Richard Stratton

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Crude Review


Very Good
This intense documentary tells a hugely important story that's packed with compelling characters and situations. Although a repetitive structure and a sense of agonising futility conspire to undermine the vital lessons it has to teach us.

Starting in the early 1960s, Texaco began drilling for oil in Ecuador's Amazon rainforest, displacing indigenous groups with polluted rivers and causing health problems for generations. In 1993, the poor residents of this area filed a class-action suit against Texaco (now owned by Chevron), which has been dragging through the courts ever since, delayed by lawyers and Ecuador's political instability. Chevron denies all blame, pointing the finger at PetroEcuador, the nationalised company that assumed ownership of the drilling sites in the 1990s. But human rights activists and lawyers argue otherwise.

Continue reading: Crude Review

Whiteboys Review


Bad
Well, it turns out that a movie based on a one-joke premise (white guys in Iowa think they're gangsta rappers and, you know, front) can indeed fill 90 minutes with that one joke.

Too bad the joke is not funny. At all. Whiteboys (aka the street-friendly Whiteboyz) claims "It's all good!" but that's far from the truth. Actually, it's all insulting and moronic, as Hoch and co. try their hand at street talk and drug dealing with deliterious effects. Is this a comedy? I don't think so. Not on purpose, anyway. The film gets even worse with Hoch's frequent regressions into dream-sequence land, punctuated by real rapper cameos.

Continue reading: Whiteboys Review

Slam Review


Good
Enter the gritty world of urban street poetry that you never knew existed. Not that you may care too much after seeing Slam, which basically portrays said poetry as "rap lite." The story features a two-bit drug dealer (Williams) who gets arrested and has to wrestle with whether to cop a plea or fight the charges. Along the way, lots of poetry is to be had plus a romance with fellow poet Sohn. The problem of course is that he really is a two-bit drug dealer, not a victim of circumstance, so what the hell do we care? Williams the poet is interesting, but Williams the actor is lacking in focus, alternately lifeless and over-the-top hammy. Unless you're really into the poetry slam scene, you'll likely find yourself wishing for a tome of Whitman or Frost.
Richard Stratton

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