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Life Is Hot In Cracktown

73 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Based on the 1993 best-selling novel by Buddy Giovinazzo, LIFE IS HOT IN CRACKTOWN shows the gritty, hard realities of a neighborhood, as well as the struggling, proud people who attempt to survive. The intertwining stories come together in a powerful climax of love and salvation, showing that despite the obstacles of life in the inner-city, humanity and hope can still prevail.

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The damaged lives on view in Life Is Hot in Cracktown exist in a corner of urban purgatory, where disconnected stories slither through roach-infested streets. The different strands include a teenager (Evan Ross) climbing the ladder of the thug life; a transgender prostitute (Kerry Washington) and her sensitive beau (Desmond Harrington); two small kids being raised by a careless mother (Illeanna Douglas); and a couple (Victor Rasuk, Shannyn Sossamon) trying to make it honestly, and failing. Director Buddy Giovinazzi based his script on his own 1993 collection of stories, and he certainly doesn't skimp on the unpleasant detail--something like A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints, another gritty drama based on its director's own literary work, looks positively happy-go-lucky by comparison. Unfortunately Cracktown also begs comparison to an array of TV treatments of similar subjects, where it comes up noticeably short. The cast is full of decent people, including Lara Flynn Boyle for a single puzzling scene. Whether you ever wanted to contemplate gorgeous Kerry Washington as a transsexual or not, she gives a typically committed performance, and her scenes with Harrington actually summon up some degree of tenderness. The rest of this grueling direct-to-DVD exercise requires a high level of tolerance for the grimier side of druggie existence, of which there is a great deal on display here. --Robert Horton

Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: Evan Ross, Victor Rasuk
  • Directors: Buddy Giovinazzo
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: R (Restricted)
  • Studio: Starz/Anchor Bay
  • DVD Release Date: August 25, 2009
  • Run Time: 102 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (73 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B002AT4JOM
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #113,665 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Life Is Hot In Cracktown" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Joseph P. Ulibas VINE VOICE on August 28, 2009
Format: DVD Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Life is Hot in Cracktown (2009) is a movie based upon a collection of short stories written by the director Buddy Giovinazzo. The film follows four story lines: a man who works two jobs trying to support his family and move out of the inner city, a brother and sister who try to survive in a roach infested hotel, a pre-op transsexual who works the streets to make ends meet and a young hoodlum who lives an empty life with no future to look forward to. They are just some of the faceless people who try to make a life inside a poverty stricken ghetto. even though they have a bleak present, something inside of these people drives them to try and look for a way out of there lives and look for a brighter future.

I really enjoyed this movie. Most of the films I see about the inner city are full of cartoonish and stereotypical characters that you don;t care about. The people in this film are real as the person next door. I found a lot of the dialog and situations these people are faced with to be real and very authentic. Buddy Giovinazzo has come a long way since his first film (Combat ShocK) but he still retains the gritty realism and spirit of that film in his latest project. He seems to have a genuine feel for his characters and none of that pseudo-liberal guilt complex that similar films that come out of Hollywood have. No phony baloney middle class guilt trip here and I really appreciate that in a film like this one.

The DVD comes with a twenty minute featurette on the making of the film, several deleted scenes (which should have been added in my opinion) a trailer for the movie and a couple of sneak peak trailers. The film's soundtrack is available in 2.0 mono (which is the best one to listen to because the other one is in 5.1 and that one is too spread out to hear some of the dialog), I have to give this DVD my highest recommendation possible. An awesome film that will punch you in the gut with a shot of reality.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Douglas King VINE VOICE on June 22, 2010
Format: DVD
In the beginning of the film "Life is Hot in Cracktown" a young man named Romeo extends a playful invitation to a young lady. "Come with me ... I wanna show you something." He leads her by the hand down an alley, at the end of which is a mattress on the ground and a group of his friends, who proceed to brutally gang rape her.

The film doesn't get any easier or nicer from there. "Life is Hot in Cracktown", the title of which sounds like either a dark comedy or a grindhouse B-movie, clearly aims to show humanity at its most brutal, soulless, and cruel. The viewer is taken on a tour of a poor, inner-city neighborhood, where most of the characters have ties to hard drugs, either through being addicts, dealers, or police officers. The combination of poverty, despair, and drug abuse has created situations that range from bleak to horrific.

"Precious" was a film that balanced its brutal portrayal of urban poverty with enough humor and fantasy to keep it from being too bleak. "Life is Hot in Cracktown" aims for pure gritty realism. At its best, it succeeds, and at its worst, it seems exploitive and sensationalistic.

What redeems the film is the performances. Kudos to Evan Ross, who plays Romeo, for infusing his monstrous, sadistic character with tiny shreds of humanity. When I first saw Kerry Washington in the film, I thought she was basically just playing the same character (a drug addicted prostitute) that she played in "The Dead Girl", until it quickly becomes clear that her character is actually a transgendered woman, and she delivers the powerful, multi-faceted performance needed. In fact, most of the actors, even the children, give their characters the depth and humanity needed in order to keep the whole film from turning into a trite morality play.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By DJ Deathwish VINE VOICE on August 27, 2009
Format: DVD Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This movie is an extremely well crafted gem with only minor issues to speak of, and I'll get those out of the way right now. It seems as though the filmmakers were a little bit afraid of digging deep into the issues that plague the "cracktown". This movie is not very graphic and personally I would have preferred an unabashed look at the problems these people face, where as here it came off as a bit watered down. Now there are many issues addressed, just not to the full luster that they could have been. But really that is my only issue with the movie, and it could have been cut to receive the R rating for all I know. The acting is incredible, and I recognized many of the names in this movie and I have seen them in very different roles, in this movie they really get to stretch out their acting prowess and put on very good performances. The different stories allowed for many viewpoints and different sets of issues, which worked wonderfully, not a single side story was uninteresting. The direction was also very well done, as there was never a dull moment and the intensity of the issues at hand was dealt with deftly. This is a very powerful movie with a lot to say, and while I would have preferred to see a director's cut version, because I imagine it exists, this is still a very poignant and well done drama. Highly recommended.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By B. Merritt VINE VOICE on September 2, 2009
Format: DVD Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I'm gonna have to eat some crow here, especially after complaining about the last film I reviewed, Shadowheart. Both it and this one - LIFE IS HOT IN CRACKTOWN - came to me via Amazon's Vine Program. And I was becoming rather tired of the careless films that tended to populate The Vine's DVD list. Well, Life Is Hot In Cracktown has reformed me ...somewhat. It isn't great. It isn't stupendous. But it is gritty, real, and put together in a way that made it extremely watchable.

All of these characters are well-rounded and exceptionally well acted. There will be someone that every watcher will be able to connect with. Whether it's the young boy looking after his younger sister as his mother and her boyfriend get high and leave them alone for days, or the pre-op transsexual Marybeth (Kerry Washington, The Last King of Scotland) and her emotionally labile boyfriend Benny, or Manny, the guy working two jobs trying to support his wife Concetta (Shannyn Sossaman, Wristcutters - A Love Story) and their colicky baby, or the gang-banger Romeo who's life on the street is turning him into a dangerous individual, there's someone here for everyone.

The interest comes in the fact that you watch most of these people make horrible decisions or do terrible things, yet you cannot look away or even condemn them. They are the best and worst of us all, and it shows a rugged side of humanity that most of us would rather not see ...
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