Movie Recommendation- Skid Row
SKID ROW (2007)
From its cover, Skid Row looks like just another straight-to-DVD crime drama starring a washed-up rapper in a self-aggrandizing lead role—see also State Property, or the awesomely crazy Love and a Bullet (starring Beanie Sigel and Naughty by Nature’s Treach, respectively.) But anyone looking to Skid Row for a frivolous hip-hop vanity project will instead find a fascinating documentary about homelessness, drug addiction, and urban decay. The gimmick is simple: take the rapper Pras (of chartbusting ‘90s hip-hop trio the Fugees) and throw him onto the mean streets of downtown Los Angeles to fend for himself without any money or resources amid one of the largest permanent homeless communities in the world. What follows isn’t some goofy riches-to-rags tale about a spoiled celeb forced to live without the luxuries to which he’s become accustomed, but rather a fascinating, sober-minded portrait of life on the margins of society. Though sometimes a bit pedantic (especially when dolling out facts and statistics), the filmmakers—Ross Clarke, Niva Dorell, and Marshall Tyler—do attain the sort of access that would make any other documentarian drool with envy. We see everything up close: the violence, the drugs, the death. Skid Row is a closed society, with its own rules and code of ethics, and the film does an excellent job of putting us on the inside. That this kind of a shadow world could exist entirely within the confines of America’s second-largest city boggles the mind, but Skid Row exposes the apocalyptic scenario for what it is: a fascinating, troubling reality.