Reviews: Black Cop & Halifax Explosion: The Deaf Experience


If you aren’t uncomfortable, shocked, and asking a lot of questions watching Black Cop by Corey Bowles, you’re not watching it properly.
Black Cop follows an unnamed cop (Ronnie Rowe Jr.) who decides to turn the tables on white people in his community after fellow cops profile and assault him. Unhooking his GPS and later his body camera, Black cop uses his scanner to seek out and stereotype white people who fit suspect descriptions, such as a man in a grey shirt and a car out for a joyride.
With each new incident, the violence increases to the point where he pulls his gun as suspects plead for mercy, mirroring many recent incidents when white police officers killed black people. Eventually he ends his crusade, leaving the audience to wonder about repercussions.
A topical film that is becoming increasingly relevant, Black Cop is stunning and jarring. Monologues often interrupt the narrative, a series of moments that often feel like a personal journal. However, they flesh out a character that could have been pretty flat, and give the protagonist layers.
It helps watchers better understand why he does what he does, even if they don’t agree with him. Bowles also uses what appears to be actual new footage of riots and protests related to white-on-black violence. This footage shows this is something that has long been a problem, but many people don’t see it as issue because of who the violence is directed at.
The film ends without answers: Is he a hero or a villain? Were his actions justified? Should he be punished?
The answer appears to be that it doesn’t matter: it’s meant to spur discussion and does.


There are many different stories from the Halifax Explosion: Annie Liggins, Barbara Orr, the crew of the Stella Maris, Francis Mackey. But there are dozens more than haven’t been told.
In Halifax Explosion: The Deaf Experience producers Linda Campbell and Jim McDermot attempt to trace the impact the explosion had on the Halifax School for the Deaf, telling the story completely in sign language with English subtitles.
Using archive interviews with survivors, images, and re-enactments, the film first gives background for those unware of the explosion before going into detail about the school. It then moves on to the aftermath, specifically how the building had to close for repairs and how the stress of not having a proper place for the children had disastrous consequences for the school’s principal. The story is an important addition to the Halifax Explosion narrative, particularly as we mark the tragedy’s centenary.
But the story has its faults. It bogs down in background. I wanted to know about the students and the teachers. I wanted to know more of their stories and how the explosion affected them. What the film needs is more of what happened to these people (not the well known story of how the Mont Blanc and Imo collided)  if it’s to live up to its Deaf Experience title.

This story was originally published in Halifax Magazine.

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