IVOR I. from CHICAGO, IL Reviewed on 12/27/2010...
Rousing stuff! A fine, family film. A stunning performance (once again!)by Jeffrey Wright as Martin Luther King. Wright nails his performance perfectly, chewing the scenery, blowing away his colleagues. Take that any way you want. Terrence Howard's performance is clever and wistful, too . And Wright's real-life partner,Carmen Ejogo's performance as his rock of a wife Coretta Scott King is both subtle and warm.
There are scenes in the movie where King recognizes the inevitability of his own premature death. Dr. King is overcome with fear and prays to God for strength. There is often a corny fine line of taste in such scenes in many movies, but Wright is dexterous enough a performer to pull it off.
There has been criticism of this biography in that it sidesteps MLK's penchant for serial philandering and the homosexuality of so many members of his entourage. That, I think, is for some other filmmaker to cover.
Kudos to a fantastic soundtrack. My only criticism is that the handheld camera and steadicam attempts at cinema verité fall a little flat after a while and are a distraction.
I urge you to watch this fine film with your children and use it as an opportunity to discuss our history.
Jeffery Wright- Scene Stealer
Gordon Smith | san jose, ca United States | 03/22/2002
(4 out of 5 stars)
"In a good way. Here, the man who brought us "Peoples Hernandez" gets to play a character whose charisma actually equals his own. I speak of none other than the legendary Martin Luther King, Jr. Seriously, it may be impossible to emmulate a man so great, but Wright gives a great effort, full of Passion and Polish, that makes you feel the events surrounding the Montgomery Bus Boycott. For people, like myself, too young to remember the civil rights era, this movie is as educational as it is entertaining. And vice versa."
The story of Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Montgomery
Lawrance M. Bernabo | The Zenith City, Duluth, Minnesota | 05/27/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"On December 1, 1955, Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama so that a white passenger could sit down. Her arrest for this act of civil disobedience sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycott, one of the most significant and successful efforts against racial segregation in American history. The HBO movie "Boycott" looks at what happened when the one-day boycott of the Montgomery buses called because of the Parks' arrest became a protracted effort that last more than a year. The focus is not on Parks (Iris Little-Thomas), but on the young Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. (Jeffrey Wright), who becomes the spokesman for the boycott and had his first leadership role in the Civil Rights Movement. However, while the focus in on King, the work of other leaders, such as Ralph Abernathy (Terrence Howard) and Jo Ann Robinson (CCH Pounder), as well as the ordinary citizens who walked to work and drove the car pools, are covered and honored as well.
In watching how King becomes a leader be sure you continue to pay attention to how the city government of Montgomery tried to break the boycott, because there was a complexity to this struggle that goes beyond the simple idea that Negroes in the city stopped riding the bus. The escalating efforts by the city not only served to solidify King's believes in the value of nonviolence, but also revealed the hypocrisy of using the law to enforce injustice. There is also the interesting relationship between King and Bayard Rustin (Erik Todd Dellums), who actually sees King as failing to live up to Gandhi's example because there are armed men protecting Coretta Scott King (Carmen Ejogo) and his daughter. King is a revered figure in the telling of this story, but he is not turned into a walking saint, and neither the writing nor Wright's performance tries to make him anything more than a man trying to make the boycott work against great odds, and the concern of Daddy King (Mike Hodge) for his son's safety foreshadow's King's assassination in 1968, even though I think few viewers will not have his fate always in the back of their mind while watching "Boycott." The only serious complaint is that the movie seems to end somewhat abruptly because what turns out to be the straw that breaks the camel's back does not strike us as such at the time, so when victory is achieved it comes as something of a surprise.
Writers Herman Daniel Farrell and Timothy J. Sexton, working from Stewart Burns' book "Daybreak of Freedom," come up with creative ways to keep things movie in a movie that is about a boycott that lasts over 380-days (the exact number is in dispute). You might think there would be a problem in showing people not riding a bus, but seeing the Negroes of Montgomery walking and car pooling to get to work becomes a potent series of images. We also have folks on both sides of the issue addressing the camera with what constitute quick asides that give a sense of what people were thinking, which includes some rather ugly thoughts. The bit of creativity where what Rosa Parks was thinking before her fateful moment in history, consisting of images seen on the window of the bus, is not repeated. If you watch "Boycott" again after exhausting the special features, most of which require you to go frame by frame to read about the people and times, you will understand more of what is happening in the various montages that tie scenes together. This is important becuase "Boycott" is trying to be educational as well as inspirational."
A King for all time
M. Fields | Brooklyn, New York USA | 02/25/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I am a late arrival to the career of Jeffrey Wright. The first time I saw him was in Angels in America. He caught my attention and I was riveted to every scene he was in. Wright as Dr. King was a strike of genius. He nails the performance with conviction and compassion. Wright steals every scene he appears in. The project as a whole is very impressive and I commend HBO for investing in this and other projects in which the lives and interests of African Americans are the focus. Terrence Howard is also a figure to watch out for in the future. Howard's performance is powerful especially with his facial expressions. Carmen Ejogo's performance is warm and supportive to the Dr. King character. In playing her part though, she was able to emote what she feels for her husband as she and Wright are real life husband and wife.
There is one moment in this film where Dr. King is overcome with fear and prays to God for strength and it is one of Wright's strongest scenes. It shows exaclty the fear that one might feel if suddenly realizing that you might not live to long just because of standing forwhat was right. Wright's speeches are very King like and in delivering his lines, Wright takes on a slowness of speech that was characteristic of the way Dr. King spoke. He spoke slowly as to give thought first to every word before before it was uttered.
I do find at times that the handheld camera is a bit much and can be a distraction but it can be easily overlooked.
I urge you to buy this film and watch it with your children. It is simply brilliant."
Kelly Alves | Daly City, CA United States | 02/12/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This has been the best film regarding the Mongomery Bus boycott I have seen so far. I appreciated the way it showed the interdependace of the Montgomery improvement Association, how it introduced me to key players in the drama that usually get hidden in the shadow of King (such as Bayard Rustin, Reverend Abernathy,the strong women leaders,and the pencil pushers that kept everything running)and the eclectic soundtrack that wove years of black history throughout the story. This is one to watch with the kids!"