Judas and the Black Messiah

Judas and the Black Messiah ★★★★

One of those movies where you just let the credits roll because you're sitting there kind of shellshocked. Even in the times we live in, it's shocking to see a major Hollywood studio release something this radical. If any cuts were mandated, I can't even begin to imagine what was removed. Daniel Kaluuya should have moved directly to the front of the Best Supporting Actor pack after this and for the life of me I can't even begin to understand why he hasn't. Lakeith Stanfield continues to be one of the most exciting talents in the business. And Shaka King ought to be getting a lot of offers after this. There's fire in this movie's bones, and that gets it a long way. This is a civil rights era film where the cops are fully the villains; a character who murders several of them, including one in cold blood, is not exactly *embraced* but still sympathized with as a guy who endured too much and couldn't help but break down. Feels like a miracle that it even exists.

It still seems a little ragged to me, like it needed just one more edit to sharpen things. It's kind of a hodgepodge of storylines, and it felt like the filmmakers were more interested in some than others. But all the threads running through this are compelling, and even if it's a bit shapeless, it's a stellar portrait of its time and place with a detailed understanding of the things it's depicting and a rock-solid instinct for making those things tangible to viewers.