Popcorn and Inspiration: ‘Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story,’ a True Journey of Self-Discovery and Accomplishing Dreams

BY IAN KANE

 

Not Rated | 1h 26min | Biography, Drama | TV Movie 7 February 2009

As my review of “The Ron Clark Story”, just last week revealed, inspirational films based on real people are much more effective. They are a lens into exceptional lives that we can all learn from, no matter what our own hindrances and backgrounds.

Director Thomas Carter’s (“Coach Carter,” 2005; “Save the Last Dance,” 2001) “Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story” is a biopic based on the incredible life of neurosurgeon Dr. Ben Carson.

The film certainly didn’t begin as I’d assumed it would. Ben overcame quite a few challenges in his younger life; it is during these times that the film is most interesting.

Ben’s father abandoned his family when Ben was just a young boy (played by Jaishon Fisher and later Gus Hoffman as a youth). His mother, Sonya (Kimberly Elise, “The Manchurian Candidate,” 2004), is raising Ben and his brother, Curtis (Tajh Bellow), as best she can.

black boy in school
Jaishon Fisher in “Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story.” (Sony Pictures Television)

Sonya, a housemaid, is not only illiterate but also struggles with mental illness. A good-hearted, God-fearing woman, she takes her boys to church often and instills in them the values of hard work and discipline.

black boy being reprimanded by mother
Young Ben Carson (Jaishon Fisher) being reprimanded by his mother (Kimberly Elise), in “Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story.” (Sony Pictures Television)

But there’s a problem: Ben has his own struggles in the form of learning disabilities. He’s behind in his classes and frequently receives F grades on assignments. Because of this, as well as being one of the few black kids at the school, Ben is frequently bullied by his classmates. On one occasion, as he is relentlessly taunted, he comes out swinging and slugs one of his tormentors. It is here that we see Ben’s anger issues.

Sonya soon discovers that Ben has vision problems and buys him a pair of glasses, enabling him to boost his grades. But his real turning point occurs when he attends church one Sunday, and as the pastor gives a fiery sermon, Ben’s imagination takes off: He is inspired to become a doctor.

Although poor, Sonya is rich in her belief in her sons. With a hefty number of pep talks (as well as some good old-fashioned discipline), Sonya inspires her boys to read as many books as they can get their hands on. Soon, Ben and Curtis are answering “Jeopardy” show questions before any of the TV contestants.

Due to Ben’s voracious appetite for learning, a science teacher notices the youth’s intellect and shows him organisms under a microscope. From there, Ben moves from strength to strength, letting his mind absorb as it can.

A few years later, Sonya, having saved money, moves the boys from their Detroit tenement into a house close to a prestigious high school. She figures that having her boys attend the school is their best shot at breaking the chains of poverty.

But things take a dark turn when Ben’s anger rears its ugly head again: One of his friends taunts him, and Ben stabs his buddy with a knife. Miraculously, the blade hits the boy’s metal belt buckle and snaps in half. Shocked by his own violence, Ben runs home, locks himself in his bedroom, hits his knees, and prays to God to remove his volatile temper.

tennis shoe and knife blade
A broken knife blade was a turning point in the life of young Ben Carson, in “Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story.” (Sony Pictures Television)

Ben manages to earn a full scholarship to Yale University, where he also attends medical school. He meets his perfect counterpart and future wife, Candy (Aunjanue Ellis), who’s brilliant in her own right. Ben reveals to her that he is struggling to keep up with his classes. But Candy figures out a workaround for Ben’s obstacles in the form of cue cards since he has such a tremendous reading memory. From there, Ben becomes a pediatric neurosurgeon and goes on to achieve many great things.

Cuba Gooding Jr. and Aunjanue Ellis
Ben Carson (Cuba Gooding Jr., L) is aided by his wife (Aunjanue Ellis) in his medical studies, in “Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story.” (Sony Pictures Television)

Casting Does the Job

Just as with “The Ron Clark Story,” this film benefited from shrewd casting. Gooding Jr. is convincing as the college-aged, and later, Dr. Ben Carson. As well, Elise is great as his ever-supportive mother who sees past their dire circumstances.

Ellis is very capable in the few scenes she’s in, but since most of the movie takes place during Ben’s childhood years in the 1960s, we don’t see much of her. I have to say that both Jaishon Fisher and Gus Hoffman are exceptional in portraying Ben as a young boy and teen, respectively.

Cuba Gooding portraying Dr. Ben Carson
Cuba Gooding Jr. as Dr. Ben Carson, in “Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story.” (Sony Pictures Television)

Overall, “Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story” is a well-acted and well-directed biopic that shows what people can achieve despite difficulties. Through his faith in God, his ferocious intellect, and his mother’s indefatigable belief in him, Ben was able to overcome early handicaps and go on to a formidable future. At the same time, it also reminds us that if talents go unrecognized, some children may never live up to their potential.

‘Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story
Director: Thomas Carter

Starring: Cuba Gooding Jr., Kimberly Elise, Aunjanue Ellis
Rated: Not Rated
Running time: 1 hour, 26 minutes
Release Date: Feb. 7, 2009, (TV movie)
Rated: 4.5 stars out of 5

Ian Kane is a filmmaker and author based out of Los Angeles. To learn more, visit DreamFlightEnt.com or contact him at Twitter.com/TheRealIanKane.

 

Matchstick math challenge: Can you solve the equation by moving only ONE matchstick?

(The Epoch Times)

May 25, 2020 Updated: May 25, 2020

The good news is that people are returning to work as countries across the world start to reopen, yet many are still stuck at home, still stricken with the lockdown blues.

Perhaps we can help make that situation more bearable with something fun to occupy your mind. Rather than waste hours on Facebook or playing video games, why not sharpen your logic skills with a tricky matchstick math puzzle?

Back in the day, before the advent of smart devices and the internet, people had to come up with creative ways to stave off boredom—such as with card games, or puzzles like this one, which use nothing more than a few matchsticks. Yet, don’t let that deceive you; it’s a lot more challenging and interesting than you might give it credit for. If you don’t believe it, give it a try!

Take a look at the matchstick math equation below and follow the instructions:

Matchstick Puzzle 1.

Epoch Times Photo
(The Epoch Times)

First, as you probably noticed, 9 + 3 does not equal 6.

The challenge for you is this: You may move one, and only one, matchstick to correct the equation. You may move it anywhere you like, as long as the equation is correct when you are finished. Give it a try. When you think you have the correct answer, or if you are completely stumped, scroll down below to see the right answer.

Epoch Times Photo
(Shutterstock)

Here is the match that you need to move:

Epoch Times Photo
(The Epoch Times)

Here is where you need to move it:

Epoch Times Photo
(The Epoch Times)

And, presto! Here is the final answer:

Epoch Times Photo
(The Epoch Times)

The correct answer is 5 + 3 = 8.

If you got it right, then congratulations! If you didn’t get it, don’t worry; practice makes perfect, so why not take another crack at it with a second puzzle below:

Matchstick Puzzle 2.

Epoch Times Photo
(The Epoch Times)

As you can see, this one is a little bit longer. It’s also trickier, so try thinking outside the box.

Same as before, you may move only one matchstick to correct the equation. Take a moment to solve it for yourself. Once you think you have the right answer, or when you’re ready to throw in the towel, scroll down below to see the answer.

Epoch Times Photo
(Shutterstock)

Here is the match that you need to move:

Epoch Times Photo
(The Epoch Times)

Here is where you need to move it:

Epoch Times Photo
(The Epoch Times)

And, just like magic, here is the final answer:

Epoch Times Photo
(The Epoch Times)

The answer is 545 + 5 = 550.

That was challenging, wasn’t it? If you solved it correctly, great work!

Here is one last bonus question for bragging rights, or a chance to redeem yourself if you weren’t able to solve the previous questions. Are you up for it? The instructions are below.

Matchstick Puzzle: Bonus Round

Epoch Times Photo
(The Epoch Times)

Here are 2 matchsticks (which happen to look a lot like the number 11). The challenge is to move both matchsticks to form the number 10. You may move them anywhere you like, as long as you end up with 10 as your final answer.

When you’re ready to see the correct answer, scroll down below.

Epoch Times Photo
(Shutterstock)

Here are the matchsticks that you need to move:

Epoch Times Photo
(The Epoch Times)

Move the matchsticks like so:

Epoch Times Photo
(The Epoch Times)

Voila! Here is the number 10 … in Roman numerals!

Epoch Times Photo
(The Epoch Times)