One thing that 2020 has thankfully opened my eyes about is that the government is just as dumb, panicky, greedy and manipulative as the regular standard civilian but the Civil Rights era was where their censorship and use of excessive force hit an all-time high and a new low simultaneously. Ever since then, many civilians had to live with fear and the bare reminder of just how sadistic and manipulative people in charge can be either to people of color like me or whenever it feels convenient for them.....and Judas And The Black Messiah couldn’t have shown that truth through a clearer lens.
This is without any question, one of the most authentic films I’ve seen in recent memory; it may seem like I say this a lot but I generally mean it when I say Shaka King was able to paint a sadly still-relevant portrait of hatred and violence from our past and serve it as a legitimate triptych of the Black experience without making it feel generic or commercialized or tacky or just straight up manipulative; showing how a decade that inspired so many others to fight for an accommodation and feeling like they belonged charted the course for so much and so little to change simultaneously. It succeeds at being a gripping, panoramic drama resonant of the radical claustrophobic spirit of the 1960’s and beyond with grounded cinematography and editing, a vicious and vibrant atmosphere with haunting music and yet another courageously told story about oppression, revolution, coercion and betrayal between the barriers of black and white, all the while cementing how whenever the government is hellbent on actually wanting something done, they too will exact every sleazy trick in the book to walk away with their needs satisfied and how ambivalence can serve as its own form of betrayal. Not to mention, only two months into 2021 and we now have two more candidates for Best Actor in Lakeith Stanfield and Daniel Kaluuya.
Don’t believe I can say anymore, peeps. I think I’ve already found my film of the year until further notice. But on a serious note, it really does put all those songs from Rage Against The Machine into perspective more, doesn’t it?