Friday, October 22, 2010

JUICE (1992)

Directed By: Ernest Dickerson
Story By: Ernest Dickerson
Written By: Ernest Dickerson & Gerard Brown
Cinematography By: Larry Banks
Edited By: Sam Pollard & Brunilda Torres

Cast: Tupac Shakur, Omar Epps, Jermaine Hopkins, Samuel L. Jackson, Khalil Kain, Michael Badalucco, Queen Latifah, Flex, Bruklin Harris, Vincent laresca, Treach, Fab 5 Freddy, Donald Faison, Erik Sermon, Dr. Dre, Ed Lover, Latanya Richardson, Oran Juice Jones

It hasn’t aged well so it looks a little dated though if you are a hip-hop lover this is one of the films that documents in the background a taste of old school new york where hip hop was on the come up.

This film is a thriller as well as a character piece as it shows the rise and realization of a teenage sociopath. Loud, charismatic, boisterous in public but inside feeling a utter contempt for people feeling he is better then them and they are the dirt beneath his feet as he is on his nihilistic journey to wherever life takes him.

The film also has episodic humorous scenes. That remind you this is also a coming of age story and the fun and innocence you have at that age no matter the harshness around you. It has one of the young men wanting to be a DJ (Omar Epps). The others haven’t figured there future yet but they want to be successful. They decide to rob a convenience store for money and respect on the street since they see to keep getting punked by a gang. As expected everything goes wrong at the robbery as one of them is killed by another member of the crew while also killing the clerk at the store. The rest of the film is the guilt over feeling helpless to do anything to stop it or avenge it. Especially since the killer is also one of your best friends and the paranoia of not knowing when your friend who is like a ticking time-bomb is going to explode and come after you.

The film sets a entertaining tone and makes you care about the characters. It’s great to see a lot of veteran actors early in their careers as well as an actor I am compared to physically time to time (Jermaine Hopkins).

The true standout of this movie is tupac as the livewire who takes a good villainous role and turns it into a three dimensional character and star making role. This is definitely a film to check out if you haven’t already. It gets a lot of things right. I remember growing up around the time this film came out and it was filmed in new york in places I remember hanging out at. So anytime I get a chance to watch it. It is like a time machine making me nostalgic for those old days.

I remember the poster for this when it came out they had to take the gun out of the advertisements. Afraid it was promoting gun violence to kids. At least before they got a chance to see the movie. I wanted to see the movie but never got a chance to see it in theaters. But I saw it as soon as it was available on Vhs. This is one of those movies I watched over and over in my teens so much I can remember almost any scene. It’s not a perfect movie but it’s good enough for me. This is a definite buy.

This movie was directed By at the time spike lee’s Cinematographer Ernest Dickerson’s Directing Debut. Remembering that I always thought the film would have had more memorable shots and angles. Plus better lighting everything looks drab and out of focus half the time. Maybe it was a artistic decision to show the abyss in which the characters wallow in. then again there is only so much you can do on a budget which I’m guessing was not that big to begin with. Maybe he wanted it to look more natural and realistic all those other prestigious and artistic additions would take the audience out of the film to remind you this is a film make believe. What the director obviously wants you to feel the life and death situations these characters are finding themselves in.

Grade: B

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