Cinema Guild | Release Date: September 14, 2018
6.0
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Mixed or average reviews based on 12 Ratings
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Brent_MarchantFeb 1, 2019
This painfully slow, unfocused documentary about the lives of poor, Southern rural African-Americans will, regrettably, leave viewers waiting for the ending. Through the use of images, pretentious segment heading graphics and underdevelopedThis painfully slow, unfocused documentary about the lives of poor, Southern rural African-Americans will, regrettably, leave viewers waiting for the ending. Through the use of images, pretentious segment heading graphics and underdeveloped observations from the film's subjects alone, with no voiceover narration, director RaMell Ross has attempted to let the material speak for itself, an approach not unlike what's seen in such cinematic tone poems as "Samsara." Unfortunately, the themes that the filmmaker claims he was trying to depict don't come through as clearly and pointedly as he contends. The approach is so "slice of life" that it's difficult to grasp what he was really aiming for. Overlong, woefully unedited sequences of incidental events, the inclusion of beautiful but basically pointless nature shots, excessive use of gimmicky time-lapse photography and a dearth of meaningful insights from the film's subjects combine to make for a production that leaves the audience wanting, as well as wondering what this film is truly supposed to be about. What's most disappointing, though, is that this offering has garnered an Oscar nomination for best documentary feature at the expense of other, better entrants -- truly unfortunate. Expand
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marbie73Feb 20, 2019
The most pointless documentary ever made.There is no story to speak of just a bunch of random shots spliced together that serve no useful purpose.The audience learns virtually nothing about the three people whose stories are being told.It isThe most pointless documentary ever made.There is no story to speak of just a bunch of random shots spliced together that serve no useful purpose.The audience learns virtually nothing about the three people whose stories are being told.It is an outright travesty that this film was nominated over such a great film as Won't You Be Neighbor.The best words to describe this movie are pretentious and meandering. Expand
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8
HollywoodGleeNov 27, 2019
Hale County, This Morning, This Evening written, directed and produced by RaMell Ross, and Winner of a Special Jury Prize at this year's Sundance Film Festival. Ross tells the story of two African-American males, Daniel and Quincy, born inHale County, This Morning, This Evening written, directed and produced by RaMell Ross, and Winner of a Special Jury Prize at this year's Sundance Film Festival. Ross tells the story of two African-American males, Daniel and Quincy, born in Hale County, Alabama, and the diverse paths their lives take. Hale County, This Morning, This Evening breaks the mold of a traditional documentary with its cinematic language and use of montage.

In the film's opening sequence, an immediate distrust of the camera is highlighted in a bold directorial choice regarding one of the film's subjects, Quincy, who works at a catfish plant to support his young family. "What is the orbit of your dreams?' sneaks into the lower left-hand corner of the film in a title, textual overlay. A transition is made revealing a small-town street lined with black folks sitting on their cars. Nice, non-diegetic music accompanies the camera as it glides down the street. Them folks are impervious to what is going on 'round them. Welcome to the Deep South where race is constructed and dreaming is an everyday part of existence. RaMell Ross is a philosopher, a photographer, a teacher a high-school basketball coach and now a filmmaker.

Ross utilizes his photography skills to great effect capturing simple, elegant moments that juxtapose other images like a grown man heaping a large truck tire onto a fire while off-screen voices provide commentary on the color and density of the smoke rising into the air. This telling scene was proceeded to by the title textual overlay, "What is done when all the cotton is picked?' Ross is not sugar-coating the environment. This type of call and response brilliantly forms the crux of the film's narrative. In another scene a young girl who hasn't learned to speak is being questioned by a semi-literate grown woman. First, she asked the young girl her name (though I couldn't comprehend the pronunciation of the word name). When the girl didn't reply she asked a few more time with each rendering becoming more intelligible only to be followed up with a "How old you are?"

As a basketball coach, Ross has access to the film's second primary character, Daniel, a strong, physically fit basketball player longing to escape the confines of his environment. Part of the beauty of Ross's cinematography and consequent cinematic language is the tight framing of Daniel as he practices his jump shot. While Daniel might be confined for now, this (basketball) is his way out, his way to freedom from confinement.

In my opinion, the film ended rather abruptly evoking a feeling of wanting something more and left me pondering what I had just experienced. The montage of imagery alone makes this film worth seeing. But Ross adds a deep, visceral element, coupled with philosophical interjections, that creates a work of art transcending the confines of the theatre. It begs to be experienced. The result is a highly compelling, experimental film seemingly influenced by Melvin Van Peebles' spawn of the Blaxploitation era, Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song. And, with a run time of a fast seventy-six minutes, it's one you don't want to miss! Highly recommended.
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