Writer/Director: Buddy Giovinazzo
those of you who listen to the podcast (and if you don't, you should) will remember in the last episode during the "upcoming dvd" segment when, among others, Life Is Hot In Cracktown was mentioned. I, like possibly many of you, had never heard of this film before, but i was intrigued at the time and decided to check it out.
Life Is Hot In Cracktown is an interesting film for me to discuss because i am of two minds about it... on one hand it was just another film about drugs and violence and people living in tough niebohrhoods - some trying to get ahead, some trying to get out and some just in it. however, on the other hand it didn't rely on all the typical markers for these kinds of films either.
the film takes us into an inner-city neighborhood as we follow about four different groups of characters and their stories. you got the gangster kid working his way up the ladder. you got the family with two drug-addicted parents and a young son who has to be the one to take care of his little sister. you got the guy working two jobs trying to study and save up cash to take his wife and kid out of this place. finally you got the guy and his pre-op transsexual wife... caught you off guard with that last one didn't i? well that is kind of how i felt about the film in general...
some of it was standard fair for the genre: sad and rough and "real", but then you got the transsexual which isn't something that you see much - or at all - in these films. also, while the film is called Life Is Hot In Cracktown, crack/drugs isn't an in your face character in the film (as is often the case with these films), but rather a more just constant more general character that effects most everything and every storyline in various subtle and non-subtle ways.
also, these films tend to have some sort of redemption aspect to them. the triumph of the human spirit or the will of people to overcome, yada yada yada... not so with Life Is Hot In Cracktown. not only do things not all work out in the end for any of the characters, but most of the story lines end before they are finished - if you know what i mean... certain story lines climax, while others take another direction, but we aren't privy to the "end" of any of them. which makes the film feel very much like a true slice of life experience. a moment in time for these characters with much more to come after we have stopped watching.
and some of the directions certain story lines are going seem even more interesting then those same ones had been up to that point. like the film was the character development and set up for what was going to happen after - expect we don't see the after. don't get me wrong though... i did like what i saw. but i also wanted to see what happened next with a couple of the character story lines. do i smell sequel? probably not, but maybe i should read the book that the film is based on and find out more that way?