Judas and the Black Messiah

Judas and the Black Messiah ★★★½

It’s forceful and kinetic but also seems to be wrestling with different iterations of itself. Which makes sense in a very metatextual way. The chaotic way that it all never quite comes completely together is a mark of a legacy that cannot ever really coalesce. There’s a lot to mull. 

The way that Kaluuya is great even as the film’s idea of Fred Hampton seems to exist beyond the specific reality the film tries to evoke. The way that Stanfield pulls focus in ways the film can’t quite sustain, using his body as a weapon and shield so that even his body seems committed to the performance. The way that film elides the women in the movement even as it saves specific moments of poignancy for them. The way the FBI moments interrupt the dramatic movements even as their inevitable recurrence are part of Hampton’s legacies. The way film doesn’t engage with the explicit anti-capitalism of the movement in ways that feel odd but also apt. 

Then there’s the way that the comedic beats are some of the strongest moments. Or the way that it gets the idea of artifice in life and in film in some interesting ways that reflex and reflect on itself that feel too specific to be accidental.  

There’s a lot at work that I want to sit with and still it’s messy, strangely lingers in parts even when and especially when it seems to be coming apart at its seams. Which sounds like a bad thing but is also a good thing and is almost always an interesting thing.

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