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Life Is Hot In Cracktown

3.5 out of 5 stars 80 customer reviews

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(Aug 25, 2009)
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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.


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


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:
  • Studio: Starz/Anchor Bay
  • DVD Release Date: August 25, 2009
  • Run Time: 102 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (80 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B002AT4JOM
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #92,167 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Life Is Hot In Cracktown" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Captain Couth 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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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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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
The movie was straight, but in the beginning the rape scene was cut off and it was only featured on the deleted scene. They should play the whole movie instead of cutting the good stuff. I mean come on! That's what they did on the movie I use to see called Ms. 45! But the movie was good, but it could be better! I just give this a 4 1/2!

Dee Smalls!
Representing: Decatur, GA!
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Format: DVD
I'll start from the beginning:

In the opening scene a young man walks through his rough neighborhood and passes a basketball court where a girl he knows is hanging out. He leads her into a trap where she is very briefly raped by 3 guys and peed on by another. Anyone with half a brain will notice that the mattress is brand new, because, apparently, this back alley rape was sponsored by Sleepy's. I'm imagining the planning for this. The leader of the group must have gotten together with his boys over breakfast and said,

"Hey guys, we should rape Jenny today."
"Oh, snap," replied his homey, "I know her from AP History; she's such a special girl. If we're gonna do this, we better do it right."
"Right, let's go to the mattress store and pick up a queen size."
"A queen size!" says the leader, appalled.
"Billy, you know there was a budget shortfall and we've already pledged $500 to the PAL."
"True," he says, remembering his own days of playing pee-wee football before everyone else's nuts dropped and he ended up playing kissy face with their navels in the HS locker room.
"Okay, whitey and me will get the queen size, Billy'll get Jenny, and..."
"I'll go get a couple quarts of Gatorade. If I'm gonna do this, it's gotta be done right."

After this they bust in on an old guy who they steal a social security check from, which is odd that the old guy would live so long and take crap from these kids, but it's a fair way of showing how they terrorize the neighborhood despite them all being punks and there only being four of them.

Next, the rapist leader/geriatric beater goes home where he looks at a picture of a kid on his mirror and I think it's supposed to be sad. The point of the scene was to show that the little monster has feelings.
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