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Movies of Excellence: 6 Film Collection, Vol. 3 [2 Discs] [DVD]

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Overview

Synopsis

Honeydripper
Tyrone (Danny Glover) is the proprietor of the Honeydripper juke joint. When business at the once-popular club begins to trail off and Tyrone hires unpredictable electric guitarist Sonny (Gary Clark Jr.) against his better judgment, Tyrone's last-ditch bid to draw in crowds during harvest time has surprising results that neither desperate Tyrone nor the ambitious Sonny could have ever anticipated. Blues guitarist Keb' Mo' co-stars in the film, which was written and directed by John Sayles. ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi

Endgame
Vantage Point director Pete Travis turns his attention from high-profile political assassinations to the high-risk talks that ushered in the end of apartheid while securing the release of Nelson Mandela in this historical drama starring William Hurt, Chiwetel Ejiofer, Mark Strong, and Johnny Lee Miller. The time is the late '80s, a crucial period in the history of South Africa. President P.W. Botha is hanging on to power by a thread as the African National Congress (ANC) takes up arms against apartheid and the country tumbles toward insurrection. A British mining concern called Consolidated Gold is convinced that their interests would be better served in a stable South Africa, and they quietly dispatch Michael Young, their head of public affairs, to open an unofficial dialogue between the bitter rivals. Assembling a reluctant yet brilliant team to pave the way to reconciliation by confronting obstacles that initially seem insurmountable, Young places his trust in ANC leader Thabo Mbeki and Afrikaner philosophy professor Willie Esterhuyse. It is their empathy that will ultimately serve as the catalyst for change by proving more powerful than the terrorist bombs that threaten to disrupt the peaceful dialogue. As the story shifts between Mandela's jail cell, Botha's chambers, ANC headquarters, and a rented car occupied by a British bureaucrat, the prospect for peace becomes more than just a distant hope. ~ Jason Buchanan, Rovi

The Execution of Raymond Graham
Jeff Fahey plays Raymond Graham, who for five years has lived on Death Row, awaiting execution for the murder of a store clerk. Having given up on any further legal delays, Graham wearily awaits the fatal injection. Joining the condemned man in his death watch are Graham's family and attorney, a crowd of anti-capital punishment demonstrators, and the inevitable TV crews. This drama concentrates on the final two hours of Raymond Graham's life, played out in "real time". Originally telecast November 17, 1985, The Execution of Raymond Graham was the ABC TV network's first live dramatic presentation in nearly 25 years. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Race to Freedom: The Underground Railroad
Coproduced by two cable-TV servies-The Family Channel and the Black Entertainment Network--Race to Freedom: The Underground Railroad uses historical fact as background for a fictional adventure tale. Courtney Vance and Janet Bailey star as slaves on a brutal antebellum North Carolina plantation. Together with two other slaves, Vance and Bailey make a daring escape, travelling northward by means of the eponymous railroad. Though the film isn't as suspenseful as it should be, it provides a valuable educational service in detailing the history of the Underground Railroad, the people responsible for its maintenance, and its modus operandi. Race to Freedom was first telecast on the Family Channel February 19, 1994, in tandem with an encore presentation of Roots (1977). ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Nightjohn
Sarny (Allison Jones) is born into slavery and separated from her mother at an early age. She's raised by Dealey (Lorraine Toussaint), who promises early on that "nuthin' too bad" will happen to her young charge. Clel Waller (Beau Bridges), who owns the plantation, is a cruel man, who sees the slaves only in terms of their monetary value. Life on the plantation changes when Clel buys Nightjohn (Carl Lumbly), a hulk of a man, with scars across his back from the whip. Branded as a troublemaker, Nightjohn has trouble earning the trust of the other slaves. But one night when their work is done, he offers to make a trade with Sarny to get some tobacco. In exchange, he begins to teach her the alphabet. Sarny is fascinated and takes to learning with passion, but when the other slaves find out, they are afraid. Old Man (Bill Cobbs) shows Nightjohn how he's been punished for his own literacy; his thumb and forefinger have been chopped off. But Nightjohn explains that he gave up a chance to escape to the North so that he could teach. "Words are freedom, Old Man," he explains. "That's all slavery is: words." Sarny reads the love letters that she delivers from Clel's wife (Kathleen York) to an educated doctor who lives nearby, and she reads Clel's ledger, in which he lists the monetary value of all the slaves. She soon learns that knowledge, for all its dangers, brings a certain power. Nightjohn was directed by venerated independent filmmaker Charles Burnett (To Sleep With Anger) for the Disney Channel. It's based on the young adult novel by Gary Paulsen. ~ Josh Ralske, Rovi

Sophie and the Moonhanger
Originally made for and aired on the Lifetime cable network this 1955-set drama centers on a loving, white Southern housewife (Patricia Richardson) whose comfortable life is thrown into turmoil when she learns that her close friend and housekeeper Sophie (Lynn Whitfield) has been targeted by the Ku Klux Klan and that her beloved husband (Jason Bernard) has been living a secret life as the Grand Dragon of the racist fraternity. ~ Sandra Brennan, Rovi

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