Welcome back to my Home Movies! Today, we have an Oscar winner leading the way in Judas and the Black Messiah. It fronts an interesting slate of new releases hitting 4K, Blu-ray, and DVD, without question. At the same time, however, I forgot to mention Nomadland last week, so after its Best Picture win, I’m making up for that omission today. Read on for more…
Joey’s Top Pick
Judas and the Black Messiah
One of the angriest films of the year is also one of the best. Judas and the Black Messiah won Daniel Kaluuya his first Oscar, but it will go down as much more than just that. This is supremely important cinema, but Will Berson, Shaka King, Keith Lucas, and Kenny Lucas never forget to make it compelling cinema as well. Kaluuya and LaKeith Stanfield are outstanding, to say the least. You can listen to me talk to Berson here about the flick, while Keith Lucas sat in on two Awards Radar Podcast episodes, here and here. Plus, this here is some of what I had to say in my rave review:
Racial tensions and the sins of the United States over the years leave scars that reverberate for generations. The pain the country went through in the 1960s has recently been reflected in modern society, so it’s only nature that art would do the same. Enter Judas and the Black Messiah, an angry, moving, and essential film about the betrayal of Black Panther activist Fred Hampton. This story should rightly be the shame of a nation, but it’s all too rarely touched up on in history. For some, Hampton’s fate as depicted in The Trial of the Chicago 7 could be their introduction to the man. Well, luckily, this exceptional movie is here to tell you more, in blisteringly real detail.
Judas and the Black Messiah is a riveting and expertly crafted examination of personal, political, and social injustice. A powder keg of anger and emotion, you won’t be able to shake it off, and that’s the intent. You’ll feel like you’ve been through something, to say the least. This is what a biographical film, at its best, is capable of achieving.
Big Fish (on 4K)
One of Tim Burton‘s best movies joins the 4K ranks in Big Fish. This fantastical tall tale is Burton at his most emotional, something he can struggle with at times. Big Fish leans into emotion, likely drawing out third act tears in the process. As someone who doesn’t love the filmmaker, this is his masterpiece. It looks magnificent in 4K, too, so if you’re a fan, definitely pick it up and enjoy!
Nomadland (last week)
Yes, I made a blunder and spaced on Nomadland‘s release last Tuesday. Then, it goes and wins Frances McDormand a third Oscar, in addition to taking Best Picture and Best Director. So, it’s getting a shout-out today. You can read our interviews here with Jessica Bruder and Bob Wells, which was a part of our coverage of Chloe Zhao‘s film. For more on the movie, here is a bit from my New York Film Festival review:
Americans have a blind spot when it comes to the plight of other citizens. Too many folks like to say they care about people, but when it comes to actual change, complacency sets in. In numerous cases, it centers around creature comforts. The “American Dream” tends to revolve around what you can ultimately own. Take away those items and many would be lost. Somehow, however, choose to give it up, living a different kind of existence. Nomadland is a tribute to this. Chloe Zhao, in many ways, is a poet laureate when it comes to depicting Americans on the other end of the “American Dream” spectrum, with this film serving as her best work yet. A heartfelt tribute to nomads, it also has pointed things to say about life in the United States and how workers are treated. The results are something special.
Nomadland could easily have been adapted from a Bruce Springsteen song, so true is it to the plight of the working man and woman. Zhao, adapting the book by Jessica Bruder, never judges her characters, merely observing their plights, but her take on the issues at hand is always clear. It’s a deft touch that too few filmmakers have, but boy does Zhao have it in spades.
From The Criterion Collection: “The groundbreaking Moroccan band Nass El Ghiwane is the dynamic subject of this captivating, one-of-a-kind documentary by Ahmed El Maanouni, who filmed the four musicians during a series of electrifying live performances in Tunisia, Morocco, and France; on the streets of Casablanca; and in intimate conversations. Storytellers through song and traditional instruments, and with connections to political theater, the band became a local phenomenon and an international sensation, thanks to its rebellious lyrics and sublime, fully acoustic sound, which draws on Berber rhythms, Malhun sung poetry, and Gnawa dances. Both a concert movie and a free-form audiovisual experiment, bolstered by images of the band’s rapt audience, Trances is pure cinematic poetry.”