Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Netflix Instant Queue Review: "The Interrupters" (2011)

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Movie"The Interrupters"
Director: Steven James
Year: 2011
Rating: UR
Running Time: 2 hours, 5 minutes

A documentary film maker spends a year following the community of Englewood in the south side of Chicago. Violence runs rampant and homicides are a daily occurrence. A group of former gang members and criminals have formed a group called Ceasefire. This group tries to interrupt violent situations that could escalate to a homicide. They also try and convince the current crop of young gang members to end the violence and strive for a better life for themselves and their families through an honest job, hard work, and to rise above the petty disagreements that lead to violence and death.   

This might sound completely ignorant on our part, but it's insane to think that homicide rates like this exist in our very country. We don't typically hear about Chicago news in San Diego unless it's on a national level. Unfortunately, it seems all too apparent that gang-related killings rarely if ever make the local news, let alone the national news. Just doing some quick Google searches will show the stark, drastic differences in our cities:
-Chicago had 2.7 million people in 2012 and 516 murders.
-San Diego had 1.3 million people in 2012 and 47 murders.
That 11 times the amount of murders and 5 times the murder rate per capita. That means there are often multiple murders each day at at least one person dies every single day.
No wonder we're so ignorant to this situation.

Recently, this seems to have changed a bit, but it's still not enough. It's great that programs like this exist where people are willing to put themselves in danger in order to try to end violence as a whole. There's a comment made in the movie about how there was a collective 500 years of prison time sitting at a Ceasefire meeting table. The majority of the people involved in Ceasefire have done their time and are trying to right the wrongs of their past. These people are much braver than BigJ and I.

This documentary is powerful and enlightening, but also heartbreaking and raw. It's hard to see humans killing each other over seemingly small and oftentimes stupid misunderstandings between one another. When something as inconsequential as bumping into someone on the street and not apologizing is enough to warrant retaliation upon an entire gang or neighborhood, possibly involving others who had no direct impact on the situation, it's so disheartening. It's hard to see how many people become numb to this type of violence and even more difficult to understand why the public at large just doesn't seem to care. A lot of times, the general consensus is: "oh good, another gang member dead means one less gang member out there to create more crime." But, these are people with families and friends and lives, and sometimes, the people murdered were not in a gang, but innocent bystanders at the wrong place at the wrong time.

I wish this movie would have been recognized in more places. I wish it would have been nominated for Best Documentary film at the Oscars the year it was made. But, seeing the staggeringly low number of awards and recognition it has received mirrors the country's ambivalence to the situation as a whole. This is a must see documentary.

My Rating: 8.5/10
BigJ's Rating: 8/10
IMDB's Rating: 7.5/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 100%
Do we recommend this movie: Yes!

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