Movie Review: “If Beale Street Could Talk”

by Lyle Foster

Springfield, MO— Well the Oscars have come and gone and we have seen Hollywood continue to increase its recognition of diversity and inclusion with its awards and recognitions. Of course we cannot get through every film that was up for an award but if you haven’t seen them now is an excellent opportunity.
I must admit the number of films that have come out in 2018 was a nice and refreshing change. Of course, some were better than others and part of the job of hopefully embracing the new normal is to recognize that we have to realize that not every film will be a Black Panther. While I don’t mean to lecture a meaningful part of the experience as well is that we have to get out to the box office and support these films even when it means that we have to get out in the cold to do so.
I want to discuss the “Green Book” for a moment. This film was moving and very powerful won the Best Picture. To be candid I am still trying to process it as you may be aware that many people find the movie to be a problem as it hails to an era of very difficult relations between. Spike Lee almost stormed out of the Oscar awards ceremony when the picture won the coveted award. I suppose we need to be considering the quality of the film as well as the content etc. For those of us who lived through any of this era in the South we don’t always want the reminders and the refreshers. But it still is a really well done film. Perhaps the debate and I can join in this part is whether out of everything made that came out in 2018 was this the Best Picture? The controversy around the film which is based on a real life story of Dr. Donald Shirley and his driver/bodyguard and the friendship that developed between them in the midst of the perils of segregation. Perhaps the best thing about the film for me is the education the film provided for many in this nation who never heard of the “Green Book” and apparently didn’t realize that people of color had to delicately navigate around the highways and byways when they travel to know where to stop and eat. We had places in Springfield that were in the “Green Book”. I will celebrate the success and education of the film and pray that it was not an odd to the less favorable aspects.
I titled this column Beale Street in homage to an amazing actress Regina King who has stepped into her season and has picked up numerous awards for the film and now the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress. I am definitely a fan. The film which is an adaptation of the James Baldwin book If Beale Street Could Talk. This might be the time to just mention how phenomenal it is for the new found appreciation of James Baldwin and his work with new films still coming out of his genius works. Perhaps if Beale Street and any other street in our nation could talk we would get quite a story and in this case a far different story. The cast of this film is brilliant especially newcomer Kiki Layne who plays one of the main roles in this film It is an emotional film but that is precisely what makes it so powerful and the cast just works so well together that they bring the story line together and it gels. Regina King is the glue in this film….this story and is nothing short of phenomenal. So as they say tell me how you really feel. It is a film to appreciate for the story….. for the author….. for the director……for the cast.
The column doesn’t give me the space to adequately review the film but I have to say if you haven’t seen it please do. It is not a happy film but it strikes as the experience of the African-American family in our nation and helps us to consider class and values and how they can contrast in their own way. It is also a story of love and how despite the injustice of a system tries to destroy all the love of a family still breaks through and speaks life.
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