There is always a breaking point with society and injustice. While Covid-19 is wreaking havoc globally, racism continues to exists and unfortunately will never end. As a white man, all that I can do is sympathize because, in my eyes, everyone has the right to live. But I have no idea what the life of a minority is like in America. These are my Top 10 Racially Charged Movies of all-time. Once again, not best movies overall. More about racial impact.
10. “Fruitvale Station” (2013):
The 2008 story of 22-year-old Oscar Grant being tragically killed for no reason is perfectly dramatized in director Ryan Coogler’s “Fruitvale Station”. Instead of focusing on the death and aftermath, “Fruitvale” decided to go the opposite direction by showing the day leading up to Grant’s death. The Bay-Area resident is certainly troubled with not all of the right people surrounding him. But he is not an evil man. On December 31 he wakes up deciding to start his New Year’s resolutions early as it is his mother’s (Octavia Spencer) birthday. Be a better son, boyfriend, and father to his 4 year old daughter T. Unfortunately, the day does not go according to plan with multiple obstacles facing the poor black man, culminating is his unwarranted death by cop that was caught on tape. Michael B. Jordan is a bonafide movie star. Here, he genuinely acts his butt off in an honest portrayal of humanity getting it wrong.
9. “Unforgiven” (1992):
Director Clint Eastwood’s Oscar winning “Unforgiven” is more commonly remembered as a gritty western. It was much more than that. After a whore is brutally disfigured by an a-hole cowboy, the ladies get together and hire a retired gunman played by Eastwood. He grabs his old friend Ned Logan (Morgan Freeman) to help in the hunt for the outlaw. The problem is the town sheriff played by Gene Hackman. He’s an angry S.O.B. who could care less about whores. More importantly, he despises him some blacks. Once the sheriff captures the black man Logan, things are not pretty. When Eastwood returns to town he sees his friend on a cross after being beaten to death very slowly. That is when Clint goes on a rampage, killing all of the lawmen, leaving the town yelling; “If anyone comes after me or does anything to my friend’s body I will kill the entire lot of you.”
8. “American History X” (1998):
Nothing is more cowardly than becoming a Neo-Nazi. At least in Hitler’s era a lot of people did not know any better. To blindly hate any race that isn’t white is so fundamentally wrong.“American History X” explores that concept from both sides of the coin, utilizing flashbacks to tell the story of a man that took years to finally regret his life. Edward Norton stars as Derek Vineyard, a huge young force in the Neo-Nazi community. Scenes from the past, all shown in black & white, present the man as an evil and vindictive person who eventually goes to jail for killing a black man curbside. His time inside and interactions with black prisoners give him the realization that his thinking is wrong. Once he’s out he sees that his younger brother is going down the same path. Nothing is excusable about Derek’s action, but he does find a way to be better if possible going forward.
7. “Dances With Wolves” (1990):
The original first example of white people fucking over a people with a different skin color was what we did to the Native American community. Once we got here it was game on against the people wearing feathers and sleeping in tee-pee’s. The Trail of Tears in which countless Indians died is one of the most shameful things in U.S. history. Star/Director Kevin Costner gave us a minute look into part of this period of history with his Oscar winning “Dances With Wolves”. A sprawling old school epic, “Wolves” tells the story of a Civil War Lieutenant stationed at a remote western outpost with multiple tribes surrounding the military location. At first tensions are high, but eventually the soldier learns the ways of one of the tribes and the white man befriends them. The U.S. military is of course not happy about this and tortures the man. “Wolves” is a great example of accepting those who look different and then being ostracized for it.
6. “Team America: World Police” (2004):
Satire when it comes to race can be awesome if it comes from a good place. “South Park” creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone displayed this perfectly with “Team America: World Police”. What makes this comedy so brilliant is that, while it makes fun of several races, the ultimate satire is how much white Americans suck some times. An unstoppable force of military experts, and these are all dolls, are ready to police everyone from the Middle East to North Korea. You start right out of the gate with “Team America” invading Egypt and blowing up everything in site with the jam “AMERICA FUCK YEAH! FREEDOM IS THE ONLY WAY YEAH!” playing in the background. By the time you get to former North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Il singing “I’M SO LONELLLYY” then you’ve pissed off everybody that doesn’t have a sense of humor.
5. “Sin Nombre” (2009):
I will continue and continue to say this in reviews such as this as long as I am able to write. Not all law-abiding officers are good. Not all gangsters are evil. Not all minorities are criminals. In fact few are. “Sin Nombre” tells the story of a young Honduran girl named Sayra (Paulina Gaitan) re-uniting with her father in hopes of finding a way to make it to the U.S. in hopes of a better life. Meanwhile, gang member ‘El Casper’ is initiated by the Mexican Cartel in a very violent way which includes a beating and the witnessing of a young girl raped. The gang goes to a train station which many refugees use as stow-aways in order to arrive in America. When gang leader Lil’ Mago attempts a rape against Sayra, Casper kills him and now there is a price on his head. “Sin Nombre” is the perfect example of why no border wall needs to be built. These are people just like you and I trying to make it through the day.
4. “Django Unchained” (2012):
Leave it up to director Quentin Tarantino to make the most twisted rendition of the most screwed up period in American history, slavery. “Django Unchained” is a full-bodied circus act of satire, action, drama, and violence. Yet, somehow it really works. Jamie Foxx stars as Django, a slave luckily freed by the overly intelligent bounty hunter Dr. King Schultz (Christoph Waltz). While helping Schultz, Django makes him agree to assist in getting his slave wife back from the diabolically evil plantation owner Mr. Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio). From the start it is clear Mr. Candie has zero respect for any black man. There are several great jokes, including a Ku-Klux-Klan meeting in which the group’s hoods do not fit right because an idiot southern’s wife did not cut the holes correctly. You have plenty of gunfights, highlighted by Django shooting a bunch of slavers to the Tupac song “Am I Wrong Cause I Wanna Get It On Till I Die!”. Ultimately, Tarantino is showing just how totally wrong slavery was and how it should never happen again.
3. “Do the Right Thing” (1989):
No other scene showcases the racial tension between black & white better than when Mookie (Spike Lee) throws a trash can through the window of the pizza shop he works at after Radio Raheem is choked to death by the police in “Do the Right Thing”. Mookie is a struggling young father with a feisty girlfriend and a tiny child trying to survive in New York. Every day he crosses paths with his black community on the sidewalk while also attempting to avoid the police just like the rest of his brothers. While destroying the pizzeria run by Italian ownership is not the answer, at a certain point enough is enough. This is not the idea of poking the bear as many white Americans see it. This is trying to beat the entirety of the metaphorical ‘bear’ community into submission to the point where there is no option other than to lash out.
2. “Missisipi Burning” (1988):
Never do I want to generalize any race or group of people based on what others do. But I am sorry, what the hell is wrong with white people in the Deep South!? I know there are a ton of great white human beings there, more than others, but why does this systemic racism still have to exist? “Mississippi Burning” asks that exact question. Stars Willem DaFoe and Gene Hackman play two very different F.B.I. agents. DaFoe is a city boy while Hackman knows how backwards some of these Klan people can be having grown up in the area. The two are tasked with finding out about the disappearance of three Civil Rights activists, attempting to organize a voter registry. A media frenzy ensues the battle between right and wrong hits Mississippi harder than the Klan thought.
1. “Schindler’s List” (1993):
The Holocaust. Worst period of time in modern civilization. So many lives lost for no reason and so much hatred without cause. While the riots happening today make sense due to police brutality against minorities, the killing of millions of Jewish citizens will never be justifiable. Director Steven Spielberg made one of the all-time classic odes to this horrific period in history with “Schindler’s List”. While it is dramatized and there are many other hero’s from the time, focusing on a man named Oscar Schindler (Liam Neeson) was a masterstroke in how to show that good can come out of absolute terror. As Schindler makes his list with his accountant Itzhak Stern (Ben Kingsley) of Jewish names to save, Stern makes one of the most human phrases in movie history; “This list is an absolute good… This list is life. All around its margins lies the gulf.”