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Regina King
Leslie Odom Jr., Aldis Hodge, Eli Goree, Kingsley Ben-Adir
Kemp Powers
Icons Muhammad Ali, Malcolm X, Sam Cooke, and Jim Brown gather to discuss their roles in the Civil Rights Movement and cultural upheaval of the 1960s.
Rated R.

Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
English DTS-HD MA 2.0
English Descriptive Audio
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 114 min.
Price: $39.95
Release Date: 12/7/2021

• “An Essential Collaboration” Featurette
• “Becoming a Director” Featurette
• Conversation with Filmmakers Regina King and Barry Jenkins
• “Building Characters” Featurette
• “Sound Design” Featurette
• “Making One Night in Miami” Featurette
• Trailer
• Booklet


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One Night in Miami: Criterion Collection [Blu-Ray] (2020)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (April 21, 2022)

Regina King won an acting Oscar for 2018’s If Beale Street Could Talk. Fresh off that victory, she stepped behind the camera for her feature directorial debut via 2020’s One Night in Miami.

Set in Miami Beach on February 25, 1964, Cassius Clay (Eli Goree) beats Sonny Liston (Aaron D. Alexander) to become the new heavyweight boxing champion. After the bout, he heads to the friendly confines of the Black-dominated Overtown neighborhood.

There Clay meets up with a few pals: political leader Malcolm X (Kingsley Ben-Adir), singer Sam Cooke (Leslie Odom Jr.) and NFL star Jim Brown (Aldis Hodge). Across one memorable evening, the four legends chat about their lives, their experiences and their hopes for the future.

With a movie like Miami, the viewer inevitably wonders how much of the tale hews to the facts. The four men involved did meet up for a long chat at the Hampton House Hotel on the evening in question, so that part of the film follows history.

Otherwise, most of the tale engages in creative liberties. Apparently none of the four men ever divulged what happened, though two of them died within a year after the event took place, so that limited their ability to discuss the meeting.

I don’t mind the fact that Miami brings a fictionalized account of the encounter, especially since it comes with some basis in reality. Unfortunately, the results don’t develop into anything especially memorable.

Some of this stems from the fact that Miami needs to remain true to history, so it can’t go off onto too many tangential paths. We can’t get a story with broad narrative impact since we know that nothing remarkable occurred as a result of the get-together.

Nonetheless, Miami comes with intriguing possibilities. It seems interesting to see four Black icons debate their experiences, racism and cultural issues.

Unfortunately, Miami doesn’t find a whole lot of real impact to put on display. Too much of the time, the film can feel more like a series of lectures than a coherent narrative.

Though much of the film essentially pits Malcolm vs. Sam, Miami ensures each man gets some “spotlight” moments to offer revealing thoughts. These mean that the tale lacks a lot of flow, as it can grind to a halt to allow for monologues.

That feels like part of the problem with Miami. The basic selling point – the summit of four Black icons – requires that they discuss Serious Issues, whether or not that happened.

For all we know, these four just shot the breeze and enjoyed a light evening without aforementioned Serious Issues. However, that would feel too insubstantial for a feature, so Miami needs to create artificial drama.

Much of this material just feels contrived and doesn’t work. We get a lot of Malcolm as he nags the others on how to be “authentically Black” and their counter-arguments, not much of which adds up to compelling drama.

All four leads do fine in their parts. Odom got the only Oscar nomination of the four, which seems odd since he doesn’t stand out as better than the rest.

Oh, Odom does fine, but I can’t claim he feels superior to the others. Maybe the Oscar voters felt they needed to nominate one so they put the four names in a hat and Odom won that lottery.

Anyway, the four offer good performances and they manage to flesh out the roles beyond the underdeveloped script. While they can’t work miracles, they at least bring some life to their parts.

Unfortunately, Miami just can’t satisfy as a consistent character drama. With too much contrived drama on display, it exists more as a clever concept than a solid narrative.

The Disc Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B/ Bonus B+

One Night in Miami appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.39:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This became an appealing visual presentation.

Sharpness worked fine. A few slightly soft shots appeared, but most of the movie delivered tight, concise images.

The movie lacked shimmering or jaggies, and it failed to suffer from any edge haloes. Print flaws also created no distractions.

Orange/amber dominated the palette, with dollops of teal as well. Though tedious, the colors came across as desired.

Blacks were deep and dense, while low-light shots offered good clarity. The transfer satisfied.

While not as impressive, the movie’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack remained suitable for the story. The soundscape tended toward environmental material, and that restricted its scope.

Boxing competitions offered the most immersive material, and a few other segments brought out decent ambience. This was still a mostly low-key experience, though.

Audio quality worked well. Speech seemed natural and distinctive, without edginess or problems.

Music was vivid and vibrant, and effects appeared accurate and clear. Though not dazzling, the soundtrack came across well for the tale at hand.

As we head to extras, we begin with An Essential Collaboration. It runs 29 minutes, 29 seconds and features a discussion from director Regina King and screenwriter Kemp Powers.

Along with critic Gil Robertson, they discuss what brought King to the project and her collaboration with Powers, camerawork, the project’s roots and development, the play and its adaptation for the screen, cast and performances, making the film during a pandemic, and their hopes for the film.

At times, “Collaboration” veers a little too hard toward happy talk. Nonetheless, we get a good collection of insights, so the show merits a look.

Becoming a Director goes for 29 minutes, 46 seconds and features a chat between King and filmmaker Kasi Lemmons. They cover aspects of King’s acting career and her move to the director’s chair as well as aspects of the Miami production.

Because Lemmons also started as an actor and later became a director, this gives her an intriguing connection to King. The pair share an enjoyable and informative conversation.

Another conversation between filmmakers comes via Regina King and Barry Jenkins. It goes for 41 minutes, 52 seconds and includes their thoughts about King’s decision to make Miami and her approach to the material, sets/locations, camerawork, cast and performances, and other production topics.

This becomes another chat with a bit more praise than I’d like but it still seems fun to see King discuss her work with her fellow filmmaker.

Building Characters spans 23 minutes, 57 seconds and features King as well as actors Leslie Odom Jr., Aldis Hodge, Kingsley Ben-Adair and Eli Goree. They talk about their roles and performances in this enjoyable program.

With Sound Design, we get a 24-minute, 11-second piece that features music producer Nick Baxter and rerecording mixer/sound editor Andy Hay and production sound mixer Paul Ledford. As expected, they discuss aspects of the movie’s audio. This becomes an informative reel.

In addition to the film’s trailer, the disc concludes with Making One Night in Miami, a 31-minute, eight-second show that provides info from King, Powers, producer Jody Klein, editor Tariq Anwar, director of photography Tami Reiker, costume designer Francine Jamison-Tanchuck and set decorator Janessa Hitsman.

As implied by that roster, “Making” mainly discusses technical areas. It gets into useful areas and turns into a solid overview.

The set finishes with a booklet with art, credits and an essay from critic Gene Seymour. It winds up the package on a positive note.

Based on real events, One Night in Miami depicts a meeting of Black legends that tantalizes with possibilities. However, the end result feels less than compelling, as it sticks the characters with one-note personalities and tedious monologues. The Blu-ray boasts solid picture and audio as well as a fine collection of bonus materials. While a watchable affair, Miami fails to live up to the potential offered by its concept.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2 Stars Number of Votes: 1
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