Saturday, February 14, 2015


Directed By: George Tillman Jr. 
Written By: Michael Starrbury 
Cinematography By: Reed Morano 
Editor: Jamie Kirkpatrick 

Cast: Skylan Brooks, Ethan Dizon, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Jennifer Hudson, Jordin Sparks, Anthony Mackie, Jeffrey Wright, Julito McCullum

A coming-of-age story about two inner city boys who are left to fend for themselves over the summer after their mothers are taken away by the authorities.

This film teaches me to never write off a film until it is complete, because when the film first started I can honestly say I hated it not the filmmaking just the story which seemed like misery porn set in the ghetto that get very bleak and like the whole film was going to lay on hardships and impossibilities for the characters who would never find any salvation or peace.

I was at first willing to write this film off as poverty porn. Another feel bad story of growing up in the inner city and struggling for survival.

Then a funny thing happened the story actually became uplifting. It still doesn't make miracles happen not necessarily end with a happy ever after ending. But instead a powerful story that for all the sad and bad makes it that much more powerful once hinge start to get better.

I will admit the film is excessively harsh and downtrodden, but along the way I becomes more about survival and resourcefulness. It avoids any cookie cutter savior as characters who seem decent make bad choices and hurt situations more than help and so called will characters have a surprising amount of depth and morality.

Watching this film is like watching THE 400 BLOWS not as artistic and not as hopeful. This is more about hardships and taking responsibility that is too much and bigger for yourself when you can bare take care of yourself.

At times the film really gets to you emotionally and not in a fabricated way. But from an emotional place. I pray no one loves this hardship as the characters do, but as the news let's is know it is a hardship that keeps happening and gets worse but rarely told or is hardly seen.

The message of the film is survival and hope. Though the last part is rarely seen and more comes into the picture towards the end.

This is really an exceptional film that could have easily fallen into any number of cliches or weaknesses and manages to come off as wholly original and with it's own voice. A hard edged story of survival and hope.

I think near the end the film makes a good decision by not making the drug dealer the saint they could have. Giving him enough character to be fair but still street smart and let it be known he isn't someone to roll over on or be messed with.

Just like when it comes to Jordan sparks character. I respected the fact that she was confused and not saintly as it seemed like they were making her out to be.

What I ends up doing is showing that these people are real not made up roles. They make decisions good or bad that might be right or not. It seemed like the right thing to do at the time.

When it comes to Jordan sparks and Jennifer Hudson they are ok in their performances but weak next to the overall cast. The two lead kids are perfect an deserve awards. The pop singers play vital roles in the film as just are place in comparison to the kids. Disappointing as Jennifer Hudson is the Oscar winner in the cast. Not terrible mind you just subpar bit not distracting enough to ruin the film

It's a powerful story for any audience, but also as a black male. This film hits hard as seeing this type of thing happening in your community constantly. It helps that at least this time the story ends positive in it's own way.

It's a film that is hard not to be touched by and not with manipulation but out of compassion. The film shamed me for my original opinions early on in the film, by showing, it's vitalness and passion. It’s uplifting though in a tough way.

Grade: B+

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