Very poetic. The best stuff in this is the best stuff period. Some parts distract from the spell being cast, but overall a really beautiful, strange, sad movie. Had a very small-town vibe. The sequence with the motor is one of the best instances of building tension I've seen. Music=outstanding. Wish there were more like this out there. Movies that deal w/ ordinary life like this. If you know some, please comment!
The emotional nostalgia generated by this film is utterly singular in American cinema, especially those beautiful moments where Charles Burnett's keen ear for music perfectly accentuates the image at hand. The power dynamics in each scene are volatile and occasionally bothersome, but the overall lack of pretension is very refreshing.
Neo-realist portrayals of the working-class along with capturing the film's urban backdrop. A tribute to Ozu who also did this in a rather intense yet calm setting. And much like neo-realism or the works of Cassevetes and Bresson, Charles Burnett directs his actors in raw, naturalistic performances. A useful way for non-linear episodic plots where you see people just being themselves and life's tough edge among them.
It seems somehow inspired by the french new wave and its fresh way of making films : go outside with a small crew and no money and film spontaneously your people (the youth there, the black community here). The one you usually don't get to see on screen. The directing though evokes more Flaherty, where everything is staged but still appear as genuine as can be (here it is never about the plot). Wonderful score.
This could have been outstanding. Some of the shots were very interesting, like the one of the children coming out of the crack in the side of the house. I was overcome by a feeling of sadness after seeing this mainly because Burnett has an interesting eye, but sadly the story wanes at times and never really finds its stride. Perhaps that's the genius of it, the mood and tempo somehow reflecting it's chemistry?
A film quite unlike any other that you'll see, with a keen eye for ways of using reverse tracking for profound dramatic effect - isolation within family and community. This is crisply shot in b&w, yet is hampered by the poor quality of some of the performances. Has a deeply unsettling way with casual violence - kids torture one another, a brother abuses his kid sister, a father beats his boys, etc.
'This bitter earth, what fruit it bears'. Dinah Washington's song couldn't be more apt in this indie classic looking at an extended family getting by. Famously made for about 5K as an UCLA student thesis film it withstood the passing of time and is now rightly regarded as an essential piece of American cinema history. Poignant, thoughtful, mesmerizing and timeless.
It's the kind of movie I really wanted to like, and a lot of that was well-earned... The soundtrack is perfect. Some scenes are genius. Others, though, were kind of flat. Sadly, by the end, the lacklustre bits had tainted my final impression more than I'd hoped. Still, a significant film; well worth watching. 3.5