Melvin Benson’s review published on Letterboxd:
Excellent movie! Emotionally striking, aggressively provocative, deeply heartfelt, compassionate in a myriad of ways. Judas and the Black Messiah blew my mind from start to finish. Well deserving of the Oscar nominations its earned, and I've got my fingers crossed for some solid wins, too.
Listened to a podcast episode of Sway with Spike Lee where he mentioned that both this film and Nomadland were shot by former students of his. I don't know about Nomadland but this film, with it's clear compassion to all parties (yet clear perspective and preference to others) felt very much in line with Spike Lee's typical compassion. But, that's where I'll stop with the comparisons, because Shaka King has his own flare, passion, and legacy to build.
On our drive home from the theater I kept thinking about how frustrating it's been to grow up learning what I've learned in school, from my parents, from my culture in general (white middle-class) a totally different history. Or, how even now as I've gladly been changing my perspective to what's true and accurate about the horrors of US history (or the police as a gang) while simultaneously listening to a good elderly church friend of mine going, "I just don't get it, why do they have to light things on fire? Why all the violence? We had the civil rights movement already. Wasn't that enough?" when he was responding to the events of Summer 2020. Meanwhile, I'm patiently frustrated because I'm reminded of two things:
- Not everyone is willing to accept reality as reality and pursue a healthy future, and they have their reasons I suppose.
- Not everyone - I mean, all seriousness - really should be keeping up with the news if they aren't willing to keep up with history.
I purposely move toward films like this (and of others set in different cultures, or foreign films, or whatever) because compassion is bred by understanding, and if I'm going to read in scripture that it's the Lord's compassion that turns me to repentance and not his judgement (Romans 2:4), then I can't see a more useful way to love someone than to grow in my compassion toward others, even toward Bill O'Neal, the snake that he is (as far as the film portrays him to be).
Glad to have seen it, can't wait to see it again, can't wait to own it and rewatch it, Kaluuya and Stanfield are great (as always, obviously), it's a visually beautiful film to watch, the editing is superb, it's a great movie.
Wow, maybe theaters should release good movies at the start of the year from now on? Or, idk, maybe throughout the whole year? Really helps you get through those early months, especially January lol. Sheesh.
A great observation my wife noticed is how, in the book of John, when John asks Jesus who's the apostle who will betray Jesus, Jesus says, "It is the one who I will pass the cup to." and then Jesus gives a cup to Judas. How this imagery is used in Judas and the Black Messiah is quite brilliant and devilishly haunting. I even began pondering what it must have been like for John to know who the betrayer was before it happened. I wonder what went through his mind. I suppose that's for another time.
Increased from an 8/10 to a 9/10
Cinematic Doctrine Podcast: cinematicdoctrine.com/