Just Mercy is a hard film to criticize, not because it’s great, but because the actual cause it represents is. Destin Daniel Cretton’s film is based on the 2015 memoir of the same name by Equal Justice Initiative (EJI) founder and civil rights activist Bryan Stevenson. The book covers Stevenson’s experiences starting EJI, a legal nonprofit that provides representation to inmates who have been illegally convicted, unfairly sentenced or abused in state jails and prisons. EJI also works to fight mass incarceration and the death penalty, and provides re-entry assistance to incarcerated people.
EJI does valuable work in the sphere of mass incarceration activism and racial justice, and anything that can bring more positive mainstream attention and support to that work counts as good outreach. However, as art, Just Mercy ends up being a fairly bland crowd pleaser that doesn’t pick up the momentum it should until the final act.
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Before Destin Daniel Cretton heads to Marvel to helm the highly anticipated Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, the Short Term 12 director is squeezing in one last dramatic stunner. This time, Cretton teams up with Michael B. Jordan to tell the true story of attorney Bryan Stevenson’s fight for justice for a criminal on death row (Jamie Foxx), in Just Mercy. Watch the Just Mercy trailer below.
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The Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) gained international prominence over the last few decades by billing itself as the “Festival of Festivals.” That distinction means, in essence, that if you go to TIFF, you won’t need to go to another festival all year. With more than 300 titles hailing from across the globe, one can only dip their toe into the riches of Toronto’s lineup even with wall-to-wall screenings over its 11-day duration.
By the time the oft-Oscar prognostication People’s Choice Award winner is announced on Sunday, September 15, two of TIFF’s biggest premieres – The Goldfinch and Hustlers – will be playing across North America. But let’s say you don’t want to wait until then to get in on the Toronto viewing? Here are ten curated titles that you can program as a streaming festival adjacent to Toronto. That way, once these titles hit theaters over the next year, you’ll have a leg up on some of the past work of cinema’s coming vanguard.
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