Free State of Jones — Great Movie!

Don’t let the dry lifeless movie critics talk you out of seeing this wonderful film!


Movie review: “Free State of Jones,” Directed by Gary Ross, 139 minutes

Movies, books, statues, and historical markers all over the country romanticize the Confederacy. The truth is that it was a nasty war fought for nasty reasons. Here and there, southern people resisted the confederacy to the point of armed struggle. It’s incredible but true, though, that local farmers, deserters, and runaway slaves combined to win military victories against Confederate soldiers around Jones County, Mississippi

I read the book some time ago and was really looking forward to this movie. If there was anything at all disappointing, it’s because the film followed the book a bit too closely. The facts for the book were mostly taken from a miscegenation trial in the 1930s involving one of the many descendants of guerrilla leader Newton Knight and his runaway slave wife, Rachel. The people’s uprising in Jones County is the best part of the story, but the book and movie add on a lot of the dismal history of Mississippi afterward.

BTW, the state just closed the case of the murder of civil rights martyrs Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner; so ugly history marches on in Mississippi. We just noted the anniversary of the gutting of the Voting Rights Act by the Supreme Court, and it’s extremely relevant to this film.

Movies like the blockbuster success “Gone With the Wind,” are ordinarily more than happy to lie about what really happened. This one doesn’t. Go see it!

Movie review: “Genius,” Directed by Michael Grandage. 104 minutes

People who like a little action and a lot less talking in their movies aren’t going to like “Genius,” but I cried through part of it and thought it was really worthwhile. Fans of Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and, especially, Thomas Wolfe, are already aware that their editor, Maxwell Perkins, is given a lot of credit for their books’ successes. This is about Perkins and Wolfe, and it’s almost 100% dialogue.

The movie critics don’t like this one either, because the two men are more or less reduced to stereotypes, or so they say. I say that trying to explain Perkins and Wolfe would be a difficult assignment, but one worth doing. I’d be curious to know if other film makers could have done it better.

If you don’t know or care about Maxwell Perkins or Thomas Wolfe, you wouldn’t like this movie. If you do, though, it’s a fine film.

Movie review: “The Neon Demon,” Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn. Not sure of length.

If someone is just dying to see Elle Fanning in her skivvies, they might want to see this movie about innocence and high fashion. Oh yes, there’s one really nice shot of a mountain lion. As the wide-eyed protagonist meets savage fashionistas, one begins to realize that something truly terrible is going to happen at the ending. But is it worth sitting through long, boring, unrelated technical movie tricks to get to it?

The only real crime that will cause me to walk out of a movie is that it’s boring. This one is.

–Gene Lantz

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