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Spike Lee’s ‘Da 5 Bloods’ Review: A Rare Look at Black American Heroes

written by Kimberly Jones

Spike Lee’s newest joint Da 5 Bloods tells the story of four Black vets who return to Vietnam years after they served to collect the remains of their dear friend and former commander Norman (Black Panther’s Chadwick Boseman), and to recover the gold they buried there years ago.

The cinematography in the opening scene alone leaves the audience instantly intrigued and at the same time overwhelmed. A compilation of images and clips of Malcolm X, Angela Davis, Muhammad Ali, protests in the streets of the US and injured children in Vietnam are all eerily similar to the images we are still looking at today.

Paul, the self-professed “leader” of the group, played by Delroy Lindo (known from his iconic roles in Crooklyn and Malcolm X) returns to work with Lee for the fourth time. Otis (Clarke Peters from HBO’s The Wire), Eddie (Norm Lewis, Scandal), and Melvin (Isiah Whitlock Jr., The Wire) are having a long-overdue reunion with their bond and brotherhood still intact. Paul, the wild card of the group, commands the screen in every scene. He has several irrational outbursts throughout the film, as he suffers from PTSD but still is in denial about the severity of the situation. Paul is confrontational the majority of the film but he is also comical – him playing a Black Trump supporter wearing the MAGA hat and campaigning for “the wall” is pure comedy. His personality comes off as a little cold and selfish because he only cares about himself and about getting his hands on the buried gold that he feels he is entitled to. Paul has been hardened by life and it shows in his attitude and actions towards his “brothers”.

Da 5 Bloods is unique in the way that it takes viewers on an emotional roller coaster through the raw emotions of Black men dealing with grief and family struggles, and their difficult journey to find closure. Paul’s estranged son David (Jonathan Majors from HBO’s Lovecraft Country) unexpectedly shows up and adds to his father’s stress – the two have a strained relationship. David grew up feeling like an orphan, his mother died in childbirth and he always felt that his father blamed him for her death. Otis returned to a major surprise – he had a daughter that he had never met. Because she was biracial, his daughter was disowned by her family and her community. Sadly, racism and the war had robbed Otis of the precious time with his now adult daughter.

The buried gold in the movie represents what was owed to these soldiers for serving a country that never honored them. Not only were they not honored as veterans but as black men in America. They fought a war in Vietnam and returned only to fight a war at home. Eddie even brought up the idea that the gold should be used as reparations for Black Americans. Lee used this as a reference to the 40 acres and a mule, a post-Civil War promise that was made to Black Americans but never fulfilled. Paul quickly shuts this idea down, however. This is something that is owed to him personally, and he does not have the slightest intention of sharing it with anybody.

Some scenes included flashbacks to the Vietnam war. Lee did not use younger actors for these scenes, which is somewhat confusing and very unrealistic. Watching these older actors active in war scenes is awkward and takes away from the authenticity of the scene because it is distracting. Lee may have chosen this route because he wanted to portray these men as present-day heroes. Unfortunately, this may not have been the best choice for the audience.

Da 5 Bloods is a complex story that explores the effects of war on Black soldiers. This was long overdue since war blockbusters in Hollywood do not usually focus on these types of stories. This tale of brotherhood is a balanced mix of politics, humor, heroism, patriotism and sorrow. Lee brought his vision to life successfully with great visuals, performances and, of course, with Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On? as the soundtrack. Although the album came out in 1971, the lyrics are relevant to our world today.

Spike Lee always has a unique way of telling black stories and giving voices to the voiceless. This film is no different. Da 5 Bloods could not have come at a better time. With the current climate in our country, this story can get the attention that Black servicemen deserve.

Da 5 Bloods is now streaming on Netflix.

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‘The Prom’: First Look at Kerry Washington, Keegan-Michael Key and Ariana DeBose in Newly Released Trailer!

Netflix has released the official trailer for its upcoming musical The Prom starring Kerry Washington, Keegan-Michael Key, James Corden, Ariana DeBose, Andrew Rannells, and newcomer Jo Ellen Pellman. The cast is led by Hollywood’s heavyweights – Meryl Streep and Nicole Kidman.

Here is the official synopsis:

Dee Dee Allen (Streep) and Barry Glickman (Corden) are New York City stage stars with a crisis on their hands: their expensive new Broadway show is a major flop that has suddenly flatlined their careers. Meanwhile, in small-town Indiana, high school student Emma Nolan (Pellman) is experiencing a very different kind of heartbreak: despite the support of the high school principal (Key), the head of the PTA (Washington) has banned her from attending the prom with her girlfriend, Alyssa (DeBose). When Dee Dee and Barry decide that Emma’s predicament is the perfect cause to help resurrect their public images, they hit the road with Angie (Kidman) and Trent (Rannells), another pair of cynical actors looking for a professional lift. But when their self-absorbed celebrity activism unexpectedly backfires, the foursome finds their own lives upended as they rally to give Emma a night where she can truly celebrate who she is.

The Prom is a film adaptation of a 2018 award-winning, Tony-nominated Broadway musical. The film is directed by Ryan Murphy (Hollywood) with a screenplay by Bob Martin and Chad Beguelin.

Watch the trailer below. Avaialble on Netflix December 11, 2020.

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Eddie Murphy’s ‘Coming 2 America’ Set To Land on Amazon Prime

The highly anticipated sequel to Eddie Murphy’s 90’s classic has found a home. Variety reported that Coming 2 America‘s distributor Paramount Pictures is in the process of selling it to Amazon Studios for $125 million.

The original Coming to America, which came out in 1988 and grossed nearly $300 million at the worldwide box office, featured Murphy as the single African prince Akeem, who traveled to Queen in New York City to escape an arranged marriage and find real love. The brilliant cast included Arsenio Hall, James Earl Jones, Shari Headley and John Amos. All of them have reportedly reprised their roles in the sequel.

In Coming 2 America, Prince Akeem is set to become king of the fictional country of Zamunda when he discovers he has a son he never knew about in America — a street-savvy Queens native named Lavelle (Jermaine Fowler). To honor the former king’s dying wish to groom his grandson as the crown prince, Akeem and Semmi travel to America again. The supporting cast includes Tracy Morgan, Leslie Jones, Kiki Layne and Wesley Snipes.

The expected streaming premiere date is December 18.

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‘Come Away’: Watch David Oyelowo, Anna Chancellor, Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Angelina Jolie in The New Trailer

Starring NAACP Image Award winner David Oyelowo and Academy Award winner Angelina Jolie, this imaginative origin story follows two of the most beloved characters in literature – Peter Pan (played by Jordan A. Nash), Alice in Wonderland (Keira Chansa), joined by their older sibling David (Reece Yates) as they let their imaginations run wild one blissful summer in the English countryside.

Encouraged by their parents Jack and Rose (Oyelowo and Jolie), the kids’ make-believe tea parties, sword fights and pirate ship adventures come to an abrupt end when tragedy strikes. Peter, eager to prove himself a hero to his grief-stricken and financially-struggling parents, journeys with Alice to London, where they try to sell a treasured heirloom to the sinister pawnshop owner known as C.J. (David Gyasi). Returning home, Alice seeks temporary refuge in a wondrous rabbit hole while Peter permanently escapes reality by entering a magical realm as leader of the “Lost Boys.”

The upcoming fantasy drama is directed by Brenda Chapman (The Prince of Egypt) and written by Marissa Kate Goodhill.

Come Away is scheduled to premiere on November 13, 2020 in theaters and on demand. Check out the official trailer above.

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