May 31st, 2021

Tonight marked the last night of May, in this continued lock down, and also marked the end to the hockey season for the Toronto Maple Leafs. They haven’t won the Cup since 1967 (54 years ago). They haven’t won a playoff series in 17 years. They haven’t gotten out of the first round in the past six. In the end, this means that flags on cars can be lowered and we can begin thinking about golf and summer to come. Oh, and by the way, the Leafs had a 3 games to 1 lead in the series against Montreal, but then lost three in a row, including two of those three at home. Ouch. With all this hockey playoff time, there is less time for movies.

First, Mare of Easttown was really good yet again. I have enjoyed this more as it has moved along. Full review when the series is completed.

Mississippi Burning: Back in 1988, this was a multiple Oscar nominated film, with nominations for Best Picture, Best Actor (Gene Hackman), Best Supporting Actress (Frances McDormand), Best Director and a win for Best Cinematography. Other nominees included Rain Man (winner), Dangerous Liaisons, The Accidental Tourist and Working Girl. History I think shows that the Academy got it wrong that year. This movie should have won.

The story, which remains as painfully relevant in these times now, outlines the story of two young white Jewish men and a single black man who are leaving Mississippi and never make it home. They were activists looking to make a political statement. It was 1964, shortly after JFK’s assassination. FBI agents Gene Hackman, a former Mississippi sheriff himself, and young agent (Wilem Dafoe) who is a stickler for “playing it by the book” are investigating. They interview the local police who seem to ooze arrogance and over-confidence. The system supports them from the District Attorneys to the Judges to the members of the Klan who terrorize the local black population without retribution. The agents don’t agree on methods and the younger Dafoe makes limited progress with his standard ways. Hackman is more subtle, but they are both outsiders who are not respected nor supported by the locals on either side. Frances McDormand plays a local young woman who is a hairdresser and wife of the Deputy. It is interesting to note that only after a break in the stalemate of information is made, that action begins to take place on the FBI side. It is not a stretch to say that things in the South haven’t really changed all that much. Certainly the overt racism is not evident any longer, like the opening sequence where twin water fountains labeled White and Coloured are seen being used. But, there is still no equal rights. No equal treatment under the law. No government support (generally) within the institutions and voting rights which show signs of abating. If you haven’t watched this movie, it is definitely worth your time. The performances are universally excellent. Hackman has an ability to smile at the screen but you can seen an undercurrent of vengefulness. He and Dafoe both have raised eyebrows about their colleague and their methods. People now should reach out to see this movie before they go to see Rain Man.