Free State of Jones | Salt Lake City Weekly
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  Rated R · 139 minutes · 2016
Fascinating historical footnotes can make for interesting movies, provided the person making that movie isn’t determined to expand that footnote to David Foster Wallace-esque proportions. Co-writer/director Gary Ross takes on the Civil War-era true story of Newton Knight (Matthew McConaughey), a farmer in Jones County, Mississippi who comes to lead a rag-tag group of army deserters, irate fellow farmers and escaped slaves in a guerrilla internal battle against the Confederacy. Ross does an effective job of setting up his conflict as an uprising against the Southern 1-percenters. Yet while the Civil War ends in 1865, this story winds its way through another decade-plus of Knight’s activities—and speeches—against Reconstruction-era injustice, even introducing a court case some 80 years later involving one of Knight’s descendents. And McConaughey’s Knight remains—despite his decidedly unique personal relationships—a figure with little to define him besides his righteousness. The intent may be to show right-side-of-history consequences of fighting for seemingly lost causes, but the result is a movie that rambles on, assuming that everything that happened to this man was equally worth putting in a movie.


Free State of Jones

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Director: Gary Ross
Producer: Jon Kilik, Gary Ross and Scott Stuber
Cast: Matthew McConaughey, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Mahershala Ali, Keri Russell, Brendan Gleeson, Christopher Berry, Sean Bridgers, Jacob Lofland, Kirk Bovill, Manny Penton, Thomas Murphy, Bill Tangradi, Brian Franklin, Kerry Cahill, Joe Chrest, Jessica Collins and Donald Watkins

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Chicago Reader Free State of Jones turns a Civil War legend into a plea for racial equality In Gary Ross’s drama, a 19th-century deserter becomes a hero for today. by J.R. Jones 06/30/2016
Gambit Review: Free State of Jones Matthew McConaughey stars in the true story-inspired Civil War film by Ken Korman 06/27/2016

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