Thursday, July 31, 2014

Movie Review: "Clockers" (1995)

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Director: Spike Lee
Year: 1995
Rating: R
Running Time: 2 hours, 8 minutes

Ronald "Strike" Dunham (Mekhi Phifer) is a low-level drug dealer, or "clocker," working under Rodney Little (Delroy Lindo). After Rodney suggests that fellow clocker Darryl Adams (Steve White) has 'got to go since he is a thief,' he is murdered outside of his work. The search for his killer leads Strike's brother Victor (Isaiah Washington) to admit to the crime, but his squeaky clean background has Detective Rocco Klein (Harvey Keitel) suspicious that he is taking the wrap for his brother Strike. The search to uncover who Adams' murderer is leaves many questions unanswered and many prejudices uncovered.

The most off-putting thing about this movie isn't the subject matter itself, it's that Seal is the one who sings the majority of the soundtrack. His soulful voice doesn't really fit as the backtrack to a movie about drug dealing and murder.

Spike Lee is known for his racially and politically driven plots, as well as his fancy camera work. This movie is no exception. The entire opening sequence is a montage of dead bodies and gaping, bloody gunshot wounds from the inner city. We get where he's trying to go with this scene, and in an effort showcase the harsh reality of the violence Strike's community goes through on a sometimes daily basis, Lee is, in turn, going to isolate a lot of people from wanting to see more. The scene seems hyper-realistic, and whether real or not, Lee often uses gratuitous amounts of violence and death to make his points seem more powerful.

This film follows a low level drug dealer and his subsequent harassment by two cops who think he has done wrong even though there is really no evidence against him. Strike is played by Mekhi Phifer, who does a good job in his role. Detective Klein is played brilliantly by Harvey Keitel and he seems to be the go-to choice for a hard-nosed cop. Or criminal. Either way, he's your guy. He gets so obsessed with believing that Strike is the killer that he's willing to put Strike's life in danger to coax a confession out of him. Some of the things he says throughout this movie will make your jaw drop, especially today in 2014, but we're sure that taunting, name calling, and racial profiling are still pretty common in certain parts of the country, just not where we live. We don't see it in our day to day lives, so as outsiders looking in, this is tough for us to understand.

Though there's a lot of technical brilliance in the way this movie is shot, it seems like all of Lee's movies are really, really long and/or move really, really slow, and again, no exception here. We had to knock this movie down some points for that. When it comes down to is, how much is there to really say about a murder? The scenarios in this film are dragged out at a glacial pace with long stretches of nothing from time to time. This is clearly not his best movie, but it is a noble effort to shed light on the grim reality of what young black men who grow up in the projects go through daily.

My Rating: 6/10
BigJ's Rating: 5.5/10
IMDB's Rating: 6.9/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 67%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?
One year ago, we were watching: "Grown Ups 2"

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