In Los Angeles, the hot-tempered collector of cans Socrates "Socco" Fortlow is an ex-con that has served a long sentence for killing a man and a woman. Now he is trying to build a new life and find a job. However he is discriminated against his age, color and background. His only friend is Right Burke, who is dying of cancer. He also helps a young woman that is having problems with her husband. When Socco meets the boy Darryl, he finds that Darryl lives with a foster family that does not take care of him. Further, he has just witnessed the murder of another boy by a small-time criminal. Socco helps the boy to grow-up while helps Burke and tries to find work at a supermarket.Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
The cap that Socrates wears throughout the movie reads "90291", the zip code corresponding to the Los Angeles suburb of Venice (roughly 15 miles west of where this movie takes place). The M'Shalla family moves to Venice at the end of the movie after Howard gets a job offer there. See more »
Play the Blues
Written by Byther Smith
Published by Happy Valley Music, BMI
Performed by Byther Smith
Courtesy of Rounder Records
By Arrangement with Ocean Park Music Group See more »
Gilding the lily
Laurence Fishburne is superb as Socrates Fortlow in the HBO movie of Walter Mosley's adaptation of his first book of Fortlow stories. Mosley wove his stories together fairly well in the screenplay. The quest for a job, the serious undertaking of mentoring Darryl, dealing with the dealer/mugger and with the car-jacker are cinematic. Daniel Williams' portrayal of Darryl as a vulnerable discarded child who has to act tough is very, very good. The friendship with Right Burke (Bill Cobbs) is plausible, but having "Right" narrate the film seems unnecessary to me. We can see in Fishburne's performance the kind of many Socrates is without Right telling us how heroic he is.
The relationships with women are less convincing, or at least less compelling. I don't remember what Luvia (Cicely Tyson) has against Socrates. His relationship with Iula Brown (Natalie Cole) lacks chemistry (and screen time).
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