Thursday, November 15, 2007

Killer of Sheep DVD

DVD Review by Kam Williams

Headline: Long Overdue Flick from Legendary Black Director Finally Arrives on DVD

Stan (Henry Gayle Sanders) seems totally disillusioned with life. He’s cut himself off emotionally from his frustrated wife (Kaycee Moore) who’s been desperately dolling herself up to try to turn her hubby’s head for the first time in eons. And though he’s committed to his kids, Angela (Angela Burnett) and Stan, Jr. (Jack Drummond), he’s too physically drained by the time he arrives home from work to devote any quality time to their needs.
That darn job is another unbearable aspect of Stan’s existence, for he’s employed in a slaughterhouse where he’s surrounded by death on a daily basis. To top it all off, he and his family live in the Watts section of L.A. and, as a minimum-wage slave, his prospects for getting out of the ghetto aren’t very good.
This dire scenario is the point of departure of Killer of Sheep, a spellbinding, black & white film written and directed by Charles Burnett. Though shot in 1977, the movie, due to musical copyright issues, had never been released in theaters prior to this year. Well worth the wait, this super-realistic, slice-of-life drama stands up just fine, delivering a more accurate peek at the psyche and predicament of the black male than any of the recent Seventies retro blacksploits like Pride and Roll Bounce.
The ‘hood as a vast, urban quicksand where the dreams and potential of a generation of African-Americans are being swallowed up wholesale.

Excellent (4 stars)
Black & White
Running time: 81 minutes
Studio: New Yorker Video/Milestone Cinematheque
2-Disc DVD Extras: Commentary by director Charles Burnett and by Richard Pena of the Film Society of Lincoln Center, cast reunion, trailer, liner notes by film critic Armond White, two versions (original and director’s cut) of the full-length feature “My Brother’s Wedding,” three classic Burnett short films, plus a new one about New Orleans, entitled “Quiet as Kept.”

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