By: Lana K. Wilson-Combs
All hail the king. Regina King,
that is. The Oscar winning actress ("If Beale Street Could Talk") has done it again, this time with her outstanding directorial debut drama, "One Night in Miami."
“One Night in Miami” is based on Kemp Powers'
2013 critically acclaimed stage play of the same name. Powers also wrote the screenplay for "One Night in Miami" and is enjoying a banner year having also co-directed and co-written Pixar's animated film, "Soul."
"One Night in Miami," which bows on Amazon Prime Jan. 15,
centers around Cassius Clay/Muhammad Ali's stunning, Heavyweight Championship knockout win over Sonny Liston on February 25, 1964. After the 22-year-old Clay (a fantastic Eli Goree, TV's "Riverdale"), shocked the world, he celebrated the occasion at Miami's Hampton House Hotel with his friends, singer Sam Cooke (played wonderfully by Leslie Odom Jr., "Hamilton"), football star/actor Jim Brown (a terrific Aldis Hodge, "The Invisible Man" and upcoming, "Black Adam") and Malcolm X (a sensational, Kingsley Ben-Adir, TV's "High Fidelity").
Of course, we don't really know exactly what these icons discussed that night, but the conversations here in this fictional account are about politics, sports, music, and religion, and are riveting glimpses into their lives away from the spotlight. Regina King brings out the best in this exceptionally talented cast.
recently attended a Virtual Interview with Aldis Hodge, Eli Goree, Kingsley Ben-Adir and Leslie Odom Jr. and they talked about working with King and the dynamics of the film. REEL MOVIE NEWS
In "One Night in Miami," Cooke, Clay, Brown, and Malcolm X discuss being role models and the impact they have on society. They also express frustration and feel an obligation as black men to use their respective platforms to help other Black Americans during the tumultuous Civil Rights movement.
There is a lot to unpack in "One Night in Miami," but King and Powers take their time and skillfully let this story and its pointed dialogue take shape.
Guided by Malcolm X, we see that Clay is planning to make his transition to Islam and let the world know his name is now Muhammad Ali. However, Malcolm X is going through plenty of changes too. He's lost faith in his spiritual leader, Elijah Muhammad and is planning to leave The Nation of Islam. Plus, he and his wife Betty Shabazz (Joaquina Kalukango, TV's "Lovecraft Country") are living in fear as federal agents watch their everyone move.
Still, that doesn't keep Malcolm X from mouthing off and getting into heated arguments with Cooke (Leslie Odom Jr.) about his music. Malcolm X believes that some of Cooke's songs seem trivial compared to other pop stars like Bob Dylan's 1963 chart-topping protest anthem, "Blowin' in the Wind." He tells him to make statement songs like that.
Cooke did of course in 1965 with “A Change is Gonna Come.” Their clash and war of words regarding the direction Cooke should take his career, is one of the most powerful scenes in the film. There are others too, that are subtle, yet equally commanding like when Jim Brown returns home to Georgia and visits his old neighbor/friend, Mr. Carlton (Beau Bridges, TV's "Greenleaf"). Despite Brown's celebrity, he still doesn’t want to invite the football star in his home.
One can certainly make a compelling case that Kingsley Ben-Adir, Eli Goree, Aldis Hodge and Leslie Odom Jr., deserve every award imaginable for their remarkable performances in "One Night in Miami.” The movie also shows that King is not only a force to be reckoned with on screen, but behind the camera as well.
Be sure to catch my N2Entertainment.net movie talk segment on the Kitty O'Neal Show Fridays at 6:20 p.m. on radio station KFBK 93.1 FM and 1530 AM.
Watch This Trailer For "ONE NIGHT IN MIAMI"
Lana K. Wilson-Combs is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics' Association (BFCA), The Black Film Critics Circle (BFCC) and a Nominating Committee Voting Member for the NAACP Image Awards.