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Critical Thinking (2020): The Movie

Written by on September 10, 2020

Story by Chuck Tackett

Critical Thinking (2020): The Movie

“I was a ghetto nerd. I didn’t have a place that I fit in. When you love word, when you love books, and you got to be on the streets, and it’s rough, people really don’t appreciate your ‘street intellectualism’. That teacher understood that and gave them a safe space. They didn’t want to play football. They didn’t want to be in gangs. They didn’t want to fight, they wanted to read and be nerds, to be bookworms, so he (teacher Mario Martinez) created this safe space for them.” 

John Leguizamo on “Critical Thinking (2020)”

I have always been a huge fan of actor/activist John Leguizamo: his movies that he starred in and his stand-up comedy specials.

On Saturday, September 5, political rights activist Maria Teresa Kumar, President and CEO of VOTO Latino was a special guest host on the AM Joy weekend show on MSNBC. One of the guests that she interviewed was John Leguizamo. She was talking to him about his newest movie “Critical Thinking” which premiered on Friday, September 4th. 

For those of you like me who wasn’t aware of this movie or what it is about, “Critical Thinking” is a true story of a teacher, Mario Martinez played by Mr. Leguizamo who teaches chess at Miami-Jackson High School back in 1998. Mr. Martinez has the distinction of taking underprivileged kids (mostly Black/Latinx) and trained them to be the first inner-city school who made it to the National Chess Championship

I have not seen this movie yet, but professional movie critics have given it positive reviews. They say the outcome of the movie is predictable, but the plot of the movie is the unique ways Mr. Martinez kept his students interested in chess, how he used chess as a vehicle to help his students do critical thinking, how he prepared them to be eligible to compete in various tournaments, and how they were able to finance their own way to compete in those tournaments when school officials showed no interest or concern.

The film has been described as a combination of the legendary classics “To Sir With Love” that starred Sidney Poitier and “Stand And Deliver” which starred Edward James Olmos.

“Critical Thinking” marks the debut of John Leguizamo as a Director. The casting of the movie is predominately Black and Latinx young actors. The only actor that I recognized is Angel Bismark Curiel of “POSE.”

Once again much kudos to Ms. Maria Teresa Kumar, President, and CEO of Voto Latino for making us aware of this brand new movie when she was guest hosting on the AM Joy show last weekend.

While Mr. Leguizamo was being interviewed, he informed the viewing audience that on Friday, September 4 “Critical Thinking” can be seen on iTunes, AppleTV, Hulu, Amazon, and Prime except for Netflix.

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