Category Archives: Best Feature- Independent Spirit Award Winners

The Player-1992

The Player-1992

Director-Robert Altman

Starring-Tim Robbins, Peter Gallagher

Reviewed January 23, 2009

Grade: A

The Player ranks up there with other Robert Altman classics such as Gosford Park, Network, and Short Cuts. The film is an excellent piece of Hollywood satire and centers around a jaded movie executive, played by Tim Robbins, who does an incredible job with his role.

Robbins plays Griffin Mill, a man with no scruples. Feeling usurped by a younger executive, played by Peter Gallagher, as well as receiving death threats, he goes on the hunt for the person he feels responsible, which leads to murder.

The audience is unsure whether to love or hate Mill, thanks to Robbins performance. He is snarky, but also vulnerable and a tad sympathetic.

The film contains a slew of real Hollywood celebrities (Cher, Malcolm McDowell, Bruce Willis) playing themselves and is largely improvised (as many of Altman’s films are). Whoopi Goldberg and Lyle Lovett star as odd police detectives.

The plot is nothing that hasn’t been done before, but it’s the realness and the direction that make this movie a must see, especially for Robert Altman fans. A hidden gem.

The Grifters-1990

The Grifters-1990

Director-Stephen Frears

Starring-John Cusack, Anjelica Huston, Annette Bening

Reviewed January 28, 2009

Grade: B-

The Grifters is a film that has witty writing and has an overall appeal to it- the film is very unique and quirky and is in the style of a charismatic film noir from one of the golden ages of film, the 1930’s and the 1940’s. Additionally, the film has a very sharp, clean look to it.

The performances, especially Anjelica Houston, are excellent. In fact, all three principles, (John Cusack and Annette Bening) give fantastic performances and furthermore, feed off each other so well that the chemistry works quite well.

Cusack plays a small time crook named Roy Dillon, inept in ways, and estranged from his mother (Huston). When she returns to town, she along with his girlfriend (Bening), all attempt to con and outmaneuver each other for their own personal gain. The film is set in sunny Los Angeles.

As compelling as the film sounds on paper, I did not find myself completely captured by it. It took me awhile to get into the film and by the time I finally did, it had ended. Overall, well made, and respectable, and I can see how some people would love it, but for me there remained something missing.

Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire-2009

Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire-2009

Director-Lee Daniels

Starring-Gabourey Sidibe, Mo’nique

Reviewed November 23, 2009

Grade: A

Precious is an amazing film and certainly one of the best to come out of the year 2009. Due to the hype, I had high expectations entering the theater and I was not disappointed. The film is an in your face slug-fest with some of the most raw acting performed in recent years.

The marvelous aspect is that the film takes the viewer into a world that is probably not one’s own experience and makes them empathize with the characters. The film is very disturbing at times, raw, gritty, and violent, but also has some light, humorous moments and an oh so important film to see. There is a heartwarming charm that offsets the violence perfectly.

The story itself, and the direction are basic, but the wonderful acting is what sets this film on a high pedestal. Gabourey Sidibe, a relative unknown and novice actress, gives an astounding turn as an unloved, overweight, pregnant teen mom. She is abused by both of her parents in separate ways and seems to have a life of pain ahead of her.

Paula Patton, who has been in several fluff films, shines as a teacher who takes a shine to Precious. Mariah Carey is simply unrecognizable as a plain looking social worker, who is also a sympathetic character. However, actress and comedienne, Mo’nique plays an unfeeling, brutal, violent mother to the hilt and holds nothing back. Her Best Supporting Actress Oscar win was deserving.

Everyone should see this fantastic slice of life film.

Moonlight-2016

Moonlight-2016

Director-Barry Jenkins

Starring-Trevante Rhodes, Andre Holland

80121348

Reviewed November 6, 2016

Grade: A

Moonlight is a wonderful film, rich with character and grit, that tells the story of one man’s life- from childhood, to teenage years, to adulthood, sharing the bonds he forms, and the demons he wrestles. The acting all around is fantastic and the story poignant and truthful. The film is not preachy, but rather tells a story and leaves the audience to sit and observe- quietly formulating their own opinions. Moonlight is a mixture of beauty and heartbreak and is told very well.

The film is divided into three chapters- in chronological order of the central characters life. Chiron is a shy, docile, young boy of six or seven living in a drug-filled world of Miami, Florida in the 1980’s. He is bullied for being “different” though he knows not why he is shunned. Chiron is introverted and distrusting.  A kind hearted drug dealer named Juan (Mahersala Ali), takes a shine to Chiron, whose own mother becomes more and more absent and emotionally abusive to her son. Naomie Harris plays Paula, mother to Chiron and herself a drug addict. Juan and his girlfriend Theresa (Janelle Monae) become surrogate parents to Chiron and share their home with him as needed.

Chapter two focuses on Chiron as a teenager- still bullied and coming to terms with his sexuality and feelings of insecurity. By this time his mother has spiraled out of control and his life is a sad one. He is filled with emotions such as rage, despair, and confusion. He has an experience with his best friend Kevin that changes the direction of his life. Kevin is his saving grace and a decent person amidst his troubled life.

In chapter three, we are re-introduced to Chiron as an adult- having completely reinvented himself and become a changed man, but is he changed for better or for worse? People from his past resurface at this time and Chiron must face various demons and emotions, and come to terms with himself and others surrounding him. Will his story have a sad or a happy ending is the question we are left wondering.

The aspect that left me impressed the most is the storytelling and the ground that is broken with this film. From an LGBT perspective, by this time (2016), we have experienced numerous offerings on the subject, but the fact that Moonlight is not only a character study, but a love story between two black men has not been done to this degree yet in cinema, or arguably at all, especially in mainstream fare. Happily Moonlight is receiving critical praise. The fact that Chiron lives in a macho, male driven society, makes his self acceptance all the more challenging for him.

The direction in Moonlight is impressive and director Barry Jenkins deserves much praise. Quiete scenes of Chiron as a boy asking Juan and Theresa why the bullies call him a certain name are heartbreaking. Another scene, muted and in slow motion, reveal an abusive Paula calling Chiron a degrading name leaving him confused and hurt. Otherwise, tender scenes between Chiron and Kevin are sweet and passionate and told on such a humanistic level.

Moonlight delves into such territory as loneliness and self identity and  is an interesting film to view for anyone who has struggled with these issues or anyone who is empathetic to those who have.  Moonlight breaks stereotypes and molds a film that is subtle and low-key, but speaks volumes.

Fargo-1996

Fargo-1996

Director-Joel Coen and Ethan Coen

Starring-Frances McDormand, William H. Macy

Top 100 Films-#79

493387

Reviewed January 12, 2017

Grade: A

Fargo, the film, is a treasure as far as I am concerned and the role that deservedly propelled Frances McDormand to the forefront of film audience’s minds- not to mention a gold statue for Best Actress. The film epitomizes dark humor, zany freshness, during a time in film when originality was emerging, and independent films were growing in popularity. Fargo led the pack.

The film suffers from some derision by locals in and around the upper mid-west for its depiction of accents- perhaps overdone, but hysterical all the same. Mixed with the snowy and icy locales, the film perfectly presents a harsh and small-town feeling. The introduction of a crime- initially done in an innocent manner, escalates out of control. Fargo is part caper, part thriller, and part adventure and is a layered, cool film. The fact that the time period is 1987 is great. The cars, the Oldsmobile dealership, all work in a fantastic way.

McDormand plays a local Police Chief- Marge Gunderson, very pregnant, who stumbles upon the crime and slowly unravels the mystery. All the while, the character keeps her cool, cracks jokes, and emits witty one-liner after another, presenting a slightly dim-witted image, but really brilliantly deducing the aspects of the crime.

William H. Macy, in 1996 largely unknown, is perfectly cast as car salesman, Jerry Lundegaard. Nervous, shaky, yet with a down home respectability, he hatches a plot to have his wife kidnapped, the ransom to be paid by her wealthy father, enabling Jerry to pay off an enormous embezzling debt, and splitting the money with the kidnappers. Predictably, things go awry and spiral out of control.

I love how this film crosses genres and is tough to label- is it a crime drama, a thriller, a comedy? A bit of each which is the brilliance of it. Fargo is an odd, little piece of art, and remembered as one of the best films of the 1990’s, making a star out of Frances McDormand.

Brokeback Mountain-2005

Brokeback Mountain-2005

Director-Ang Lee

Starring-Heath Ledger, Jake Gyllenhaal

Top 100 Films-#46

70023965

Reviewed January 16, 2017

Grade: A

Brokeback Mountain is a revolutionary film and certainly one of the most important films to be released during the 2000’s. Never before had a LGBT film been given as much exposure and widespread viewership as this film did. Certainly robbed of the 2005 Best Picture Academy Award (the great, but not as great, Crash won), Brokeback Mountain received other tremendous accolades and word of mouth buzz that helped it achieve great success. A treasure that must always be remembered and appreciated.

Perfectly cast, Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal play two cowboys who fall madly in love with each other. The time period of the film runs from 1963 until the early 1980’s. Through the years we see their unbreakable bond tested by outside factors- namely being gay is certainly forbidden at this time and location- Wyoming and Texas.

Jack Swift (Gyllenhaal) and Ennis Del Mar (Ledger) meet one summer in 1963 when they are both hired by grizzled Joe Aguirre (Randy Quaid) to herd sheep one summer on Brokeback Mountain in remote Wyoming. They immediately form a friendship which turns physical one drunken night. From this point the men are inseparable and share a passion insurmountable. Due to the times there is no possible way they can openly share a life together, so they arrange for periodic “fishing trips”, away from their wives and children so that they can spend time together in secret.

The chemistry is evident between Ledger and Gyllenhaal, which is extremely important to the success of the film. The audience needs to truly buy their bond and director Ang Lee is successful at eliciting wonderful performances from each actor. This is especially crucial during the first forty-five minutes of the film as all the scenes are only the two actors together. The famous “tent” scene, in which Jack’s and Ennis’s passion first erupts is perfectly choreographed- it is as much animalistic as it is passionate and this sets the tone for the rest of the film.

Eventually, other characters are introduced and Ennis and Jack live lives largely separate from each other. Michelle Williams plays Alma, a kind-hearted country girl, married to Ennis. She accidentally stumbles on to Jack and Ennis’s secret and keeps this hidden throughout the years. Williams is fantastic in the role- sweet, yet saddled with the pain of knowing her husband is in love with another man causes her to mistrust and eventually destroys their marriage.

Jack forges a life in Texas and marries well-to-do Lureen (Anne Hathaway), but the marriage is a sham, Lureen’s father hates Jack, and Jack cannot forget Ennis. Jack is the aggressor, the one more confident with his sexuality, and one would surmise, would be the one more likely to be “out” if circumstances were different. He looks for other men, even going to Mexico to find some companionship.

The ending of the film is tragic and heartbreaking and we witness Ennis being a good father to his now grown-up kids. A wonderful scene is written between Ledger and Kate Mara, who plays his daughter. She asks the lonely Ennis to attend her wedding and the scene is sweet and tender. Another scene involving Ennis meeting Jack’s parents is monumental- as important as what is said in this wonderful scene is what is left unsaid.

Brokeback Mountain is an honest, graceful, and brave film, that thanks to the talents and direction of Ang Lee, was actually able to be made. The exceptional cast-led by Ledger and Gyllenhaal is dynamic and enables the film to come together as one masterpiece, that will surely never be forgotten.

Far From Heaven-2002

Far From Heaven-2002

Director-Todd Haynes

Starring-Julianne Moore, Dennis Haysbert

Top 100 Films-#53

60025011

Reviewed February 2, 2017

Grade: A

Far From Heaven is a gorgeous film, set in 1950’s upper class and sophisticated Connecticut, that tackles not one, but two, separate social issues, in wonderful story-telling fashion. An interracial couples fraught with discrimination, and a homosexual husband hiding his secret lifestyle encompass this amazing film by acclaimed director Todd Haynes. In years to follow, Haynes would also direct such masterpieces as the similar in time period (and story) Carol.

For starters, the cinematography and art direction are simply breathtaking- the beautiful and colorful small town in Connecticut, on the surface, prim and proper, is oozing with secrets and scandal just waiting to bubble to the surface. An aerial view of the town allows the viewer to see this perfectly carved town in sweeping motion. Far From Heaven contains many similarities to All That Heaven Allows, made in 1955, and also focusing on great scandal in a small, seemingly idyllic New England town.

Cathy Whitaker (Julianne Moore) seems to have everything-a  perfectly styled and kept home in affluent Connecticut, a successful husband named Frank (Dennis Quaid), who is an advertising executive, beauty, and a neighborhood filled with friends. One night when Frank is working late, Cathy surprises him with dinner at the office, only to be surprised herself by catching Frank passionately kissing another man. In a terribly awkward scene, Frank admits to Cathy that he needs conversion therapy, but instead turns to alcohol and continues to secretly see men. Devastated, Cathy befriends her gardener, Raymond Deagan, a handsome black man, and slowly begins a relationship with him. Needless to say, this causes gossip and scandal amongst the townspeople.

Far From Heaven is fantastic story-telling, weaving, in essence, two main social stories together. Frank questions his sexuality, afraid to admit he is gay and risking his reputation and career. Undoubtedly, he is a tormented individual and we see him slowly come to terms with his sexuality. Haynes, fantastic at crafting worthy story, carves a similar tale in 2015’s Carol, only she is a woman confident about her sexuality, but nonetheless hiding it from society. Since the time period in both films is the 1950’s, the sexual revolution had not occurred, let alone anything gay related.

The center story though belongs to Cathy and Julianne Moore portrays her to perfection. I would argue that Cathy is Moore’s best role- along with Amber Waves from Boogie Nights. Hurt and betrayed by her husband, she suddenly is filled with new and dangerous emotions- falling in love with a black man in a not very open minded time. Moore and Haysbert have fantastic chemistry from their very first scene together.

I love how Haynes showcases the perfection of the town- the lawns are perfectly mowed, the flower beds flawless, and everyone appears cheerful and colorful. But when something in their little town becomes amiss (in this case Cathy going against the grain) the fangs come out and the animals bear their teeth. A wonderful scene showcases Cathy and Raymond slow dancing in a solely black bar. They sway as one and Cathy is accepted by the black patrons. Raymond (and his daughter) are not treated the same way among the white folks of the town once they catch wind of the shenanigans going on between the interracial couple.

Far From Heaven is a beautiful film- from the way it looks and is shot, to the powerful acting performances all around. Moore may be the star and the central character of the film, but Quaid and Haysbert certainly deserve their due. They each give layered performances as wounded and tortured men- and the conclusion of the film- perceived as open ended- is also not a happily ever after climax.

 

Spotlight-2015

Spotlight-2015

Director-Thomas McCarthy

Starring-Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffalo

80061341

Reviewed December 9, 2015

Grade: B+

Spotlight is a film with an important story to tell. A telling of true events that occurred within the Catholic Archdiocese for ages, Spotlight’s focus is specifically on the Boston scandals, as a team of reporters working for the Boston Globe uncover and expose a multitude of child molestation cases committed by priests, subsequently covered up, and leaving victims paid off to keep quiet. The number of proven cases in Boston alone is staggering.

Starring are a plethora of talents including Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffalo, and Rachel McAdams, who lead the pack. They make up the “Spotlight” team at the newspaper,  an investigative unit who work on special stories as they arise.  As their new boss, Marty Baron (ironically a Jewish man), played compellingly by Liev Schrieber, takes over as head of the department, he quizzically asks why the story is not already a priority. Suddenly it is a hot-burner issue and the film delves into an investigation to uncover the facts.

Spotlight is a minimalist film done very well. There is nothing cinematically unique or razzle dazzle about it, but somehow that is okay. In some aspects the film reminds me of the 1975 thriller All The Presidents Men, starring Dustin Hoffman. For instance the bleak, bare news rooms-sterile in their look, are similar- cubicle after cubicle,  harsh lighting and generic conference rooms. Clearly this is the filmmakers intent. Also, the fast, energetic pacing, successfully emitting the tight deadlines newspaper folks are faced with, transfers perfectly on film.

The sexual abuse scandal is a cold, harsh reality and the film introduces several victims, who, now as adults, are forever scarred. Some attend support groups, some take drugs, one is sadly not “all there”. Another, now a gay man, was singled out by a priest during a vulnerable period in the, then young boy’s, life. It is a heartbreaking reality that many victims in the film are based on real cases.

Let’s focus on Schrieber’s character for a minute.  He gives such an understated yet compelling performance that my fear is it will wind up being an overlooked one. He calmly, yet passionately initiates the case. It is not a showy performance, in fact rather subdued, but a compelling one if enough attention is paid to it. He is a standout.

Unfortunately, the film does not delve much into the defense (if any) of the Catholic church. Did they do anything but deny the allegations? Why were the victims paid off? Not much is noted from the church’s point of view. In real life the Catholic church did, in fact, hide the abuse that transpired- for decades in fact.

A slight negative is that the film does not delve into the characters personal lives very much. Michael Keaton’s character, Robby Robinson, is arguably the lead character, spearheading the case,  though very little is known about him. Is he married? happily? Yes, he is a workaholic, but what else? Ruffalo’s Michael Rezendes is separated from his wife, but little is known as to the reasons. Finally, McAdam’s Sacha is probably the most fleshed out- she is happily married and close with her religious grandmother, who is effected by the scandal. But we do not know her in depth either. I found myself wanting to know more about these people.

All in all, Spotlight is a very good film that is deserving of the recognition it is receiving. Intense, gritty and filled with honesty, it is a story that needed to be told and has been told well.

Pulp Fiction-1994

Pulp Fiction-1994

Director-Quentin Tarantino

Starring-John Travolta, Samuel L. Jackson, Uma Thurman

Top 100 Films-#22

880640

Reviewed May 12, 2015

Grade: A

Pulp Fiction is one of the most influential films of the 1990’s and single-handedly kicked the film industry in the ass. It led an entire generation of filmmakers, who were starved and determined to make more creative work after the largely dull decade of the 1980’s. The success of the film, both creatively and critically, helped ensure that edgier and more meaningful artistic expression would continue to occur. The leader of the charge, of course, was director Quentin Tarantino. With Pulp Fiction, a black comedy crime film, Tarantino mixes violence, witty dialogue, and a 1970’s cartoonish feel to achieve a filmmaking masterpiece.

The plot is non-linear and the story contains three main focuses that intersect- a new style of filmmaking that has become commonplace in commonplace in modern cinema, but at the time was a novel adventure. Set in Los Angeles, Samuel Jackson and John Travolta portray hit men named Jules and Vincent, who work for a powerful gangster, Marsellus Wallace, played by Ving Rhames. We get to know them as they interrogate four college aged youths who double-crossed Marsellus, all the while discussing fast-food hamburgers and adventures in Europe. On another front, Butch (Bruce Willis) is hired by Marsellus to lose a fight to another boxer. Later, Marcellus instructs Vincent to take his wife Mia (Uma Thurmon), a former unsuccessful television actress, out for dinner and a night on the town. Finally, we meet Pumpkin and Honey Bunny (Tim Roth and Amanda Plumber), two small town robbers plotting a heist at a local diner. As the film develops these plots relate to each other in unique ways.

The film is quite stylistic, resembling a 1970’s film production in the way it looks, and use of 1970’s style sets- the diner in particular looks very of that time, and an automobile where a death occurs, is a 1970’s Chevy Nova. The film, however, is set in present times.

The dialogue throughout Pulp Fiction is immensely impressive to me. Long dialogues occur between characters, usually sitting over a meal, discuss the meaning of life, religion, fast-food burgers, and other wonderfully real conversations. I love the many food references- from Butch’s girlfriend salivating over an impending meal of blueberry pancakes to the French version of the Big Mac being discussed, to the price of a shake, these make the conversations between the characters rich and unique and oh so creative.

My favorite sequence is the one between Vincent and Mia, mostly taking place at a trendy 1950’s themed diner named Jack Rabbit Slim’s, where the staff dresses up in costume impersonating their favorite stars of the day, such as Marilyn Monroe. After winning a dance contest (and a possible homage to Saturday Night Fever) the two go back to Mia’s place where she accidentally overdoses on heroin thought to be cocaine. The song “Girl, You’ll be a Woman Soon” by Neil Diamond, is both integral and haunting to the scene.

An intense and shocking scene of male gay rape is extremely violent and the hillbillies involved could be straight out of Deliverance from 1972 despite being in Los Angeles. This scene is disturbing yet mesmerizing at the same time, and might I say even comedic in a dark way?

Pulp Fiction is not a mainstream affair and certainly has its share of detractors and plain old non-fans, but for filmgoers seeking a fun, entertaining, cleverly delicious work of art, influential to Hollywood and Independent filmmakers alike, Pulp Fiction is a film to watch over and over again and admire its style and creativity.

Birdman-2014

Birdman-2014

Director-Alejandro G. Inarritu

Starring-Michael Keaton, Edward Norton

80000643

Reviewed November 6, 2014

Grade: A

Birdman is a very unique art film, which happily, has garnered major exposure and publicity, because a movie like this runs the risk of receiving praise and notice only from the art house crowd itself. The film’s star-Michael Keaton, portrays Riggan Thomson, a former action hero superstar from the 1990’s, who was made famous for the “Birdman” character he created. Having made sequels to the film, his career has since dried up and he hopes to establish credibility and prove himself a real actor by writing, directing, and starring in his own play.

The film is set in and around the Broadway theater in New York City. As opening night approaches, he struggles to pull everything together and emit a successful production while faced with an injured terrible actor, a difficult actor, his own insecurities, and a miserable theatre critic destined to ruin his big chance. To make matters worse, his daughter Sam, played by Emma Stone is a recovering drug addict who hangs around the theatre distracting actors with her charm and good looks.  Naomi Watts and Edward Norton play Leslie and Mike, other cast members in the production. Watts is sympathetic as the emotional actress with the heart of gold who finally has her dream of performing on Broadway realized. Norton, outstanding as Mike, is blunt yet socially awkward and can only perform truthfully on the stage. Keaton is simply a marvel as he plays a dark and vulnerable man hating and wishing to shed his ridiculous movie persona of yesteryear and secretly cringes when recognized by fans. He communicates with a voice inside his head, the voice he used when he played “Birdman” years earlier.

The uniqueness of the film is the use of what seems like one long take as the action rarely stops and seems to be ongoing. In my opinion, the film belongs to Keaton- he wonderfully relays vulnerability, pain, and fear within with an outward persona of bravery and masculinity. Throughout the film I wondered, is Riggan suicidal? What is real and what is imagined? Are certain scenes foreshadowing for later events? The film has much depth. One marvels at how art imitates life- Is Keaton really portraying himself? Keep in mind that Keaton was the original Batman in the successful superhero franchise beginning in 1989 and his career tanked shortly thereafter. Birdman is a comeback film for him and he is devastatingly good. Norton’s character Mike impressed me- blunt and honest he is also flawed and scared and in some ways addicted to the stage.  Stone has one particularly brilliant scene as she lambasts her father and with regret later on, tells him that the world has moved on without him and that he is irrelevant just like everyone else- it is a powerful scene. In another, Riggan is locked outside of the theater during the performance, clad only in his underwear- how on earth will he return to the stage and complete the show? The quick slights at current Hollywood superstars playing superheroes, specifically Robert Downey Jr. are deliciously naughty.

A dark comedy for sure, it is impossible to predict what will come next and the film is very New York theater style. Keaton’s run in with a theater critic in a cocktail bar is the best scene in the film as the critic’s vicious critique of “You’re a celebrity, not an actor” resonates both pain and tremendous anger for Riggan. Riggan is a sensitive, struggling man and Keaton so wonderfully shows his vulnerability in every scene. Bravo!

 

12 Years a Slave-2013

12 Years a Slave-2013

Director-Steve McQueen

Starring-Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Fassbender

70284282

Reviewed November 2, 2013

Grade: A

At the time of 12 Years a Slave’s release, a ton of buzz began circulating. Was it that good? Considered the front runner to win the Best Picture statue, it did indeed win the top honors. The film is not an easy watch- it is brutal and heart-wrenching at times. I will spare the details, but the most intense scene involves a whip. There are scenes of torture, degradation, and cruelty against the slaves by the slave owners. While tough to watch, I applaud the film for not glossing over the atrocities of slavery. Some have criticized the film for being a retread of similar films, but I disagree. It is worlds more intense than watered down versions.  However the film is not a downer. Yes, a class of people are beaten down and victimized, but they also rise above and never give up hope. The fact that it’s a true story and a book was written on the subject by the real Solomon Northup makes it all the more powerful.

The performances are clearly outstanding (Ejiofor, Fassbender, Paulson, and Nyong’o). The look of the film and cinematography are sharp and I loved the distinctiveness of the north and south scenes. The setting is stifling hot and dreary. There are at least 2 scenes where the camera pans on a shot and holds it for seemingly and eternity until an action occurs, which made the scenes effective. While difficult to watch, this film should be viewed by everyone to see how far we have come, but not forget how far we still need to go to eliminate discrimination and victimization.