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"17 Blocks," a documentary about 20 years in the life of a Washington, D.C. family, is so emotionally punishing that you might have to steel yourself at a couple of points to get through the roughest patches. This is by no means a knock against the quality of the filmmaking or the unvarnished truth of the events it depicts, but a warning that the household shown here suffers the torments of Job (whose name is invoked by a preacher presiding over a funeral later in the story) and that the light at the end of the tunnel is a long time coming, and glimpsed only briefly before the end credits.

Taking us from the end of the millennium through late 2018, "17 Blocks" refers to the distance between the home of the film's main family, the Sanfords, and the U.S. Capitol. Much has been made in journalism, history, and American cinema/television of the proximity between the seat of American federal power and the mostly black, working-class-to-poor neighborhoods that have predominated in the city of Washington, D.C. (at least until recently, when gentrification started ramping up the white population and pricing Black people out—something that would happen to the Sanfords, too). But it's hard to think of another nonfiction feature that depicts the contrasts and ironies as plainly as this one. "17 Blocks" focuses on a mother, her children, and her grandchildren. All are affected, directly or indirectly, by drug abuse (within the family and in the community at large) as well as by the gun violence that is never far from areas (of any demographic) where street-level dealing occurs.

故事始于中间的初步,与家庭母系,Cheryl Sanford,前往属于她父亲的房子,以及她筹集了三个孩子:她的年龄埃姆曼纽尔,她的中生“Smurf”,他们的妹妹妹妹丹尼斯。从谢丽尔的语言模式,肢体语言和面部褪色中显而易见的是她是吸毒成瘾者(我们后来认为她的选择药物是可卡因,尽管这不是她滥用的唯一物质),而最早的闪回(大约1999年)揭示她一直在处理她整个成年生活的成瘾。她责备自己的Smurf的药物用途以及他在15岁时辍学的决定并开始处理。在这个故事中有很多自我责任和自我破坏,所有这些都是真诚的累计累积的,并且在很大的痛苦中,这不是在面对成瘾的情况下毫无意义地意味着在几十年的过程中继续崩溃。

纪录片的介绍性场景和随后的闪光转发型暗示为您准备了您的事实,即桑福在桑福特将发生一些可怕的事实。当它确实发生时,它甚至比你预期的更糟糕。一个家庭成员清理血腥的简要顺序 - 字面上是一团糟,他们被困在一起 - 是生命中最令人沮丧的例子之一,赋予一些你所看到的一个隐喻。

That's all storytelling, of course; a magic trick done with images and sound. We know that in real life, people have addiction problems; that it continues over the generations, addiction being a genetic predisposition, not just an indicator of moral weakness or bad upbringing; that sometimes tragedy visits people's homes randomly, shockingly, without warning; and that just because all these bad things happened to one family, it doesn't mean it was all somehow inescapable or "foretold," much less that the family "deserved" it or "reaped what they sowed," or that survivors can't will a new path if they push hard enough and catch a few breaks (which does happen for the Sanfords eventually, thank goodness, although it's a long road).

"17 Blocks" was directed, produced, and overseen by documentarian and writer戴维罗斯巴特, with a mighty assist from editor/producer Jennifer Tiexiera (whose "written by" credit, unusual for a nonfiction project, suggests that she took a strong hand in shaping a coherent narrative from what Rothbart says was over 1,000 hours of video). It's impossible to oversell the mesmerizing nature of the images themselves. They're consistently moving without (usually) striving for prettiness. The change in the images' shape and resolution itself helps organically suggest the passage (or slippage) of time from one era to the next, even when we aren't seeing obvious indicators of maturation onscreen (such as changes in seasons, fashions, hairstyles, or music).

据Rothbart介绍,他于1999年在一个篮球比赛中遇到了emanuel和Smurf Sanford,他们家里的几个街区,开始在他们的房子里闲逛。经过一点,他开始拍摄它们并在周末在他们的房子里留下相机。很快,桑福德家庭正在使用它来记录自己的生命。从早期,更少或更少的业余时代被淘汰的镜头在其诚实和坦率地区令人惊讶,家庭(特别是特别)将摄像机视为一台机器的记录笔记本:可以的东西轻松打开以录制任何时刻,短暂或重大。

“17个街区”可能不会努力努力反对反动,清教徒,可能是桑福德家庭的痛苦的种族主义读物,以便更正义地防止糟糕的信仰解释 - 包括谢丽尔自己。她常常责怪她的家人对她的成瘾发生的每一件可怕的事情,直到很晚的电影,我们得知她的成瘾并没有表现出自己的清澈蓝色:它似乎很明显当她几乎没有青春期时,在一群年轻人被一群年轻人被一群年轻人的反应形式。其中一部电影的美德,它的紧凑往往是责任。它与社会和政治背景脱离了家庭。大多数时候你只需要推断种族主义的更广泛的影响,事实上的隔离,金融“红线,”和匿名军人的警察职业的黑社区(隆隆式直升机和闪烁的红蓝灯是一个常数)像桑福德这样的家庭。Steve James和斯坦利尼尔森,只有两个电影制作者,他们经常讲述关于黑人家庭的故事,设法将所有这一切都变成了焦点的故事,所以它不像不可能撤离它。

但总的来说,这是一个引人入胜的和经常非凡的特征。有时它表明了一个非小说,黑色,内部城市的答案,主要是白色,郊区的郊区,比如Richard Linklater的“童年" or Terrence Malick's "生命之树”,通过各种方法(手头)filmmakers give you a sense not just of characters flowing through a river of time but families struggling to make sense of changes happening around them: in communities; in households; on their own faces when they look into mirrors and at photographs.



Cheryl Sanford被列为这部电影的执行制作人之一,她的生物陈述了她很长时间很干净,现在是一个社区活动家和讲故事者,以及其他事情。含义是她希望我们能够看到所有这一切,这就是为什么她坚持那些年前开始录制它的Rothbart和她的家人。无论如何,痛苦都是如此美丽的事情,这是一个舒适的。至少故事被告知,其他人可以看到它。



Matt Zoller Seitz是Rogerebert.com的编辑,纽约杂志和Vulture.xf187 首页com的电视评论家,以及普利策批评奖项的决赛。


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