express is a fascinating, far-fetched, yet definitely entertaining film. And it’s a See It!

It has a Titanic feel to it. Wealthy passengers travel opulently to their destination. Like Titanic, the mode of transportation is damaged. In Titanic, it’s an iceberg; in Murder, it’s a snowy avalanche which derails the train.

While I was familiar with the story title, I was unaware of how the crime would be solved, which added additional intrigue to the mystery. And, the outcome is a truly a surprise.

Again, this is a star studded cast which enriches the production. Murder on the Orient Express gets an “A” for cast diversity. Among the 13 passengers, there is a black man, Leslie Odom, Jr., who starred in the Broadway musical, Hamilton, and Manuel Garcia-Rulfo is a Hispanic man. Further, there are many characters of color in background and small roles. Often movies set in time periods such as the '30s have all-white casts, as if people of color only came into the being in the '60s and '70s.

Additionally, the cinematography is creative and exceptional. With scenes shot from a multitude of angles and ranges.

Murder on the Orient Express is rated, PG-13, and is 116 minutes. And it’s a See It!

Subscribe to this RSS feed