A look at a group of girl friends coming-of-age during their senior year of high school in urban America. Nikki and Emma have a heart to heart talk one evening about how much they'll miss ... See full summary »
Based on the novel by Gloria Naylor, which deals with several strong-willed women who live in a rundown housing project on Brewster Place in an unidentified eastern city; across three ... See full summary »
Focusing on the bonding between three female (an African American female, a half African American half Latino American female, and a Latino American female) high school members of Brooklyn's "Jackie Robinson Steppers Marching Band" and the choices the girls face once their school closes down because of the need for asbestos removal. This film is about a host of topics, not least of which is the hard-work involved in maintaining friendships. Written by
This is the first American film to successfully adopt the naturalistic style used by Europeans, particularly the French and Belgians, for at least a decade, and isn't it about time? Following three high school girls in the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn during the last days of their summer break between freshman and sophomore years, it does what all good art should: it discovers the universal in the particular. Even though the girls' preoccupations are outwardly conventional--boys, sex, popularity, money, freedom, and clothes--we glimpse how their whole lives are being shaped, the universal interface between character and destiny.
The naturalism is whole, complete. The film breathes, stays in the moment, inhabits real time. The story tells itself. The medium and its artifacts, for once, are not the message. The film unwaveringly, truthfully conveys the childhood perspective of its characters; it does not impose its own adult meanings or morals. Details emerge of their own, are never pushed, and thus seem all the more real and powerful for their understatement. Even though great pains have been taken to capture the authentic social reality of Crown Heights, part of the largest Black ghetto in New York City and one of the most dangerous violent places in the US, the subject is childhood in the ghetto, not the ghetto itself.
Documentary footage of the practice sessions of a marching band, the Jackie Robinson Steppers, punctuate the film at regular intervals with an explosion of color, movement, and sound. Otherwise, the camera stays very close, very intimate, a patient, sly, and unobtrusive observer. The language is rich, spontaneous, the acting transparent. Some scenes standout, such as the girls lolling about, each revealing her deepest fantasies. Lanisha's confession of her acceptance of a death by random violence is the most shocking, one of the deepest scars of the ghetto. Her sharing with her mother her confusion and fear before the stark challenges of adult life is equally moving, and beautifully, unsentimentally affirmative.
Social realities are respected, not propagandized: All three girls are being raised by single moms, only one, Lanisha, has a father active in her life (and, not coincidentally, of the three she is the most emotionally stable and empathetic to others, and the one with the most self-respect). Two of them suffer from asthma, a disease disproportionately prevalent in the inner city. Gunfire, an accepted daily occurrence, only momentarily interrupts their conversation. Only one of the girls, Joy, feels hope for, feels she has control over the future, while the other two to varying degrees have already accepted despair.
This is by far the best dramatic American film I've seen in years. See it, see it, see it.
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