Black History Month Review: Oscar Peterson: Black + White

Year: 2020 Runtime: 81 Minutes Director: Barry Avrich By Joan Amenn As a jazz lover, I had an Oscar Peterson shaped hole in my heart I never knew of. Thankfully, director Barry Avrich has contributed to my complete recovery with this beautiful “docu-concert” about the legendary pianist. Along with the commentary of friends, family and fellow musicians, we get to hear the astonishingly complex sound … Continue reading Black History Month Review: Oscar Peterson: Black + White

Review: John Lewis: Good Trouble

The United States feels like it’s at another turning point in its social history. Rebelling against injustice and protesting for change are things built into its core. There could not be a more perfect time for a documentary like Dawn Porter’s “John Lewis: Good Trouble” (2020) to be released. For those unfamiliar with John Lewis, he’s a Congressman representing the state of Georgia, who is well known for his history of non-violent activism during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 60s and his particular dedication to voting rights. Continue reading Review: John Lewis: Good Trouble

Editorial: White People, You Gotta Stop Watching “The Help”

Given that the systematic racism perpetuated against Black people is now in the forefront of the news, white people are trying to understand the insidiousness of racism in white society. It is not just the United States that is racist, though we elected a man who is blatant racist. The racism in the United Kingdom and Australia is also being noticed. But, given that George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, Ahmaud Arbery, and countless others were killed in the U.S., we are currently under a microscope. Continue reading Editorial: White People, You Gotta Stop Watching “The Help”

Black History Month Tribute: Lena Horne

In her life, she witnessed the Jazz Age, two World Wars and the Civil Rights Movement to which she devoted so much of her formidable energy. Lena Horne was fierce in her self-respect when it was not socially recognized that people of colour should receive any at all. Ahead of her time, she lived her life on her terms even when it could prove dangerous to do so.

Born into a performing family, Lena was raised mostly by her grandparents until she dropped out of high school to be a dancer at the Cotton Club, the famous jazz night club in Harlem, New York.  From there she just kept working on her career, eventually touring with various big bands around the country. This was not as glamorous as it sounds since African Americans were denied access to most restaurants and hotels in the 1930’s.  Lena would see first-hand the hardships endured on the road by her fellow musicians due to prejudice and segregation. Continue reading Black History Month Tribute: Lena Horne

ITOL Top 50 Films of the Decade, Entry No. 9: Selma

Director Ava DuVernay has, over this last decade, established herself as one of the most important filmmakers in the business, thanks to her incomparable body of work across mediums: from her shocking and vital documentary “13th” on the perpetuation of slavery in the US to the powerful, sensitively constructed series “When They See Us” about the wrongly convicted suspects in the 1989 Central Park Jogger case. 

Of all of her work over the last ten years, “Selma” is DuVernay’s very best. The film describes the events leading up to and including the 1965 marches from Selma, Alabama to the state’s capital, Montgomery, conducted by Martin Luther King (David Oyelowo) and others, as part of a movement to give African American citizens the opportunity to exercise their right to vote.  Continue reading ITOL Top 50 Films of the Decade, Entry No. 9: Selma