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One Night in Miami: A Good Movie for Tonight

This seemed like a good time to review One Night in Miami, which my wife and I saw and loved on Amazon Prime Video the other night -- a good time because Joe Biden is President, a human being back in the White House, and Kamala Harris, in effect his first appointment all those months ago, is Vice President, the first woman and person of color as VP.

One Night in Miami details a long meeting between Cassius Clay (soon Muhammad Ali), Malcolm X, Jim Brown, and Sam Cooke in a hotel room after Clay beat Sonny Liston to win the World Championship in 1964.  The meeting really happened.  The conversations in the movie were scripted (by Kemp Powers) and superb.  Same for the acting (Eli Goree, Kingsley Ben-Adir, Aldis Hodge, and Leslie Odom Jr. in those four roles), and likewise the brilliant directing by Regina King.  And the story told can be a considered a preamble or foundation of Black people in power in America in the 21st century, Barack Obama to Kamala Harris.

Back in 1964, the ways to get that power were far from clear, and highly debatable.  Malcolm wants black people to stand on their own.  His greatest conflict is with Sam Cooke, who sings all kinds of sweet, catchy romantic ballads (which, by the way, I love), leaving it to Bob Dylan, much to Malcolm's consternation, to write and sing "Blowing in the Wind".  Jim Brown knows all about racism, but is in the game (football and soon movies) for personal success, at least to some extent.  The question is how much?  Clay on the verge of becoming Ali is just 22, high on his being "the greatest," but attracted to Malcolm's philosophy.

Pursuit of fame and money back then was and still is a soul-depleting business, unless you can figure out a way to pursue those goals, and keep them if you reach them, with your inner core intact, and devoted at least in part to loftier goals for yourself, your people, and the world.  The path isn't easy, and One Night In Miami portrays four black guys, incredibly talented and bright in different ways, on the edge of that path so well and memorably, it could have been a Socratic dialogue written Plato.   See it and learn and enjoy.


"Sam's Requests" in this anthology is about Sam Cooke!

This post first appeared on Paul Levinson's Infinite Regress, please read the originial post: here

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One Night in Miami: A Good Movie for Tonight


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