CINEMA: By The Dots

John Singleton directs an earnest, rote campus drama

IT IS DIFFICULT TO BE A YOUNG BLACK filmmaker like John Singleton. His race tends to impose racism on him as a subject. His youth and his status as a generational spokesman oblige him to assume a particular attitude, an outraged political correctness that extends to other, nonracial matters (notably sexism). His audience, which is also young, meanwhile makes, or seems to make, contradictory demands on him -- for violently dramatic confrontations on one hand; for hopeful, or at least not entirely bleak, conclusions on the other.

Higher Learning is the desperately confused response to all these pressures. It finds on...

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