Life story

Ava DuVernay Tells Colin Kaepernick’s Life Story With Mix Of Documentary And Sitcom

As the binary nature of its title suggests, Pollock in black and white feels divided in the middle. While this is a reference to the discourse polarized around footballer Colin Kaepernick, it also seems to point to the almost irreconcilable rift between his two modes of presentation. One has Kaepernick onscreen as a serious presenter, providing information on American history and his own life; the other has performers who reconstruct this life as a coming-of-age comedy. The show aims to tie personal experience to the larger picture of racism in American sports institutions – and not just in the NFL, which continues to ostracize Kaepernick for exercising his right to protest (he did not played in a match since 2017).

Of Pollock in black and white

In concept, it’s a fascinating mix, but the execution under Ava DuVernay’s direction is hit and miss. It’s just surreal to start a show off with a cut that directly pits the weighing and study of black athletic bodies against a slave auction block, and then goes into the tone of sitcoms like Blackish and Everyone hates Chris (there are even scratchy jokes). Pollock in black and white may feel at war with himself. The dramatized half takes elements of Kaepernick’s childhood and ties them to the kind of inequality he would protest as an adult. For example, he takes a critical look at the portrayal of Allen Iverson as a “thug” because of his braids, which Colin imitates as a teenager. As a young Kaepernick, Jaden Michael may be the show’s MVP, acutely and charmingly capturing various adolescent anxieties and showing the weight of the scrutiny that comes with being the only black child in the world. his team.

But whenever the series begins to find an engaging rhythm, it’s interrupted by a shift to the real Kaepernick watching his life unfold onscreen before asking a question like, “What the hell the hell is that?” is a thug? ”straight on camera. These PSA segments would be admirable for their confrontational nature if it weren’t for their brutal leadership, which undermines their perfectly valid arguments. It’s not just that it’s didactic; it sounds garish and even embarrassing at times, overstretching so much that the truth can sound like hyperbole. It becomes even more pronounced when the show returns directly to its sitcom mode. Some episodes, like the fifth, “Crystal,” almost find a true fit. middle, but he never quite makes it. At worst, it’s downright confusing, throwing in the most relevant material for a relatively mundane story arc about Kaepernick’s decision to turn down a baseball purse.

Of Pollock in black and white

Putting Kaepernick forward as a presenter makes sense in theory as a counter-narrative about whether he has the right to protest or express complicated feelings about his profession. (And his willingness to double down on his convictions is just admirable, especially as sports organizations continue to crack down on any kind of dissent or organized action.) But those moments end up relying a bit too much on him as than a dramatic performer, in particular since he has to deliver speeches while wandering in the void of a museum exhibition all in gray. Sometimes this space is used for theatrical effect, with other actors and scenes staged in the background of his monologues, but DuVernay’s directing makes him feel contained. It’s frustrating that the series creates such tension between Kaepernick speaking and the series speaking for itself, ultimately undermining its key player.

Pollock in black and white is now streaming on Netflix.

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