DVD Talk
Release List Reviews Shop Newsletter Forum DVD Giveaways Blu-Ray Advertise
Reviews & Columns
Reviews
DVD
TV on DVD
Blu-ray
International DVDs
Theatrical
Adult
Video Games

Features
Collector Series DVDs
Easter Egg Database
Interviews
DVD Talk Radio
Feature Articles

Columns
Anime Talk
XCritic.com
DVD Stalk
DVD Savant
High-Def Revolution
Silent DVD

discussion forum
DVD Talk Forum
Resources
DVD Price Search
Customer Service #'s
RCE Info
Links

DVDTalk Info
Review Staff
About DVD Talk
Advertise
Newsletter Subscribe
Join DVD Talk Forum
DVD Talk Feeds


Special Offer

Search: For:
Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Brooklyn Babylon
Brooklyn Babylon
Artisan
List Price: Unknown [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Gil Jawetz | posted May 27, 2001 | E-mail the Author
Buy from Amazon.com
C O N T E N T
V I D E O
A U D I O
E X T R A S
R E P L A Y
A D V I C E
Recommended
E - M A I L
this review to a friend
P R I N T
Printer Friendly
THE STRAIGHT DOPE:
Brooklyn is one of the most complex social environments in the world with virtually every nationality represented, often living in very close proximity to one another. The potential for conflict is high and in those times when the tension does boil over a lot gets revealed about human nature. Such a potent source of human drama has not been overlooked by filmmakers and some of the finest recent films have explored those conflicts: Do The Right Thing and Little Odessa are among the best. The creators of Brooklyn Babylon would like to join that company and, while their film is affecting, they don't quite make it.

Brooklyn Babylon is set in Crown Heights, where in 1991 a series of events set off one of the worst periods of unrest in New York City history: A young black boy was killed when a car taking part in the funeral procession for the grand rabbi of the Orthodox Lubavitcher Jewish sect jumped the curb, sparking three days of rioting in which a 29 year old Hasidic Jew was killed. The film explores this ongoing tension by once again crashing these two worlds together. A car carrying Rastafarian King Solomon (played by Tariq Trotter, AKA Black Thought of acclaimed Hip-Hop group The Roots) collides with a car filled with Orthodox Jews, including Sara (Karen Goberman). After briefly making eye contact Solomon and Sara run into each other again and find themselves feeling a deeper connection. Meanwhile the drivers of the two cars, Scratch (Bonz Malone, who also co-wrote the script) and Judah (David Vadim) also continue to meet, growing more and more antagonistic towards one another. The parallel stories (growing love and growing hatred) comment on two communities that share geography and spiritual roots but not much else.

While director Marc Levin's intentions are good he is hampered by an unnecessarily short running time (under 90 minutes) and a naive approach. The film offers some insight into each culture (the Rasta philosophy, the inner practices of Orthodox Judaism) but the conflicts between the two are somewhat oversimplified. Any depth is provided by the cast, most of whom do excellent work. Trotter and Goberman both display sweet, innocent qualities that make them stand out from their surroundings. Together they hint at a deeper connection than the script allows. Vadim, who also played a heavy in Little Odessa, gives the right balance of menace and conservatism, and Malone is right as the kind of childhood friend that can drag down a rising star like Trotter.

The drama is at times half-baked and the violence escalates uneasily. The script also doesn't provide much of an ending and what wrap-up it does allow is ambiguous and sloppy. Without giving away too much let's just say that it has more symbolic weight than truth for the characters.

VIDEO:
The widescreen video looks good, with vibrant colors and clear images. Mark Benjamin's cinematography makes the most of iconic Brooklyn backgrounds: The Botanic Gardens, The West Indian Day Parade, and, of course, Coney Island.

AUDIO:
The Dolby Digital 2.0 audio is well produced and sounds right. The score, created for the film by The Roots, is jarring and effective. Several live performances are also well-done, although they take precious time away from the story. A Spanish subtitle track is included.

EXTRAS:
Cast information is all that is included, although the promised crew info is nonexistent.

FINAL THOUGHTS:
Like his previous film Slam, Marc Levin's Brooklyn Babylon uses a poetic art form to comment on the struggles of the inner city. Also like Slam, Brooklyn Babylon has more good intentions than good storytelling. Still, the actors and the music make the film worth a look.

Gil Jawetz is a graphic designer, video director, and t-shirt designer. He lives in Brooklyn.

E-mail Gil at buskerdog@yahoo.com
Popular Reviews
1. Snowpiercer
2. Nightbreed: The Director's Cut
3. Pee-wee's Playhouse: The Complete Series
4. The Purge: Anarchy
5. The Vanishing
6. Mad Men: the Final Season-Part 1
7. La dolce vita
8. Gone With the Wind: 75th Anniversary Edition
9. Nekromantik
10. Deliver Us From Evil


Special Offers
DVD Blowouts
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
Alien [Blu-ray]
Buy: $19.99 $9.99
8.
9.
10.
Special Offers
Release List Reviews Shop Newsletter Forum DVD Giveaways Blu-Ray Advertise
Copyright 2014 DVDTalk.com All Rights Reserved. Legal Info, Privacy Policy, Terms of Use