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Our America (2002)

Cast: Josh Charles, Josh Charles, Vanessa Williams, more...
Director: Ernest R. Dickerson, Ernest R. Dickerson
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Studio: Paramount
Genre: Drama, Coming of Age
Running Time: 95 min.
Languages: English
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Our America is the story of LeAlan Jones and Lloyd Newman two inner-city Chicago teenagers who eloquently distilled their lives on the Mean Streets into an award-winning Public Radio documentary (and later, a book) titled Our America: Life and Death on the South Side of Chicago. When a local NPR broadcaster conducts a search for "two young, intelligent African Americans to be on the radio", Jones (played by Roderick Pannell) and Newman (Brandon Hammond) smooth-talk their way into the offices of radio producer David Isay (Josh Charles), and as a result both young men are hired as reporters. For the next week, LeAlan and Lloyd amble through the Projects, tape recorders in hand, the better to assemble a "sound portrait" of their 'hood. But with the resultant success and fame, Jones and Newman must suffer the admonitions and threats of their neighbors, who feel that the two have sold out to "Whitey" and are exploiting their own people. Things come to a startling climax when, in the course of their investigative reporting, LeAlan and Lloyd put their lives on the line to tell the whole story of a 4-year-old boy who was tossed from a 14th story window to his death by a rampaging gang. Our America made its Showtime cable network debut on July 28, 2002. ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide

GreenCine Member Reviews

Tragically Unknown by ZenBones July 20, 2004 - 3:28 PM PDT
2 out of 2 members found this review helpful
This is a film that should have played in cinemas nationally for a long time, instead it was tucked into a few screenings on Showtime. It's a docudrama about two teenaged boys from the Chicago projects who reported on the state of their neighborhood for NPR (National Public Radio). I've seen some good films about life in the ghetto ("Slam" and "Fresh" among others) but they focus on the drugs/crime issue, and less on the day to day existence that most children have to endure. You can't understand the other issues until you see how some kids have to take care of their parents who are alcoholics or drug addicts, instead of the parents taking care of them. One can't even imagine living in high-rise buildings where elevators, toilets, and hall and stairway lights don't work, not to mention the infestation of rats and roaches. No wonder some kids think going to prison is a good thing. In terms of living conditions, it's a step up. Even the violence level there is about the same. Although this film is low budget and some of the acting seems amateurish, it's so raw and honest that you have complete empathy for everyone. Ernest Dickerson's cinematography is amazing as always, and he balances 'real life' with a style that accentuates reality instead of embellishing it. Please see this movie and tell your friends about it. It doesn't have the panache of Spike Lee's films, but its power resonates deeper, and I promise, the film is not a drag. It's very balanced and overall, gives us permission to hope. In fact I'll end this review from a quote from the movie, "I know you don't want to hear about the pain and suffering in that part of the city, but that part of the city is part of your city too.... I'm talking about all of us, living together, in our city, in our America. "

GreenCine Member Rating

(Average 6.82)
11 Votes
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