* * * *
(Fifties True Story of Racial Crime)
We were in high school and college in the fifties when racial prejudice ran rampant in the United States, especially in the south.
“Till,” the true story of the young boy from Chicago who is violently murdered while on vacation with his cousins in Mississippi, is examined on the big screen with scenes that are difficult to watch at times but need to be seen to show us how far we have come, and remind us how far we still need to go.
While it is the story of Emmett Till, it is ultimately a story of his brave and determined mother, Mamie Till-Mobley, played with gripping emotion my Danielle Deadwyler.
Emmett’s body was mutilated so badly it was unrecognizable. Mamie insisted that it be “shown to America” so everyone could see what happened to this poor, innocent Black boy.
And it was.
It was a difficult decision, as we are sure it was with the filmmakers who chose to, as discreetly as possible, include the heart-wrenching scene in the movie.
The movie begins with a happy, but cautious Black Chicago family living their lives carefully and cautiously (“knowing their place” in a white dominated society.)
Mamie explains how life in Mississippi will be different, and how her son must act differently.
Emmett makes the big mistake of whistling at a white grocery clerk, showing her his new wallet, with a photo of a white girl (I remember having one when I was young).
He is kidnapped, beaten, lynched and left in a stream.
The NAACP comes to Mamie’s assistance, along with Medgar Evers and the trial begins before an all-white male jury.
The judge is indifferent. The girl lies. The verdict is a given.
For those of us who have forgotten, or were not born yet, we learn what happened to the murderers and others involved.
It is a tough lesson.
The movie is rated PG-13 because of the disturbing scenes and racism expressed openly, but everyone aged 13 and over should see it and act upon it.
* * * 1/2
(The world of Lydia Tar, composer/conductor)
It takes two hours and 28 minutes to tell us a bit of the life and character of one of the world’s greatest composer/conductors, Lydia Tar.
Brilliantly portrayed by Cate Blanchett, Tar is a self-indulgent, unlovable person.
She is also a genius in her world of classical music. She hears every sound, which often is a distraction for her.
Tar is the first woman to conduct a major German orchestra. Her time is in great demand, as she rushes of interviews to guest conducting, lectures and teaching master classes.
The movie opens with her being interviewed by the New York Times classical music writer; giving us a good perspective of her views on conducting, composing, and classical music in general.
We then see her devastate a student in front of his classmates to the point where he gathers his music and dashes out of the class calling her some very bad names.
Then we see her at home with her wife whom she dominates, and daughter whom she adores.
No question, Lydia Tar is a very complex character.
We follow her through rehearsals, meetings, selections of musicians’ interviews, and watching her manipulate people.
She treats her assistant horribly until she strikes back.
Tar suddenly discovers that she has gone too far and finds herself on the outs of a profession she could have taken to new heights.
The movie is quite artsy at times, including many discussions on the music and short pieces from major composers during rehearsals. While some may find it a bit long and wandering, classical music lovers won’t want to miss a single note.
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