to convey multitudes with subtlety, even if never makes a move you didn’t see coming a mile down that country road. Of the many terms a cineast could use to describe a Spike Lee joint, be it or likely wouldn’t be among them. As is the case with which follows four combat veterans (Delroy Lindo, Clarke Peters, Isiah Whitlock Jr., and Norm Lewis— all outstanding) as they return to Vietnam decades after the war. Ostensibly, they’re there to recover the remains of their fallen squad leader (Chadwick Boseman). Truthfully, they’re on a hunt for the fortune in gold they found in a downed CIA plane and then buried before rotating home. And spiritually, they’re on a quest to heal from the wounds they got in Nam. manages to be both an intimate exploration of four men revisiting the carnage that scarred their collective emotional landscapes, and a big-picture treatise on ’70s America—both its racial dynamics and its interventionist footprint in Vietnam. (Newsreel footage helps back up that treatise.) When it’s the latter, is a film that doesn’t trust its audience to get The Point, so it all but slaps you in the face with it. But as the former, it’s a crackerjack drama, directed by a filmmaker who remains in total control of his once-in-a-generation gifts, and utilizes them to synthesize story and history into something new. → Believe it or not, the real Eurovision gets a crazier than this Miss Juneteenth lot [THESE] THREE FILMS...RUN THE GAMUT OF THE BLACK CINEMATIC EXPERIENCE.” classic misfire, subtle “It’s because of you, John”—I found myself asking a question the documentary’s director, Dawn Porter, never answered: What made him person? From whence came the seed of greatness? “There was something deep down within me, moving me, that I could no longer be satisfied,” a baby-faced Lewis says in some old interview footage. But what is that “something ”? is absolutely inspiring, but stops short of being illuminating. meanwhile, isn’t interested in history at large. The movie focuses on the personal history of Turquoise Jones (Nicole Beharie), a single mother who used to hold the local beauty-pageant crown of Miss Juneteenth, named after the day, months after the Civil War ended, when slaves in Texas learned they were free. Now Turquoise wants her own teenage daughter, Kai (Alexis Chikaeze), to follow in her footsteps but do more with the pageant’s scholarship-toany-HBCU prize than she did. It’s a “How much can a single black mother endure” story: the rebellious daughter, troublemaking love interest (Kendrick Sampson), judgy you-need-Jesus mother, thankless waitress-bartender job at a down-home Texas lounge, and casual Karen racism. Beharie remains a powerful performer, able Da 5 Bloods, this Eurovision Quest HOW AND FOUND THE EXTRAVAGANT WILL FERRELL RACHEL IN THE EXTRA EUROVISION SONG CONTEST: THE STORY OF FIRE SAGA MCADAMS Good Trouble (ON NETFLIX JUNE 26). By Ruth Kinane Miss Juneteenth, The Performances To capture the eccentric adulation of the annual contest’s audience, director David Dobkin opted for the real deal, flying to Tel Aviv for the 2019 final. “Eurovision performances are dynamic and unexpected,” says Dobkin, who reunites with his stars Ferrell and McAdams, here playing the members of Fire Saga. “The scale is huge and the crowd unique; I knew I couldn’t re-create them.” So the director played a reconfigured version (to avoid leaks) of Fire Saga’s performance of the song “Double Trouble” to the Israel audience and filmed their reaction. Da 5 Bloods Wedding Crashers Da 5 Bloods The Accents To get around extensive dialect coaching, Dobkin cast actors of the nationality they were playing: “Thank God I didn’t have 15 people at a table read, all speaking Icelandic in different ways.” Of course, Ferrell, McAdams, and Dan Stevens, who gives his singer character’s Russian lilt a wild added spin (“Lines like ‘fact of truth’ were all him”), were the exceptions. John Lewis: Good Trouble Miss B; Juneteenth Da 5 Bloods B–; A– The Costumes ↖ The crew of Da 5 Bloods Foil tracksuits, spandex bodysuits, and horned helmets: Eurovision is a costume designer’s psychedelic dream. Dobkin brought in repeat collaborator Anna B. Sheppard to add some extra “color and craziness,” though when it comes to the contestants’ clothing, he realizes, “You can’t out-Eurovision Eurovision!” (now streaming on Netflix) ← A quiet moment in From left Miss Juneteenth (on VOD/in theaters June 19); John Lewis (far right) marching in (on VOD/ in theaters July 3) Good Trouble JULY 2020 EW ● COM 51
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