3 Best Movies to Watch by Charity Jordan

Staff & contributors

, 2014

The award-winning third feature by director Ava DuVernay, Selma, was released around the 50th anniversary of the historically significant marches (Selma to Montgomery) that aided the civil rights movement's efforts to assure African-American citizens can exercise their constitutional right to vote, harassment-free. The film has been celebrated not only as an artwork, but also as a historiographically accurate one. While it features the role Martin Luther King Jr. played in the marches, it does not reduce the activists' effort and struggle to make it come to fruition. With her uncompromising directorial approach, DuVernay crafts a thrilling period film that has all the markers of a well-done genre feature, but uses its mechanisms to tell an emotionally potent story about both the peaceful marches and the nation-wide outcry resulting from the violence they were met with.

Genre: Drama, History

Actor: Alessandro Nivola, Andre Holland, Carmen Ejogo, Charity Jordan, Charles Black, Colman Domingo, Common, Corey Reynolds, Cuba Gooding Jr., David Dwyer, David Oyelowo, Dylan Baker, E. Roger Mitchell, Giovanni Ribisi, Greg Maness, Harry Belafonte, Haviland Stillwell, Henry G. Sanders, Jeremy Strong, Jim France, Jody Thompson, John Lavelle, Kent Faulcon, Lakeith Stanfield, Ledisi, Lorraine Toussaint, Martin Sheen, Michael Papajohn, Montrel Miller, Niecy Nash, Nigel Thatch, Omar J. Dorsey, Oprah Winfrey, Ruben Santiago-Hudson, Sammy Davis Jr., Stan Houston, Stephan James, Stephen Root, Tara Ochs, Tessa Thompson, Tim Roth, Tom Wilkinson, Tony Bennett, Trai Byers, Wendell Pierce

Director: Ava DuVernay

Rating: PG-13

They Cloned Tyrone is a genre-bending gem. It combines Deep State conspiracy theories with sci-fi and social commentary, all while looking like a futuristic 1970s Blaxploitation film. It’s outrageous good fun and pleasing to look at (here is a film that knows how to properly light Black actors), but there are times when it feels too far fetched. The science can get wonky and its commentary on gentrification lacking, but all is forgiven when you have such a strong trio of leads. One of the smartest things They Cloned Tyrone does is pair Boyega with Teyonah Parris, who plays the call girl Yo-yo, and Jamie Foxx, who plays the pimp Slick Charles. They have a fun-loving no-nonsense chemistry about them that makes them easy to attach to and root for. They’re also just very funny, which might be expected of Foxx but it comes as a pleasant surprise for Parris, whose popular turns in Mad Men and WandaVision prove that she’s been severely underutilized as a comic.

Genre: Action, Comedy, Mystery, Science Fiction

Actor: Adam Cronan, Al-Teron, Austin Freeman, Charity Jordan, David Alan Grier, David Shae, J. Alphonse Nicholson, Jamie Foxx, Jason Burkey, Jason Louder, John Boyega, Joshua Mikel, Kiefer Sutherland, Leon Lamar, Megan Sousa, Michael A. Dean, Ryan Dinning, Shariff Earp, Shinar Frazier, Swift Rice, Tamberla Perry, Teyonah Parris, Trayce Malachi

Director: Juel Taylor

Rating: R

A movie based on a theme park ride is always going to be a marketing exercise, but what’s remarkable about Haunted Mansion is how uninterested it is in even pretending to be anything more. Amazon, Yankee Candle, CVS, Baskin Robbins, Burger King: you could fill a mall with the list of brands shamelessly name-dropped in the movie. Gallingly, the cast are even forced to do double duty as brand ambassadors during some of the movie’s most determined efforts at poignancy — oof.

Not even an ensemble featuring the comedic-dramatic chops of LaKeith Stanfield, Rosario Dawson, Tiffany Haddish, Danny DeVito, Owen Wilson, and Chase Dillon (the best of the bunch) can make such naked cash-grabs feel organic. What’s more, though, Haunted Mansion depressingly asks so little of its cast that there aren’t really any opportunities for them to counterbalance these embarrassing moments with anything approaching compelling. Adding to its struggles are the mansion’s sludgy color palette (which renders every scene unremarkable, no matter how moving or spooky it’s supposed to be) and the fact that it somehow feels rushed even at an overlong two hours. Though you can appreciate director Justin Simien’s efforts at elevating the material into something coherent, Haunted Mansion feels as lifeless as the ghosts that fill it.

Genre: Comedy, Family, Fantasy, Horror

Actor: Alisa Harris, Amy Parrish, Andrew Morgado, Anthony Burrell, Arielle Prepetit, Ashley John, Ben Bladon, Bryan McClure, Chad Crumley, Charity Jordan, Charles Black, Chase W. Dillon, Christopher Winchester, Clarence White III, Creek Wilson, Cruz Abelita, Dan Levy, Danny DeVito, Derrick James Moss, Don Stallings, Edward Zhu, Elisabeth Lagrande, Erika Coleman, Erion Brandon WIlliams, Fedor Steer, Glendon Ray Hobgood, Gralen Bryant Banks, Hasan Minhaj, Helene Henry, Ian Covell, J.R. Adduci, Jamie Lee Curtis, Jared Leto, Jared Simon, Jo Koy, John Curran, Kailie Sanders, Kamran Shaikh, Kat Montes, Kathi Callahan, Kay Galvin, Kurt Yue, Lakeith Stanfield, Lindsay Lamb, Lorenzo Beronilla, Lumar Christopher Leblanc III, Marcus Otis Hubbard, Marilu Henner, Mike Benitez, Nico Gomez, Owen Wilson, Paul Michael Robertson, Rick Andosca, Rosario Dawson, Rowan Joseph, Sebastien Soudais, Steve Zissis, Terence Mathews, Terence Rosemore, Tiffany Haddish, Tony Paone, Tracy Goode, William Calvert, Winona Ryder

Director: Justin Simien

Rating: PG-13