The Black Braveheart Rises for Freedom

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The Birth of a Nation Review

By R. Ray Robinson  Contributor

Can going to the theaters be a moral obligation? A reciprocation for political gesture? The truth is, there are occasions when various parties—filmmakers, publicists and especially critics—would think so. 

In response to the racially criticized 1915 “Birth of a Nation,” directed by D.W. Griffith, it didn’t take long for the nation to be reborn with director Nate Parker’s version, winning the U.S. Grand Jury Prize and Audience award at Sundance. Two films, one hundred and one years apart, both called “The Birth of a Nation,” make two completely different social statements. The latest film takes aim at the legacy of the first, now in theaters.

“The Birth of a Nation” is the biographical American epic of Nat Turner and his slave rebellion in Southampton County, Virginia, in 1831. Its genesis begins with a young Nat Turner (Tony Espinosa) learning how to read the Bible from his white slave owning mother, Elizabeth Turner (Penelope Ann Miller). She teaches him to preach the gospel to slaves. 

As Nat (Nate Parker) grows of age in God’s word, his other overseer, Master Samuel Turner (Armie Hammer), takes him on a preaching tour for profit. While he ministers, he winds up seeing the harsh treatment that many slaves face from their masters. It is then that Nat believes he is chosen by God to “Sing a new song to execute vengeance on the demonic nations.” He winds up leading his black brothers in bondage to a holy war against injustices from slaveholders everywhere so his people can live in the land of liberty. 

“The Birth of a Nation” features newcomer director Nate Parker, who also wrote and produced the film. Parker also stars as Nat Turner. He chose an ensemble cast of A-listers to help carry the movie. All provide a superb performance by balancing the feelings between Nat Turner, from his love for family, to the animosity between him and his slave masters.

One scene in particular that personifies the film’s theme of rising above oppression was Nat and his freedom fighters brawling against their slave-owners. In a war for liberty over enslavement, the scene shoots epic energy and bravery that inspires viewers to root for Nat and his army of rebels to defeat their enemies as he is an unstoppable “Black Braveheart” fighting for their humanity. 

Although many have spoken unfavorably from the controversy surrounding the new director, critics should separate the artist from the art. Whether it is Parker’s acquitted rape charges, another slave film being made, or the fact that he is a black man married to a white woman with children, the film is not the autobiography of “Nate Parker.” The movie is about one man’s journey to fight for truth, justice, and the American way for freedom for all against an oppressive and racist system in order to birth a true nation. 

“The Birth of a Nation” is relevant to American society today. In comparison to the mass incarceration rates of blacks in jail or the deaths of Tamir Rice, Sandra Bland, Trayvon Martin, Alton Sterling and others killed by police, it is very similar to slavery. If there has been a loss of hope for justice, peace and humanity, anyone can be reborn by the remarkable “Birth of a Nation.”

 

“The Birth of a Nation”

Length: 2 hours

Director: Nate Parker

Starring: Nate Parker, Armie Hammer, Penelope Anne Miller, Jackie Earle Haley, Gabrielle Union, Aja Naomi King, Aunjanue Ellis, Colman Domingo


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One Psychic Man

Mob Psycho 100 Review

By Soun Oeng   Contributor

The anticipated summer blockbuster anime, “Mob Psycho 100,” is hypnotizingly good. I’m talking about the right kind of crazy. Created by One, known for the hit manga—“One Punch Man,” takes on a unique project that follows the same deadpan humor we all enjoy. For those unfamiliar with anime, “Mob Psycho 100” is the perfect leeway to fall in love with Japanese cartoons. Here’s why—“Mob” is the kind of cartoon that reminds you of your inner child ‘young-at-heart’ self. The humor in the anime is juvenile, contagious and unapologetically entertaining. 

The protagonist is a teenager named Mob, who has formidable psychic abilities that is feared by ESPers (psychics) and supernatural beings. However, he is portrayed as a physically weak, bowl shape hairdo, blank face middle schooler. His greatest weakness is gullibility. Given his age, he is often taken advantage of by both foes and allies. 

The first episode introduces Mob’s mentor, Reigen Arataka, a cheap con psychic with no mystic abilities of his own. Although Mob is oblivious of his sensei’s deceitfulness, Mob idolizes him because his master has always kept Mob’s powers in check; something Mob struggles with. This leads to why the title of the series is called “Mob Psycho 100.” The 100 refers to the tipping point of Mob’s power, compelling him to unleash psychedelic havoc around him.

But like any teenager, Mob is trying to understand puberty and who he is as an individual. Does he identify more with his human self or his dangerous psyche? One of my favorite moments in the show is when Mob joins the Body Improvement club in hopes to get his childhood crush’s attention. It’s portrayed as an hilarious attempt to bulk his way into Tsubomi’s love. It is through Mob’s extraordinary experiences does he evolve into the loveable character everyone adores. 

“Mob Psycho 100” is a recipe of hallucinogenic fun that invites its audience into a magical world equivalent to Hogwarts. Instead of Dementors, you get colorful poltergeists and a oddly shaped hero. “Mob Psycho 100” will definitely be placed on the list of all-time favorite animes. If you’re still not convinced and numbers are your thing, Crunchyroll rated it a 4.5 out of 5 stars.

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