A Movie A Day #16: Boycott (2001, directed by Clark Johnson)


Originally made for HBO, Boycott is one of the best and, unfortunately, least-known films made about the life of Martin Luther King, Jr.  Boycott tells the story of the Montgomery Bus Boycott, starting with the arrest of Rosa Parks for refusing to sit in the back of the bus to the eventual integration of the Montgomery public transportation system.  Clark Johnson directs Boycott in a semi-documentary, handheld style, which adds an immediacy to the oft-told story.

Boycott focuses on the role that 24 year-old Martin Luther King, Jr. (played by Jeffrey Wright) played as the leader of the Montgomery Bus Boycott and how the boycott’s success turned King into a national figure.  Jeffrey Wright does a great job playing the young King and it’s interesting to watch as the initially uncertain King finds both his voice and his strength as a leader.  Boycott works as a good companion piece to Selma, not the least because Carmen Ejogo plays Coretta Scott King in both of them.

Also giving a noteworthy performances are Terrence Howard as King’s second-in-command, Ralph Abernathy and Erik Dellums in the role of Bayard Rustin, who was one of King’s closest confidants but, because he was gay, was often left outside of the movement’s inner circle.  Before they worked together on Boycott, Dellums, the son of former U.S. Rep. Ron Dellums, co-starred with Clark Johnson on Homicide: Life on the Street.

Boycott is a tribute to not just Martin Luther King but also the entire civil rights movement.

Music Video of the Day: Them Heavy People by Kate Bush (1978, dir. Keith MacMillan)

I was originally planning on doing five political music videos this week. Then I decided I’d feature some beautiful things rather than things that remind people of fear and uncertainty. They’ll be plenty of other days to spotlight things like America by Kurtis Blow and the obscure Schizophrenic Breakdown by Chainmale. With that in mind, I am doing a video from each decade of Kate Bush’s career from the 1970s to the 2010s.

I know that Wow and Wuthering Heights are more well-known early Kate Bush videos, but I thought this one was appropriate for MLK Jr. Day that also happens to be Religious Freedom Day since the song is about having a desire to learn as much as possible. Also, it’s a pretty good introduction to what you can expect from Kate Bush: beautiful music videos, meaningful/heavy lyrics, interpretive dance/dancing, and being goofy at times.

She’s also known for her live performances, which makes sense considering videos like this one. There’s a video for Wow that is made up of a compilation of live performances, and you can see the two dancers from this video all over it. I remember reading someone’s comment somewhere that she worked with the same dancers for decades. Don’t quote me on that. However, it wouldn’t surprise me.

A little Easter Egg to look for is that Kate didn’t have her armpits shaved in this video. I only bring that up since a few years later Nena would get written up in British tabloids when she didn’t have them shaved during a tour in the UK.