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Life Is Hot In Cracktown
Life Is Hot In Cracktown
Actors: Evan Ross, Victor Rasuk
Director: Buddy Giovinazzo
Genres: Drama, Mystery & Suspense
R     2009     1hr 42min

Based on the 1993 best-selling novel by Buddy Giovinazzo, LIFE IS HOT IN CRACKTOWN shows the gritty, hard realities of a neighborhood, as well as the struggling, proud people who attempt to survive. The intertwining storie...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Evan Ross, Victor Rasuk
Director: Buddy Giovinazzo
Genres: Drama, Mystery & Suspense
Sub-Genres: Drama, Mystery & Suspense
Studio: Starz/Anchor Bay
Format: DVD - Color
DVD Release Date: 08/25/2009
Original Release Date: 01/01/2009
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/2009
Release Year: 2009
Run Time: 1hr 42min
Screens: Color
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 1
MPAA Rating: R (Restricted)
Languages: English
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Movie Reviews

A unflinching and realistic look at life in the inner city.
Joseph P. Ulibas | Sacramento, CA, USA | 08/28/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Life is Hot in Cracktown (2009) is a movie based upon a collection of short stories written by the director Buddy Giovinazzo. The film follows four story lines: a man who works two jobs trying to support his family and move out of the inner city, a brother and sister who try to survive in a roach infested hotel, a pre-op transsexual who works the streets to make ends meet and a young hoodlum who lives an empty life with no future to look forward to. They are just some of the faceless people who try to make a life inside a poverty stricken ghetto. even though they have a bleak present, something inside of these people drives them to try and look for a way out of there lives and look for a brighter future.

I really enjoyed this movie. Most of the films I see about the inner city are full of cartoonish and stereotypical characters that you don;t care about. The people in this film are real as the person next door. I found a lot of the dialog and situations these people are faced with to be real and very authentic. Buddy Giovinazzo has come a long way since his first film (Combat ShocK) but he still retains the gritty realism and spirit of that film in his latest project. He seems to have a genuine feel for his characters and none of that pseudo-liberal guilt complex that similar films that come out of Hollywood have. No phony baloney middle class guilt trip here and I really appreciate that in a film like this one.

The DVD comes with a twenty minute featurette on the making of the film, several deleted scenes (which should have been added in my opinion) a trailer for the movie and a couple of sneak peak trailers. The film's soundtrack is available in 2.0 mono (which is the best one to listen to because the other one is in 5.1 and that one is too spread out to hear some of the dialog), I have to give this DVD my highest recommendation possible. An awesome film that will punch you in the gut with a shot of reality."
A dark and disturbing portrayal of those living on the fring
z hayes | TX | 08/29/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)

"The 4* here is for the above average quality of direction, acting and cinematography. I got this movie as part of the Vine program, but honestly, this was way too brutal for my tastes, and I probably would not have watched it otherwise. The movie takes the format of multiple story arcs of those living on the fringes of society, many of whom would be considered as bottom-feeders. There's Marybeth who is a trans-sexual [played quite convincingly by Kerry Washington] who lives with her drug-addicted partner Benny. There's the pair of siblings who are at the mercy of crack-addicted parents and living on welfare [outstanding performance by Ridge Canipe as the young boy],there's the security guard who is a nice enough family man, but who is also chafing against his intolerable life, struggling against financial woes, all the while veering towards the edge. And of course, we have the baddies as embodied by the local gang of hooligans, led by Romeo [amazing performance by Evan Ross].

This is not a movie for the faint of heart or the overly sensitive - it is brutal, gripping, and compelling despite its gritty subject matter. I could not help but flinch throughout this movie - there are so many scenes of violence and brutality [involving scenes of abuse, children being beaten, young girls getting assaulted, etc], that I am amazed I made it to the end of the movie. This is a a very 'real' movie, in a sense that it portrays the dark and hopeless life led by many in such situations- a life that has little to no chance of redemption, where hope of being saved from one's self and malevolent outside elements is but a dream, unattainable and out of reach. Only recommended for those who can stomach the dark subject-matter."
A realistic social issues drama that could pass for horror
Matthew G. Sherwin | last seen screaming at Amazon customer service | 07/04/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Before I go into this review, I must caution people that Life is Hot in Cracktown has an awful lot of extreme violence and there is some nudity as well. This is anything but a family film; and indeed, after watching and reviewing Shutter Island just three days ago I can honestly say that this makes Shutter Island look like something put out by The Walt Disney Studios. This is not to say, however, that this motion picture is bad--in fact, it's really rather well done; but it's not for the faint of heart at all.

Life is Hot in Cracktown does have its noted similarities to Crash; only the action is extremely rough and the outlook bleak at best for its principle characters. There are four major stories told throughout this film although none of them is finished when it ends; this gives the film a slice of life quality that I actually enjoyed very much.

When the film starts, it isn't long before we meet Marybeth (Kerry Washington), a pre-op transgender person who is loved by a straight man called Benny (Desmond Harrington). Things are much more complicated, though: they each use drugs and while Marybeth uses heroin Benny smokes crack to get by; and their money woes never seem to stop. In addition, there's ten year old Willy (Ridge Canipe) and his younger sister who live in a flophouse with two crack addicted adults one of whom is his mother (Illeana Douglas). Moreover, there's Romeo (Evan Ross, who gives a particularly stunning performance) who leads a street gang and who doesn't care what damage and violence he does to others. Finally, there are Concetta (Shannyn Sossamon) and her husband Manny (Victor Rasuk) who are struggling to get out of the ghetto and into a much better life as far away from there as they can get.

The acting is uniformly excellent and the cinematography and choreography work wonders for this low budget film. The DVD comes with a few extras. I enjoyed the commentary by director Buddy Giovinazzo and the deleted scenes are also very interesting to watch. Look also for very good performances by Mark Webber as Ridley; Brandon Routh as "Sizemore;" Richard Portnow as "the guy in 4K" and Elena Franklin as Melody. Vondie Curtis-Hall also does an excellent job portraying a cop named Dixon.

Overall, Life is Hot in Cracktown is certainly not for the faint at heart; it's quite graphic and the action, often violent, never stops from the beginning of the film up until the very final frame. I do recommend this film, however, for people who enjoy gritty, social issue dramas that tell it like it is about life in very impoverished neighborhoods and fans of the actors in this movie will want to get this for their collections.
Life Is A Nightmare In Cracktown (Get Out Before You Die!)
J. B. Hoyos | Chesapeake, VA | 08/27/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)

""Life Is Hot In Cracktown" is an explosive eye opener. It is one of the most shocking and revolting films I've ever seen. You won't be able to forget this tragic drama no matter how hard you try. Less than ten minutes into watching this film, I was thanking God that I didn't' live in Cracktown - the name given to a poverty-stricken inner city neighborhood where its residents are addicted to drugs, perversion and violence.

It's easy to judge and condemn the characters in this film. Except for Manny, who works two jobs to support his family, most of them do little to escape the nightmarish world of Cracktown. They seem content to wallow in their destitution. However, the plight of some of the characters made me want to cry. For example, there is adorable Willy, a child who is often abandoned by his crack addicted mom; he is forced to fend for himself and his younger sister. Marybeth's bizarre lifestyle repulses me but I sympathize with her yearning for love and acceptance, which we all crave. Then there is the despicable gangster Romeo who beats, rapes and murders in order to satisfy his base, animalistic desires. I hated and detested him so much that I was hoping to see him die. These and other well-drawn characters seemed so real that I wanted to shout at them: "Get a job, get therapy, get religion, get anything! Just get off your hind parts and get out of Cracktown before you die!"

The cast is a gorgeous one - a veritable who's who of Hollywood stars. My favorites included the talented Shannyn Sossamon ("One Missed Call" and "A Knight's Tale") who was Concetta, a distraught mom taking care of her ailing infant. Victor Rasuk ("Feel the Noise" and "Stop-Loss") does a very believable portrayal of Concetta's workaholic husband, Manny. The gorgeous Kerry Washington ("Lakeview Terrace" and "Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer") is wonderful as Marybeth, the preop transsexual prostitute. Horror star hunk Desmond Harrington ("Wrong Turn" and "Ghost Ship") is excellent as Benny, Marybeth's lover. Cute Evan Ross is the deplorable Romeo; he starred with Hilary Duff in "Greta." Beautiful Lara Flynn Boyle ("Twin Peaks" and "Men in Black II") has a glorified cameo as Betty McBain, a prostitute.

"Life Is Hot In Cracktown" is raw, dirty and repulsive. It does not glorify and glamorous life in a drug addicted, gang infested neighborhood of the inner city. Watching it will anger, frighten and sadden you. My heart pounded with tension as gang members shot each other, police searched tenements with drawn weapons, mothers forced their children to beg for money or sell their bodies, and thieves pulled guns on store clerks. This film is not for the timid. It depicts graphic violence and sexual assault, including a gang rape. The ending is brutal and will make you feel as though you've been punched in the stomach.

Anchor Bay Entertainment has done an excellent job of presenting "Life Is Hot In Cracktown." There is a trailer for this film and two more: Val Kilmer is a thief performing his last heist in "Columbus Day." In "Skeleton Crew," evil is reborn when a film crew does a documentary at an abandoned insane asylum where a doctor butchered his patients.

The deleted scenes for "Life Is Hot in Cracktown" are mandatory viewing, especially those that give more details concerning Manny and Concetta's efforts to leave Cracktown. I preferred the alternate ending because it provides a ray of hope and is not as downbeat and depressing as the theatrical one.

"Last Exit To Cracktown" is an interview with director/writer Buddy Giovinazzo who wrote the novel on which the film is based. It is a low budget film shot on location in a dangerous neighborhood in downtown Las Angeles. According to Giovinazzo, it was the hardest film for him to make. Time, money and security were in short supply. Watching the lives of the transsexuals inspired him to write the novel. Actual transsexuals were used as consultants and as extras. He compared the film to a car wreck; you don't want to watch it but you can't help yourself. He admits that "Life Is Hot In Cracktown" is not for everyone. He hopes that we all see ourselves in the characters and realize that we, after a series of bad breaks, could be like them. We must ask ourselves, "What would we do if we were in their situations?" As for me, I don't want to ever find out; I will work hard to keep from ever having to live in Cracktown.