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ReelTalk Movie Reviews
From Stage to Screen
by James Colt Harrison

One Night in Miami takes place in the middle of the 1964 civil rights movement. Director Regina King has set her cameras -- by cinematographer Tami Reiker -- on the World Championship fight of Cassius Clay, age 22, and Sonny Liston, age 34, as the opening scenes of the movie.

That approach makes for some exciting action shots for fight fans and shows off the bravado of Clay’s funny personality. Clay was a clown, and he was verbally funny and abusive to all his opponents. Played by actor Eli Goree, the champ comes alive with his hilarious portrayal by the Canadian actor. Because this film is based on a play (by Kemp Powers), director King had a tough job making it seem less “stagey” than the original play. She opens up the film to outside scenes as often as she can, but much of it remains like a stage play with action taking place mostly inside one room.

Four friends meet in a hotel room in Miami to celebrate Clay’s winning of the World Championship fight. They are a disparate group including Clay (Goree), pop singer Sam Cooke (Leslie Odom,Jr.), Muslim Nation leader and activist Malcolm X (Kingsley Ben-Adir), and football star/actor Jim Brown (Aldis Hodge). They are all friends, and like most friends, they do not agree on everything. Smack dab in the middle of all the strife going on with the civil rights movement, they argue what it is like to be a celebrity and public figure of means with so much racial injustice present in the country.

Leslie Odom, Jr. is given a chance to show off his singing talent in a few numbers. Odom, an accomplished Tony-winning Broadway star, is an excellent musical performer and gets nicely showcased in this film.Tall, tough footballer Jim Brown confesses to his friends that he is dabbling in movies and wants to become an actor. He was a man who wanted to expand his opportunities after football was over. Aldis Hodge comes acress as a sincere and excellent actor in the role of Brown.

Although One Night in Miami is a fictional story about events that may have happened 50 years ago, everyone can enjoy it on Amazon Prime beginning January 15, 2021.

(Released by Amazon Studios & Snoot Entertainment. Rated “R” by MPAA.) 

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