Small Screen Berkeley: ‘The Day Shall Come’ and ‘Truth is the Only Client’

A hilarious but also serious film about one of most pernicious aspects of The War on Terror; and a movie that’s essential viewing for anyone interested in the JFK assassination.

The Day Shall Come. Photo: Courtesy IFC Films

Ten years ago, writer-director Chris Morris’s Four Lions became the first feature comedy to poke fun at jihadi terrorism. Its depiction of a group of British men attempting to avenge the deaths of Muslims at the hands of western militaries by attacking a London ‘fun run’ was shocking in its mundanity — and also hilarious in its ability to put a human face on its less-than-superhuman villains.

Now Morris is back with the similarly themed The Day Shall Come (originally scheduled to open in theaters last October, the film is now available for streaming). Moving the action to the United States, the film tackles one of most pernicious aspects of ‘The War on Terror’: the efforts of American law enforcement agencies to entrap otherwise hapless ‘terrorists’ in a web of lies and deception.

The Star of Six is a group of half a dozen Miami residents who live communally under the tutelage of Moses Shabazz (Marchánt Davis), who’s concocted a bizarre blend of Islam, Black nationalism, and reverence for Black Santa that has won him precisely three converts. Naturally, they’ve drawn the attention of the local FBI office, desperately in need of a success after their most recent sting operation has collapsed.

Agent Kendra Glack (Anna Kendrick, looking exactly the same as she did a decade ago in George Clooney’s Up in the Air) is in charge of the attempt to rope the otherwise pacific Moses into making a deal to sell (non-existent) nukes to a gang of neo-Nazis in exchange for enough money to pay his landlord and keep The Star of Six safely ensconced on their Miami ‘farm’. She’s got the full force of the agency behind her; Moses and his family (including wife Venus, wonderfully portrayed by Danielle Brooks) stand no chance.

As hilarious as The Day Shall Come is — and there are plenty of laugh out loud moments — its topic is deadly serious. The FBI has a long history of entrapment driven by a desire to rack up easy convictions and speed agents on their way to promotion. Morris’s film is a pointed and welcome criticism of those underhanded efforts.

‘Truth is the Only Client:’ Made for JFK assassination buffs

A few weeks ago, my Treason review made passing reference to JFK assassination buffs. Confession: I’m one of them, and the new documentary Truth is the Only Client (available for streaming beginning on Tuesday, Nov. 17) is essential viewing for anyone interested in that endlessly fascinating murder mystery.

Fair warning, though: the film (an apparent labor of love for Cleveland judge Brendan Sheehan, who was just re-elected for another term last week) is an attempt to exonerate the Warren Commission, and it does a damn good job of it. Featuring interviews with surviving staff — including Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer, who worked for the Commission as a fact-checker! — the film effectively debunks many of the conspiracy theories that have arisen over the past half century.

Even Warren Commission skeptics will find points of interest in this exhaustive, two and a half hour long feature, including compelling interview footage with Ruth Paine, whose garage Lee Harvey Oswald used to stash his ‘curtain rods’, and Bernard Weissman, the man who designed and paid for the infamous black-bordered ‘welcome to Dallas’ newspaper advertisement. Fascinating and enlightening, Truth is the Only Client’s only real drawback is the grating presence of the late Vincent Bugliosi, the man who spun ‘Helter Skelter’ gold from Manson Family straw. But that’s another fascinating ’60s story…