I know, I know, I don’t usually review movies. I don’t watch many anymore, I suppose. When I was in Idaho last month, however, I watched “The Help” with my parents–pretty good, although the book is always better–and the murder of Medgar Evers played a small part in it. I mentioned after “The Help” was over that there was a movie about bringing Medgar Evers’ killer to justice that I absolutely loved, and my mother expressed considerable interest in seeing it. Their library system didn’t have it, and it’s not available on Netflix, so I told her we’d watch “Ghosts of Mississippi” the next time they came to visit; last night we did. And oh, how I love that movie!
I don’t know if the critics were impressed by it overall (not that that means anything!). “The English Patient” was the Oscar darling the year it came out, but James Woods was nominated for Best Supporting Actor. He was chilling and awful and revoltingly racist, and I think it’s a travesty that he didn’t win. (Cuba Gooding Jr. won that year, and while I’ve seen edited versions of “Jerry Maguire,” and he was good, it is my (not so) humble opinion that James Woods was better.) If I were from the south I’d probably have a lot to say about the various accents used by the cast, but–I’m not! All I know is that “Ghosts of Mississippi” is a true story of justice at long last, and there is almost nothing I like better. (It’s like the courtroom drama version of watching the Nazis lose.) If the internet can be believed in this case, it’s fairly true to life; indeed, one of the investigators (whose father was an original investigator on the case) plays himself. So do some of Medgar Evers’ children. (How cool is that?) Alec Baldwin was still in his hero days–closer to “The Hunt for Red October” than “30 Rock”–and there are some lovely character actors in smaller parts, like Bill Cobb (who plays Evers’ brother) and Margo Martindale, who (as Baldwin’s secretary) has some of the funniest lines in the film. There are also some powerful camera shots, like the rubbed-out but still visible “White Men” on the door to the courthouse bathroom during the trial.
Anyway. I’m waxing on. It’s an amazing story, though, and a well done movie, and you should see it, if you haven’t already. Heroes like Medgar Evers deserve to be remembered–and honored.
Maybe when our kids get older we’ll make it a MLK day tradition.