Blair Underwood plays Bob Richardson, who moves from Alabama to California with his brother and parents. The African-Amercian family has high hopes of finding a new land of opportunity, but racism and poverty are just as prevalent here. Richardson becomes a reporter, and he is on the scene for the Watts riots of 1965. Families and friends are torn apart in that violence, but his reporting is a landmark work.
A strong cast (notably featuring James Earl Jones) makes an impression, an… the riots themselves are convincingly staged, though use of silence and slow-motion is a bit of a cliché. There is a great deal of warmth in the characterisations, but some of joyful-laughter-at-church and joyful-laughter-while-singing-hymns-in-the-car sequences are overly familiar, and don’t feel quite as genuine as the meeting scenes of something like Boycott. But all that said, there is much that is very powerful here.
The 2.0 soundtrack is solid, but unspectacular. It gets the job done, but has just enough flaws that it isn’t a standout example of its type. The score sounds very good. The surround elements are decent enough, particularly during the riot scenes (for which one should be grateful). And the dialogue is free of distortion. But there some odd moments now and then of dialogue suddenly bleeding into the rear speakers and inopportune times.
I’m not entirely sure what to make of what’s on display here. On the face of it, this appears to be a print that is looking much older than it should for a 1990 film. There are some instances of very heavy speckling and grain, for example, as if the print had been stored in someone’s garage. But what makes me hesitate is that I wonder if this might not be a deliberate attempt to create a sense of watching something from an earlier era. The colours, certainly, do, at times, recall the look of films from the mid-sixties. So I vacillate a little on my judgement here. At any rate, the contrasts themselves are very good, as are the blacks, and there aren’t any edge enhancement issues.
None. The main screen of the menu is scored.