Tag Archives: penelope ann miller

BIRTH OF A NATION (2016) – My rating: 8.5/10

birthofanationBirth of a Nation is a history lesson that can leave you pretty emotionally drained.  This version of Nat Turner’s rebellion against White slave owners is based on a true story and takes place between 1800 and 1831.  While there is much controversy surrounding the facts in this movie, one thing is certain, there is lots of blood shed, hate and injustice.  Nat Turner (Nate Parker) was a legendary slave because he was perceived as special among his people with special traits and markings that he was expected to live up to.  How much truth there is to that perception is anyone’s guess but there was no denying that Nat had above average intelligence and skills.  He learned to read and studied the Bible at an early age, taught by his master’s mother,  Elizabeth Turner (Penelope Ann Miller) for the purpose of becoming a preacher.

As the movie progresses, one gets the impression that the master, Samuel “Sam” Turner (Armie Hammer) owner of the plantation where Nat Turner lived as a slave, was somewhat liberal and a better master to his slaves than most.  There comes a point in the film that you will learn differently.  Sam was not as financially lucrative as most plantation owners and began slowly losing his position in society.  After accepting an offer from the local preacher, Rev. Walthall (Mark Boone Junior) to get paid for taking Nat around to other plantations to preach to unsettled slaves, it became clear  Sam and Nat’s relationship started to change.  In the meantime, Nat married a slave girl he had urged Sam to purchase named Cherry Turner, (Aja Naomi King) who eventually ended up residing at a nearby plantation along with Nat’s mother, Bridget Turner (Esther Scott) and their baby girl.  Hark Turner (Coleman Domingo), Nat’s closest friend, was first to engage in a  marriage celebration to a slave girl named Esther (Gabrielle Union).  Esther was also first to experience a violent rape, leaving the biter taste of rage with Hark for which there was nothing he could do anything about.  Soon after, Nat’s wife experienced the same fate, only this time it was a gang rape and a beating so severe, Cherry was practically unrecognizable.  This is what has caused controversy since history bears no proof Cherry was ever raped.  Because Nate Parker wrote, produced and directed this version of Birth of A Nation, critics feel he based Nat Turner’s attack against White slave owners on a rape that never happened.  Also, according to history, Nat Turner’s confessions were significantly relevant but was left out of the movie.

As usual, I must stop here because I don’t want to divulge any more spoilers.  In my opinion, you need a strong constitution to see Birth of a Nation, it’s not for the weak at heart.  There is excessive violence, injustices, murders, graphic slanderers and more.  Despite any embellishments, the ugly, horrible, racist, truths are shown and go down as a part of history that cannot be undone.  Perhaps the knowledge of Birth of a Nation will resonate with those who bother to go and see it.  Learning from our mistakes will keep us from repeating them.  Nat’s mother spoke about Nat’s father in the movie saying “I’m glad he didn’t live to see a grown man broke down — it’s a terrible thing to see!”  I think Birth of a Nation is a must see, especially in these times of unrest.

 

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AMERICAN CRIME – My rating: 7/10

AmericanCrimeAmerican Crime is focused on a crime committed against a married couple in their home.  The husband was killed and the wife beaten and possibly raped.  As she lies in a coma, an arrest is made.  This story gets pretty complicated as we learn more and more about the victims and those accused of the crime as well as the parents of the couple.  Felicity Huffman plays Barb Hanlon and is easy to dislike as she plays a prejudged parent with a cold heart and a vengeful agenda.  American Crime is racially and politically charged with a lot of truth and a lot of falsehoods.  Each episode does not stand on its own.  You have to follow the story in order to know what’s going on.   There are several families that make up this drama, the surviving victim and her parents Eve Carin (Penelope Ann Miller) and Tom Carin (W. Earl Brown),  the estranged parents of the dead victim, Barb Hanlon (Felicity Huffman) and Russ Skokie (Timothy Hutton), the Hispanic, single male parent/father Alonzo Gutiérrez (Benito Martinez), one of the accused and Alonzo’s son, Tony Gutiérrez (Johnny Oritz) and his daughter, Jennifer Gutiérrez (Gleendylis Inoa), Aliyah Shadeed (Regina King) the sister to another of the accused, Carter Nix (Elvis Nolasco) plus his Caucasian girlfriend, Aubry Taylor (Caitlin Gerard) and lastly, the actual guilty person who is also the witness and accuser, Hector Tontz (Richard Cabral).  The series looks like it will get better and better.  American Crime is a look into the justice system through the eyes of the victims as well as the guilty and accused.  Let’s see where this one goes.  So far it’s off to a somewhat, slow start.