On A Night Like This (Film Thoughts: One Night in Miami)

Regina King’s ‘One Night in Miami,’ for the most part, happens on the night of Feb 25, 1964. Cassius Clay isn’t Muhammad Ali just yet, and he has just became the Heavyweight Champion of the World from Sonny Liston. Sam Cooke has just flopped at the Copacabana in New York City, and Jim Brown is contemplating leaving his football career behind because of what he feels as exploitation of black players. And Malcom X is Malcom X. the film is an adaptation of Kemp Powers’ play of the imagined conversation between the two legends inside a motel room on that fateful night.

And most of the time, it feels like a play (that’s not a complaint here) King is an actor, so she gets great performances from all the actors, but for some reason Leslie Odom Jr. (of ‘Hamilton fame) stood out for me. I have to say that the film felt just a little claustrophobic for me, and I wish King had opened it up more. I think maybe the performances were at times too intense? I also have to admit I am not the biggest fan of these four legends. i respect them as legends, surely, but I am not enough of a football or boxing fan to feel terribly excited. But on this Martin Luther King Jr weekend, I give them all props.

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