This is one of the best independent American films of the last thirty years. Hell, it is simply one of the best American films of the last thirty years period.
The film is gorgeous. It is perfectly paced. It is perfect. I can't think of one thing I'd want to change about it. My favorite film from 2000, David Gordon Green's George Washington seems like crap in comparsion. The scenes of kids at play remind me a lot of Green's film and were clearly an influence on George Washington.
Fortunately, there was no accidental death in this film. That would have made me quite upset because I had become so caught up in the story of each character. I love the first half of George Washington so much that it feels almost like a copout that Green felt like he had to add a major plot point of an accidental death rather than just letting his characters be. Charles Burnett wisely didn't muck up this film with needless padded drama.
The film is centered on Stan, a slaughterhouse worker, and his family as he tries to make ends meet in Watts. But it isn't just about him - the film weaves in and out of the lives of many of the neighborhood residents. Don't expect major drama. Simply expect a film of quiet brilliance.
As I was watching the film (especially the parts of kids at play like the one pictured above of kids jumping from one rooftop to another), I felt like the kids in that scene in 400 Blows - watching in complete awe.
This is one of those films that left me breathless and on a high when I left the theater. Off the top of my head, the last movie that made me feel quite so delirious with movie joy was this one. When this comes out on DVD, I must own it.
This is the first official release of this film. Burnett has directed a few other films. This was his first but I haven't seen any of them. 1990's To Sleep With Anger is supposed to be very good. I should check it out.
Directed by Charles Burnett
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