A tribute to the controversial black activist and leader of the struggle for black liberation. He hit bottom during his imprisonment in the '50s, he became a Black Muslim and then a leader in the Nation of Islam. His assassination in 1965 left a legacy of self-determination and racial pride.
Simply A Masterpiece
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There is, somehow, an interesting story here, as well as some good acting. There are also some good scenes
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It is neither dumb nor smart enough to be fun, and spends way too much time with its boring human characters.
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The movie's neither hopeful in contrived ways, nor hopeless in different contrived ways. Somehow it manages to be wonderful
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Malcolm X2 And A Half Out Of 5Malcolm X is a character driven feature that focuses on justifying the characters rather than rechecking the material twice or even a clock for that matter. The journey of the protagonist depicted in here is a bit overstretched and not elaborated which comes off as a bit downer but since there is enough concrete material to feed the audience throughout the course of it, one can easily neglect it. It is short on technical aspects like cinematography, background score, art design, sound department and editing although is rich on costume and production design. The writing follows a rudimentary process of a rigid structure that is extracted directly from the textbook, it lacks maturity and smarter approach. The screenplay by Arnold Perl and Spike Lee is effective and creates a greater impact than anticipated among the viewers but unfortunately it also lags a lot. Spike Lee; the screenwriter and director, has done a tremendous work on executing the script on screen and it is undeniably Lee's feature as he speaks volume in every frame. The performance objective is taken hold by Denzel Washington with conviction and he does carry it all on his shoulder with head held high for around 200 minutes. Malcolm X is a process of suffering for attaining an uneven and imbalance state of peace that results in so latter, that the audience barely cares about the outcomes for they are having a time of their life encountering just the process.
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Directed by Spike Lee, this over-budgeted very lengthy biopic, "Malcolm X" tells most of every facet of his life as he begins as a gangster to becoming a Muslim convert, to becoming an outspoken African- American who wanted to believe that his fellow people should never be afraid to stand up to themselves and to be happy with the skin they have. In the early scenes we see Malcolm X (Denzel Washington) starting out as a criminal under his accomplice named West Indian Archie (Delroy Lindo). He starts by robbing houses along with his assistant Shorty (Spike Lee) and joining his for the ride is a hot young blond named Sophia (Kate Vernon) with whom he chooses as a love interest over a much well-behaved African-American girl named Laura (Theresa Randle). Later on, Malcolm ends up incarcerated and opposing the Biblical teachings from Chaplain Gill (Christopher Plummer) and seems more on the side of African-American Muslim convert Baines (Albert Hall). Once he's discharged, he become the top followers of the Nation of Islam under the influence of Elijah Muhammad (Al Freeman Jr.) Malcolm X becomes a charismatic celebrity, which the white press so arbitrarily decided to lash out controversy towards this young radical. As his bravado increased proportionately, the Nation of Islam became very envious about it while the Nation of Islam becomes a part of a scandal involving Elijah's illegitimate children.Malcolm eventually married Dr. Betty Shabazz (Angela Bassett) and raise three wonderful daughters. He then makes a religious journey to Mecca and declares that not all Caucasians are not entirely evil. When he returns to America, he breaks ties with the Nation of Islam and establishes a rival church that fits the modern spirit at the time. The Nation of Islam did not take this very well and at the Audubon Hotel in Manhattan on February 21, 1965, Malcolm X was beginning a speech when a disturbance takes shape, Malcolm tries to calm everybody down and was gunned down (one of the shooters was his former friend Baines). The movie itself was very high in terms of budget in spite of the very gargantuan production costs. Denzel was nominated at the Oscars for Best Actor in a leading role, but sadly was ousted by Al Pacino for his role in "Scent of a Woman." Washington had to wait several years before winning the Leading Actor Oscar in the film "Training Day." The film itself was quite accurate in the time period clothes making it very authentic and the lingo spoken by the characters was very appropriate during the time period. The costume design was also in Oscar contention as well. The other high point was that many scenes were very well filmed, especially the uproar during Malcolm X's assassination.Sure it was praised by many including myself, there are still quite a few issues that didn't sit very well with me. Some of these were small nit-pickings while others were much more bigger that truly hindered the film from being anything but perfect. Where to start was the singing performance by Miki Howard, who was supposed to play the part of Billie Holiday, but her voice doesn't even come close to even sounding like her. Anybody who listens to jazz and Big Band music know Holiday's familiar voice. It wouldn't have hurt if she just lip-synched from a Holiday soundtrack and it would have been more convincing. Lee really should have known better. The more obvious falsifications come from the character Sophia. She's hanging out at an all black girls nightclub and just freely throws herself in Malcolm's arms with no indication as to he is. I'm sorry but that is very illogical. It's just a scene designed to get male viewers' attention. It would never happen to you even if you have Washington's looks.It seems strange that the Nation of Islam has a hostile attitude to Washington who at the time looked decent, well-caring family man who loved his wife and kids. Did he munch on pork rinds at the time? Who knows?Another unanswered question stems from the scene where he stands up the cops after they unmercifully beat the tar out of a black man. Malcolm brings in a group of identically dressed black men to await for his command. Where did he find them and how did they fall into his lead? And what's the purpose of them acting like soldiers? To me they're there to look cool behind the camera if nothing else. And finally I must wonder what does Malcolm X himself truly stand for? He transforms from a thief in his early years, to a radical Islamic radical and finally reconsiders his thoughts long enough and before you know it he's murdered. Sure his mission was to for equality, but his execution was more radical rather than peaceful. He was separated from most of his life and wanted his fellow people not to anticipate with anything the white majority did and joined a church who eventually turned against him by having him killed. These quibbles are what brought this movie down. I think some editing should have been greatly desired as this movie went on too long and many scenes needed further explanation. But other than that, the performances were excellent an Washington acted his heart here as the the other performers. But the illogical scenarios brought this film down from being an absolute masterpiece.
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Malcolm X serves as great companion to the original text. The autobiography provides an extremely detailed overview of Malcolm's life but lacks any feeling. The film corrects this by injecting emotion into the story. Spike Lee creates a narrative that is easier for the viewer to follow and relate with Malcolm. However, the film had to sacrifice a lot of information provided in the autobiography. Many parts that I thought were important, such as Malcolm's family, were left out in the interest of time. Even then the film is around 3 hours long and feels more like two films in one. This might have been done by Lee to emphasize the change in Malcolm's life before and after prison. In the first part of the film, Lee applies a soft focus to the camera. The soft focus clouds the screen and might have been a representation of Malcolm's unclear thoughts about life before he went to prison. Another example of Lee's cinematography is when Malcolm submits to Islam while in prison. Malcolm is completely covered by shadows with a light piercing through the cell bars. This could represent the moment Malcolm ridded himself of his sinful identity (shadows) and embraced Allah (light). The acting in the film was phenomenal, especially Denzel Washington's performance as Malcolm X. Washington not only looked the part but seemed to fully portray the essence of Malcolm. When I read the novel, Washington was exactly how I imagined Malcolm X to look and act. My only other issue with the movie was the final scene with the schoolchildren and Nelson Mandela. While it was interesting, it felt disjointed from the rest of movie and was distracting. In all the film was great and can definitely stand on its own but I feel the best experience is to pair reading the novel and watching the film.
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Spike Lee's adaptation of the Autobiography of Malcolm X is a masterpiece that brings the world's understanding and connection to Malcolm one step closer. Spike Lee's use of filter changes and diegetic sound through the course of the film portrays Malcolm's change in consciousness and the direction of his life. In the first part of the movie we see Malcolm's life as a young man and later a hustler. Colors are seen as bright and vivid which adds to a cartoonish sense of his actions in this part of his life. The conking and zoots suits all seem surreal as to portray Malcolm's reflection of his past. Behind these scenes, jazz music is constantly playing as if the backdrop of a cartoon. In the novel, Malcolm explains that he now knows how such things were all apart of the white man's power over blacks and sees his past as childish. Spike lee later illustrates the dramatic change of Malcolm's life when he is sent to prison, by changing the filter and making shots longer and a darker contrast. Spike Lee shows this darkness at a peak when Malcolm is locked in solitary confinement. The pitch black scene is frighting and the blinding that follows when the door is opened seems divine. Soon after he is brought out of the darkness, he finds Islam with the help of a fellow inmate. Spike Lee, with this use of dark and light contrast, as well as the removal of the diegetic jazz music, shows Malcolm X's change in his life and his path to Islam being his escape from the white man's oppression. I really appreciated this use of contrast to the previous scenes of his life as a hustler. Spike Lee through this contrast was able to present Malcolm's transformation more personally to the viewer than they would have if they had only read the autobiography. As the film progresses from then on, it is a more biographical, informative, representation of Malcolm's life but keeps the personal connection Spike Lee created in the first half intact with many close up shots of Malcolm X. When you reach the final death scene in the film, you truly feel the loss of an important man. The connection that Spike Lee creates with his film can not be overlooked and is only a part of what makes this film an amazing piece of art.