Indie Gems: Chi-Raq

No peace, no pussy.

Chi-Raq is a play on Chicago and Iraq. Particularly the South side of Chicago with all its gang violence. The film is a modern retelling of the Greek play Lysistrata, and our Lysistrata (Teyonah Parris) is fed up with her boyfriend, a gangster actually going by the name Chi-Raq. (Nick Cannon) After witnessing a mother (Jennifer Hudson) weeping in the street over her 10 year old daughter being shot, Lysistrata decides to organize all the women together to hold back giving their men any action until the violence stops.

Where did this film come from? I didn't hear about it until a few weeks ago when bloggers began posting glowing reviews. After watching it myself, I'm shocked this film wasn't bigger, it has so much to offer. The film tackles serious social issues with a touch of humor and heart break. They speak as if they're in a play, with frequent rhymes and lengthy dialogue. Plus, how many other films are you going to see counter protests complete with crotch thrusts? None. See this one. It's completely fucking ridiculous at times, but it works. 

Parris is an absolute dream. Every time she wasn't on screen I eagerly waited for her to get back. She's perfect for this role. Hudson, who I'm usually quite critical about was so strong here too. She had to do the bulk of the emotional scenes and she sold it. That couldn't be easy for her, as she's lost family members to gun violence in real life. Nick Cannon is always good for playing a douche, and Wesley Snipes, John Cusak, Angela Basset, Samuel L. Jackson, and Dave Chapelle round out the cast. Isiah Whitlock Jr. even shows up to udder his famous "SHHHIIIEEEEEEEET" line from The Wire

If only solving violence was so simple as refusing to put out.

Grade: A

Memorable Quote: "Be a good man." - Irene (Jennifer Hudson)

14 comments:

  1. Yeah, there was a lot of talk about this film when Spike Lee announced it a while back. People even said it should have been in awards contention. But I absolutely hated the film.

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    1. I'm sorry you didn't like it. I feel like I didn't hear a thing until awards season started. The marketing for this must not have been that great.

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  2. Hi Brittani! I heard this was a good one. As someone who grew up in Chicago as a young child/teen, I don't remember it being as bad as it is now. It's literally turned into a warzone. Which is why this film sounds like such an interesting concept.

    It looks like Spike Lee has his groove back. I don't think he's done a truly great movie since "Do the right thing."

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    1. I don't think so either. This film is really out there but definitely worth seeing. I've been to Chicago a few times, but never the parts this film talks about.

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    2. Damn thing has been sitting on my table for two weeks and I haven't found the time for it, yet. Gotta watch it this week.

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  3. I haven't even heard of this film but it does sound good and probably has some funny bits in it as well as hard ones.

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    1. I liked it, though as you can see from Candice's comment and Drew's recent review, not everyone else did. lol

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  4. F--k this movie. Taking some serious shit and pissing all over it.

    But...glad you dug it.

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    1. lol. I thought they found the balance between ridiculous and serious well.

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  5. YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAS!!!!!!!

    This was SO. GOOD. What I didn't realize when it came out was that it was actually produced by Amazon, so theatrical release was minimal at best, which all but killed the film's box office and awards prospects (imho/best guess). But it is totally wild and I freaking LOVED IT - one of my 10 Best of the year. Parris is sensational.

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    1. I didn't know Amazon produced this..that explains the lack of marketing. I'm glad you loved it!

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  6. Nice review. I know this has been a pretty divisive film and unfortunately I happen to be in the camp that really, really hated it. I thought it was all over the place with it's tone, and I just couldn't really get into any of it. at all.

    Glad you had a better time with it.

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    1. I can completely understand why anyone would hate this movie, it's very out there. lol

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No seriously, post one. I need attention.