It’s Black History Month and we’re hoping to kick off a month of great articles and reviews celebrating Black culture in film, and pop culture. To help usher in the month, here is yet another installment of the “Minority Movie Heroes” series. As I’ve explained in the past, it’s hard to find actual heroes in film that are people of color whether African American, Latinx, Asian, et al. So, as with all the previous entries I scoured film as much as I could to feature five more minority movie heroes that deserve celebrating.
1996 was a big year for me. I was thirteen in middle school and my English teacher introduced me and my classmates to the work of William Shakespeare. Although we spent the year working on a project that explored the various works from the playwright, we were primarily focused on “Romeo & Juliet.” We spent most of the year reading the play in class and before the school year let up, my teacher staged her contemporary version of “Romeo & Juliet” for the school that everyone took part in. It was called “Ronnie & Julie.” I loved art but was way too shy to act, so naturally I was in the poster department.
With “A Clockwork Orange,” Stanley Kubrick set forth a high bar and standard upon which all future gang warfare films would be based on. It’s a surprising fact considering “A Clockwork Orange” is not entirely about gang warfare at all. It’s a science fiction, dystopic, thriller about a predator of humanity who gets a taste of his own medicine a hundred fold once he is rehabilitated into a docile animal of society. Or so that’s what we’re led to believe up until the very ambiguous climax where Alex reverts to his classic recurring orgy fantasy.
One of the things I really like about Russ Emanuel’s direction is that he’s able to conceive a true crime movie that feels respectful and not at all exploitative. That’s a tough feat to accomplish especially in a time where a lot of indie studios are inexplicably anxious to exploit actual horrible crimes. “American Wisper” (formerly “Wisper”) is a true crime thriller that actually managed to engage me, and that’s saying a lot for someone that almost never cares to dive in to this kind of material.
Superman’s legend is constantly being re-invented for a new generation and it’s always retrofitted for a new sensibility and new crowd of potential comic book buffs. Thankfully while DC has rebooted Superman a few times in their animated universe they’ve managed to stick to what makes the man and the myth so exciting and awe inspiring. Even in the rare misfires, Superman is almost always Superman and it’s great to see him return yet again in this re-invention of the character’s lore.
In 2010, “Scott Pilgrim vs. The World” shocked me. Not because of Edgar Wright. If there’s any director out there that knows pop culture, it’s Edgar Wright. It’s more so how much Edgar Wright understood the idea of pop culture and how absolutely annoying the idea of nostalgia had become. It’d somewhat become a monstrosity of awareness, sarcastic catch phrases, and smug gate keeping. While “Scott Pilgrim vs. The World” is a wonderful film filled with laughs, and some excellent performances, it’s also a polemic about how much pop culture has replaced actual culture. While a lot of others saw it as a great action celebration, I saw it as immensely cynical. It’s also why I love it so much.
Like most elseworlds tales involving Superman and most DC superheroes, “Red Son” examines what the world would look like with a small alteration in mythology. And it’s also a look in to what would happen if Superman was on a different side of history. It’s a history in the controversial albeit acclaimed graphic novel where America loses the Cold War, Russia is the dominant force and Superman is a being whose own personal hell was paved with good intentions. The problem is that with “Red Son,” we’ve basically seen it all before.
Blumhouse has found a little niche market in taking classic comedies and turning them in to bonafide horror movies. After “Happy Death Day 2 U,” they take the creaky Disney classic “Freaky Friday” and add a slasher twist to it. Shockingly, it works more times than it doesn’t. Christopher Landon doesn’t just embrace the classic narrative, but he tops it off with a gory slasher movie, and even injects so many LGBTQ overtones that it wouldn’t surprise me if it picked up steam as a LGTBQ classic very soon.