Slam (1998) Film Revisit |


Slam 1998 still

Marc Levin‘s Slam For the film’s 25th anniversary, it has been digitally restored as part of the Sundance Institute’s Archives & Collection program. We watched and reviewed the film as part of the 2023 Sundance Film Festival.

The raw reality of street life and street people is often explored in modern cinema. It’s usually set up as a premise for characters who somehow find their way out, and ultimately cases of success in movies that aren’t usually realistic. Life is not a fairy tale, and arcs are not minute versions of what happened in reality. The truth is much harsher and harsher, just like that Slam shows from start to finish. Happy endings are not always happy. Sometimes these are just variations of fate.

In Marc Levin‘s Slam, Raymond Joshua is a young man in the south side of Washington DC. He lives (or survives) on the streets, in the midst of violence, heat and drugs. His love for rapping is intense, his lyrics resonate in this community and people love to listen. However, a drug deal gone bad lands him in prison. He’s another incarcerated black man in a system that puts plea deals before justice at any time. When he is offered one of these deals, he puts the truth above all else.

In prison, your loyalty to yourself is tested. He maintains his integrity by staying true to his principles of not offending or simply accepting that he spends time doing dishonest things. The prison becomes a dangerous place after he refuses to accept the offers, but there is a refuge in the writing class taught by Raymond’s admirer. It is here that he begins to discover poetry as a way of coping, even after he is unexpectedly released and must once again face the reality of street life and redemption in unexpected circumstances.

Slam It premiered at Sundance in 1998 and won the Grand Jury Prize. It resonated and resonated with audiences who expected the same old gritty movie about gangster life, but gained a deeper experience of the importance of art and how it acts as a resource for humanity in the most brutal of places. Today, Slam it is still central to the discussion of how it can be a potential tool for undiscovered artists who are sadly immersed in a world that is not just or forgiving.

It’s a fairy tale, but it’s not structured to follow the formula of dirty movies that come clean after a character finds justice or redemption. In fact, the arc is in Slam it doesn’t end the way we expected. Justice is not done and freedom is relative. Ray’s journey has ended, or maybe it’s just beginning.

Slam I was reminded of two modern films that are actually very different from each other. Stepsstarring the very underrated actor Rob Morgan, it was a deep experience about street life and redemption in harsh conditions. His rawness is matched by a superbly played Morgan, who is responsible for the entire film. And even PENS (poetic energy needed in society)a documentary about urban poetry and an artistic universe we simply don’t know enough about.

These two films are very helpful in understanding the final message Slam, a film that, 25 years after its release, still has an organic power that isn’t present in movies today, but was very important in the 90s. Sometimes rewatching movies turns them into classics. Not because of who made them or what time they were made, but because of the story they tell and how relevant they are today.

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Federico Furzan

Founder of Screentology. Member of OFCS. RT rated critic
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