Dr. Hess Green becomes cursed by a mysterious ancient African artifact and is overwhelmed with a newfound thirst for blood. He however is not a vampire. Soon after his transformation he ... See full summary »
Stephen Tyrone Williams,
After the shooting death of a child hit by a stray bullet, a group of women led by Lysistrata organize against the on-going violence in Chicago's Southside creating a movement that challenges the nature of race, sex and violence in America and around the world.
At the end when the peace signing ceremony is being conducted all the parties involved are on one side of the signing table which is in front of them between the seats of the amphitheater with all the visible seats empty. See more »
Plenty of interesting elements, but really all over the shop tonally and in terms of content
I knew little of this film when I sat to watch it, only that it was from Spike Lee, and I was open to whatever it chose to do. The opening credits suggest seriousness and grit; this is an impression that continues even at the same time as it adds theatrical presentation to the delivery, and rhyming couplets to the dialogue. At this point I was intrigued by the style as well as the content but as the ideas grew the film really gets out of control. I am really not sure what the vision for the film was, and what was told to the cast to draw in so many big names – but I'm guessing different things attracted them since so many of them appear to be in different films from the others.
The film touches on a lot of serious subjects, but at the same time it tries to involve comedy, musical numbers, sexual farce, and generally odd or misjudged attempts at comedy. The result is a film that feels so totally unfocused that it is really difficult to stay with it. Being kind, you could describe this wild energy as being enough to carry the viewer along, but I did not find this to be the case. Instead I wanted it to be better – to be worthy of its subject matter and its better elements; but this never came together, and I found it quite frustrating just how messy it was.
The starry cast doesn't help because even when they are really good, they are distracting by their fame, as well as the disjointed nature of their individual material. Parris is strong in the lead, but struggles to find a through-line across all her varying material. Cannon is wholly unconvincing throughout, while Snipes' comedy gangster undercuts the grit of this part of the film. Bassett and Hudson are excellent in their scenes – and it is not their fault that their scenes exist in a film different from the other scenes. The parade of familiar faces is distracting (Cusack, Jackson, Harris, Chappelle etc), although some are used well. I do always enjoy seeing people from The Wire and Oz, however getting Whitlock Jr. to deliver his most famous line (well, word) was just another misjudged moment.
Chi-Raq has a lot of ideas and energy, and it is an experience to watch it for these. However the film is wildly unfocused and messy, ultimately failing to hold it all together or to deliver a satisfying whole.
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