Crips and Bloods: Made in America Directed by: Stacy Peralta Cast: Forest Whitaker Running Time: 1 hr 30 min Rating: Unrated
Plot: Peralta documents the social conditions in Los Angeles that led to the rise of gang culture. Crips and Bloods also discusses the conditions in LA today and how these two gangs have sliced neighborhoods into a complicated grid of danger zones.
Who’s It For? Anyone who enjoys well researched, entertaining documentaries.
Expectations: I enjoyed Dogtown and Z-Boys and hoped for something similarly interesting from this director.
Forest Whitaker as the Narrator: Whitaker lends gravitas as the voice of the film. He's got a nice deep, soft tone that's both soothing and serious. Complements the material nicely. Score: 8
Talking: The filmmakers select really great sots from the various talking heads in the film. The narration is great, too. Together it creates a cohesive story. Score: 7
Sights: There's a large amount of found footage, covering the Watt's Rebellion and the Rodney King Riots. Peralta finds great photographs and animation to show the history of South Central. I have to say, the way it's shot is totally compelling. Score: 9
Sounds: Peralta uses music from the various periods in which the films takes place to set a tone for the film. it works remarkably well. Score: 7
Crips and Bloods attempts to contextualize the birth of the gang wars in Los Angeles as a product of institutionalized racism. On the whole it succeeds. Through a mix of old news footage, photographs, animation and interviews with people who were there, Peralta makes a strong case. Don't get me wrong, this movie isn't all about blame. But the film encourages viewers to stop thinking of gang members as hardened, cruel men and start thinking of them in terms of the social hierarchy present in LA today.
The film does a great job with giving history and social relevance, but doesn't do so hot when it comes to putting a human face to the gangs. Various former and perhaps current gang members speak, but it doesn't have the heft of following one person's individual story. One scene shows a montage of women who have lost children to gang violence, but again though it's sad and tragic, it doesn't feel personal. However, the film is powerful.
Final Score: 8/10