Movie Reviews: Panther




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     Gramercy (2 hrs. 5 min.)
     The true and detailed account of the rise and fall of the Black Panther party, which Bobby Lavender, activist and co-founder of the Bloods, says lead to drugs and gangs in the Black community.
     Kadeem Hardison, Courtney B. Vance, Marcus Chong
Bottom Line:


     Mario Van Peebles does a surprisingly good job of directing heavy political traffic through controversial material suited more for Spike Lee's expertise. Usually Van Peebles productions, with the exception of New Jack City, lack substance and seriousness. Remember Gunmen  and Posse? With Panther, Van Peebles' direction stretches and raises to the level of John Singleton, Spike Lee and Matty Rich.
     Through a series of black and white newsreel footage (reminiscent of Oliver Stone's JFK) mixed with smart storytelling, Van Peebles tells the story of the Black Panther movement that started when Oakland city officials refused to install a streetlight at a dangerous intersection where four black children had been run over.
     The film is an eye opener and gives, for the most part, an objective view (to some) of the Panthers tarnished reputation (because of F.B.I. illegal special ops tactics) that may be a blur to those old enough to remember the '60s and to those who weren't born yet.
     During the Panthers' rein, many good things were done that may have been lost in history: food programs for children and their war against drugs. Things that are still relevant today.
     The Panthers had their problems, however, many due to the struggle between Huey Newton and Eldridge Cleaver about whether the Panthers should or should not be violent revolutionaries.
     This is an important well directed and acted film for everyone, because the Panthers not only wanted Black Power, they wanted People Power.



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