Octavia Spencer / Kevin Costner

Every once in a while, an actress or actor comes along who is so charming and watchable that anything she or he is in will be worth watching for that performance, even if overall the film is a hideous malodorous mass of . . . well, a malodorous mass of biological-system end product. That was especially true of Gene Hackman, who was riveting in great films and crappy ones alike.

I’m also taken with Octavia Spencer. Everyone saw her in The Help, which was terrific. Fewer than everyone saw her in Black or White, in which she was as good or better. Somehow, though well reviewed, the film didn’t click. It’s a completely fresh and nuanced film about race relations, without the usual cliches, and her performance is delightful, touching, and beautiful to behold.

Kevin Costner has that same watchability and ability to be good in a bad movie (though I admit to having all memories of Waterworld and The Postman chemically obliterated by memory reduction specialists from the CIA). He’s been in many good movies, too, and Black or White is one of them. Worth your time.

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