11-21-2017  9:10 pm      •     
MLK Breakfast
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NEWS BRIEFS

Kenton Library Hosts African American Genealogy Event Dec. 2

Stephen Hanks to present on genealogy resources and methods ...

PSU Hires New Police Chief

Donnell Tanksley brings policing philosophy rooted in community engagement to PSU ...

African American Portraits Exhibit at PAM Ends Dec. 29

Towards the end of its six month run, exhibit conveys the Black experience, late 1800s - 1990s ...

SEI, Sunshine Division Offer Thanksgiving Meals to Families in Need

Turkeys are being provided to fill 200 Thanksgiving food boxes for SEI families ...

NAACP Portland Monthly Meeting Nov. 18

Monthly general membership meeting takes place on Saturday, 12 - 2 p.m. ...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

OPINION

Local Author Visits North Portland Library

Renee Watson teaches students and educators about the power of writing ...

Is the FBI’s New Focus on “Black Identity Extremists” the New COINTELPRO?

Rep. Cedric L. Richmond (D-La.) talks about the FBI’s misguided report on “Black Identity Extremism” and negative Facebook ads. ...

ACA Enrollment Surging, Even Though It Ends Dec. 15

NNPA contributing writer Cash Michaels writes about enrollment efforts ...

Blacks Often Pay Higher Fees for Car Purchases than Whites

Charlene Crowell explains why Black consumers often pay higher fees than White consumers, because of “add-on” products. ...

AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE NEWS

ENTERTAINMENT

By Kam Williams | The Skanner News

In 2002, Will Smith landed his first Academy Award nomination for Ali, a riveting biopic about Muhammad Ali directed by Michael Mann. Although a cultural icon in his own right, Smith managed to disappear into the role in the process of delivering a brilliant performance as "The Greatest" boxer of all time.

Despite his being able to "Float like a butterfly and sting like a bee!" the sport eventually exacted a devastating toll on the champ. For Ali would become afflicted with a host of neurological disorders as a consequence of taking so many hits to the head.

While fans call it being "punch drunk," the clinical term for the condition is Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE). What's ironic is that Will Smith is on the verge of landing another Oscar nomination for Concussion, a picture in which he plays Dr. Bennet Omalu, the Nigeria-born physician whose discovered the link between football and brain damage while working as a forensic pathologist in Pennsylvania.

He first recognized something was amiss while performing an autopsy on the Pittsburgh Steelers' former center Mike Webster (David Morse), who died at 50 from a combination of amnesia, depression and dementia. Dr. Omalu was shocked to observe that the Hall of Famer had the brain of a very old man, so he decided to posthumously examine those of other National Football League vets who also passed away prematurely.

Lo and behold, the research revealed they all had suffered from CTE, ostensibly as a result of the pounding their skulls had taken on the field. Unfortunately, when Omalu subsequently attempted to go public with the his findings, he was threatened and discredited by the army of lawyers and quacks hired by Commissioner Roger Goodell (Luke Wilson) to protect the NFL's image.

Thus unfolds Concussion, a David vs. Goliath saga reminiscent of The Insider (1999), the similarly-themed expose recounting the real-life ordeal of the intrepid whistleblower who took on the Tobacco Industry when it was still hell bent on denying any link between smoking and cancer. An interesting factoid which bears mentioning is that The Insider was directed by the aforementioned Michael Mann.

Concussion, however, was directed by Peter Landesman (Parkland). He adapted it to the screen with the help of investigative journalist Jeanne Marie Laksas from "Game Brain," an article she published about the cover-up in the October 2009 issue of GQ magazine.

Landesman surrounded Smith with a talented cast, starting with the gifted Gugu Mbatha-Raw as Omalu's feisty wife Prema. The dramatis personae also includes Oscar-nominees Alec Baldwin (for The Cooler) and Albert Brooks (for Broadcast News), as well as Hill Harper, Richard T. Jones, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje and Eddie Marsan.

But make no mistake, Concussion is a marvelous Will Smith vehicle, one that he'll undoubtedly get to drive for the duration of awards season, possibility all the way to the Oscars on Feb. 28.

★★★★ Excellent
Rated PG-13 for profanity, mature themes and disturbing images
Running time: 123 minutes
Distributor: Sony Pictures

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