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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
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 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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5.0 out of 5 stars It will make you write...or at least want to April 25 2001
By graye8
Format:VHS Tape
"Slam" is for poets and movie lovers. It combines a wonderful plot, innovative cinematography, and convicting acting with awe-inspiring poetry. Of course some of my favorite poets are in this movie, but it is so much more than that. The poetry is not the only "deep" element of the movie. Dialogue, fate, circumstance are all elements which make this a moving and edgy, in-your-face drama. Any creative person will be inspired. I take that back...ANY person will be inspired!
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5.0 out of 5 stars INTENSE March 20 2001
Format:DVD
After seeing this powerfully delivered masterpiece of raw street savvy and mental intellect, I was moved. Saul Williams, as well as Sohn and Malone, in Slam inspired me, rather this (I don't want to call it a movie) this interpretation of life forced me to release a pent-up energy that was kept down for far too long. The completeness of this fantastic journey through urban, USA is exhilarating and painfully forgiving. A must see for all, the performances in this work of art are as moving as almost any book that I've read; it does not take away from the viewers mental imagery, it only adds to it (not too often that a movie can claim this). 5-stars are not enough -- see for yourself.
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1.0 out of 5 stars 0 - 10? Not even close! Dec 11 2000
Format:VHS Tape
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 "new," spew superlatives like Halloween candy.
As a poetry slam movie, it ......, having absolutely nothing to do with the slam scene, despite the lame montage at the end featuring soundbites from notable slam personalities. Remove the slam aspect and look at it as a poetry movie and it becomes passable, with interesting work from Williams and Sohn. As a prison movie, it was simply laughable, particularly the scene where Williams' character escapes the cliche prison yard beatdown by reciting a poem!
The acting and "script" were atrocious. Sohn was the lone bright spot but not nearly enough to save this derivative tripe from cliche hell. This SLAM gets a big zero!
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4.0 out of 5 stars One of the most vital films of the 90s Oct. 24 2000
Format:DVD
Working in a video store, I've seen "Slam" repeatedly dismissed by white folks as "a black film", or "a movie about rappers". Please, don't let race distinctions turn you away from this film. "Slam" is one of the most noble uses of film I've seen in a long time. It challenges and provokes and creates intense thought. It is a ferociously intellectual movie, though not in a highbrow way. It has the unique ability to present complex and daunting ideas in a way that makes them unusually comprehensible. At the same time, it places a value on the process of writing and personal expression that has been woefully lost in the age of stuff-goes-boom movies. The performances - especially by Saul Williams, Sonja Sohn, and Bonz Malone - are impeccable, and I'm not refering to just their dynamic slam poetry sessions, which are electrifying in a way that few passages of film are. If you see one movie this year, let it be "Slam".
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5.0 out of 5 stars The power of rhyme May 17 2000
Format:DVD
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. I read a review mentioning Shakespeare and I agree, I read another one saying how white middle classes had been blind to the renaissance of poetry in the ghettos, I agre again, and I wish to add that it feels like (we)the middle classes of the world have lost what it takes to create life-changing poetry, we revel in irony and knowledge but we have lost the power of epic poetry, the magic of words because we can so readily protect ourselves in the trappings of materialism or in the dryness of sarcasm. This has to be one of the best movies I have seen recently, but it's also more than just a movie, an amazing experience.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The power of rhyme May 17 2000
Format:DVD
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. I read a review mentioning Shakespeare and I agree, I read another one saying how white middle classes had been blind to the renaissance of poetry in the ghettos, I agre again, and I wish to add that it feels like (we)the middle classes of the world have lost what it takes to create life-changing poetry, we revel in irony and knowledge but we have lost the power of epic poetry, the magic of words because we can so readily protect ourselves in the trappings of materialism or in the dryness of sarcasm. This has to be one of the best movies I have seen recently, but it's also more than just a movie, an amazing experience.
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