Tag: Social Issues

Netflix Pick: ‘When We Were Kings’

When We Were Kings (1996)
Directed by Leon Gast
89 mins.

By Tim Lucia

Leon Gast’s When We Were Kings won the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature in 1996.  Kings is a captivating, enthralling look into the life of legendary American boxer Mohammed Ali and his 1974 bout with George Foreman, dubbed ‘The Rumble in the Jungle’.  Besides Ali and Foreman, the film also features the likes of Don King, Spike Lee, James Brown, B.B. King, Norman Mailer, and George Plimpton.  Pieced together with footage from that era, it provides an inside look at Ali’s lager-than-life personality, showing his huge ego while at the same time showing his passion for helping those less fortunate than himself, and his genuine longing to reform the social issues of the time.  I found myself completely entranced by Ali and the film itself.  Kings also provides some insight into Zaire’s politics and the oppression of its people.  Mailer’s interview segments were also incredibly captivating, which is probably why he is one of the most successful writers of all time.  Ali is a hugely prominent figure in both American sports and history, and When We Were Kings is an absolute must-see documentary.

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Netflix Pick: ‘This is England’

This is England (2006)
Written & Directed by Shane Meadows
102 mins.

By Tim Lucia

Shane Meadows’ semi-autobiographical film This is England is an unflinching look into disenchanted youth, racism, and English subcultures.  In 1983, mods, new wavers, punks, and skinheads dominate the social scene in England.  Loner Shaun (Thomas Turgoose) begins his summer by getting picked on and fighting with local kids.  On his way home, he meets friendly skinhead Woody (Joseph Gilgun), who takes Shaun under his wing.  Shaun makes new friends, parties, and begins to be happy and enjoy his life.  Enter Combo (Stephen Graham) a dangerous, angry, militant skinhead who also takes a shine to Shaun.  Set against a backdrop of the Falklands War, Shaun sides with Combo, and the conflict escalates, forever changing the lives of all the characters.  Strong performances, story, and cinematography highlight this powerful film which won Best Film at the 2006 British Independent Film Awards.  The soundtrack features classic hits from reggae band Toots & The Maytals.