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maryann johanson | watching movies at home

The Corner (review)

Based on an actual open-air drug market on a corner in a rundown section of Baltimore, this harrowing HBO miniseries uses real stories and real names to depict how drug abuse and poverty ravage inner-city families and neighborhoods, and how those in their grip still manage to maintain a sense of humor and hope for the future. Devastatingly clear-eyed and frank, these six one-hour episodes — which won multiple Emmy awards in 2000 — follow a year in the lives of Gary and Fran, both addicts; their son, DeAndre, a high schooler and a dealer but not yet a user; and their friends and lovers and acquaintances, all of them grappling with drugs in one way or another: as users, as enablers, as pushers, as victims, as survivors. Best known as an actor, Charles S. Dutton is intimately familiar with these streets — he grew up on them — and as director he shines a fierce and uncompromising eye on both the nightmare they are and the optimism their residents struggle to sustain.

MPAA: not rated

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