ideally, this is what mainstream film-making could look like. it could reflect upon interesting moments in history, shed light on the communities that were wrapped up in them and tell engaging stories about the events that transpired. don't go into this looking for the agitprop of spike lee or the neo-realism of charles burnett. expect sober storytelling for adults, and all of the ambiguity that "adulthood" implies.
The color palette here was great, and I really dug that the style for that time was not in anyway overdone. It was a very simple film about the remnants of the past, and the ghosts that crowd the minds and the hearts of people who were involved in the black panther party. This is not meant to be seen as a biopic or any one individual, but as a reminder of the times and the lives led by people post-afro-american era.
An homage to the neorealist films of the LA Rebellion that may not be as successful in its techniques, but is still an interesting (if not a wee bit bluntly metaphoric: the death at the end and the wallpaper was a bit much) exploration of the reality of history and the stunting consequences of false nostalgia and selective remembrance.
Night Catches Us is a profound example of new Black cinema in the way it portrays the lives of African American subjects within a cultural-historical context. The way Hamilton uses archival footage to shape the fictional narrative allows us to enter and exit the theatrical space, thus freeing us from illusion. Night Catches Us is a beautiful film about finding hope for the future by reconciling with the past.
Calling it "One of the more promising debuts in recent American cinema," Slate's Elbert Ventura goes on to lament that "Hamilton's Night Catches Us barely made a noise.... Considering how parched we are for expressions of the variousness of the Black experience, the neglect was unfortunate." Beautifully filmed, great opening credits, finely understated performances but anticlimatic tale.