Daniel Kaluuya (Black Panther, Get Out) gives a compelling performance as Fred Hampton, a trailblazer in the 1960s Black empowerment movement. At just 21 years of age, Hampton was a senior leader in the Black Panther party in Illinois and was known as a unifier. His ideas were viewed as radical by many and the FBI saw him as a threat. LaKeith Stanfield stars as Bill O’Neil, a small time criminal coerced by FBI agent Roy Mitchell (Jesse Plemons) to infiltrate the Black Panther party. Judas and the Black Messiah has six Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture and Best Supporting Actor (both Kaluuya and Stanfield). (Premiered on HBO Max. Still playing in theaters and should return to streaming by this summer).
An excellent, tastefully done documentary, the film chronicles the life of Audrey Hepburn from a young girl separated from her parents during World War II and suffering from malnutrition, to an overnight movie star, to her later years as the face of UNICEF. Lots of archival video and insightful interviews with family members, friends, and Hollywood associates. A worthwhile investment of your time.
When does the Russian mafia look like the good guys? When it faces off against the unscrupulous Marla Grayson (Rosamund Pike) in “I Care a Lot” (directed by J. Blakeson, 2020). Grayson is a court-appointed legal guardian and self-described “predator” that targets wealthy older people, putting them (unnecessarily) in elder care facilities, liquidating all their assets, and taking a cut for herself. Peter Dinklage co-stars as Roman Lunyou, a Russian-American mob boss with a connection to Jennifer Peterson (Dianne Wiest), one of Grayson’s more recent victims.
Ready for a drama down under? “Penguin Bloom” (directed by Glendyn Ivin, 2020) takes place in Australia and is based on the true story of Sam Bloom (Naomi Watts), a wife and mother of three whose emotional recovery from her traumatic life-changing accident is aided by an injured magpie.
Looking for an engaging, feel-good movie as you weather the pandemic? The Dig (directed by Simon Stone, 2021) is the true story of Mrs. Edith Pretty (Carey Mulligan), who hires Basil Brown (Ralph Fiennes), a local, self-taught archaeologist to explore the burial mounds on her estate.