The Learning Tree 12/21/21
The triple-threat talent Gordon Parks gets carte blanche to film his own autobiographical novel back in his old home town — and the result is one of the better depictions of growing up black in the Midwest. Parks’ memories don’t wield a fiery political agenda, nor does he say that ‘there were good people on both sides.’ It was what it was and it wasn’t always pretty. As young Newt, Kyle Johnson ‘does the right thing’ and his experience helps explain the pervading lack of faith in justice, to put it mildly. Parks’ beautiful film remains positive, reflecting his warm memories, and his direction gives us a full ensemble of black talent at work: this is said to be the first Hollywood film produced and directed by a black man. On Blu-ray from The Criterion Collection.