What are your thoughts on this miracle of a film? I would place it next to Ballast (2009) in terms of capturing a landscape, style, and character.
Well, Ballast is a sort of an homage to Killer of Sheep.
Burnett is a fantastic director. I’m happy that ‘Killer of Sheep’ was re-released a few years back, because it reappeared in film discussion.
I really wish that more people would talk (and watch) his other masterpiece, ‘To Sleep With Anger’. One of the most underappreciated films of the past twenty years, as well as a top-ten not on DVD title
I agree they are both vastly underappreciated— I am lucky to have a high quality VHS copy of To Sleep With Anger—I rewatch it several times a year for its sheer perfection—it fascinates me still after nearly 2 decades of viewing it!
Haven’t seen Ballast but I doubt its any better than Killer
“Miracle of a film” is an apt description. This film really hit me, and that’s saying something because I’m pretty uninterested in films about ghetto life (African-American or otherwise)—mainly, because the stories seem pretty much the same. What I really loved about this film is the way the artistic portrayal of the mundane. For example, one of my favorite scenes is the one where Stand and his wife are dancing in a darkly lit room to Dinah Washington’s “This Bitter Earth.” They’re not talking but by subtle body language, you can sense the wife’s deep longing for Stan while seeing that Stan has nothing to give. Terrific.
There’s no explosive acts of gang violence, no real melodramatic moments; just real people struggling through ordinary situations. It’s almost a slice-of-life neo-realism, but it’s poignant and poetic at the same time. To me, this film is far better than anything made by Spike Lee.
Any time you meet a payment
Any time you need a friend
Any time you\’re out from under
Not getting hassled
Not getting hustled
Keepin\’ your head above water
Making a wave when you can
Temporary lay offs
Easy credit rip offs
Scratchin\’ and survivin\’
Hangin\’ in a chow line
Ain\‘t we lucky we got \’em
It’s funny that you list the lyrics to the Good Times theme (and for those of you too young to remember, Good Times was a TV show about a working class African-American family living in the ghetto) because in a review of the film I described Killer of Sheep as an arty, more sublime version of Good Times.
“I really wish that more people would talk (and watch) his other masterpiece, ’To Sleep With Anger’. One of the most underappreciated films of the past twenty years, as well as a top-ten not on DVD title.”
Both films are fantastic and I like My Brother’s Wedding more than many seem to. Seriously though, the film is on dvd. It’s just not on region 1 dvd. It’s sitting on my shelf right now and before anyone says something about it being too expensive, players cost 38 bucks, less than the normal price of a top Criterion. End of rant :)
i saw it in n.y.c. last year and i was absolutely blown away. it was the kind of movie that as soon as i left i wanted to call someone to tell them that i just saw an incredible movie and that they should go out RIGHT THEN AND THERE to see it as well.
one of the strange things about seeing it in the theater was how many people walked out!! by my rough estimation, more than 8 people walked out – this of course does not count folks that were sitting behind me that i couldn’t see. what the hell were these fools expecting to see??
What? Was the film so good that it left you speechless? Actually, I completely understand.
Actually, people walking out doesn’t surprise me. The film is pretty slow and there isn’t a very strong plot. It’s more of a documentary/cinema verite type of film. Plus, it’s more a slice-of-life film (i.e. not a strong story). Personally, I don’t think it wouldn’t appeal to people who like only Hollywood films. In any event, it’s a wonder of a movie.
I haven’t seen Killer of Sheep yet (I know, I know…), but I have seen Ballast. I can’t say I completely enjoyed the film, but in the end it did stay in my mind for days afterwards, but I’d be hard-pressed to recommend it to anyone.
It’s in the documentary section of the video store that I work at. Idiots (Whoever chooses genres for movies at head office, not you people).
And once you’ve seen the film – if you’re watching the DVD – do make sure to watch the shorts on the disc. (I think it’s “Several Friends” that I have in mind – not sure)
Can anyone tell me whether they think his documentary, Warming by the Devil’s Fire is worthy? I’m not expecting it to be as great as KOS or To Sleep With Anger but is it at least as good as The Glass Shield?
I saw WARNING BY THE DEVIL`S FIRE and I loved it a lot. Actually I had problems with this kind of films, a kind of half TV-documentary or biopic but I think Burnett can made out of everything something great. Give him just a very profane job and he brings you a poem.
I have seen so far 3 feature films including this wonderfull KILLER OF SHEEP, WARNING BY THE DEVILS and one incredible short film calles THE HORSE.
That main guy sure is a hunk of a man. I liked the scene with the kid and the mask. And the drive in the car. They finally get away and guess what happens.