Clockers (Spike Lee)

Rating: 3.0

The parts of this movie that work are so powerful that they manage--just 
barely--to compensate for the parts that have been totally botched.  The 
latter includes a lot of unnecessarily intrusive camerawork (shifting film 
stock, surreally-staged flashbacks); an overbearing and ill-advised use 
of source music; too many didactic speeches; too much overwrought 
symbolism ("Look out! Those toy trains are gonna crash!"); and the 
whittling down of a key character in Price's novel to what is essentially 
a negligible walk-on by John Turturro.  That's a lot of carping, so 
imagine how strong the rest of the film must be for me to have come away 
with a favorable impression.  When I wasn't cringing, I was on the edge 
of my seat.  Though I think the novel a finer work, and I can't help 
wondering what the Scorsese/De Niro CLOCKERS would have been like, 
there's much to admire in Lee's change of focus.  I only wish he'd 
trusted his actors and Price's story a bit more, and dispensed with the 
preaching and visual histrionics.