Esther Iverem

Esther Iverem is an award-winning writer whose most recent book is We Gotta Have It: Twenty Years of Seeing Black at the Movies, 1986-2006 (Thunder’s Mouth Press). A former staff writer for several newspapers, she is founder of, a contributing critic for and a member of the Washington Area Film Critics Association.


Articles by Esther Iverem


AWFJ Women On Film – “For Colored Girls” – Review by Esther Iverem

The Colored House of Pain: “For Colored Girls” plays the same note of agony over and over, as each narrative recounts the abuse that a Black woman has faced from Black men in her life. Read more>>

read more

AWFJ Women On Film – “American Violet” – Esther Iverem reviews

American Violet,” is a raw and honest movie based in part on the true story of how a wide swath of the Black community in Tulia, Texas was arrested one day in a massive drug raid in 1999. read more

Women On Film – “Watchmen” – Esther Iverem reviews

I suppose it’s fair to say that cynics need superheroes too. Read more>>

read more

“Death Race” – Esther Iverem reviews

All signs point to the fact that we are not supposed to take the new film, “Death Race,” too seriously. But with video game-like violence, it does tell a story about the dangers of the prison-industrial complex. Read more>>

read more

“The Visitor” – Esther Iverem reviews

The new independent film, “The Visitor,” explores in a sobering manner the plight of Black and Arab immigrants—as well as that of dazed Americans—in the United States during the post 9/11 era. Read more>>

read more

“88 Minutes” – Esther Iverem reviews

If you remain an Al Pacino fan despite his many film bombs, even you may find yourself shaking your head in confusion during moments of his new release, “88 Minutes.” Read more

read more

“Street Kings” – Esther Iverem reviews

As long as there is a contentious relationship between Black communities and the police, perhaps there is reason to consider another shoot-em-up police drama like “Street Kings,” which lurks in that underworld of rogue cops, criminals and corruption. Read more>>

read more

“10,000 B.C.” – Esther Iverem reviews

It is difficult to pick what is worse about the new action film “10,000 B.C.” Is it the White folks in bad “dreadlock” wigs? Is it the creation of a new Tarzan who tames African tribes? Is it the warping of Egyptian history to include a non-existent White king 10,000 years before the birth of Christ? Or is it the fact that this is another epic about rescuing a valued White woman? Read more>>

read more

“Be Kind Rewind” – Esther Iverem reviews

“Be Kind Rewind,” the new movie starring Mos Def, Danny Glover and Jack Black, revels in its silliness. Surely, no other flick has gathered in one production, such varied film classics as “Ghost Busters,” “Rush Hour” and “Driving Miss Daisy.” Read more>>

read more

“Jumper” – Esther Iverem reviews

If “Jumper” is intended as the first in a possible series, it will have to offer more heart to go with its flash and poof. Read more>>

read more

“Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins” – Esther Iverem reviews

Take four comedians with onscreen chemistry, add a spoof of the vacuous soul of celebrity and sprinkle in a dysfunctional family reunion and you have the amusing elements of “Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins,” one of the better recent efforts from the funny wing of Black Hollywood. Read more>>

read more

“How She Move” – Esther Iverem reviews

Though it cannot help but be somewhat formulaic—a talented dancer faces obstacles to succeeding in life—“How She Move” freshens up the mix by taking as its protagonist a working class Black girl, Raya, who is struggling to remain enrolled at an expensive private high school. Read more>>

read more

“Mad Money” – Esther Iverem reviews

As events are unfolding in this country—with home foreclosures, layoffs, a falling stock market and rising fuel and food prices, there is a certain synergy between the real world and the plot of “Mad Money” that makes it the perfect, funny antidote for financial angst. By featuring three women at varying rungs on the economic ladder, it emphasizes both the illusion of American wealth and the common effort among the working class and middle class to “get money.” Read more>>

read more

“Honeydripper” – Esther Iverem reviews

In “Honeydripper,” the virulent racism of 1950’s Alabama exists as a matter-of-fact backdrop to the lives of Black a nightclub owner, his family and his friends. Director John Sayles captures the joys and sorrows of Tyrone Purvis, his wife and their surroundings without ever sinking to the level of a soap opera, a pity party or heavy-handed social commentary. Read more>>

read more

“First Sunday” – Esther Iverem reviews

Times are tough, so tough in fact that few of us can afford to spend too much time around people who are stupid and/or a drain on our game. Perhaps matching prison jumpsuits provide a hint about one man’s choice in friends. Yet in “First Sunday,” the latest comedy starring Ice Cube, a Baltimore man named Durell lets his friend LeeJohn separate him from gainful employment and talk him into robbing a church. Read more>>

read more