A gripping, brilliantly acted courtroom thriller from Spike Lee's erstwhile cinematographer Ernest Dickerson. On August 23, 1989, 16-year-old Yusuf Hawkins was brutally murdered by a gang of white Brooklyn hoodlums simply because he was a black man "trespassing" on white turf. As he watches these events unfold on TV, African-American lawyer John Williams (Courtney B. Vance) flashes back to a time when things were even worse. In 1957, his nephew Charlie (Garland Whitt), the son of John's older brother Charles (Charles S. Dutton), an authoritarian Bronx, NY, policeman, confesses to the strangulation murder of a white teenager. John believes Charlie's confession was signed under duress, but no lawyer will touch the case. To save his nephew from the electric chair, John takes the case on himself, but soon discovers that nothing -- especially Charlie's own account of the crime -- makes any sense. Faced with institutionalized racism from without (notably the police department and the legal system), and a different kind of intolerance from within his own family, John uncovers a whole other layer of truth that goes well beyond issues of race. Dickerson's film succeeds on just about every level, from Frank Military's powerful, beautifully written script and Rodney Charters' dramatic cinematography to two astonishing performances from Vance and the ever-extraordinary Dutton. It's both an engaging, keep-you-guessing mystery and a bold social drama of rare importance that takes a hard, uncompromising look at urban African-American life on the eve of the Civil Rights movement. See it.