Big Words: A Movie You Must See

Neil Drumming's new film is a must-see for those disappointed with African-American visibility in shows like Mad Men and Girls.

Last year, Neil Drumming blogged for The Atlantic about making his first film. The movie -- Big Words -- is now complete. It premieres tonight in New York. Here is the The Times on Neil's film:

Weaving race, class, sexual orientation and politics -- as well as the evolution of rap music -- into a wistful tapestry of male disaffection, the film's writer and director, Neil Drumming, introduces three not-so-young men whose friendship fell apart 15 years earlier along with their rising hip-hop group....

As Mr. Drumming's whip-smart screenplay effects an uncomfortable group reunion, the film's playlike structure and relaxed rhythms perfectly frame conversations infused with pre-gentrification memories and music industry nostalgia. Throughout, his droll, insightful dialogue has a natural pop and sway that the actors clearly relish -- especially Yaya Alafia, magnificent as a coolly self-possessed dancer who sees right through John's smoke screen of apathy.

Warmly photographed by Cliff Charles, "Big Words" is an engrossing, coming-of-middle-age drama that shows how disappointment can fester and derail a life. By the end, hope and change seem possible but far from guaranteed.

It will come as no surprise that I wholly agree. Every single African-American who ever complained about not seeing "us" in all our complexity on shows like Girls or Mad Men has a moral obligation to see this film. You must tell your stories. Other people will not do it for you.

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Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle.

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