Wondering what to see? The start of Black History Month in the US has also been marked on the other side of the Atlantic with the release of various collections and new features about the black diaspora in one form or another.
Perhaps the most popular example is the sequel to Ryan Coogler and Marvel Studio’s Black Panther, which now tragically misses its lead actor Chadwick Boseman after his fight with cancer. With Coogler returning to the helm, Wakanda Forever attempts to come to terms with this loss and explore new lands as its cast of characters reorients itself after the loss of T’Challa and the violent introduction of Namor and his underwater kingdom of Talokan.
Read more: Everything New on Netflix in February
Meanwhile, Prime Video has the tragic and furious Judas and the Black Messiah, a film about the Black Panthers, specifically the work of Fred Hampton, the leader of the organization’s Chicago chapter, and his murder at the hands of the FBI, via from the work of an informant played by LaKeith Stanfield.
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Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (2022) | Disney+ (Pick of the Week)
Pain haunts the sequel to Black Panther beyond what we see on the screen. In addition to the pain of the event, the tragic death of Chadwick Boseman left many questions and obstacles in his production.
Black Panther: Wakanda Forever doesn’t overcome all of those hurdles and even duplicates some of the problems with the first film, but while it’s not all well judged, it does at the same time convey a sense of real, heartfelt feeling that many Marvel Cinematic Universe movies do. they just don’t.
Read more: The best cameos and Easter Eggs from Wakanda Forever
The film effectively opens with a eulogy for T’Challa, the in-story reason for his death somewhat uncomfortably close to the actual circumstances of Boseman’s death. As uncomfortable as it can be, it is convincingly presented, a pan-African tableau of song and dance.
Watch a trailer for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever
In different hands, the film would be in absolutely dire straits, but thanks to the groundwork writer-director Ryan Coogler left behind on the first film, the supporting cast is able to step in to partially fill the void left by Boseman. Angela Bassett, recently Oscar-nominated for her, probably puts on the biggest display of her, fully bringing the gravity of her family’s repeated tragedies to the fore. Letitia Wright, on the other hand, feels a bit overwrought.
But the movie too. Much more so than the last, Wakanda Forever has been saddled with the tedious baggage of MCU franchise building, worse than ever in its messy Phase 4. The momentum of its narrative was repeatedly stalled by table settings. In the conflict with the Mesoamerican-inspired Atlantis, led by the vengeful Namor, there’s a thrill to seeing the conflict born of real historical scars, but it’s of course tempered in a similar way to Killmonger’s mission in the first film, to promote assimilation. instead. .
It’s a completely mixed bag as a whole, but, really, it could have been so much worse, and it even finds a cathartic release.
Also on Disney+: Beauty and the Beast: A 30th Celebration (2022), Dating Movie (2006)
Judas and the Black Messiah (2021) | first video
It feels clear that director and co-writer Shaka King had to make compromises in making Judas and the Black Messiah, which feels darkly ironic given his subject’s inspiring refusal to engage in the Black Panthers’ fight against racism and fascism.
Read more: Everything New on Prime Video in February
Daniel Kaluuya plays Fred Hampton, but the film watches him from a distance through the eyes of FBI informant William O’Neal (LaKeith Stanfield), in something of a twist on the cowardly Robert Ford’s murder of Jesse James. It’s hard not to wish for a more direct biography of Fred Hampton’s work in creating the Rainbow Coalition and the work of the Illinois chapter of the Black Panthers to stop gang violence and provide mutual aid in the community.
If nothing else, the film clearly shows the FBI’s orchestration of the Hampton murder, as well as their (quite successful) attempts to demonize the Black Panthers, though it’s not material that can’t be uncovered through documentaries like The Murder of Fred Hampton or Black Panther short film by Agnes Varda.
Still, it’s an effective and emotional dramatization, bolstered by strong supporting performances from Dominique Fishback as Hampton’s partner Akua Njeri (then passing as Deborah Johnson), as well as Kaluuya as Hampton himself, displaying an infectious charisma that it only adds to the maddening tragedy of the story.
Also on Prime: The Aviator (2004), Body Camera (2020)
Phantom Thread (2018) | BBC iPlayer
Paul Thomas Anderson’s rather hilarious period piece (and perhaps, a rom-com?) Phantom Thread has established itself as something of a New Year’s Eve flick in niche movie circles. It’s because of its seductive, wintry aesthetic and ornate beauty, and because one of the film’s most emotional moments happens at a New Year’s party.
Beyond that though, it’s simply some of Anderson’s best, through gorgeous photography of the man himself, as well as a sumptuous score from Radiohead’s Jonny Greenwood, joined by captivating performances from Daniel Day Lewis, Vicky Krieps and Lesley. Manville, who cage their affections. each other with hilarious bitterness.
Lewis plays Reynolds Woodcock, an incredibly individual man and highly sought after couturier. Krieps plays her new love, Alma, who learns the hard way how to navigate her idiosyncrasies, pettiness and childish behavior, and eventually learns how to forcefully counter it.
Despite appearances, it’s an incredibly funny movie, like many of Anderson’s films, it’s comedy masquerading as a blockbuster, and as a result, it’s incredibly easy to watch. Perfect Sunday afternoon viewing.
Also in iPlayer: Defiance (2008), Vice (2018)