Spike Lee's take on the "Son of Sam" murders in New York City during the summer of 1977 centering on the residents of an Italian-American Northeast Bronx neighborhood who live in fear and distrust of one another.
Strike is a young city drug pusher under the tutelage of drug-lord Rodney Little, who, when not playing with model trains or drinking Moo for his ulcer, just likes to chill with his brothers near the benches outside the project houses. When a night man at a fast-food restaurant is found with four bullets in his body, Strike's older brother turns himself in as the killer. Det. Rocco Klein doesn't buy the story, however, and sets out to find the truth, and it seems that all the fingers point toward Strike & Rodney. Written by
Michael Silva <firstname.lastname@example.org>
After speaking with Det. Rocco Klein outside the police station, the shadows of the buildings change size, and the position of Rodney's car is different in each of the three shots showing Ronald approaching the car and getting on. See more »
Ronald 'Strike' Dunham:
[In Rodney's car; Rodney gives him crap about abandoning his post to be questioned by Klein]
Aw, man. Fuck you, Rodney.
[silently pulls over to the shoulder]
[punches Strike in the stomach]
Who the *fuck* are you talking to like that? Are you out of your motherfucking mind?
[pulls Strike down on his lap]
Huh? You think I'm one of these crew-niggas sitting on the project?
[punches him again]
[grabs a gun from the backseat and sticks it in his mouth]
Open yo mouth, nigga...
[...] See more »
It is not an easy film. It is bleak and at times very off-putting. Actually, if you are a thinking, caring person, this is movie is overall heart-breaking.
But it is brilliant and, for the person who truly tries to understand it, a compelling, insightful look at the problems killing black America today. The only reason for the film's lack of recognition I can imagine is that its subject matter had been examined a number of times before. But the inescapable fact is that this one of the best examinations of the subject matter there has been on screen - on par with "Boyz N The Hood".
And it is FAR from uncreative. In fact, on one level, it is not a "hood" movie, but a whodunit. The mystery aspect of the plot is very interesting. But there are other, more important layers. It is the story of the confusion and crisis of a young man's life. Most importantly, it is a brutal look at drugs, guns, and life in the projects. It is a movie asking why so many young black men are dying in the streets.
The lead character Strike has a stomach problem. It might be an ulcer or something like that. I believe it is a metaphor. Just as heat represented racial tension in Lee's masterpiece "Do The Right Thing", Strike's sickness represents the illnesses plaguing the ghetto: drugs, guns, liquor.
Like DTRT, this film looks at community. The mothers, the cops, the young people, the kids, the men trying to make a living - there is eloquent commentary in "Clockers" on the situations of all. In Spike's movies, paying a little attention is rewarding. A good essay could be written on what I call the Spike Summarization technique. This is when Spike compresses a serious debate or concern in the black community into a few expressive moments of action or dialogue. There are better examples in other movies, but it manifests in "Clockers" a few times. A bunch of kids are sitting in front of Rodney's (Delroy Lindo) shop; one of the kids is rapping while the others pay attention. The two sides to the coin: we feel the artistry and skill of the moment, the continuation of a rich tradition of oral art; we're also struck by the cruelty and coldness in the kid's violent lyrics, and we think about where that comes from.
Stylistically, this movie is a huge success. The cinematography is amazing, and I wonder what must be wrong with my tastes when I'm floored by a film like this and find visually bland a more oft-praised classic. The projects become blinding panoramas, landscapes which add tons of meaning to the poignant ending (I won't reveal it here). The sound is great; many films of this nature use hip hop in the soundtrack to produce certain effects, but "Clockers" does it in a more methodical way which jars some people, but contributes to the film's meaning.
I could say more about the film, but I encourage you to just see it, along with the rest of Spike's oeuvre. He's not a perfect filmmaker, and some of his best films are marred by elements that don't work, but I feel his consistency in terms of delivering brilliance is not below most of the cinema's most celebrated auteurs.
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