Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
Actors: Darris Love, Darontay McClendon, Don Cambell, Six Reasons, Trivell
Director: Adam Ripp
Genres: Drama, Mystery & Suspense
When a brutal carjacking yields a videocamera a teenage boy decides to document his life and the lives of his fellow gangbangers. Studio: Lions Gate Home Ent. Release Date: 01/25/2005 Run time: 81 minutes Rating: R
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Reviewed on 1/3/2011...
wow, Jaw dropping good!
One of the year's best films.
Roy Opochinski | Toms River, NJ United States | 12/08/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"It is the rare feature film that makes the viewer think that he is watching a documentary. At some point, the glare of the bright lights or some errors of continuity belie the illusion and the spell is broken. Rare is the film that succeeds in its attempt to thrust the viewer into a situation, and make one feel genuine, life-or-death tension. Gang Tapes, the stunning, new film from first-time director Adam Ripp.The film, which will be unfairly compared to The Blair Witch Project (more on that later), is a stunning pseudo-documentary that takes the viewer on an enlightening, enthralling, intense, and often horrifying journey. Gang Tapes opens with a white family, on vacation, videotaping their trip to Southern California. Suddenly, the are attacked in their rental van, and suddenly, the camera is in the hands of the carjackers, still taping.The camera makes its way into the hands of a 14-year old gangsta wannabe, Kris (Trivell) who, after acquiring the camera, proceeds to tape everything in his life. The camera becomes a window into his life. It records conversations with his mother, violent beatings, the loss of his virginity, drive-by shootings, drug deals, and all the other episodes that made up the fabric of Kris' existence. Though some might accuse it of being episodic, that is what life is; a series of episodes strung together. Several aspects give this film its gritty realism. First, the razor-sharp editing by Tina Imahara is relentless. One forgets that this is a film because it truly feels like we are moving from one episode in Kris' life to another. Second, the film does an incredibly effective job of conveying violence. The viewer feels the punches. The gunshots are remarkably lifelike. When people get shot, you do not think that you are watching squibs and blood packets. The recoil, the deep rumble, and the reaction of the victims all feel real. The acting is also remarkably solid. The cast members (primarily current and former gang members) play themselves; however, that they can do this without being conscious of the camera is remarkable. The past experiences that this cast brought to the film could not have been captured by even the most talented of actors. They prove that there is nothing more convincing than reality. Trivell, who helps to carry the film, shows remarkable range. He veers from childhood to adulthood; alternating between maturity beyond his years and incredibly immaturity. Finally, the script is brutal and unflinching. Ripp and co-writer Steven Wolfson made a crucial decision after casting the film. Instead of hoping that they could realistically capture the sound of the street, they handed the script over to their cast, and had them translate the film into a more realistic street vernacular. This terrific decision sealed the fate of this film. In much the same way that Goodfellas captured the beats, the timing, the accents of the city streets, Gang Tapes is similarly effective at capturing the reality of life on the gang-infested streets. Some will be lazy and attempt to compare this film to The Blair Witch Project, which is a vastly inferior film; however, where one who watched that film never forgot that he was watching a film, in Gang Tapes, the illusion is never broken. An amazing seven-minute monologue in the middle of this film belies that fact. This film can be compared more accurately to 1995's Kids, which was also an unflinching, often-troubling look at a distinct cultural sub-section. The only unfortunate thing about this film is that Lions Gate films is having a very difficult time releasing it. Though it has already garnered an "R" rating from the MPAA, theater chains nationwide fear that the film will engender violence, and, accordingly, have blacklisted the film. This decision is a ludicrous one. If anything, by the end of this 76-minute masterpiece, viewers will either be so numbed or disturbed by that which they witnessed that they will be silent.Not everyone will like this film. It is challenging, uncompromising, intense, and disturbing. The language is not easy on the ears. It is real and many people are terrified by reality. Those who are offended by the "n" word are advised to stay away. The word appears numerous times in the film because it is part of the vernacular of the streets. However, those willing to take a chance and see a film that will move them and that they will not soon forget will encounter an unforgettable film remains with the viewer for days after it unspools. It is an extraordinary achievement from a director with an incredibly bright future. Gang Tapes is one of the best films of this or any year."
See it now. No, really. Now. Make time.
Evan Bernick | Chicago | 07/08/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I can't adequately describe how shocked I am. I picked this movie up on a kind of lark, simply looking for something that looked interesting. I wandered into a masterpiece. From the first frame, this film is captivating, confident, and shocking. It's so good that by the end, you're holding your breath, praying that it doesn't fall apart, as you assume it must. It never does. I don't know where this movie came from, who any of the actors are, who the directors are, nothing... but if you have any interest in gang behavior, or the human beings involved in it, you have no business not seeing this movie.
Lest you think I'm being uncritical in my praise, you should know that I thought "Boyz N the Hood" was overrated and sugar-sweet, and that I thought "Menace II Society" was the closest cinema was ever going to get to the streets. But "Gang Tapes" comes from a different reality than either of those films. You watch it in awe, because nobody seems to be acting, nobody seems to be directing... indeed, nothing seems to be being filmed. There is a scene where there is a home invasion and one of the women in the house is raped. I looked around the empty room I was sitting in, as if I had inadvertantly become a party to a felony.
But, you ask, what is this movie ABOUT? What happens in it? What am I walking into?
Trust me, it's better not to know. I walked into this movie cold, knowing nothing but what I got from the advertising blurb. Read the back of the DVD, and plunge in like I did. You will not regret it.
I can't stress this any more: if you love cinema, you owe it to yourself to see "Gang Tapes." And yes, if you told me that an hour and thirty minutes ago, I'd have laughed heartily at you.
This isn't a gold mine. This is a cache of platinum. Stop whatever you're doing, and dive in. Trust me, you'll want to campaign in the streets for this masterpiece. Only my better judgment prevents me from doing the same.
Footnote: As of February, 2007, "Gang Tapes" has made its way into my DVD collection. It fits snugly between "Floating Weeds" and "The General." I hope for your sake--as a filmgoer--that means something to you. But I stick by my decision to say no more than what I have said about the events in the film. Just see it."
HOODFELLAS: A raw and uncompromising street film.
Alan | Los Angeles, CA USA | 12/21/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Stuffy critics will undoubtedly describe Gang Tapes as: "Blair Witch meets Boyz in the Hood." Of course, this description doesn't do justice to Gang Tapes. Directed by Adam Ripp (in his directorial debut), Gang Tapes is far more coherent and engrossing than the dreadful Blair Witch, and succeeds in making the once-potent Boyz in the Hood now look like an after-school special. Like Kids (1995), Gang Tapes pulls no punches. Murders, sodomy, beatings, and drive-by shootings are all shown on camera, albeit in a way which serves the story and is unsensationalistic. So, if Gang Tapes deserves a nickname at all, that name should be "HOODFELLAS." The story begins when a young teenager named Kris "acquires" a garden variety camcorder from John and Jane Q. Tourist. Armed with his newly liberated camera and tape, young Kris proceeds to document everything: the violent, humorous, tragic and joyous ... moments of his world.Gang Tapes works perfectly as a minimally plotted study of lost teenaged souls; it also feels like an informal rebirth of Italian neo-realist cinema. There are no "name actors" in the film. There is no hot young rapper, no comedian, and no heartthrob to look at. Instead, Gang Tapes offers a cast of mostly non-actors performing with gusto. If you're hoping Gang Tapes will "let you off the hook" with wall-to-wall, watered-down pop tunes, forget it. Gang Tapes' soundtrack is hardcore rap, which perfectly accentuates the equally rough-edged events. With a digital camera recording all of the goings-on, there are no Ophulsian tracking shots or lengthy Steadicam moves -- only a handheld look at the brutal concrete jungles of South Central Los Angeles. In Gang Tapes' world, all Hollywood presuppositions are thrown to the wind: even the nice guys get killed. Yet Gang Tapes is not just about brutality. Ripp and co-writer Steven Wolfson carefully examine their characters but don't waste time judging them. Instead, the script subtly addresses issues pertaining to media. For example, when Serial commits his first act of violence after being parolled, he immediately wants to see a replay of his handiwork. This moment is far more telling than all of the heavy-handed (and pedestrian) "Fifteen Minutes"(2001), which dealt more centrally with on-camera crimes. Kris's humorous "test drive" of the digital camera recalls the joy of David Holtzman's cinematic discovery in the sadly underrated "David Holtzman's Diary" (1968). Gang Tapes will undoubtedly incite controversy and divide audiences: Some will say it is sensationalistic, while others will applaud its raw cinematic power. But, ultimately, it offers first-rate performances, and an effective script. With his directorial debut, Adam Ripp succeeds in creating a sobering look at hell on Earth -- and the lives living in it."