"By any standard, Gordon Parks (1912-2006) led an extraordinary life as a photographer, filmmaker, composer, author, eyewitness to several major events of the 20th century, and above all a storyteller," says Tambay Obenson. "As a Black man born into poverty in an America not-so-far removed from slavery, as Jim Crow laws swept the south, his life is even more remarkable. In A Choice of Weapons: Inspired By Gordon Parks, the HBO documentary premiering November 15, director John Maggio attempts to capture the essence of Parks, by celebrating his motivating ideology of the artist as activist, through the reflections of the generation of artists he inspired. A welcomed effort, the film doesn’t fully commit, resulting in a rather uninspired portrait of one of America’s greatest artistic trailblazers. A Choice of Weapons blends Parks’ striking photographs (spanning more than 40 years) with footage of the artist in conversation, supported by reflections from a starry cast of interviewees, including filmmakers Ava DuVernay and Spike Lee; actor Richard Roundtree; photographer LaToya Ruby Frazier; retired basketball player Kareem Abdul-Jabbar; journalists Jelani Cobb and Anderson Cooper; Khalil Muhammad, historian and professor at Harvard’s Kennedy School; Bryan Stevenson, executive director of the Equal Justice Initiative; Darren Walker, president of the Ford Foundation; and others. Their contributions help contextualize Parks’ artivism, although they lean toward the perfunctory, and don’t offer the penetrating gaze into the mind of the celebrated artist as audiences may expect." ALSO: A Choice of Weapons is too focused on the activist and artistic pioneer but not enough about the person.