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The Independent Critic

Markhum Stansbury, Jr., Arnita Champion, Mister Jones, Derrick Collins, Niambi Sims, Frederick Burns, Selma Pinkard, Maieka Saint-Albin, Auggie Cavanagh
Christopher C. Odom
88 Mins.
Vendetta Filmworks
Director's Commentary, Scene Selection, Trailers, Bonus Footage

 "The 23rd Psalm" Review 
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Los Angeles police detective John Smith (Markhum Stansbury, Jr.) is battling his own demons until an investigation into the murder of a saintly prostitute renews his faith. Smith follows his intuition and his driven by visions, ultimately discovering more than simply the truth.

Yet another example of faith-based cinema's increasing tendency towards edgier and more culturally relevant material, The 23rd Psalm has enjoyed an incredibly successful festival run primarily on the Black cinema and faith cinema circuit with notable wins at Berlin Black Cinema International (Best Film by a Black Filmmaker), San Diego Black Film Festival (Best Picture), San Diego Black Film Festival (Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor) and official selections around the globe.

Writer/director Christopher C. Odom, who is currently over working with Princeton Holt on The 10 Commandments of Chloe, has assembled an inventive and intelligently written faith-based drama that at times defies the typical boundaries of faith-based cinema with its metaphysical theme (which, for the record, doesn't in any way detract from its roots of faith). The 23rd Psalm is expertly lensed by Odom using the JVC-GY-HD100U, allowing the film a masterful clarity.

Markhum Stansbury, Jr., who stumbled into acting on his way to law school at Georgetown University, makes for a compelling and complex police detective, a role not too far that could very well be considered a cousin to that of Michael Joiner's in The Grace Card. Stansbury is able to convincingly portray a detective honestly battling his own demons while exploring his growing intuition. Arnita Champion and Leslie Jones do a nice job as supporting players along with Mister Jones, whose turn as an urban pastor is compelling and involving.

The 23rd Psalm at times plays out like an edgier version of the Black theatrical productions that often tour the country, productions that incorporate a solid morality base with explorations of major personal and societal issues. This approach may limit the film's appeal across cultures, however, having a bit of patience with the film will be nicely rewarded.

The 23rd Psalm is getting ready for its DVD release, and this transcendental urban meditation on faith and personal salvation should be incredibly popular with those who embrace urban faith dramas and especially for Black faith-based audiences searching for quality, meaningful faith-based cinema.

© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic