John Singleton directs Cuba Gooding Jr., Ice Cube and Laurence Fishburne in this coming-of-age drama following three neighbourhood young men who are growing up amongst the gang violence and systematic racism of Los Angeles.
When I did my Film Studies A-Level Psycho, Don’t Look Now and this were the movies we used the learn how to “read” and decode a director’s intentions. And while it isn’t quite as strong as the others in its company, it will always hold a special place in my heart. Singleton presents an environment of constant disruption, where even a family BBQ and a sex fantasy are tinged by confrontation, interruption, the threat of violence. None of his scenes settle. The ambitious script can feel a little too didactic at times but then again the best scenes are self consciously preachy and emotive. Furious Styles’ monologue on gentrification, the grief stricken aftermath of a senseless murder. The primary colours are so rich here… digital cameras don’t capture these pure shades. Ice Cube does his finest work in his big screen debut. His performance is mesmerising – his dominating physicality and his subtler moments of fraternity. Shame no other director could find these notes in him again. And Larry plays possibly the most memorable movie dad ever. A father with a tough job, in an unforgiving environment, whose values he ingrains in his son might just see his boy through to college. There’s Furious Styles and Bobby De Niro’s bus driver in A Bronx Tale. End of conversation!
Perfect Double Bill: Stand By Me (1987)
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