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Slam (Widescreen) [Import]

Saul Williams , Sonja Sohn , Marc Levin    R (Restricted)   DVD
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
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Product Description

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A darling of the 1998 festival circuit, Marc Levin's Slam won the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance as well as the Camera d'Or (best first film) at Cannes. Despite its shortcomings, the film merits these awards--Slam offers a strong cast and compelling subject matter, a perfect setting with a killer soundtrack, and over-the-top rap poetry.

The film opens with an exterior shot of the protagonist, Raymond Joshua (played by real-life poet Saul Williams), walking away from the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. The image of a young black man turning his back on this symbol of government scant minutes before he's popped on a chump-change drug charge is poignant and disturbing--not easily forgotten by anyone aware of the immense contradictions inherent in the demographics of the nation's capital.

Slam depicts Raymond's fall from relative innocence, and his apparent redemption. As a small-time dope dealer and street poet, his arrest thrusts him into an unfamiliar world--the violence of life in the slammer is palpable and altogether frightening. Incarceration, however, awakens the slumbering power of Raymond's poetry; eventually, its strength keeps him alive. In a prison yard scene when he's about to get whomped, Raymond gives free rein to his words, choosing poetry in motion over violence. Hearing Raymond's impassioned words, the hardened cons let him walk. One of them even covers his bail, and Raymond hits the streets, eager to check out Lauren (Sonja Sohn), the creative-writing teacher he met behind bars.

Although the third act dilutes the credibility established by Levin's in-your-face vérité style, Slam is relentlessly passionate, unswerving in its conviction that there's an alternative to the violence that decimates North America's inner cities. Indeed, for all the film's preachiness, we cheer Raymond on, fueling his poetry, hoping, somehow, that it can transform those around him. Peace is the word. --Stephan Magcosta


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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars unknown Jan. 4 2003
By Rika
Format:DVD
This movie was great. I saw it for the first time awhile ago and I was highly impressed. Never hearing of Saul Williams this movie introduced me to him and I got a taste of how he does things. The poetry and/or rap verses in the film are great. This movie also has a great storyline.If you havent seen the movie yet, see it.If you havent bought the movie yet, buy it.
peace n luv~Rika
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Makes you think Dec 22 2003
By Jason
Format:DVD
Short and simple...Mind Nourishing. Unlike any film I've ever seen. The poetic verses spat during key points within the film was inspiring. Saul Williams broke the last piece of the mold in his portrayal of a small time dealer/verbal phenom. This movie, for me set in motion the content of my own writings. If you love verbal art get this DVD. You will not be dissappointed.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Two Words: Sound Power Dec 16 1999
By Luna *)
Format:VHS Tape
Slam is not a silent film. Slam does not come off quiet and demure, though it is not a grossly violent film, nor is it preachy. This film artfully reinstates the importance of sound power, the beauty of the poetic imagination, and even ties in a bit of old Egypt. Leaving the story line altogether, this movie's dialogue moved me like a modern day Shakespeare. Never before Saul Williams (save Shakespeare) had I viewed a world where words and a stage (or camera) were so intensely exhilarating, inspirational, and emotionally giving. Slam holds nothing back. This is NOT just a film about a prophet in the ghetto. This is not just a film about poets. This is not just a film, period. When the closing credits rolled, I could do nothing more than sit in silent awe, hand over heart, trying to collect and tame the mad mess of thoughts running amuck in my head space. I won't ruin the story line for those who have not seen this film, but I will say that it is without a doubt one of the most gripping films I have ever seen, not forgetting that I am a film nazi and only boost the absolute greats (Fellini, Bergman, Lee, Tarkovsky, Allen and Smith...to name a few). This is an ABSOLUTE must see for all types and ages! I promise you won't regret having ever seen it and guarantee that once you have, you will recommend it to your friends, co-workers, strangers in the market, and your old, un-cool parents. Seriously, see this film!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Two Words: Sound Power Dec 16 1999
By Luna *)
Format:VHS Tape
Slam is not a silent film. Slam does not come off quiet and demure, though it is not a grossly violent film, nor is it preachy. This film artfully reinstates the importance of sound power, the beauty of the poetic imagination, and even ties in a bit of old Egypt. Leaving the story line altogether, this movie's dialogue moved me like a modern day Shakespeare. Never before Saul Williams (save Shakespeare) had I viewed a world where words and a stage (or camera) were so intensely exhilarating, inspirational, and emotionally giving. Slam holds nothing back. This is NOT just a film about a prophet in the ghetto. This is not just a film about poets. This is not just a film, period. When the closing credits rolled, I could do nothing more than sit in silent awe, hand over heart, trying to collect and tame the mad mess of thoughts running amuck in my head space. I won't ruin the story line for those who have not seen this film, but I will say that it is without a doubt one of the most gripping films I have ever seen, not forgetting that I am a film nazi and only boost the absolute greats (Fellini, Bergman, Lee, Tarkovsky, Allen and Smith...to name a few). This is an ABSOLUTE must see for all types and ages! I promise you won't regret having ever seen it and guarantee that once you have, you will recommend it to your friends, co-workers, strangers in the market, and your old, un-cool parents. Seriously, see this film!
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5.0 out of 5 stars art is back July 9 1999
Format:VHS Tape
When I finally too the time to sit down and watch this movie, I didn't know what to expect. I have always been a huge fan of poetry, the older stuff including pope, frost, Cummings etc. As well as some newer beat generation stuff including kerouac and gindsberg (i recently learned that Saul williams performed on stage with Gindsberg). Despite my love for poetry, i began watching this movie with a weary eye. Needless to say this lasted only a few minutes and soon i was completely entranced in the story of Raymond Joshua.This story does two amazing things, it addresses the inner city problems so many directors shy away from or glamorize as well as openins the audience's eyes to the miracle of modern day poetry. I, like many white middle class americans, was blind to the cultural renaissance taking place in the so called 'ghettos' of america. I guess it is a logical progression. Historically, art thrived where there was oppression, helplessness, and greed. The apathetic view government has applied to modern day black Americans fuels the hope and poetic freedom of this movie. By forcing the realization of america's inner-oppression, this movie is assisting in a struggle that has gone under-exposed for many years. Although it is practically laughable to make such a blunt claim, but this movie could change the world
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By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
Slam is the story of an amazing, young spoken word artist, who faces the cruel realities of Southeast D.C.. Ray, who is portrayed by Saul Williams gets busted fleeing the scene of a crime, and is found with an illegal amount of marijuana. While in prison awaiting his fate, Ray befriends a young women who is there to teach writing to inmates. Lauren helps Ray come to a realization about himself. Ray learns anger is what oppresses, and once you get past that anger your mind is free. This harsh truth is accepted by Ray, as he changes his mind set, and helps others to see this way. What makes this movie so phenomenal is the emotion the viewer experiences throughout the film. This is not another story about ghetto life. Ray is a character who is easy to like and identify with. His charasmatic demeanor and articulate speech, give him strong leadership qualities. His poetry speaks the truth, and send goose bumps up your spine. Ray realizes the world he wants to be in, which is not the crime and revenge ridden streets of Southeast D.C.. However he is unaccepting of the middle passage he must take to get there, being two to ten years in prison. As the viewer waits to find out Ray's fate in an upcoming hearing the story comes to an end. The dramatic ending of Ray running through the streets of D.C. leaves the viewer in suspense, as this could be the last open air he will breath for some time. This powerful story though fiction, is one that is faced by thousands of urban youths in our inner cities today. Saul Williams plays an excellent role in this moving feature.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars It will make you write...or at least want to
"Slam" is for poets and movie lovers. It combines a wonderful plot, innovative cinematography, and convicting acting with awe-inspiring poetry. Read more
Published on April 25 2001 by graye8
5.0 out of 5 stars INTENSE
After seeing this powerfully delivered masterpiece of raw street savvy and mental intellect, I was moved. Read more
Published on March 20 2001 by Mike Tramber
1.0 out of 5 stars 0 - 10? Not even close!
Sometimes people are so desperate to see themselves represented on screen, they lower their standards and laud crap like SLAM, and critics, so eager to jump on something... Read more
Published on Dec 11 2000 by Guy L. Gonzalez
4.0 out of 5 stars One of the most vital films of the 90s
Working in a video store, I've seen "Slam" repeatedly dismissed by white folks as "a black film", or "a movie about rappers". Read more
Published on Oct. 23 2000 by Win Martin
5.0 out of 5 stars The power of rhyme
My cultural background is as far removed from the setting of this film as could be and still it managed to hit me in the face with a force and let me awestruck. Read more
Published on May 17 2000 by S. Maruta
5.0 out of 5 stars The power of rhyme
My cultural background is as far removed from the setting of this film as could be and still it managed to hit me in the face with a force and let me awestruck. Read more
Published on May 17 2000 by S. Maruta
5.0 out of 5 stars WOW!
I must first say I have not been moved by a movie in some time until I saw this breathtaking film. This film gives hope to those of us who grew up in the inner cites. Read more
Published on May 12 2000 by "sneezey21"
5.0 out of 5 stars VERY POWERFUL
This Film Deals With OPPRESION&Daily Battles.It's Very Eye-Opening.Dealing With Race&The System.Finding A VOice in A Madd World. Read more
Published on May 8 2000 by mistermaxxx08
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazingly poetic and raw
Slam is a must see! This movie's power is absolutely amazing! It is both poetic and raw at the same time. Read more
Published on March 29 2000 by Sherri
5.0 out of 5 stars definitely worth it
One of the things that struck me so hard about this movie is the way it shows the power of the powerless. Read more
Published on Feb. 6 2000
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