Fifteen years ago, their Washington Heights neighborhood was dubbed the crack-cocaine capital of the world, but today it is transforming into one of the most vibrant, Spanish-speaking ... See full summary »
Fifteen years ago, their Washington Heights neighborhood was dubbed the crack-cocaine capital of the world, but today it is transforming into one of the most vibrant, Spanish-speaking communities in the United States. While the drug dealers continue to disappear, their violent legacy still casts a shadow over the neighborhood and its residents. Junior, an ex-convict struggling to get his life back on track, is a product of this legacy. His younger brother Manny, the salutatorian of his high school class, embodies the hope of the future. On the night of his graduation party, Manny finds himself faced with an ill-fated decision that could change his life forever. Written by
Sujit R. Varma
Involving family drama that refuses to be categorized.
Here is an involving family drama that refuses to be categorized. Is it a Dogme film? Is it an experimental work? Is it an offspring of Cassevettes? Of Scorsese? Of Sidney Lumet? Is it a foreign film shot in America? Is it a piece of verite filmmaking? Or is it more rooted in Documentary?
Set in a Manhattan Latino neighborhood, the story sets out with a very broad canvass, filled with the colors from all aspects of its world. The technique is at first documentary and little by little becomes something that feels more familiar. As if the filmmaker decided to trick you in to the story through some kind of visual artiface afterwhich you are so engrossed, you no longer are concerned with imagery but only for the characters.
The story has no less than ten very memorable scenes. My favorites were the big graduation party that seemed truly captured (and not staged). There is also a scene in a prison that was one of the most emotionally moving moments I've experienced in a long time.
If the film has a flaw, its that the story feels too unremittingly bleak in the end. I'm not suggesting that I wanted a happy ending. But, I did feel like the director was overally hellbent on proving his dark view of the world.
I give this film a 9/10 and highly recommend it to people who enjoy Art films and World Cinema. (If you are a glossy Speilberg, this film is not for you)
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