Updated: Apr 2, 2022
4K ULTRA HD REVIEW / HDR FRAME SHOTS
(1&2) Michael B. Jordan stars as First Sergeant Charles Monroe King and Chanté Adams as journalist Dana Canedy. They eventually fall in love and have a son, Jordan. Dana talks to her teenage son (Jalon Christian) about his father and the journal he wrote before he was killed in combat by a roadside bomb in Iraq.
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“A JOURNAL FOR JORDAN”
4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, Digital copy, 2021, PG-13 for sex, nudity, drugs, profanity; streaming via Amazon Prime Video (4K), Apple TV (4K), Vudu (4K), YouTube (4K)
Best extra: “Family Portrait: Making the Film” featurette (disc, digital)
FOR DENZEL WASHINGTON’S (“Fences,” “The Great Debaters”) fourth outing as a director, he chose a true story based on a 2008 best-selling memoir by Dana Canedy.
Adapted for the screen by Virgil Williams, the journal of the title refers to one written by Canedy’s partner, Charles Monroe King, to the couple’s baby son while he served in Iraq as a first sergeant in the U.S. Army. Tragically, King would never see his son grow up, nor would he and Canedy marry as they’d planned, as he was killed by a roadside explosive in 2006.
Starring Chanté Adams (“The Photograph”) as Dana, and Michael B. Jordan (“Creed”) as Charles, the film depicts the mismatched pair – he’s old-fashioned and formal, and a devoted career soldier with deep religious faith; she’s a liberal New York Times reporter with little to no religion, as well as a bit of bias against the military.
Thanks to intermittent flashbacks, we watch the couple meet at Dana’s parents’ home in Kentucky, where Charles is hanging a painting. Turns out the handsome fellow is an amateur artist who has maintained a friendship with Dana’s father (Robert Wisdom), who’d been Charles’ commanding officer in the Army. Jumping back and forth in time, we see Charles and Dana, immediately attracted to one another, begin dating and fall in love, interspersed with a long letter Dana writes to her little son, which we assume will be the basis for her book. We leap ahead to present-day Dana, who is still single, with her now adolescent son Jordan (Jalon Christian) and observe his gradual understanding of his parent’s whole story, as well as his introduction to the journal.
(1) We're introduced to Dana Canedy in the New York Times newsroom. (2) The story unfolds in the present and flashbacks as Dana opens the 200-page journal Charles wrote for his infant son Jordan. (3-5) Dana meets Charles at her parents' home in Kentucky, where Charles is hanging a painting. He drives her back to her motel and the next morning they meet for breakfast.
“Journal for Jordan” is presented on 4K Ultra HD (digital) and 1080p (disc) by Sony. Both formats look excellent sourced from a 2K master, and undoubtedly exactly the way French cinematographer Maryse Alberti (“The Wrestler,” “Creed”) intended. The 4K includes Dolby Vision grading for the finest level of contrast and color for life-like skin tones and slightly dark grading. It brings a slight edge in detail through the 4K close-ups.
The 4K digital includes the expansive eight-channel Dolby Atmos, although slightly compressed, while the uncompressed Blu-ray includes a 5.1 DTS-HD master. Both are coded with subtle musical cues and realistic effects during the battle scene. Dialogue is always clear and centered, and English subtitles are available.
The disc and digital include some deleted scenes; a brief gag reel; “Heart and Soul,” a featurette about the real Charles King; “Words of Wisdom: The Journal,” a conversation between Canedy and the two lead actors; and the making-of featurette. In it, Canedy notes that she “wanted everybody to know how special Charles was.” She credits writing about her experiences as being a way of healing, beginning with a front-page essay she wrote for the Times. After that ran, she says, “Everyone wanted a book … On some level, it was for my son. Every chapter starts ‘Dear Jordan.’”
(1&2) Many nights were spent on the phone since Charles was stationed in Texas and Dana worked in New York City. (3) The couple enjoyed a night in Manhattan. (4&5) Charles is an avid painter and the couple takes in the amazing work of Claude Monet “Woman with a Parasol - Madame Monet and Her Son.” (1875).
She adds, “I was the only journalist in the country who had gotten the knock on the door from the military … I wanted people to know what that feels like.” Washington says he began as the film’s producer, but after he read the book, he wanted to direct it as well. He says that to prepare for their roles, he had Michael B. Jordan and Jalon Christian train at Fort Irwin for a week, at the same California boot camp where Charles began his Army career.
Washington says he considers the film a “love letter to New York.” Jordan says he felt a connection to the story, as his father had been a Marine. Canedy says she hopes the book – and the film – will reach and touch people and offer inspiration. “Nobody has a charmed life,” she adds. “You have to hold onto joy and beauty … and things will get better.”
— Peggy Earle
(1) On 9/11 Dana talks to Charles as the World Trade Center towers are hit by two hijacked airliners. (2&3) Charles comforts Dana during the ultrasound, which they learn the baby is a boy.
(1) Jordan asks how his father died. (2&3) First Sergeant Charles Monroe King was part of the First Battalion 67th Armed Regiment from Fort Hood, Texas. They called themselves the “Death Dealers.” Most of his missions in Iraq took place in the “The Triangle of Death.” His nickname was “Top” and he was in charge of 105 men of Charlie Company and their nickname was the “Carnivores.” (4&5) On October 14, 2006, he was killed in combat after a roadside bomb, ripped through his Humvee. (6&7) Dana takes Jordan to his father’s grave for the first time. The scene was filmed at Arlington National Cemetery, but 1st Sgt. King is actually buried in Ohio.