Gospel Hill Giancarlo Esposito

From the opening moments of Gospel Hill, tensions of the racial and economic variety are at a high, as demonstrated through overtly manufactured slights from both blacks and whites, which is essentially how the entire film pans out, give or take an underdeveloped romance or two. Thankfully, pedagogy in the form of villainous commercial gentrification is palliated by the notion that cultural divisions can come twofold, rather than offering up the usual magnanimous victim in a typically condescending manner. Indeed, these stratifications are greatly simplified through the framing device of a historical Civil Rights conflict in the '60s, which leads to a cyclic system of continuing discrimination in various forms from even the best intentioned. But a great deal of effort is placed in balancing perspectives, placing blame only on corporate America, which is used to it. Had as much thought been placed in characterizations and fleshing out relationships in a believable, or passable, manner as there was in making a political statement, Gospel Hill could have been the powerful social critique it desperately wanted to be. Forty years after the arrest and assassination of a Civil Rights spokesperson (Samuel L. Jackson), his son John (Danny Glover) remains haunted by the ongoing injustice and social division. Meanwhile, his wife Sarah (Angela Bassett) takes up a political cause involving the purchasing of properties in Gospel Hill for the purpose of commercialization. Spearheading this business opportunity is Dr. Palmer (Giancarlo Esposito), whose wife (Nia Long) is boning the son (Adam Baldwin) of the sheriff who was involved in the aforementioned Civil Rights arrest. As an aside, the sheriff's other son (Taylor Kitsch) sparks up a doomed relationship with the new schoolteacher (Julia Stiles), whose idealism is put to the test when discrimination is tossed her way. While the entire ordeal is dreadfully contrived, it is no worse than Crash, and that one won a best picture Oscar. No special features are included on the DVD. (Fox)