26 July 2006 | jse126
Not quite the feel good movie of the year
I did not just fall off of the turnip truck. I've lived in a lot of different places, with people of many different backgrounds, and have experienced situations that the average person will never see. And yes, I spent quite a few years on the "wrong" side of the law, although I'm all better now. I will admit to not having spent any time in the North End of Winnipeg, but based on my experiences in life, I find it hard to believe that people really act like the supposedly gritty-realistic characters in Stryker do. The characters in this movie were so over the top as to be cartoonish, buffoonish. Some of the dialogue, well let's just say that I felt embarrassed for them. Nobody talks like that - I don't care if you are an angry Ojibwa or an LA banger or a wannabe. The dialog was simply ridiculous. I don't know how else to put it.
The settings that the film took place in and the situations that the characters found themselves in were equally ridiculous. People simply do not talk and they do not act like they do in this film. Being that the film is supposed to be a documentary of sorts, although fictional, this is not a good thing. I am not aware of any gang bangers that spend most of their time partying with, and trying to get in the pants of, transvestite prostitutes. Not that there's anything wrong with that, as the saying goes, but still. Most of the rest of the situations are equally absurd. The gang leaders turn out to be male strippers? The toughest of the drug lords wears a big red feather boa tiara-type thing and serves drinks, shirtless, in a male strip club but gets mad when it is inferred that one of his cronies may have had a homosexual affair? Not getting it? OK, then, there's this. The leader of one of the gangs in the movie owes a large amount of money to the drug lords. They give him a day to get the money - or else. Or else what? They posture and pull out guns and laugh and say that they are going to make him dance. Of course the viewer assumes that they are going to make him dance by pumping him so full of lead that his body will dance - or some such thing. The next day comes and he does not have the money. They're gonna make him dance, and they do. At a male strip club. They literally make him dance on stage at the strip club. He gets tips. Seriously - WTF? Hell, I'd never pay those guys either. What happens next time - he doesn't pay so they rub him all over with feathers while naked women fan him?
Violence is inherent in any gang banger flick, and it's here too. But based on this movie alone, if I were still leading the life I might choose to head on up to the North End and take over. Seriously - what a bunch of punks. Guns made an appearance once or twice but for the most part it was like fifth graders in a playground brawling over who gets the swing set next. It was quite silly, silly being the word most proper to describe it. These people wouldn't throw fear into my ninety year old grandmother. I'm serious. She lives in SoCal, near Eagle Rock. She would have told these punks to get lost quick before she beat them with her cane.
Then there is the acting. I'll be easy on these kids because most of them are amateurs. It shows, to be sure, but if you suspend disbelief then they are not -that- bad. But some of it can be quite painful. The scene where the transvestite prostitute Daisy Chain is talking to the new girl in a café is painful to watch. And towards the end, where one of the Asian gang members quits the gang - it's too awful for words. It's beyond painful. It made me want to invent a time machine, just so I could go back in time to stop the guy before he tried to act. It's that bad.
This is not a well made film, nor is it realistic. That's all well and good, there is a place for movies like this. But in this case, the filmmaker sets himself up to be a serious documentary filmmaker and seems to feel that his film is art. And apparently it was being shown in the New York art houses to upper middle class twits who undoubtedly thought that it was the art that they were told that it was and that now they are experts on the whole disenfranchised Ojibwa scene. I'm not Canadian, nor am I Ojibwa or indigenous at all, but if I was I would want to kick Noam Gonick's a**. I gave the film a halfway decent rating of five because I must admit to being entertained - surely not in the way that the filmmaker intended, but we take our thrills where we can get them.