24 December 2018 | stephenmatlock
Good, but feels shaved for time
I am reviewing only "The Boy Who Painted Christ Black"
This is a short film based upon the short story by Dr. John Henrik Clarke, and I would first encourage you to find and read the original short story.
The film is an abridged version of the short story, and while it does a fine job with what it does show, it feels a little rushed and unfinished. Snipes does a good job with his role as a black leader in a small town school, struggling to promote excellence and yet abide in a system where he is a pawn of the state who must be certain of his place. Carhart is the white county school superintendent who placates the black community with empty words and promises, but really is in charge of the black schools in order to maintain order and decency. (His language is cleaned up from the short story.) Calloway is a black teacher working to teach and inspire her class, and is a fierce protector of the lives and imaginations and hopes of her charges. And Golden is the young Aaron who paints the picture of the Black Christ because of how he thinks Christ is, is how Christ should look -- "kind, like black people, not like white people."
You could have an interesting theological discussion just about that statement. But the story is bigger than that. It's about pride and vision and compromise and lost dreams and how do you find a place to live in the in-between spots in America, where the dream is dangled before you if you just work hard enough, but the reality is, for a significant portion of Americans, that dream will be continually deferred.
The story ends with some satisfying conclusions, even though it might not tie up all the ends you want finished.
A bittersweet story told forthrightly. Good, could use some further development, and in my opinion would benefit from being as honest as the short story is.