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PODCAST: The Reel Critic On “Hamilton” & “John Lewis: Good Trouble”

Written by on July 15, 2020

Senior Vocalo Film Correspondent Reggie Ponder is back to discuss films revolving around two powerful, historic men and give us the rundown on what there is and isn’t to like about both.

Check out the rundown of this latest episode, or stream the podcast below!

John Lewis: Good Trouble 

First up is the Dawn Porter-directed film about political giant and civil rights leader John Lewis. The movie uses a mix of interviews and archival footage to help chronicle the life and 60+ years of social activism and legislative action from Lewis. From civil rights, voting rights, gun control, healthcare reform, immigration and more, Lewis (now 80 years old) is an extraordinary man with big plans and plenty of passion. Present day interviews with Lewis, his family, congressional colleagues, and more, help give depth and insight to his childhood and work.

What’s to like?

“We get to see his human side because we get to see him laugh and dance and the other aspects of this guy. We get to see him treat people with kindness,” said Reggie. “After really fighting for the right to vote, he really believes in getting out there and fighting for newer candidates and campaigns. I was impressed that, at 80, he had the stamina to do all of that.”

From his experiences to his philosophy to his friendship rifts, this is the movie to see if you want to learn about John Lewis.

What’s NOT to like?

“I would have liked more of his thoughts on the path of the more militant leaders, quote unquote,” Reggie noted.

Many times, heroes can seem larger than life and almost ominous…in a way that normal people could never measure up to. But this movie reminds us all that we have a role to play in the progression of justice.

“John Lewis wasn’t afraid to get his hands dirty or,” as Reggie puts it, in other “get in good trouble. This is absolutely worth watching and I’m giving this one three reels.”

And if you’d like to hear more from the director, Dawn Porter, Reggie recently interviewed her at the African American Film Critics Roundtable, which you can watch here.

Dawn Porter at the African American Film Critics Roundtable he talked to her, which you can go to the youtube channel and watch it here.


As many of us might also feel, Reggie is tired of subscribing to and paying for yet another subscription service. But after being reluctant to pay for Disney+ for months, the drop of the phenomenon “Hamilton” on the service helped convince him to take the leap.

Filmed on Broadway in 2016 and starring Daveed Diggs, Renée Elise Goldsberry, Jonathan Groff, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Leslie Odom Jr., Chris Jackson, Phillipa Soo, Jasmine Cephas Jones, Anthony Ramos and more, this is the story of Alexander Hamilton’s life, or the tale of ‘back then,’ told through the lens of ‘today.’ The score blends together Hip Hop, Jazz, R&B and Broadway, all while creating a (literal) theater revolution.

As Reggie quotes from the movie itself, if you don’t know about this musical…now you know! The impact this production has had on culture, politics and education has been profound. The transportation this movie adaptation has on a typically live audience is uniquely intimate.

What’s to like?

“They do a really good job of shooting this in a way that gives you part of that Broadway experience – as close as you’re probably gonna get from watching a movie!”

Captivating and contagious, the acting, music, interaction and storytelling all get huge praise from Reggie. He says that if you turn off the movie and aren’t trying to sing some of the songs…you’ve missed the point. And having People of Color puts a delightful ‘stank’ on the movie that you don’t see other places.

What’s NOT to like?

“The sound sometimes is not as even throughout. It’s also a long ride…this is about three hours and it didn’t feel long, but some people have to watch it in waves.”

In delightfully-original prose, Reggie reveals that this movie receives a whopping four reels from the Reel Critic!

Follow Reggie on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and his website!

Written By Shelby Kluver

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