What You Gonna Do When the World's on Fire? ★★

A disappointment from Minervini, who eschews his usual docufiction trappings to offer a more straightforward account of American race relations in 2017. This stuff, unfortunately, is unlikely to challenge any assumptions that any American has on the issue (indeed, this is the first time where I’ve felt that Minervini’s nationality might be a liability to his project). The bulk of the film is taken up with three narrative strands, involving the efforts of a new Black Panther party, the attempts of a mother to keep her 14-year-old kid on the right path, and with one woman’s struggle to carve out a niche for herself and her community via the bar that she runs. Only this last section is wholly successful, as it most fully demonstrates the generational cycles of oppression that continue to operate on African Americans. The rest is too amorphous to feel as urgent as it needs to, given the current state of affairs.