This is the second installment of Films of Freedom, a Black History Month series curated by The North Star to celebrate the artists that paved the way for Black creators today.
Everyone knows when watching horror movies, the Black character always dies first. It happens so often it’s literally become a joke. Jordan Peele’s “US” doesn’t allow for the existence of this trope, because all of his main characters are Black. I LOVE scary movies, meaning I’ve built up a pretty high tolerance to them. But I’ll tell you right now, this is one of the scariest movies I’ve seen in my life. It’s terrifying, brilliantly written, expertly executed, and the perfect watch if you’re prepared to sleep with the lights on for a few days.
Black people rarely get to star in experimental films, ones that reach outside the confines of established filmmaking to explore larger themes. Black people rarely get to play weird, intricate characters, ones layered with conflict. Boots Riley’s “Sorry to Bother You” is as weird as it comes. If you’re looking for a mind-bending action/comedy/disturbing piece of cinema, this is your movie.
I could write a novel about how much this film means to me, how I’d never seen Black skin captured so beautifully on screen, how the script transcends dialogue to resemble poetry, how writer and director Barry Jenkins inspired me to pursue a career in filmmaking. But rather than rant about this film’s emotionally attuned brilliance, I’ll let you experience it for yourself. Follow the journey of a young Black man growing up and experiencing the hardships of poverty, parental relationships, and romance all while coming to terms with his budding sexuality. Oh, and grab some tissues. More than a few tears will be shed.
I am a firm believer that cartoons are not just for kids, especially when Pixar is producing them. “Soul” explores questions as big as “What is the meaning of life?” through animation so detailed, it takes no effort at all to surrender to the fictional world that is created. We see beautifully depicted aspects of Black life, from barbershops to jazz clubs, with characters that provide the much-needed representation of Black people in animation. Whether you’re 9 or 99 years old, there’s a lesson to be learned from this surprisingly deep film.
This one is for all my teenagers and young adults that just need a super dramatic narrative with Frank Ocean songs scored throughout. Packed with romance, ridiculously attractive actors, and a good dose of teenage angst, “Waves” takes you on an emotional rollercoaster you’ll never see coming. Plus Sterling K. Brown plays the dad and he’s seriously so good. If you watch this film for no other reason, watch it for Sterling.
This might just be my favorite on the list. Produced by A24, a company known for its amplification of diverse stories and unique voices, “The Last Black Man in San Francisco” is one of the most unique and poignant films I have ever seen. Unbelievably funny at times and dead serious at many others, its brutally honest look at what home truly means will resonate with anyone. With an all-star cast, gorgeous cinematography, and a jazzy score that’ll have you humming its songs long after the movie is over, it is a must-watch.
Yeah. No description needed. I love this movie so much. I’m probably gonna watch it after I finish writing this piece. So good.