Selma Flawed But Should Be Seen

Movie: Selma

I waited a while to see this film after reading a lukewarm review, and alas, I must concur even if it picked up a whopping 99 percent favorable rating from critics on Rotten Tomatoes.com. But even my feelings don’t override my urging everyone who hasn’t to see this film about the lead-up to an important event in last half 20th Century: the 1965 Selma to Montgomery march for African-American voting rights. Though the march scenes have an inspiring quality to them, I found David Oyelowo’s portrayal of the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. less than stirring (and wonder if Wendell Pierce, who plays King associate Rev. Hosea Williams, might have been better in the part). Tom Wilkinson’s take on Lyndon Johnson is all wrong. But to have this film about such a pivotal moment in the civil rights movement arrive at a time in American history when resurgent racism is so strong gives it an undeniable significance.

Movie: Path to War

Not long after watching “Selma” I viewed this 2002 HBO movie about the escalation of the Vietnam War, and found myself, as an LBJ revisionist, much more pleased by Michael Gambon’s take on Lyndon Johnson – a far more nuanced and I feel accurate depiction of the man (who, even if I feel during the time he served got a bum rap, was a very flawed personality). The events it depicts are as equally significant as the concurrent civil rights movement seen in the above film (which serves as a subplot in “Path to War”). Strong performances by Alec Baldwin (as Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara) and Donald Sutherland (as presidential advisor Clark Clifford) buoy its cogent examination of the great mistake Johnson made with Vietnam and his admirable decision not to seek a second term.

TV series: Ballers

Of the three series HBO debuted in June alongside the “The Brink” (silliness about a deadly serious subject) and the completely different second season of “True Detective” (don’t know what I think there yet), this one has charmed me most. Starring former professional wrestler and college footballer Dwayne Johnson as a retired NFL player turned financial advisor, it sports a disarmingly breezy vibe yet explores the serious issues faced by football players when they leave the gridiron.

From The Progressive Populist, August 1, 2015


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