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Featured Movie Reviews

Malcolm X


With one of Denzel Washington's finest performances and arguably Spike Lee's best turn in the Director's chair, 1992's MALCOLM X is an amazing film.

Having grown up in sixties, this is the perfect example of me assuming that I know someone's story. How wrong could I be?

Lee and Washington stunned me over and over during its fascinating three hour plus running time.

It's a balanced portrayal of the controversial Black Nationalist leader, from his early days as minor gangster "Detroit Red" all the way to national prominence. It's an inspiring story, incredibly well told as Malcolm Little hits rock bottom and then chooses a different path.

The violent racism that Malcolm and his family bear have a powerful impact on his life, with his family splintering under the pressure.

He's incredibly intelligent, but told by teachers to pursue manual labor. As life throws up obstacles, they pile up inside of him, with Washington perfectly depicting the growing pain and anger of the denials.

Prison changes Malcolm, igniting a passion within him as he converts to Islam and gains thousands of followers with a message of division. Whites are the devil and blacks must become independent and self sufficient are the core of his message.

But his life is changed yet again when a trip to Mecca brings new belief that there are good people of faith in all colors.

This new message causes friction from all sides in the explosive 60's and his life is threatened by forces outside and within his circle.

The film plays like a political thriller and powerful documentary simultaneously. Lee weaves private moments into the large scale scenes, revealing the humanity within the conflict.

Without the more pacifist leanings of MLK, Malcolm was a more polarizing figure in history. It's a tribute to Lee and Washington that the film offers up a fair and balanced portrayal that isn't afraid to show the man's shortcomings, while inspiring with powerful delivery and blunt observations.

Like Lee's brilliant 2018 film "BlacKKKlansman", he invites people of all races and beliefs to observe life without telling you how to feel. Lee isn't ramming his viewpoint down the viewer's throat, he's serving up real life in all its ugly, divisive reality, showing all of our flaws and challenging you to ignore them.

This is one of the all time great film biographies and one I plan on revisiting often. I have a feeling it will be as impactful and educational on its tenth viewing as my first.

MALCOLM X gets an A+. If you think you know this man's story and haven't seen this film, you owe it to yourself.

Denzel Washington stands alongside Daniel Day Lewis' portrayal of Lincoln as two of the best portrayals of historical figures in film history. Landing powerfully in my all time Top 100 films.

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