Tag Archives: rob morgan

JUST MERCY (2019) – My rating 9.5/10


Just Mercy is a legal drama directed by Destin Daniel Cretton. The film is based on the memoir of the same name and is written by Bryan Stevenson. Just Mercy is the true story of Walter McMillian, who, with the help of young defense attorney Bryan Stevenson, appeals his murder conviction. The film shows the prejudices in the state of Alabama, which suppresses the rights and voices of Black innocent citizens.

In 1989, an idealistic young Harvard law graduate, Bryan Stevenson (Michael B. Jordan) makes the decision to defend poor Blacks in Alabama hoping to give relief and help to those who cannot afford proper legal representation. He meets with Eva Ansley (Brie Larson) and together they create the Equal Justice Initiative. At the nearby prison, Bryan meets death row inmates, including Walter “Johnny D.” McMillian (Jamie Foxx), an African-American man convicted of murdering a White woman named Ronda Morrison. Bryan looks over the evidence in the case and discovers it hinges entirely on the testimony of convicted felon, Ralph Myers (Tim Blake Nelson), who provided a highly self-contradictory testimony in exchange for a lighter sentence in his own pending trial. Bryan’s first move is to consult with prosecutor Tommy Chapman (Rafe Spall) for assistance but Chapman dismisses him without even looking at his notes. AND SO THE PREJUDICES BEGINS!

Just Mercy can cause you to get pretty angry just listening to the lies and watching the smug looks of satisfaction on the faces of bigots when they are executing power and victory over their victims. Because Just Mercy is a true story, it made it harder to digest the horrific injustices throughout the movie. Overall, the film was well done and well-acted. The sad part is these kinds of injustices are continuing to plague poor communities of color. Racism is such a waste of time as well shown in Just Mercy. You will be adversely moved and saddened but also feel a sense of exoneration because of the outcome. I recommend Just Mercy to everyone, it shows the other side of evil. The film received positive reviews from critics, as well as a nomination for Jamie Foxx for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role at the 26th Screen Actors Guild Awards. Additionally, Just Mercy grossed $35,191,640 domestically and $44,841,640 worldwide. The review aggregator website, Rotten Tomatoes, reported that 84% of critics have given the film a positive review based on 211 reviews, with an average rating of 6.99/10. The site’s critics consensus reads: “Just Mercy dramatizes a real-life injustice with solid performances, a steady directorial hand, and enough urgency to overcome a certain degree of earnest advocacy.” Check It Out!

MUDBOUND (2017) – MY rating: 7.5/10

Mudbound is an American period drama directed by Dee Rees and written by Rees and Virgil Williams, based on the novel of the same name by Hillary Jordan. Mudbound is a Netflix Original production. The film depicts two World War II veterans – one white, one black – who return to rural Mississippi each to address racism and PTSD in his own way. I never really wanted to see this movie because it just stirs up painful issues of yesterday, which I’ve seen enough of.  However, I found Mudbound different from what I’m use to seeing — all history albeit redundant is significant, so I watched it, especially because Mudbound is Oscar nominated.

Henry McAllan (Jason Clarke) and his brother Jamie (Garrett Hedlund) struggle to bury their recently deceased father, Pappy (Jonathan Banks) during a rainstorm. When the coffin proves too heavy for the two of them, Henry flags the passing Jackson family for help, despite the obvious tension shared by both families.

The film then flashes back to 1939, when Henry buys a farm outside the fictional town of Marietta, Mississippi, in the Mississippi Delta, and moves there with his wife Laura (Carey Mulligan), with whom he shares a passionless marriage,  their daughters and his racist father, Pappy. The Jackson family, led by tenant farmer Hap (Rob Morgan) and his wife Florence (Mary J. Blige), work the farm’s cotton fields and dream of owning their own block of land one day. As World War II begins, Jamie commissions to become an Army bomber pilot while the eldest Jackson boy, Ronsel (Jason Mitchell), enlists in the Infantry and commands a tank. While serving in Europe, Ronsel strikes up a romance with a white woman and enjoys relative freedom from racism.

Both families suffer the threat of poverty when the Jacksons’ mule has to be put down and Hap breaks his leg. Florence, who worked for the McAllans as a housekeeper, has to give up the job to help cover Hap’s work, and an unsympathetic Henry forces Hap to rent the McAllan’s mule, cutting his wages in half. Laura takes pity on the family and pays for Hap’s doctor.

When the war is won, both Ronsel and Jamie return home. The handsome and charming Jamie rekindles his attraction to Laura, but suffers from alcoholism, PTSD and the scorn of his father, who disparages air force bombing as “easy and anonymous killing”.  Ronsel, on the other hand, is defiant when Pappy demands that he use the back door of a general store instead of the front door, because he is black. Henry warns Hap and Florence that Ronsel’s fiery streak could provoke problems for all involved if he does not keep it to himself, and Ronsel is forced to apologize.

As usual, I will stop here to avoid spoiling the rest of the movie.  I thought Mudbound was interesting and had significant history.  As hard as racial movies are to watch, it’s important to know what happened.   This story has much more to offer so I recommend you take the time to watch it.  Mudbound is streaming on Netflix and is also available on DVD and Blu-ray.  Check it out.

 

NOTE: Rachel Morrison is the first woman ever nominated in the category of cinematography and Mary J. Blige became the first person to ever be nominated for an acting and song award during the same year.

[Mudbound is Oscar nominated for BEST: Supporting Actress, Original Song, Adapted Screenplay and Cinematography.]