Google+

Grandparents Square-Off over Biracial Child in Contentious Courtroom Drama

 

Black or White

Film Review by Kam Williams

Grandparents Square-Off over Biracial Child in Contentious Courtroom Drama

 

When Elliot Anderson’s (Kevin Costner) wife Carol (Jennifer Ehle) perishes in a tragic car accident, he suddenly finds himself facing the prospect of raising his 7 year-old granddaughter Eloise (Jillian Estell) alone. After all, the couple had originally assumed custody from the moment their own daughter died giving birth to the little girl, since the baby’s drug-addicted father (Andre Holland) was behind bars and totally unfit to be a parent.

127703_galToday, however, Elliot does have a drinking problem which proceeds to escalate out of control in the wake of his spouse’s untimely demise. And this state of affairs comes to the attention of Eloise’s fraternal grandmother, Rowena “Wee-Wee” Davis (Octavia Spencer), who soon resurfaces for the first time in years.

She approaches Elliot about setting up visitation, in spite of her son’s substance abuse problems, since Eloise has a lot of other relatives on her father’s side of the family eager to see her. But the wealthy, white lawyer balks at the very suggestion, presumably because they’re black and from the ‘hood, and he’s thus far managed to shield his relatively-privileged granddaughter from the ghetto and its host of woes.

Of course, Wee-Wee doesn’t take the rebuff sitting down, but rather prevails upon her attorney brother, Jeremiah (Anthony Mackie), to file suit. Next thing you know, the parties are slinging mud at one another in an ugly custody battle where Reggie is accused of being a crack head with a criminal record and Elliot is labeled a racist and an alcoholic. Responsibility for dispensing justice blindly falls to Judge Margaret Cummings (Paula Newsome), who might very well be a bit biased in favor of plaintiff Rowena, given that she’s also African-American and female.

All roads inexorably lead to a big courtroom showdown in Black or White, a cross-cultural melodrama written and directed by Mike Binder (Reign over Me). Ostensibly “inspired by true events,” the picture pits a couple of worthy adversaries against each other in Elliot and Wee-Wee, as capably played by Oscar-winners Kevin Costner (for Dances with Wolves) and Octavia Spencer (for The Help).

Any lawyer worth his or her salt knows that you never ask a question on cross-examination that you don’t already127545_gal know the answer to. Nonetheless, Jeremiah violates that cardinal rule by asking Elliot, “Do you dislike all black people?” This affords the just-disgraced granddad an opportunity to rehabilitate his tarnished image courtesy of a scintillating, self-serving soliloquy reminiscent of Jack Nicholson’s “You can’t handle the truth!” monologue in A Few Good Men.

If only the rest of this racially-tinged baby-daddy drama had matched that climactic moment in terms of intensity. Still, the film is worth the investment for veteran Costner’s vintage performance and for the way in which the timely script dares to tackle some tough social questions in refreshingly-realistic, if perhaps politically-incorrect fashion.

 

Very Good (3 stars)

Rated PG-13 for profanity, fighting, ethnic slurs, and mature themes involving drugs and alcohol

Running time: 121 minutes

Distributor: Relativity Media

 

 

Entertainment

Top Ten DVD List for August 23, 2016

  This Week’s DVD Releases by Kam Williams Top Ten DVD List for August 23, 2016                     Roots [New Version of Alexy Haley's Classic American Saga] https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B01GEW31YY/ref=nosim/thslfofire-20 Scandal: The Complete Fifth Season https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B01E7XTYPM/ref=nosim/thslfofire-20 The Nice Guys https://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B01F5ZY596/ref=nosim/thslfofire-20 Clean Break: Season … [Read More its Good for You...]

Books

The “City of Angels” is a Fact for Our Wild Friends

  The “City of Angels” is a Fact for Our Wild Friends by Amy Lignor   It’s called the City of Angels. The title makes some laugh out loud when they think of the violence, driving, and other negatives that are focused upon by the media when speaking about Los Angeles. But a new book has just hit the market that opens up all new doors, proving that where both Los Angeles and the entirety of California are concerned, those angels actually do exist. Author Beth … [Read More its Good for You...]

Art

ART EXHIBITION: 150 Years After The Civil War

  Cynthia Groya 150 Years After The Civil War: A Contemporary Perspective January 10 - March 6, 2016 Artist's Reception: Sunday, January 24, 3:00 - 5:00 pm Nassau Club 6 Mercer Street  Princeton, NJ 08540 The ideas reflected in Groya's paintings express a conversation about struggle for equal rights in our culture, in our time. The origin of this struggle can be traced to The Civil War in our country, which ended 150 years ago. The … [Read More its Good for You...]

Real Estate

Castles in America

  Castles in America by Amy Lignor   Robin Leach and his “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous” taught us all long ago that we absolutely love to sit and view ridiculous luxury (usually owned by people who inherited all of it and didn’t work a day in their lives). See that? We had to complain about something as we were beguiled by the amount of money people would send to own or create the “best of the best.” Even though some things were referred to as the “gaudiest of … [Read More its Good for You...]

Lifestyle

Rappin’ with “The Dude”

    Jeff Bridges The “Hell or High Water” Interview with Kam Williams Rappin' with "The Dude" One of Hollywood’s most successful actors and a six-time Academy Award-nominee, Jeff Bridges performance in Crazy Heart as Bad Blake, the down-on-his-luck, alcoholic country music singer at the center of the drama, deservedly garnered the iconic performer an Oscar in the Best Lead Actor category. The performance also earned him a  Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild and … [Read More it Good for You...]

Outdoors

Gaff like a pro with these five tips

  Gaff like a pro with these five tips   To gaff or not to gaff? That is a question faced by many anglers and especially those aboard a Carolina Skiff.   A gaff is handy to have aboard when skiff anglers hook into a fish too big for a net, yet not small enough to bring aboard by hand, like many inshore species.   Gaffs can help eliminate injury by minimizing handling and the time it takes to return the fish to water. For larger fish, that can also … [Read More its Good for You...]

Sports

Get Ready for Football!

  Get Ready for Football! by Amy Lignor   There is a time every year where suddenly the sports news gets far more interesting. No. I’m not talking about the Olympics. Thus far the only thing anyone wants to hear about where Rio is concerned is a virus. What I speak of is that familiar smell of pigskin wafting in the air. The time when the (no offense) more boring sports exit the headlines to make way for the one sport that boasts more avid, loud, and loyal … [Read More its Good for You...]

Business

Calling All Entrepreneurs: Creating “Buzz” For Your Brands

  Calling All Entrepreneurs: Creating “Buzz” For Your Brands by Amy Lignor   This is 2016. This is an election year. “Shark Tank” is a top show on television. And more than ever people want to be entrepreneurs; be in business for themselves and make some money. But even after all this time in the computer-age, entrepreneurs are finding it difficult to see the ‘niches’ they can get into to build their brand so that all consumers know who they are and why their … [Read More its Good for You...]

Travel

Visit the Most Beautiful Nature Locales in the Country

  Visit the Most Beautiful Nature Locales in the Country by Amy Lignor   Wildlife habitat gardens are being created in a variety of locations, in a variety of sizes. There are even those that are funded by some large names and organizations, who are calling out to tourists across the globe to come visit and see what great things are being done to sustain and increase the wildlife community.   These are places that the National Wildlife Federation (NWF) has … [Read More its Good for You...]

Google+