Recommended by Sean Nelson
An ingeniously constructed documentary about one of the 20th century’s greatest, and more conflicted, artist/polemicists, this film is built from the proposal for Remember This House, the book James Baldwin never finished. As Samuel Jackson’s voice-over mingles with archival footage of Baldwin laying waste to his intellectual opposition on TV—and by the way, let’s pause for a moment to consider a time when a figure as radically attuned, and as volcanically erudite, and as sexually nonconforming as James Baldwin could have appeared regularly on network television—director Raoul Peck conveys the sense of a writer who has come to understand an idea that is bigger than he has the mortal strength to convey, which would almost make the film a tragedy within the context of the larger systemic tragedy its subject yearned to articulate. But even a glimpse of Baldwin’s prose is such a feast for mind, body, and soul that a film like I Am Not Your Negro can only be received with joy, humility, and deepest admiration.
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