Tag Archives: black lives matter

Movie Review: Da 5 Bloods is an essential part of Vietnam War cinema

Da 5 Bloods
Da 5 Bloods, Netflix

Spike Lee’s Da 5 Bloods is a new Vietnam War movie classic, worthy of a spot among Apocalypse Now, Full Metal Jacket, and Platoon. These movies all stand on their own and are inherently different because Vietnam itself was so unlike conventional warfare. It quite simply resists a particular storytelling mold due to it being a very singular kind of conflict, a different species of war. For Lee’s movie to make it into that list it needed to honor that same level of uniqueness present in those other films. I can gladly say it overwhelmingly achieves this.

Da 5 Bloods follows a group of four black Vietnam War veterans that go back to Vietnam to look for a box full of gold they buried during a mission with the intention of retrieving it later on. The group is led by Stormin’ Norman, played by an intensely magnetic Chadwick Boseman, a leader/teacher figure that basically acts as the Bloods’ own war version of Malcom X and Martin Luther King.

The film alternates between flashbacks and the present time (where it spends the majority of its time), with no de-aging tech used for the four main guys during flashbacks. Boseman’s character is the only one that looks young in the flashbacks because he’s the only one who didn’t make it out of the war.

It was so refreshing not being distracted by any de-aging techniques, which made The Irishman such a frustrating watch for me. I couldn’t go five minutes at a time without asking myself why a another actor wasn’t cast in the role of the younger Robert DeNiro.

In fact, the decision not to make the four main characters younger digitally also plays into some of the film’s strongest themes: combat memory and PTSD. That the same actors played both past and present versions of their characters gave the flashbacks a tragic sense of remembrance that communicated the very rough reality of how combat vets never truly leave the war behind. It’s a constant thing that makes vets think their wars never really end (another theme explored in the movie).

Da 5 Bloods
Da 5 Bloods, Netflix

As stated earlier, the story stays the great majority of its time in the present. Their final mission in Vietnam–the retrieval of the buried gold–brings with it discussions on reparations and why black soldiers specifically deserve what’s rightfully theirs due to fighting for an America that didn’t respect them nor acknowledged their sacrifices back on the homefront.

This theme stuck with the movie throughout, making sure it was a part of every discussion that took place between the four vets. Spike Lee makes the point come across even clearer with his signature cuts to archival footage of black protests and black leaders like MLK and Malcom X adding their two-cents on any given discussion, even if it’s in presence alone. It evokes a kind of continuity for the black soldiers, seeing in Vietnam a contradiction of the very idea of military service. Why fight when black lives are being disregarded back home? Why not find this gold and give it back to the people? These questions lie at the heart of the film.

Black Lives Matter discourses are also echoed throughout the film thanks to its aggressive focus on how black military service means an entirely different thing altogether when compared with white military service. This sets this particular Vietnam War movie apart from the others, making it so different and unique in its own right. Apocalypse Now, for instance, explores war as madness. Platoon goes for misguided leadership, the absence of order, and a complete lack of accountability in war. Full Metal Jacket approaches the war as a morally corrupt and senseless act of mass violence that’s too far gone for it to be redeemed. Da 5 Bloods is about how something as historically charged as race in America completely changes what soldiers fight for. How society treats these soldiers at home will determine how their war is fought on the battlefield.

Da 5 Bloods
Da 5 Bloods, Netflix

In other words, America brings a multitude of Americas to war, each meaning something different depending on who you ask and what color their skin is.

Delroy Lindo’s character, Paul, best exemplifies all of these metaphors. Paul is the character that most visibly carries the trauma of war on his persona. He’s unstable, angry, and resistant to help from the other vets. He’s a challenging character to engage with, but the movie’s genius is often seen through him as we go from being frustrated with Paul to understanding why it’s been so hard for him to leave the war behind.

Lindo puts on a performance for the ages. He grabs the audience and pulls them in close to him whether they want to or not, but it’s all for a cause. Spike Lee entrusts him with his signature monologue sequences, in which an actor stares straight to the camera to address a problem head-on and without restraint. Lindo steps up to the challenge and gives a monologue that we should be discussing for years to come as it ruminates on what happens when a country asks its most oppressed communities to go to war in its name. The monologue ties in well with the opening scenes of the movie in which we see archival footage of Muhammad Ali explaining why he refused to serve in the Vietnam War is shown.

Actors Isaiah Whitlock Jr., Norm Lewis, and Clarke Peters all do a fantastic job stepping into the shoes of the other three vets. They represent a cohesive unit that also struggles with leaving the war behind while also representing what Vietnam meant to them through their own character arcs. Clarke Peters in particular always keeps up with Lindo’s intensity, playing the part of the moral compass without falling to the trappings of passing judgment on any of his friends. Jonathan Majors as Paul’s son also becomes a mayor player as his fractured relationship with his father manifests and changes as the movie progresses. To a point, he represents inherited trauma and how the war extends beyond the combat veteran’s experience to become a generational problem.

Da 5 Bloods
Da 5 Bloods, Netflix

Da 5 Bloods is a powerhouse of emotion, politics, and black history that easily fits in with the Black Lives Matter movement currently voicing their anger on the streets today, but it never takes for granted that it’s first and foremost a Vietnam War movie. It’s important it doesn’t run away from that as the black experience in war has seldom been explored with the seriousness it deserves.

Vietnam War cinema in America has largely been dominated by white experiences of it. Spike Lee’s Vietnam War movie is invaluable because it sheds light on why it’s important everyone knows that not every soldier fights for their country for the same reasons. The color of a soldier’s skin dictates which version of America they’re fighting for, and they all differ on their definition of freedom.

A Humble Bundle of Games, Comics, Books, and RPGs with 100% Going Towards the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, Race Forward, and The Bail Project

Humble Bundle is running a special one week bundle with 100% of all proceeds going to charities combating racism. This bundle benefits the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, Race Forward, and The Bail Project.

The “Humble Fight for Racial Justice Bundle” features $1200 worth of games, books, and comics for just $30. All money raised would go to support the above organizations which all fight for racial justice.

Comics included in the bundle include the Attack on Titan Anthology, Ghost in the Shell: Global Neural Network, Shaft: A Complicated Man, Black History in Its Own Words, Prince of Cats, Bitter Root Vol. 1, Yo, Miss: A Graphic Look at High School, and Six Days in Cincinnati.

On top of that are books, roleplaying game books, and video games.

The bundle so far has raised over $800,000 with six days to go.

Get yours now!

Around the Tubes

Adventureman #1

It’s a new week and we’ve got lots on tap coming your way from interviews, reviews, and more! While you wait for things to get rolling, here’s some comic news and reviews from around the web in our morning roundup.

iO9 – The Punisher’s Logo Can’t Be Turned Into a Symbol for Black Lives Matter or Real World Justice – Agree? Disagree?

GamesRadar – DC and Diamond extend working relationship temporarily – Bets this gets resolved?

Reviews

Talking Comics – Adventureman #1
Monkeys Fighting Robots – Blacking Out
Talking Comics – Daredevil #20
Comic Attack – Excellence #7
Talking Comics – Killadelphia #6

Deadpool Makes it On To Charlotte’s Black Lives Matter Street Art

In numerous cities, “Black Lives Matter” is being painted on streets in massive letters showing their support for the cause. Some cities are taking it further allowing artists to allow their creativity flow in a letter. That’s resulted in some really interesting results. In Charlotte, North Carolina, Marvel‘s Deadpool made it into the “K” courtesy of artist Garrison Gist.

The art was done as a metaphor for the generation currently fighting injustice. Gist, the artist behind the letter, felt the character goes against the norms and embodies the spirit of those seeking justice and change. The choice was also made because Deadpool is pansexual and it is Pride month making the decision even clearer. You can hear it from Garrison below.

The art for the full statement was done by a collective of artists in the city with beautiful results which you can see below:

Gerry Conway Wants to Take Back the Punisher Logo and is Raising Money for Black Lives Matter

The Punisher skull logo has been adopted by the police and their supporters despite the character being a vigilante working outside of the law. The extrajudicial handling of crime seems to be the draw with the symbol blended with the “Blue Lives Matter” coloring and displayed in support. The symbol has been seen sported by police recently and has a long history within the police. Disney and Marvel have done nothing to curtail the use of the symbol as it’s been coopted and proliferated online and in the real world.

The Punisher debuted in 1974 and was created by Gerry Conway, John Romita, Sr., and Ross Andru. The character debuted as a villain targeting Spider-Man and over the years has generally evolved into an anti-hero though his exact depiction has varied. Conway has been vocal against the use of the symbol by the police and others and is currently attempting to take the symbol back.

The comic creator has launched a charity fundraising effort through CustomInk where the sales will benefit Black Lives Matter.

For too long, symbols associated with a character I co-created have been co-opted by forces of oppression and to intimidate black Americans. This character and symbol was never intended as a symbol of oppression. This is a symbol of a systematic failure of equal justice. It’s time to claim this symbol for the cause of equal justice and Black Lives Matter.
–Gerry Conway

Currently, over $24,000 has been raised for the organiztion through four designs and over 1,800 shirts sold.

You can get an awesome shirt now for a good cause and help “take back” the Punisher from those who clearly don’t understand the character.

Russ Burlingame is Auctioning a Commission of Adam Tsekham to Benefit Black Lives Matter

Russ Burlingame has stepped up to Gail Simone’s call and is auctioning off a commission of actor Adam Tsekham who plays Gary Green on Legends of Tomorrow and Supergirl.

The auction runs on Twitter and ends June 4 at 5pm EST. Respond to the Tweet below to add your bid.

Marc Guggenheim is Running an Auction to Raise Funds for Black Lives Matter

Marc Guggenheim has joined Gail Simone in raising funds for Black Lives Matter. The creator is running an auction on Twitter that includes a page from Arrow #1 by Mike Grell and a piece by Arrow concept artist Andy Poon. He’s also included a copy of any script he’s written/been associated with.

The auction expires June 4 at 5pm PST. Bids should be made in response to the Tweet below.

Tony Lee is Auctioning Ryan Stegman Art to Raise Money for Black Lives Matter

Tony Lee was inspired by Gail Simone’s fundraising and stepped up to raise money for Black Lives Matter himself by auctioning off a piece of art by Ryan Stegman from the comic Midnight Kiss.

The auction ends 5pm BST/4pm GMT on Thursday June 4, 2020.

You can reply to the Tweet below with your bid.

Gail Simone is Auctioning George Perez Wonder Woman Art to Raise Money for Black Lives Matter

Comic creator Gail Simone took to Twitter on Tuesday to recount her experience with Wonder Woman and the creator George Perez. She had the honor of writing Perez’s final to Wonder Woman.

Perez then gifted Simone the final two pages of the story. And as she describes them they have “more value” to her than anything else.

Simone is putting up the “very last page of George Perez’s legendary Wonder Woman work” to help raise money for Black Lives Matter.

But beyond just the page, Gail is including a signed and personalized Wonder Woman Omnibus, two signed and numbered Wonder Woman scripts, the original art signed by George Perez, a sketch by Colleen Doran, and a signed sketch of Diana and Philipus from George Perez himself. Dodeca Donuts is also donating one of their products for free to the winner of Gail’s auction.

The auction ends at 12:00 PDT/7pm GMT on WEdnesday June 3, 2020. It’s currently at $5,000. If you’d like to bid, use #WonderWomanLot.

You can start to read Gail’s full thread below.