A true case of “it ain’t over till it’s over”, One Night in Miami just moved into my Top 10 of 2020.
But first, this positive race relations commentary….six Caucasians (actually 4 parties, 2 separate solo single females and two couples) walked into the CineBistro Siesta Key to pay acknowledgement to not only the four great real life men, but also the four tremendous actors who portrayed them AND the brilliant woman who directed (Regina King) AND the man who wrote the script based on the play (Kemp Powers). Not looking for any trophy, just pointing out that there are kind well meaning white Floridians.
The movie began as a newborn calf, kinda clunky, but once I understood the premise that each on these guys: Muhammed Ali, Sam Cooke, Jim Brown and Malcom X had incurred their own unfortunate racist moments, the movie was off to the races. Where Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom play to movie cellar scene seemed stifling, One Night in Miami’s hotel room seemed roomy enough to hold tighter interest. The choreography of movement of four restless males may have had much to do with this higher level of excitement. Perhaps it’s a metaphor for how more (though in desperate need of more OBVIOUSLY) 1964 was evolved than 1927, but whatever the case, I was fully engaged in their philosophical wranglings. What does ‘freedom’ mean? Is economic freedom more important than proper racial respect? That seems to be the crux of the argument between Malcom X and Sam Cooke.
Let’s talk about the fantastic acting…I would be super pleased to see Kingsley Ben-Adir win the Oscar for Best Actor. You can not show concern and inner turmoil for nearly two hours and make it interesting unless you’re an A+ actor and this man did it handly. Bravo! The other actors were also supreme, Eli Goree scoring the most extroverted part of Cassius Clay. Leslie Odom Jr was fantastic as Sam Cooke who handles Malcom X’s debates with sly intellect. and I can’t leave out Aldis Hodge, while least animated as Jim Brown, he still had to reign in masculinity to hang and be king empathizer to Malcolm X, not an easy task.
At any rate, as pretty and smart as Mank was, this movie represents a piece of history far more important in my book. And it shows that grown men (and women) can disagree politely and lovingly….advice we can all use about now.