‘I Am Not Your Negro’ at Tower - Plus ‘Moonlight’ Comes to DVD

by Chris Narloch

Black History Month, celebrated in February, may be over for this year, but March appears to be Black Movie Month, if unofficially, as movies with African-American heroes (and heroines!) fill movie screens around the country.

“Hidden Figures,” “Fences,” and “Get Out” were all still playing in theaters as I wrote this, and “Moonlight” was back in hundreds of theaters during the same week that it won the Best Picture Oscar and then debuted on DVD.

Two of the finest examples that “Black Movies Matter” focus on gay African-American men, namely Chiron, the lead character in “Moonlight,” and James Baldwin, the subject and star of the Academy Award-nominated documentary, “I Am Not Your Negro.”

Moonlight

I suggest that you see this movie on the big screen, where its stunning cinematography and soundtrack can be fully appreciated, and then purchase it on DVD.

That way you can enjoy this masterpiece, which arrived on DVD courtesy of Lionsgate on Feb. 28, for years to come.

It’s conceivable that a white director could have directed “Moonlight,” but it probably wouldn’t have been anywhere near as moving and perfect as it is.

We can thank director Barry Jenkins, whose achievement is even more remarkable given the fact that he isn’t even gay.

When was the last time that a straight director, of any color, made a film this sensitive towards same-sex subject matter? Never.

Written and directed by Jenkins and based on Tarell Alvin McCraney’s autobiographical play “In Moonlight Black Boys Look Blue,” the film chronicles the tumultuous life of Chiron, a boy growing up in a rough neighborhood of Miami, Florida.

At once a vital portrait of contemporary African American life and an intensely personal and poetic meditation on identity, family, friendship, and love, “Moonlight” is also a groundbreaking piece of cinema that reverberates with deep compassion and universal truths.

I Am Not Your Negro

Speaking of universal truths, James Baldwin appears to have had a lifelong passion for the truth, if this new documentary about his life is any indication.

A recent Oscar nominee in the Best Documentary Feature category, “I Am Not Your Negro” is director Raoul Peck’s latest film.

The fascinating movie envisions the book James Baldwin never finished – a radical narration about race in America -- using the writer’s original words.

Peck draws upon James Baldwin’s notes on the lives and assassinations of Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King Jr. to explore a fresh and radical perspective to the current racial narrative in America.

The James Baldwin we see in film clips, especially those from “The Dick Cavett Show,” appears to have been the type of guy who did not “suffer fools gladly,” as they say.

Baldwin was passionate and opinionated, and he had the intelligence to back up his outspokenness.

“I Am Not Your Negro” was still playing at Sacramento’s Tower Theatre as I wrote this. See it there before if disappears.



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