August 13, 2011

Menace II Society (USA 1993)

The ghetto film genre had its heyday in the 90s. In retrospect, only few of them stick in the mind. "Menace II Society", the feature debut by the Hughes Brothers who now successfully work in Hollywood, is probably the best and most realistic of them.

When I recently rewatched it, it has lost none of its impact even though some parts seem a little exaggerated now. It is a powerful film that stands comparison with Scorsese's gangster films not only in terms of authenticity and characters but also as far as storytelling is concerned. Compared to other films of the genre, it is quite radical and not as melodramatic. The directors brilliantly play with the expectations of the viewer when they build some hope for the seemingly lost main character - only to relentlessly destroy it again. The primarily negative portrayal of African Americans in the film has been the subject of some discussion but any happy ending or pseudo-moral message would have meant denying reality. As the uncompromising ending suggests, there is jut not much hope for these people who are caught up in a spiral of violence.


"Show me the money": Larenz Tate

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