Spike Lee's take on the "Son of Sam" murders in New York City during the summer of 1977 centering on the residents of an Italian-American Northeast Bronx neighborhood who live in fear and distrust of one another.
Strike is a young city drug pusher under the tutelage of drug-lord Rodney Little, who, when not playing with model trains or drinking Moo for his ulcer, just likes to chill with his brothers near the benches outside the project houses. When a night man at a fast-food restaurant is found with four bullets in his body, Strike's older brother turns himself in as the killer. Det. Rocco Klein doesn't buy the story, however, and sets out to find the truth, and it seems that all the fingers point toward Strike & Rodney.Written by
Michael Silva <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Smart and entertaining with lots going on emotionally and subjectively.
I tend to enjoy films like Clockers; films that open up ideas about several things at once; films that make you think about the world in which they're set, the people in which inhabit them and the choices they must face some of which are unfortunate through being mandatory. Spike Lee is no fool and a lot of his early work on recent viewings seem to revolve around someone stuck in a situation that is a mere result of their emotional drive and the world they are living in: She's Gotta Have it; Jungle Fever and Clockers are good examples of protagonists committing an action they really shouldn't have (and probably didn't want to but buckled under either temptation or peer pressure) and now must face the consequences. But these consequences will affect more than merely the hero.
Lee does not hang around in presenting or perhaps delivering his subject matter as a whole. The thing that amazes me with Lee is that he can write so many different types of characters: low grade African-Americans, educated and seemingly decent African-Americans; white cops; women of different ethnicity and a few others. In Clockers, the opening scene which integrates with the credits is of a somewhat crude and humiliating public autopsy during which a couple of white cops examine a dead black man in front of a watching black crowd. Two of these detectives are Rocco Klein (Keitel) and Larry Mazilli (Turturro) but the scene acts as one final act of humiliation to an already dead black man as they search his carcase for clues and bullet holes.
But the film has more than one current flowing throughout it. Strike (Phifer) plays a neighbourhood African-American who speaks and acts just like all his drug dealing friends, even hanging with them when they act out their drug selling routine to customers in a staged manner. But Strike is different and Lee wants us to create an alternate profile of the man by giving him milkshakes to drinks and trains to collect, set up in his apartment, maintain and run. The others laugh at this hobby but Strike maintains most of them too have hobbies: collecting welfare cheques. But this is the greatness of a character like Strike; we are led to believe he is a bad influence through the dialogue of a police man named Andre the Giant (David) but this is perhaps just another cop's point of view and opinion on another African American kid.
Andre believes Strike to be a bad influence on Tyrone (Love) but what Andre fails to notice is that there are higher, more criminal minds badly influencing Strike and that is more of a problem than Strike talking to Tyrone. The film is about a seemingly nice and somewhat moral 'gangstar' who is put in a situation where murder is the only way out, and we go through the narrative with the emphasis on this moral gangstar that he is actually a cold blooded killer in an excellent and very effective piece of atmosphere. But this is a slow burner and it slowly burns away at our opinion because there is a scene in Strike's apartment when he talks to Tyrone all about drugs and guns, apparently Tyrone should stay away from taking drugs but selling them will bring him a nice chunk of change; however guns are something that Tyrone should seriously consider getting into. To top this scene off, Tyrone is told that mathematics is also a very good thing. Already, Lee is trying to manipulate and force us to change out minds as to weather we like Strike. Is he a killer? Does he know drugs should be completely avoided? Why does he suggest Tyrone get a gun one day? Or is it just a misguided fool repeating what he once heard and saying what he thinks is right. Interesting how later on Tyrone repeats train information to another person after sort of adopting a 'Strike' figure.
But the film has some more strong points. Rodney Little (Lindo) thinks that just because he has had a shotgun in the mouth and was manipulated into murder, he can do it to others. Little himself asks Strike "How are you so smart and so stupid?" in a scene that actually has someone echo Strike's personality to his face. Little's background in presented in a nasty and somewhat disturbing fashion via flashback to the days when he was younger with Errol Barnes (Byrd), the resident 'hood psychopath-come-criminal who seems to have some distorted views to do with religion. With all this in the melting plot, it's no wonder the film does a good job in maintain interest and quality delivery. Lee does not fail to focus on his subject matter like he does in Summer of Sam when tackling the psychological development of a serial killer and a love triangle at the same time became messy. Instead, he does not get sidetracked with any unnecessary sub-plots and keeps the delivery sharp, realistic and intriguing when the final act comes to an end.
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