Arts & Leisure

This “One Night” pucks a punch

“ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI” stars (left to right) Leslie Odom Jr,, Aldis Hodge, Kingsley Ben-Adir and Eli Goree.

By Jim Tortolano

These black lives mattered a lot. And how they saw the future for themselves and their people makes the new Amazon Original film “One Night in Miami” a riveting and thought-provoking drama.

Directed by Regina King and written by Kemp Powers, this is a highly speculative and quite entertaining version of a real-life event: a meeting on Feb. 25, 1964 in Miami of boxer Cassius Clay (Eli Goree), singer Sam Cooke (Leslie Odom, Jr.), controversial civil rights activist Malcolm X (Kingsley Ben-Adir) and football star Jim Brown (Aldis Hodge).

The conversion of these icons is prompted by Clay’s heavyweight boxing fight in that city, but in a small motel room, the conversation is about heavier subjects. They discuss and argue about the future of civil rights, about the place of artists and athletes in that movement, and the challenges within the African American community, a group that can be separated by skin color as well as tactics.

All four are brilliant, and the script rises to the occasion. It does not take the easy way out and color all obstacles to progress white. This is a warts-and-all examination of a complicated issue that resonates today.

Where does power lie? In militant protest? In economic strength? In education? In cooperation with white authority?

In a world in which skin color still does matter, “One Night” is an eminently useful and artistic contribution to that discussion. You don’t have to be a BLM activist to find this movie moving and worth your time.

One Night in Miami” is rated R for adult language, smoking and alcohol. It’s available on Amazon Prime.



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