Movie Review: Slam (1998)- Rated R
Plot Summary : Street pharmacist and aspiring rapper Raymond Joshua lives in Dodge City, a drug-infested war zone in Washington D.C. One day, he is at the wrong place at the wrong time and gets caught up in the criminal justice system. Using his talent for poetic rap, Ray learns to survive and rise above the pain of his lost generation.
My Review: One of the most amazing things about this film is the spoken word poetry and raps. Despite the description of the main character Raymond, he is more poet than rapper. His spoken word poems are intelligent, vivid, and raw in a way that stuns you and makes you think.
It helps that those poems were written by the same person playing Ray, Saul Williams. One of his best poems and scenes is called Amethyst Rocks.
Also, Raymond isn’t the only character who does spoken word in the film. There is a writing teacher named Lauren Bell (played by Sonja Sohn) and several supporting characters that do spoken word. Bell’s pieces are just as notable as Raymond’s and the same can be said for some of the others.
Furthermore, some of the dialogue in the film is just as poetic as the actual poems. A particular scene that has striking dialogue is known as “New World”.
Besides the poetry, the realism of the setting and the storyline is thought-provoking. Some minorities can become angry enough to destroy each other for drugs, revenge, and other things whether inside or outside of jail. It is a vicious cycle that is a prison physically, mentally, and emotionally.
Raymond and Lauren show that it takes courage, honesty, and the realization of self-worth to break it. Despite being more than a decade old, the issues in this film are still relevant today.
In addition to the poetry and the realism, the cinematography of the film is great. There are certain scenes that are shot well enough to give you Raymond’s view and others that give you a bystander’s view. Also, the music is mostly ambient and makes the surroundings and certain scenes more palpable.
Overall, this film was fantastic. As this film has strong language, violence, and sexual content, I recommend for teaching purposes that this film only be shown to high school and college students. Of course, poetry fans will love this film, especially if they enjoyed Poetic Justice.