Two quintessentially American film stories open virtually on Friday | Movie reviews


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  • Alan Kim and Steven Yeun in “Minari”.

After receiving a slew of Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild Award nominations last week, two deserving awards season contenders were released on Friday. As the pandemic forces film distributors to rethink their release plans, “Minari” and “Judas and the Black Messiah” will now be available to the public, both digitally and in limited theatrical settings.

A24, the distributor of “Minari”, has launched the A24 Screening Room platform, which will host two weeks of virtual screenings of the film nationwide, with the possibility of expanding this distribution, depending on demand. For these screenings, the distributor has partnered with individual virtual theaters across the country, including The Little Theater locally.

Written and directed by Lee Isaac Chung, “Minari” is a semi-autobiographical interpretation of Chung’s education. The story follows the Yis, a family of South Korean immigrants trying to settle in America in the 1980s.

Patriarch of the Jacob family (Steven Yeun) moved his family from California to their new land in rural Arkansas, with the ambition of starting a farm and growing fresh Korean produce to sell at the market. His wife, Monica (Han Yeri) has doubts, but agrees to move with their US-born children Anne (Noel Cho) and David (Alan Kim) to this isolated and unknown location.

They are soon joined by Monica’s mother Soonja (Youn Yuh-jung).

Jacob longs for self-sufficiency and has an almost obsessive need to build something from nothing, even if it means uprooting his family. We see the sacrifices necessary to make Jacob’s dream come true, and the effect they have on his wife and children. Above all, Chung never turns him into an antagonist, and this generosity of spirit extends to every member of the family.

The film’s title comes from a tough herb native to Southeast Asia that can thrive even when planted in a foreign environment. The metaphor is clear, but the film never jumps out at us. The story “Minari” tells is uniquely American, about a family with only one other to support each other, and the chemistry of the cast beautifully supports Chung’s vision. Her deeply felt drama is delicately constructed through small moments into something of intimate grandeur.

The digital times of “Minari” are programmed once a day at 7 pm from Friday February 12th to Thursday February 25th. With a limited number of allocated tickets, screenings are already selling well, although additional times can be added in this window. Tickets cost $ 20, with a portion of each ticket going to support the Little Theater. Find all the details on

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Daniel Kaluuya as Fred Hampton in "Judas and the Black Messiah." - PHOTO COURTESY OF WARNER BROS

  • Daniel Kaluuya as Fred Hampton in “Judas and the Black Messiah”.

Limited theatrical opening and digitally on HBO Max, “Judas and the Black Messiah” is the story of Fred Hampton (Daniel Kaluuya, “Get Out”) the vice president of the Black Panther Party chapter in Chicago, seen through the eyes by William O’Neal (a reliable and excellent Lakeith Stanfield, “Sorry to bother you”), the man who will eventually betray him.

At the start of the film, William is arrested by authorities for impersonating an FBI agent in order to steal cars. To avoid jail, he makes a deal to become an informant, infiltrating the Panther Party to get closer to Hampton and reporting the information he collects to his FBI manager, Roy Mitchell (Jesse Plemons).

As portrayed by Kaluuya (whose compelling performance once again proves why he’s one of the most exciting actors working today), Hampton is a charismatic speaker and revolutionary thinker who puts his whole heart into the fight. for racial justice.

At just 21, Hampton was a natural leader, capturing the attention of the FBI and putting him in the sights of the agency’s director, J. Edgar Hoover (played here by an almost unrecognizable Martin Sheen).

Directed by Shaka King (screenplay written by King and Will Berson, based on Keith and Kenneth Lucas ‘story), the film does justice to the Panthers’ complicated history and highlights the often brutal actions of a US government relentless to burn. a movement he saw as a threat to public order.

But for any heated rhetoric he utters about taking up arms in the fight for equality, Hampton’s real goal is to build a stronger community: to establish a free breakfast program for young people, medical clinics and bringing together various groups from across town to join forces as a rainbow coalition.

Kaluuya captures Hampton’s charisma and intelligence, and in scenes with Dominique Fishback (a star as Deborah Johnson, Hampton’s girlfriend and fellow Panther), shows a touching vulnerability. King’s film is a vibrant tribute to the activist, burning with righteous anger that gives him devastating power.

“Judas and the Black Messiah” will be released simultaneously in theaters and digitally on HBO Max.

(PG-13), directed by Lee Isaac Chung
Play virtually through The little theater

“Judas and the Black Messiah”
(D), directed by Shaka King
Play now in limited theaters and streaming on HBO Max

Adam Lubitow is an independent film critic for CITY. Comments on these reviews can be addressed to Rebecca Rafferty, Editor-in-Chief of CITY, at [email protected].

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