Friday, February 17, 2017

THE LAND (2016)

Written & Directed By: Steven Caple Jr. 
Cinematography By: Steven Holleran 
Editor: Saira Haider 

Cast: Jorge Lendeborg Jr., Moises Arias, Michael Kenneth Williams, Machine Gun Kelly, Robert Hunter, Rafi Garvon, Natalie Martinez, Kim Coates, Erykah Badu 

THE LAND tells the story of four teenage boys who devote their summer to escaping the streets of Cleveland, Ohio to pursue a dream life of professional skateboarding. But when they get caught in the web of the local Queen-pin, their motley brotherhood is tested, threatening to make this summer their last.

A more somber coming of age story.

The film quickly lets you know about it's main group of teenagers that make up the skateboard crew. Their pasts and the things they are up to currently.

The film is abnormally bleak. I am all for realism. It even when the characters succeed there seems to be hardly any joy.

We see that most of the team have someone in their lives who care for them or what they care about. Except one really who has a confusing home life like if his uncle has been clean for two years and runs a hot dog restaurant. Why does he not only let a drug addict stay upstairs with him and his "Nephew" but also allow her to do drugs openly and turn tricks. Yet talks about taking care of his nephew and staying positive.

Sometimes the film feels like a skateboard video with a great soundtrack. And enough moments of drama to include a loose main narrative. That is how many montages the film seems to have.

The characters seem to go from setting up car jacking and selling the cars to be stripped to drug dealing with a discovered stash. Which also serves as a perfect sociological showing. As these urban youths sell drugs to survive, but the buyers are mostly wealthy successful Caucasians.

Yet the problems with drugs are mostly blamed in Jose selling for profit and opportunity and not on the users themselves.

One scene here a character witnesses and save a random woman from being date raped. It seems more of a scene there to more show the characters not only in a positive light but also show they do have some morals and that they aren't all bad.

The cast seems mostly to be new young actors. Some are recognizable from small and supporting roles in other films. Though the film is sprinkled with recognizable character actors.

The villain of the film is interesting that not only is she a female but also seems so suburban at first before she shows just how dangerous she can be. Her tattoos being the tell tale hint. We see how she can change from nurturing to cut throat. The tattoos make you wonder of maybe a ruthless past. Are they badges of honor? A warning that her demeanor is different from the real her down deep?

The film seems absent mostly of distractions like girls, education and school. Though they are discussed but only seems important for one character.

The film seems to try and expose the harsh streets. Making it a hood film set in Cleveland Ohio. That owes more to a new generation.

The film is heartless in certain aspects and light in others. But never offers too much safety or hope.

You never feel really protective of any character as they seem to have more problems than normal and seem on their way to either failure or staying in their current situations.

The actors are good I just wish the film offered more for them to do and had some originality to make their presence felt and not a tale where we feel we have been there and done that before.

The film shows the code of the street just because we do business doesn't mean I won't Slit your throat just because I won't snitch doesn't mean I won't attack you. It's all about survival of the fittest. Your friend today could be you rival tomorrow or your enemy next week.

This is a film that leaves you defeated by the end. It is still worth watching.

The film has a great soundtrack filled with hip hop and the film is eclectic in it's own way.

Grade: C+

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