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Brooklyn Babylon

28 August 2001 | The Hollywood Reporter | See recent The Hollywood Reporter news »

It's fitting that this latest feature from Marc Levin, the director of the acclaimed "Slam", should be receiving its U.S. theatrical premiere at the Brooklyn Academy of Music's Rose Cinemas, since the venue is but a stone's throw away from where the story is set. A tale of interracial romance between a young Hasidic woman and a Rastafarian rapper, "Brooklyn Babylon" is a well-intentioned effort that unfortunately suffers from melodramatic excess and overly familiar themes.

Set in Crown Heights, the Brooklyn neighborhood that in 1991 erupted in violence between African-Americans and Hasidic Jews, the film depicts the uproar that ensues after a relationship develops between Sol (Tariq "Black Thought" Trotter from the band the Roots) and Sara (Karen Goberman) after they are involved in a car accident that nearly leads to a riot. The pair are immediately drawn to each other, infuriating both Sara's hotheaded fiance Judah (David Vadim) and Sol's best friend Scratch (Bonz Malone).

The burgeoning courtship is depicted with a delicate sensitivity, most notably in such scenes as when Sara tentatively and delightedly touches Sol's impressive dreadlocks, and in the inevitable nude love scene, which is marked by a gentle eroticism. But the film degenerates into a "West Side Story"-style depiction of racial tensions and violence, and the largely improvised dialogue is ultimately unable to hold our interest. The fact that the story is meant to be an updating of the Solomon and Sheba fable doesn't help matters.

Trotter, in his screen debut, displays an undeniable charisma, and Goberman, though not quite capable of fully conveying the extent of her character's emotional turmoil, has a lovely screen presence. Music fans will find satisfaction in the filmed performances by The Roots and by the presence of various hip-hop figures, including Rahzel, Slick Rick, Bounty Killer, Common and others. Also exhibiting his musical skills, not to mention a surprising visual image, is Hasidic guitarist Yossi Piementa.

BROOKLYN BABYLON

Offline Entertainment Group

in association with Canal Plus and Artisan Films

Director: Marc Levin

Screenwriters: Marc Levin, Bonz Malone, Pam Widener

Producers: Henri M. Kessler, Ezra Swerdlow

Executive producers: David Peipers, John Sloss, Alex Gibney

Director of photography: Mark Benjamin

Film editor: Emir Lewis

Color/stereo

Cast:

Sol: Tariq Trotter

Sara: Karen Goberman

Scratch: Bonz Malone

Judah: David Vadim

Narrator: Rahzel

Ras Don: Earl Contasti

Running time -- 90 minutes

No MPAA rating

Set in Crown Heights, the Brooklyn neighborhood that in 1991 erupted in violence between African-Americans and Hasidic Jews, the film depicts the uproar that ensues after a relationship develops between Sol (Tariq "Black Thought" Trotter from the band the Roots) and Sara (Karen Goberman) after they are involved in a car accident that nearly leads to a riot. The pair are immediately drawn to each other, infuriating both Sara's hotheaded fiance Judah (David Vadim) and Sol's best friend Scratch (Bonz Malone).

The burgeoning courtship is depicted with a delicate sensitivity, most notably in such scenes as when Sara tentatively and delightedly touches Sol's impressive dreadlocks, and in the inevitable nude love scene, which is marked by a gentle eroticism. But the film degenerates into a "West Side Story"-style depiction of racial tensions and violence, and the largely improvised dialogue is ultimately unable to hold our interest. The fact that the story is meant to be an updating of the Solomon and Sheba fable doesn't help matters.

Trotter, in his screen debut, displays an undeniable charisma, and Goberman, though not quite capable of fully conveying the extent of her character's emotional turmoil, has a lovely screen presence. Music fans will find satisfaction in the filmed performances by The Roots and by the presence of various hip-hop figures, including Rahzel, Slick Rick, Bounty Killer, Common and others. Also exhibiting his musical skills, not to mention a surprising visual image, is Hasidic guitarist Yossi Piementa.

BROOKLYN BABYLON

Offline Entertainment Group

in association with Canal Plus and Artisan Films

Director: Marc Levin

Screenwriters: Marc Levin, Bonz Malone, Pam Widener

Producers: Henri M. Kessler, Ezra Swerdlow

Executive producers: David Peipers, John Sloss, Alex Gibney

Director of photography: Mark Benjamin

Film editor: Emir Lewis

Color/stereo

Cast:

Sol: Tariq Trotter

Sara: Karen Goberman

Scratch: Bonz Malone

Judah: David Vadim

Narrator: Rahzel

Ras Don: Earl Contasti

Running time -- 90 minutes

No MPAA rating

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2004 | 2001 | 1998

1 item from 2001


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