What to Watch: One Night in Miami
As I scrolled through Amazon Prime Video, I noticed a large promotion scroll of the movie "One Night in Miami." I was intrigued since the promotion took up half of the Prime feed. Upon reading the description of the movie, I decided to give it a try. This film is directed by Regina King (Watchmen, Boondocks, etc..) and written by Kemp Powers, who also wrote the stage play of the same name. One Night in Miami follows the four biggest icons of the Civil Rights era Muhammad Ali, Malcolm X, Jim Brown (NFL Hall of Famer), and Sam Cooke (Famed R&B singer), all together in one hotel room discussing politics, Muhammad Ali's conversion to the Nation of Islam, and the upward mobility of African Americans in 1964.
The movie does have elements of a stage play with central key settings and intense performances from Kingsley Ben-Adir (Malcolm X in the film), Aldis Hodge (Jim Brown), Leslie Odom Jr. (Sam Cooke), and Eli Goree (Muhammad Ali). Each actor brings depth, humanity, vulnerability, and complexity to these four black icons. One scene in particular that stood out to me was Malcolm X confronting Sam Cooke about using his music to inspire the movement and not focus on money or himself. Another scene is Muhammad Ali questioning joining the Nation of Islam after Sam and Jim protest against it. This film is inspired by real events but takes liberties recounting that faithful night in Miami between these four men.
According to the Smithsonian Magazine, the four men ( who were friends in real life) attended Cassius Clay's fight against Sonny Liston in Miami with Jim Brown as the sports commentator. After the fight, the men went to the Hampton House Motel. The conversation between the men in that room remains unknown. The next morning Cassius Clay converted to Islam and changed his name to Muhammad Ali. The other men's lives are changed in dramatic ways as well. However, some events of that night are changed in the timeline of the film. Still, the overall content minus the conversation in the room is based on actual events.
Regina King's directional debut is pretty good. She knows how to make the camera a witness during this fantastic event between four icons. Also, she brings the audience into the room's intimate space against the tension of different ideals between the men. I cannot wait to see what other movies she will direct and her camera angles in captivating the story. Aside from King as the director, playwriter Kemp Powers converts his stageplay perfectly on screen. He sought out as much research as possible from this historical event. Still, the rest was pure imagination of four friends confronting changing ideals in an uncertain world.
One Night in Miami is now streaming on Amazon Prime. Be sure to watch it and let us know what you think.