13 Aug

Clockers — directed by Spike Lee. Crime Drama. 128 minutes Color 1995.
The Story: A teenage boy, striving to enter drug traffic, is hounded by a policeman to confess to a murder.
Mekhi Phifer was chosen out of a hundred applicants to play the lead, and you believe him every minute of the way.

The great Delroy Lindo plays the kingpin who induces him to commit the murder. The great Harvey Keitel plays the cop who badgers him to confess it.

The term “Clockers” stands for low-level drug dealers who work the streets around the clock. They are played by wonderful actors who speak the lingo. Those who oppose them tend to speak plain English, and they are played beautifully by John Turturro, Isaiah Washington, Keith David, Lisa Arrindell Anderson, Hassan Johnson, Thomas Byrd, Regina Taylor, and Michael Imperioli.

Lee’s cinemaphotographer Mike Sayeed sliced off the glamorous exaggerations of technicolor by filming through lenses that slightly tinge the screen with orange for a milieu that cries out for the realism of just such treatment. The story is delivered with brilliant passages of collage with big open scenes for the actors to make clear their fates and ambitions. Some of it is hard to follow, explain, and need. But its pleasures are signal.

For Spike Lee’s films have a high place in the pantheon of American auteurs and artists. Most people did not cross the street to see Christ. Would you not to cross the street to watch this striking contribution by Mike Lee of a picture of the American young? I don’t like to watch movies about drugs. Except for this one.

Except for this one.

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