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3 reviews, 58 user ratings

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Malcolm X
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by Slyder

"A view on both sides of the extremist coin"
5 stars

Spike Lee was at the forefront of a black-film renaissance in the late 80s and early 90s with the independent hit She’s Gotta Have It, and his controversial but solid Do the Right Thing, but he unquestionably outdid himself with this film. Malcolm X is quite a biography, an intense in-depth story of the slain civil rights leader, often misunderstood by his detractors and supporters, and murdered by his own kin that betrayed him. This film was unfairly snubbed at Oscar night and it only got 2 nods for best actor and best costume design, and not for its screenplay, direction, or for best film; what a travesty, since this film was unquestionably the 2nd best film of 1992, behind Unforgiven and ahead of Howard’s End.

The film is an in-depth look on the life at times of Malcolm X AKA Malcolm Little (Denzel Washington), starting from his days as a street kid, Pullman porter and settling as a hustler working for mob guy West Indian Archie (Delroy Lindo), and calling himself Detroit Red. The accounts of his parents are split up in several parts, in which we come to know that his father was murdered by the Ku Klux Klan and his mother was sent to a mental institution. His dealings and wrongdoings eventually land him in prison where he meets Brother Baines (Albert Hall) whom teaches him Islamic religion – in its extreme form. Converted to Muslim by the Black Muslim Church, and assigned as Messianic disciple by the Black Muslim leader, the Honorable Elijah Muhammad (Al Freeman Jr.), Malcolm X becomes a fervent but controversial speaker mouthing off rage and rebellion against the white man and promoting black supremacy and separation. Later though, Malcolm realizes that fellow ministers are growing jealous of him because he gets too much press and that all this time he has been used as a propaganda tool by nothing more than shifty eyed, racist hustlers that live off the blind faith of the people that follow them. Malcolm is kicked out because of this and makes a pilgrimage to Mecca where he finally learns the real truth about Islam and the lies of Black Muslim racists. Unfortunately, it’s this truth that would mark him for death by his former colleagues.

When I watched this film, it was like no other film I’ve ever watched, probably because it’s about a black man, and is written and directed by a black man. Nothing wrong with that, since I believe points of view vary within each race. It was expected, and I liked it, since it shows how the black world is lived, how they interact with each other, and all the points of view that black people had about white people back then. Lee never overdoes it on both direction and most importantly, the screenplay; all the details of Malcolm’s life throughout the movie are given out eloquently without any heavy-handedness and overstuffing. Malcolm is not presented as a hero, but rather a human being like you and I, with tendencies to go to the extreme, to provoke, to be right as well as wrong. Elements that are reminiscent to the same way Lawrence of Arabia was handled, and that’s the key to it all since we have to understand why he did the things the way he did it, and if possible, relate to him once in a while.

Lee also does a great job in directing since he manages to manipulate your emotions around the violent environment which is racism, but not through your usual redneck trash, he also brings out the other side of the coin, which is black racism, a subject that not many would like to talk about. Watch the brutal opening scenes where an American flag is burned spliced with Rodney King’s unforgettable beating spliced with a fierce and provocative Malcolm “charging the white man for his crimes against the black man.” The first extreme (white racism) is easy to comprehend and accept since obviously it’s the most present in every society (not to mention in every movie), but black supremacy is a subject that has to be known, and Lee does a great job on depicting it. How black extremists are as equally a bunch of redneck assholes as white extremists, and even worse, use religion as a means of hustling people’s money and faith and live on it to make themselves filthy rich. At the end, when both sides are depicted, Malcolm, as well as the viewer must find the middle ground; kudos to Lee for showing that. The production values of this film are carefully crafted with some great photography by Ernest Dickerson.

To be believable, I don’t think Spike Lee would’ve done any better than to choose Denzel Washington for the lead. See, Denzel dazzles me in a way no other actor does (except Daniel Day-Lewis); he’s a guy that would make you think due to his charming smile, that he should a comedian or a comic actor rather than a dramatic lead. But under that smile he hides an incredible talent which unlimited range that no one would ever think of, and is that talent which helps him immerse into several roles you would never think he could pull it off. He’s a perfect example of a chameleonic actor, and he proves it here perfectly giving one of his finest performances to date; it’s his performance that main force which carries the movie throughout its 3 ˝ hour running time. There are also some notable standouts in the supporting roles, notably Angela Basset as Malcolm’s wife, Delroy Lindo as West Indian Archie, and Albert Hall as Brother Baines.

In the end, this film is powerful stuff, and is absolutely recommended for people of all colors. It’s a worthwhile epic which is as fierce and riveting as the man himself. 5-5

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=850&reviewer=235
originally posted: 02/25/04 16:34:21
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User Comments

9/16/17 morris campbell great bio-pic 5 stars
11/19/11 action movie fan slow boring film denzel is good but little else 2 stars
4/25/11 Kelseeey this movie SUCKED i HATED IT. i understood the plot, but it was just dumb. 1 stars
10/21/10 Dominique This movie is GREAT! Denzel played his part. 5 stars
11/23/09 The Truth A underrated film that will probably turn out to be one of the greatest of all time. 5 stars
8/28/09 Jeff Wilder Great bip-pic that offered a full 3-dimensional portrayal of Malcolm. 5 stars
7/29/09 Che Vai inspiring to all walks of life 5 stars
7/20/09 Livv Awesome, loved it =] 5 stars
12/04/08 Flowers It was a great piece of work! 4 stars
11/23/08 killer denzel is the man 5 stars
6/13/08 mody great movie 5 stars
5/19/08 jointz Malcolm X is simply epic. Why do bigots even bother rating movies like this? 5 stars
5/29/07 Kelly if you dont think it is amazing read the book then youll get it 5 stars
3/08/07 johnnyfog Denzel gets across his magnetic style and total assurance. Great film 5 stars
1/11/07 Sepi53 Great historical film 5 stars
1/03/07 Nicole Stop the pattern of violence. Stop letting poisons take over. 5 stars
5/15/06 bmac whoa. this shit was amazing 5 stars
10/19/05 millersxing Spike's vision achieved & Malcolm's vision honored. That "floating" shot always startles me 5 stars
10/10/05 Agent Sands Malcolm was one obstinate guy, but what a life. You can also tell what scenes Mamet wrote. 4 stars
8/11/05 ES X was no Martin Luther King jr.= too bad, but ok movie 3 stars
6/26/05 DM The film's few flaws do not detract from its powerhouse acting and vivid characterizations. 5 stars
6/13/05 Weltner A 3 hour,40 minte epic of black racism.What censorship?What racism?Badly made,of course!! 1 stars
2/06/05 Uncle Phucker Get you hand out of my pocket!!! 5 stars
11/21/04 tina johnson Malcolm was a bigot of Europeans and very anti-sematic 3 stars
10/20/04 Lennea Really shows what life was like for coloured people in the 50's and 60's. Opened my eyes! 5 stars
9/29/04 Daveman Doesn't achieve all it sets out to do, but some might say that it is a fateful triumph. 4 stars
5/16/04 rey eye opening 5 stars
5/12/04 Me BANG BANG! 1 stars
4/25/04 Lord Jiggy Agit-prop: ignored Malcolm's change of heart and repudiation of hating whitey b4 he died. 2 stars
3/24/04 Margie denzel was great. it's a glimpse into a part of history most people don't know about. 4 stars
3/18/04 tarik best film ever 5 stars
3/02/04 Michael Mungin Denzel gives possibly one of the best performances in the history of film. 5 stars
1/16/04 Agent Sands A good, passionate depiction that would hate to have any fictional twists. 4 stars
6/03/03 liz hated it 1 stars
10/09/02 Kitfo a didactic epic that is stylish and entertaining as well 5 stars
9/25/02 Adam Jones Unbelievably amazing 5 stars
5/27/02 R.W. Welch Interesting study in radicalization with effective portrayal by D.W. 4 stars
4/09/02 Bob Too damn long. Could have gotton the point across with a lot shorter film 2 stars
12/13/01 PuMa Cool 5 stars
11/30/01 sparkyfish This movie gives a good point of view into the afro-american's life 5 stars
10/31/01 Jacques Dekirmenjian "Awsome" I'v seen it x in the last month and gotten friends to watch it 5 stars
9/02/01 Butterbean a well done bio about Malcom X 4 stars
9/01/01 Axe_Murderer ................... 5 stars
8/10/01 Matt Simply a riveting chronical of the life and times of one Malcolm X. 5 stars
3/23/01 Margaret Comrie It was tottal crap... 1 stars
12/19/00 Diamond Red At first I expected shameless anti-white racism, but it ended up extraordinarily powerful 5 stars
8/09/00 Bruce Spike Lee topped himself with one, truly excellent 5 stars
3/04/00 Tony Joahnsson Fuckin Great 5 stars
10/13/99 Elisa Douglas Malcolm X was a remarkable and memorable film, which changed my life. 5 stars
10/06/99 strike Great beginning and after that it went downhill.At the end i felt like i had been in church 3 stars
7/07/99 Ben Leostein Rating: *** (out of ****) Category: "Good" 4 stars
6/15/99 Dylan Inspiring. 5 stars
11/24/98 Mr.Pink Interesting movie and well-acted, but it often felt like a lecture 3 stars
11/18/98 MinxxDaShorty One word Brillient 5 stars
11/15/98 Lord Of The Dunce A good film, but too long. Informed, didn't judge, but covered too many bases. 4 stars
10/14/98 Bluntman Powerful filmmaking 5 stars
9/15/98 MikeF Common brothers, show your suport! this movie was da shiznik 5 stars
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  18-Nov-1992 (R)
  DVD: 08-Feb-2005



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