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Crude as filmmaking at times but gets its message across
Nine dollars and a tent that's all hip-hop artist Pras Michel (of The Fugees) brings with him when he goes undercover to live on Skid Row disguised as a homeless person. His purpose? To experience first hand what life is like for those who live on the streets, and to share that experience with the world at large. "Skid Row" documents the nine days and nights he spent trying to make it in the homeless capital of the world, Los Angeles.
The movie hits us with a slew of depressing statistics and provides a brief history of the place, while Pras learns how to survive through begging and panhandling and by maneuvering his way through a world few of us will ever know or even care to acknowledge. The movie, shot with a hidden camera, is a fairly straight-forward documentary, though the substandard sound recording makes some of the dialogue hard to make out. But the message shines through in Pras' heartbreaking encounters with drug addicts, runaways, and friends and families of individuals who have gone missing and may be living on Skid Row.
The enormity and seeming intractability of the problem can make watching this film an overwhelming experience for the viewer, but there are glimmers of hope in seeing how many of the individuals who work with the homeless were themselves down-and-out at one point in their lives (many are themselves recovering addicts), but somehow managed to pull themselves up and are now giving back to those they left behind.
Pras and the others involved in the project deserve praise for their courage and gratitude for opening our eyes to the problem through their film.
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