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Playing film and book catch-up

It's almost the new year, and I'm not even close to having read and watched all the books and movies on my list for 2017.

Two releases in particular were critical hits and relate to life uptown each in their own way, so I'm sharing them here in case you missed them too. Hit up your local library, bookstore, or streaming service and join me in playing catch-up.

I Am Not Your Negro

Filmmaker Raoul Peck took James Baldwin's notes for an unfinished book about his three assassinated friends, Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King, Jr, and combined them with past interviews and essays into a powerful documentary about the history of race in America. Narrated by Samuel L. Jackson, the movie was nominated for an Academy Award this year (it was actually released in late 2016, but became widely available in 2017).

Not only did I miss some of the free screenings held throughout Harlem, but also the film's regular run at the AMC Magic Johnson Harlem, located in the neighborhood in which Baldwin was born. Now that it's available to stream (and at the NYPL), I don't plan to pass it up again.

The Force

Don Winslow's latest novel, about a crooked cop working in an elite unit devoted to gangs, drugs and guns in the fictitious "Manhattan North," exposes the present-day underbelly of the NYPD. Detective Sargeant Denny Malone lives with his family in Staten Island but spends most of his time in Harlem (where he also has a girlfriend), so there should be plenty that's familiar to those of us who live uptown.

The Force sounds like a real page-turner and is on countless best-books-of-2017 lists (NPR calls it "'Game of Thrones' with cops"). Two more reasons I'm really looking forward to cracking it open soon.

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