Hurricane Streets (1997)
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Hurricane Streets shows us an inner city teen that seems to see the bigger picture. Marcus gets by committing minor thefts, storing his money away with future plans in mind. He's smart enough to shy from major crime and isn't overcome by peer pressure. Theres nothing macho in his criminal activity, he's drawn to it out of immediate necessity. Furthermore, Marcus is capable of not merely lust, but love. He's generous rather than selfish. When you see him at his worst, its sympathy you feel, not disgust or shame.
Like the teens in KIDS, Marcus grows up too fast in a hostile environment that precipitates this growth. But the choices he makes are smart or at least noble, not stupid and shameless. His life is not pointless, it has meaning.
If you want to get a look at the tragic inner city life of teens, you could watch KIDS and be shocked, or you could follow the example Marcus sets in Hurricane Streets and see the bigger picture.
I rate it 9/10
But for some reason I really like it.
Low key and unassuming from first frame to last, Hurricane Streets follows a 15 year old kid and his young mates for a couple of weeks in the unnamed city n which they live. But really this is all about Marcus (Sexton). Marcus has no father and his mum is in prison. He lives with his grandma who owns a scungy bar with seemingly no clientele. We never really see Marcus at home as he is always hanging with his friends either on the streets or in their "clubhouse", an underground cellar type place where they smoke, drink, talk sh*t and play darts.
Being 15 and without any adult guidance the kids get up to some small time mischief, shoplifting mainly for stuff to sell to kids at the local school. One of the kids however, Chip has definitive plans to be "laaaaarge", he feels that their achievements are small time and wants more. (It should be noted that Chip is also a terrible actor and a total tosser - if you don't want to punch him several times in the film you were never a teenager.) Marcus decides one day leave the city to go back to where he grew up, he has no real plans but feels (at 15) that he needs a change. When I was 15 a change meant new shoes or buying a hat – maybe I had no aspirations.
With 3 days to go until he skedaddles though Marcus meets a young girl named Melena and the two hit it off. He also gets nabbed for shoplifting and arrested, finds out more about his Mother and her criminal past than he previously knew and attempts to talk the other boys out of escalating their criminal activity to bigger things.
Shoulda just bought a hat really.
There really isn't too much more to the film that I can tell, there is a convenient yet contrived plot twist that makes practically no sense whatsoever, but it does lead to one of the better awkward endings to a film that I've seen in a long while, one that I mull over each time I see the film.
Given that the main 6 actors in the film are school age a certain degree of settling for less is simply a must, 3 of the 6 are especially awful – Glengarry Glen Ross this ain't, but Brendan Sexton III at least showed enough to have suggested that he had a future in film, even if he hasn't yet landed a big role or a lead yet.
It's hard to talk up a film that no-one else has heard of; and that you probably couldn't track down nowadays even if you did want to watch it – but Hurricane Streets manages to convince me to see past the flaws and enjoy the film as the simple, uncluttered and unassuming 90 odd minutes that it is.
Final Rating – 8 / 10. A low key indie film that aims for little more than telling a simple story well – and achieves that humble goal.
or even "Kids," for that matter, due to lack of excess violence, but the acting is definitely first-rate, especially by Sexton, who kind of reminds me of young Russel Crowe.
Written and directed by newcomer Morgan J. Freeman (not the famous actor), this film traces the descent of an inner-city youth gang into increasingly serious crime. We first meet this group of 5 disenfranchised adolescent boys in their headquarters -- a glorified sewer hole -- where they regularly reconnoiter to inventory their stolen merchandise and plan their next heist. Up till now, the group's leader, a boy named Marcus (Brendan Sexton III), has been wisely steering them away from high profile crime. Then one of the boys suggests they go after some real money. This perfectly acceptable plot could have been the basis for a decent, if not cliché story.
The problem is, there is no real story. Instead, the film loiters too much around its central character, Marcus. We eavesdrop on Marcus' relationship with his parentally-abused girl friend, monitor his visits with his incarcerated mother and wonder why this angry, fatherless kid hasn't completely gone off on someone. Meanwhile, the gang keeps on swearing and posturing its way through a number of theft and sewer-hole sequences until an unexpected tragedy occurs. This "stagy" event is strictly deus ex machina (theater talk for introducing an obvious, last-minute plot device), but it does have a devastating effect on the gang. Unfortunately, by this point we are basically too numb to care.
Director Freeman does know kids however, and has a good ear for dialogue. And, despite a somewhat unstructured, unresolved story, manages to elicit some poignant moments from his young actors whose performances, overall, are quite good. If nothing else, we see how painfully vulnerable these kids are -- despite their bluff facades. Given a more disciplined screenplay, we might even have cared.