Another dark chapter in American history is the focus of the riveting drama, “Judas and the Black Messiah.” Daniel Kaluuya is electrifying as Chicago Black Panther leader Fred Hampton whose organization was infiltrated in the 1960s by a self-serving FBI informant, well played by Lakeith Stanfield. Writer/director Shaka King effectively depicts the personal passions of the story’s central characters as well as the feds’ attempts to undermine their organization. “Judas & the Black Messiah” is an illuminating and instructive social statement.
A strong cast is the main attraction of “The Mauritanian,” yet another true story about injustice. Adapted from the best-selling memoir “Guantánamo Diary” by Mohamedou Ould Slahi, it depicts his detention and torture for fourteen years at Guantánamo Bay without ever having been charged with a crime. Tahar Rahim gives a compelling lead performance and the strong supporting cast includes Jody Foster, Benedict Cumberbatch and Shailene Woodley. Director Kevin McDonald’s approach to the material lacks the drive and urgency that the story deserves, but “The Mauritanian” is still an enlightening and thought-provoking watch.
Kristen Wiig and Annie Mumolo, who co-wrote the bawdy hit comedy “Bridesmaids,” return with the goofy surreal farce, “Barb & Star Go to Vista Del Mar.” They play friends who leave their small midwestern town for the first time for a vacation at a Florida resort. They get embroiled in an unforeseeable adventure that involves spies, killer mosquitos and Jamie Dornan. ‘’Wacky’ may be the operative word for this work of offbeat PG-13 absurdity. In order to enjoy “Barb & Star,” you have to have an affinity for the surreal sense of humor that Wiig brought to many of her roles on SNL. Just be prepared for a broad, two-hour sketch.
Your local art house theaters are offering online viewing options for a number of intriguing movie titles. More information is available at nelson-atkins.org, Screenland.com, fineartsgroup.com and drafthouse.com.