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The film maker obviously wasn't aware of the curfew for teenagers in the city of New Orleans. The brothers would have been picked off the street by NOPD and placed in custody until claimed by their family.
The title of the film, "Tchoupitoulas," is the name of a New Orleans Street. One would assume from the title that this teenage "road" movie would have found the boys at least visiting the street. What we get is very poorly superimposed shots of Carnival (always in cold February--rarely in March) with the boys wearing the summer T-shirts they were wearing on a warm summer night in New Orleans. The Carnival scenes, with floats, somehow are meant to be played out on Bourbon Street. I can assure you that large Carnival floats no longer pass through the French Quarter--fire regulations and crowd control problems.
The boys miss the Midnight (and last) crossing across the river back to Algiers, the section of New Orleans which is located on the west bank of the Mississippi. They wonder from Canal Street to various parts of downtown New Orleans. We get to experience some of the sights that they see and which they comment on and if, and I emphasize, "if," you can understand the dialog (ad lib?) because of the very poor sound quality, you are far luckier than I. Between the Midnight hour and 6:00 a.m. when the ferry sails again, you'll find the boys on Frenchman Street, fully lit up, we are to assume, early in the a. m. This is the Faubourg Marigny section of New Orleans, just below and immediately adjacent to the French Quarter. It's "jumping" up to about 1 - 2 a. m., but it's very tame after that until the next night. The film maker had no sense of time and places his trio of brothers all over a small area the city with no particular purpose as to why they are in that particular place. The boys don't experience an epiphany nor do their lives seemed transformed by their wanderings.
The opening of the film shows the tense strain of temperaments between family members. It is also, sadly, a quite unaesthetic environment that the boys inhabit. Could their home be a crack house? Sadly, again, we never see the boys get on the Canal Street ferry and we never see them get off of the ferry. They just materialize across the river. Having ridden the ferry numerous times, there always is a feeling of magic or anticipation about boarding or leaving it. This is not captured in this film.
The shaky hand-held camera work is annoying, quite often out of focus and about the only good-looking, easy to look at scene is the one in a striptease club. The stripper is excellent with lots of talent.
For a city famous for music, the soundtrack leaves very much to be desired.
A huge disappointment. The University of New Orleans has an outstanding film department. I bet the students there must be cringing at "Tchoupitoulas."
I actually signed up to IMDb in order to write this. I'd be as long winded as the movie but I'm typing on my phone so ill be sparse. This is not a documentary- the "plot" was an obvious set up at certain parts. The movie was schizophrenic, either a "day in the life" or an exposé of the New Orleans bar scene. There was no intellectual challenge or message about poverty/race (why else follow three poor black kids?), and it wasn't even aesthetically pleasing, or technical (I could have shot this movie with a camcorder and I have no experience). And music? the only decent music we get is from the street performers, otherwise the soundtrack is not nearly as impressive as the synopsis I read made it out to be. If the makers were attempting to have music be one of the lightly touched and poorly executed themes, I reckon they failed on that part as well. This one is a walk out folks, I'm upset at myself for sitting through it.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Any film that's shot in New Orleans usually piques my interest, as I
find it's mysterious uniqueness and history fascinating. After reading
the two other reviews on this site, I guess I was able to get past the
contrivances of the "documentary" and just enjoy the atmospherics of
the Crescent City as presented.
Three young brothers Bryan, Kentrell, and William Zanders, and their dog Buttercup, take the ferry from their difficult Algiers environment to New Orleans one night. As the three adolescents roam the streets, we get snippets of many of the sights and sounds of the city's nightlife. There are street musicians and performers, hookers, strip clubs, burlesque shows, as well as a gay bar where transvestites are performing on stage. There's also brief shots of jazz and rap clubs, a viewing of a street parade and marching band, and a glimpse into a few of the city's food offerings.
Later, after the brothers miss the last ferry out, they return to the downtown area, and as the revelers and tourists have retreated for the night, and the fog rolls in, there's lots of eeriness emerging. The brothers, despite their own trepidations, board what appears to be a scuttled former casino or cruise ship, perhaps a remnant of Hurricane Katrina, and that also presented some creepy moments.
Some of my criticisms of the contrivances were that the brothers were certainly too young to be entering a lot of the establishments that were portrayed, and you don't actually see them in there. Also, the musings of the youngest brother William, who's nine-years-old, were quite interesting about his future, but highly unlikely at that age to be thinking so deeply and profoundly.
I've visited New Orleans a few times, some years ago, and, as mentioned, am fascinated by many aspects of the city. So for me, I was more interested in the atmospherics and dynamics of the city, rather than be too literal about the story, and so I thought this movie, directed by Bill Ross IV and Turner Ross, supplied me with, for the most part, what I was mainly interested in.
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