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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

Waist Deep (review)

It’s hard to figure out if writer/director Vondie Curtis-Hall (who also gave us — *snort* — Glitter) is demonstrating simple ineptitude here, or out-and-out Ed Wood-itude. He seems to be positioning his hero, O2 (Tyrese Gibson: Annapolis), as some sort of buffalo soldier, a one-man outlaw army on the mean streets of Los Angeles, a metaphor achieved — or not — through O2’s gift to his young son of a black Civil War-era action figure. He seems to be suggesting that the fractured interpersonal culture of the inner-city — in which baby-mamas steal from men and a carjacking is the most intimate thing that happens between two people — is escapable only through a life of crime, and that those attempting to retake their crime-ridden neighborhoods, such as the protesters chanting “Save our streets!” who wander in the background of the plot, are idiots still living in 1967. He seems to be glorifying street culture — overcome this, motherfuckers! — at the same time his hero is attempting to escape it. But if he meant these conundrums to be taken seriously, why does he make us guffaw so?

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MPAA: rated R for strong violence and pervasive language

viewed at a semipublic screening with an audience of critics and ordinary moviegoers

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