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‘The United States Vs. Billie Holiday’ Review

by Betti Halsell

In The United States Vs. Billie Holiday the audience is thrown into a war zone. Viewers stare at the social terrain with world-renowned Jazz legend Billie Holiday, as she climbs through trenches of trauma, addiction, love, betrayal, and corruption, ultimately leaving some of her best men behind.

Holiday, played by Andra Day, encapsulated the current state of events happening to Black Americans with a simple string of verses over a solemn melody. Her song Strange Fruit paints a vivid picture of events that took place during her time – lynchings in the 1930’s that were happening with no reprimand. The melancholic melody still hits home today, as if America is still singing the same song, with a different tune.

Holiday bellowed with her smoldering voice,

“Southern trees bear a strange fruit

Blood on the leaves and blood at the root

Black bodies swinging in the southern breeze

Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees.”

The recording and performance of Strange Fruit stood out like a thorn protruding from the rosey lens the rest of America looked through, causing a problem for those in “high places”. So they created a suffocating smoke around the singer’s life, following her to her final resting place.

The movie focuses on the unsolicited surveillance from federal and local law enforcement because of the pressure that came with the iconic song. It touches on a reoccurring theme happening in newly released biographic films, uncovering people within the Black community supplying incriminating intel to the federal government.

Andra Day as Billie Holiday|The United States vs Billie Holiday, HULU

This confirms the involvement of federal sources, but also the lack of trust happening within the collective community. The film was as explicit as the song itself, telling an unbiased truth of an Artist caught in a war that went far beyond her talent.

Directed by Lee Daniels and written by Pulitzer prize-winner Suzan-Lori Parks and Johann Harri, the movie depicts Holiday as an undeniable force – she was feminine and sensual, yet she held a sense of masculine ownership over her life. Although the 1900s were set in gender roles and confined social placement, Holiday was outspoken and knew she had a level of power. The salute to her self-awareness may have beckoned from her childhood. The film exposed Holiday’s early surroundings, which included the power in sexuality and a sense of liberty for women when she was young.

However, there are two sides to every coin. The trauma in her childhood may have given her the soul that is found in her voice and a sense of empowerment, but it also left her damaged. The movie captured her dependency on strong stimulants, to mange her mental state. The singer’s upbringing left her without a true vision of her reflection. The feature focused on nostalgic transitions and captured an unfiltered story of Holiday’s flaws as a friend and lover.

Andra Day as Billie Holiday and Trevante Rhodes as Jimmy Fletcher |The United States vs Billie Holiday, HULU

In The United States vs Billie Holiday, Day is joined by Trevante Rhodes (Birdbox) who played Jimmy Fletcher, the first Black FBN agent and Garrett Hedlund (Four Brothers) as Harry Aslinger, Chief of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics.

Rendering the critiques from Rotten Tomatoes, the story was labeled “sloppy” and “over-characterized.” However, most of those inferential opinions came from predominantly White men. This leaves the opportunity that they may have been missed; the concept of struggle in being a Black woman, while fighting multiple layers of internal and external battles and combating different perspectives of self-worth.

America is still singing about the strange fruit that holds a rotten core, the Anti-lynching Bill was passed last year. A back-breaking victory, countless marches, too many lives lost, all for roughly 100 years of “consideration.”

The strange fruit from those times left seeds, a new harvest of injustice is ripening. Thanks to Holiday’s strong will to keep performing the truth, others have joined the choir for change. The nation is still singing about the obscurities found in racism. It’s all the same song, just a different tune. Stream The United States Vs. Billie Holiday on Hulu starting February 26.

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Angelina Jolie’s Daughter Zahara Will Attend an HBCU (Video)

Angelina Jolie’s daughter Zahara Marley Jolie-Pitt is college bound!

On Sunday, the Oscar-winning actor announced her 17-year-old will be attending Spelman College, an HBCU, this fall. Included in Jolie’s post is a picture of Zahara posing with schoolmates and a caption that read,

“Zahara with her Spelman sisters! Congratulations to all new students starting this year,” the mother of six wrote. “A very special place and an honor to have a family member as a new Spelman girl. #spelman #spelmancollege #spelmansisters #HBCU.”

In addition to the Eternals star’s post, a video taken during an alumni college event was published on TikTok. The clip, which has now gone viral, shows Jolie attempting to join in on the electric slide. You can watch it below.

@watchtheyard

Morehouse and Spelman alumni showing Angelina Jolie and her daughter how to hit the electric slide at their event in Los Angeles. @morehousela @naasclosangeles @angelinajolie @bcrainey @purplephy27 #Morehouse #Spelman #SpelmanCollege #AngelinaJolie

♬ original sound – Watch The Yard

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‘Black Panther: Wakanda Forever’ Honors The Late Chadwick Boseman (Video)

Marvel has finally released the official trailer for the highly anticipated sequel of Black Panther. The 2-minute video features new and returning characters and unveils a special tribute to Chadwick Boseman’s T’Challa.

photo: Marvel Studios

The movie is scheduled to hit theaters on November 11.

Watch the trailer above.

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Film

‘The Man From Toronto’ Trailer: Kevin Hart and Woody Harrelson Star In Action-Packed Comedy

Kevin Hart and Woody Harrelson star in Netflix’s upcoming action-packed comedy dropping on Netflix on June 24.

A case of mistaken identity arises after a screw-up sales consultant and the world’s deadliest assassin—known only as The Man from Toronto— run into each other at a holiday rental.

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