Regina King’s One Night in Miami

Eli Goree as Cassius Clay/Muhammad Ali in Regina King’s excellent One Night in Miami (image from Metacritic)

I know that Steve McQueen manage to hog most of the 58th New York Film Festival all to himself — which is why I only saw two of his three episodes the form the basis of viagra tansze zamienniki poolhall junkies lion speech order ecology papers creative writing university of cambridge enter site essay on public places is levitra over the counter see islamic banking thesis topics follow link sports psychology dissertation examples follow site application cover letter for job thesis in project management purpose bathtubs cialis commercials click here phd thesis in data mining pdf go to link stages of a research paper good discursive essay topics how soon does lasix take effect generic viagra headache Small Axe. Nothing against McQueen. I am currently obsessed with Black Stories as depicted in cinema. Furthermore, I’m ecstatic that the Black Lives Matter movement, which has been a long time coming, has made it possible for directors and actors to get their visions out there because frankly, cinema has for far too long relegated Black Voices to the fringe in both acting, producing, and directing.

I just wish that Regina King’s One Night in Miami would have also been screened at the NYFF because it deserved that kind of opening, not just the Toronto International Film Festival. One Night in Miami is a muscular showcase for four incredibly talented actors to showcase their acting chops in a movie based on the play of the same penned by Kemp Powers. In the narrative, lightning gets trapped in not a bottle but an unassuming hotel room in Miami where four friends — Sam Cooke (Leslie Odom Jr.), Malcolm X (Kingsley Ben-Adir), Jim Brown (Aldris Hodge), and Cassius Clay (Eli Goree) — converge not for a night of debauchery but a night of celebration. The guest of honor is Cassius Clay himself, who has just won Sonny Liston, and thus has become crowned World’s Boxing Champion.

During this incredible night, the men engage in friendly banter, but as it happens, the topics move smoothly from the banal to the relevant to the time, which still resonates today. Malcolm begins to criticize that Sam Cooke can’t have a hit on his own even though his own songs have been performed better by white artists. Cooke posits his own stance at how this has in essence served him fine, but deep down, there is a sense that he’d like to have his own name headlining a hit instead of being the pen who wrote it. Brown is about to leave his successful career in sports to become an actor. Clay preens and posits little conflict throughout, but is actually on the verge of converting to Islam, with Malcolm as his mentor.

Regina King never lets her camera intrude more than it has to, opting instead for allowing her actors to do the heavy load and create a perpetually mobile story that lifts itself off from its rather wordy roots. One Night in Miami serves up a lot more truths — particularly those of Brown, Malcolm, and Cooke himself, which will make audiences view them in a different light. The timing of the story — in reality and its fictionalized version — could not have been more telling, given that 1964 was the year when the Civil Rights Movement reached its head and all of the men here held a position in which they were not just heard but seen and thus became icons of the movement.

Ultimately, its story lands squarely on Malcolm X’s shoulders more than once, and it’s often telling how the movie manages to give him the voice of reason and gravity behind the allure of success and fame. All of the actors are in fine mode here, but to me, Kingsley Ben-Adir’s performance as Malcolm X is the one that sticks with me the most. [A]

One Night in Miami will have its official premiere on December 25, 2020, and will arrive on streaming platforms come January 2021.