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The Tuskegee Airmen (1995)

The four elements: earth, air, water, and fire. Of these, I call your attention to two: air and fire. Though it is your privilege to live in the air, you will die by fire.

— Major Sherman Joy

The Tuskegee Airmen was a made for television movie for HBO back in 1995. I never heard of the movie back then, but the film was nominated for many Emmy awards. I wanted to learn more about the historic 332nd fighter squadron when I traveled through Tuskegee, Alabama on the Greyhound.

In 1942, a young pilot trainee, Hannibal “Iowa” Lee Jr. (Laurence Fishburne) has been drafted into a special government program to let Negroes fly Army fighter planes for the US. He meets others on the train to Tuskegee, Alabama like the cocky Billy “Train” Roberts (Cuba Gooding, Jr.) and a licensed pilot Walter Peoples III (Allen Payne).

Upon arriving at the base, they are greeted by their commanding officer, Colonel Noel Rogers (Daniel Hugh Kelly), Major Sherman Joy (Christopher McDonald) and their liaison officer (Courtney B. Vance).

They are in for a rude awakening when Major Joy thinks that Negroes are not capable enough to fly a fighter jet. He wants to make them fail by any means necessary. It seems to be what is going on as 1/3 of the cadets were gone when they were halfway through the training. One particular cadet’s death rattles the spirits of Leroy Cappy (Malcolm-Jamal Warner).

Not to be deterred from the ultimate goal of graduating, the cadets exceed all expectations to be the the very first Negro pilots to serve in World War II. Their time to celebrate may be short-lived as Senator Conyers (John Lithgow) wants tp dismantle the program, because of unfounded evidence to their ability ti fly the planes.

I am glad that I watched this movie. I learned a part of history that is not taught in schools. We hear the name “Tuskegee Airmen”, but we never get the chance to see what they have done, what they accomplish. I thought the performances were stupendous across the board. I have to give a special mention to Laurence Fishburne who was nominated for a Best Actor Emmy and Andre Braugher who was nominated for his convincing role of Benjamin O. Davis in the Supporting Actor Category.

Judgment: It takes you on the journey of these men without boring you with facts and figures.

Rating: 8/10

Requiem for a Dream (2000)

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And you should see my Harry on Television. We’re giving the prizes away. I JUST WANTED TO BE ON THE SHOW.

— Sara Goldfrab

Requiem for a Dream is the first Darren Aronofsky picture that I have seen. I have not had to chance to view π yet, but I want to see the early beginning of this genius filmmaker. It is currently the #66 Top Film of All Time on IMDb. This film based on the novel by Hubert Shelby, Jr. was critically acclaimed for its unflinching look at drug addiction and how it will destroy your life.

Ellen Bustryn received an Oscar nomination for Best Actress for playing Sara Goldfarb, a lonely widow that longs to get on television. She only watches Tappy Tibbons (Christopher McDonald), a self-help guru that she wants to meet.

Her son, Harry (Jared Leto) is hooked on heroin and cocaine with his girlfriend, Marion (Jennifer Connelly) and his friend, Tyrone (Marlon Wayans). They are constantly finding ways to score. Harry and Tyrone come up with a plan to buy some grade A coke and sell it for a huge profit in order for Marion to open her own design studio.

One day, Sara receives a call that she has won a chance to be on TV. Upon hearing the news, she wants to fit in her red dress with gold shoes. The problem is that she is not able to fit into the dress anymore. One of her friends suggested that she go to Dr. Pill (Peter Maloney) to get diet pills. Little does she know that they are uppers.

As the movie progresses, we see the downward spiral into drug addiction. Seeing their lives dismantled before our eyes.

It has been a while since I have seen this movie. I love the raw human emotions expressed here by all of the actors. You felt claustrophobic as you caught a glimpse of what its like to be a drug addict.

That’s not to say that this movie is not showing its age, it does. The repeated drug taking sequences would get on your nerves. The super speed shots and the fish-eye camera lens are played out.

Judgment: A great deconstruction of addiction and its side effects.

Rating: ****1/2

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