How many people do you know who’ve been shot? This was a question that occurred to me as I watched Nelson Carvajal’s latest, a video essay on Spike Lee’s recent cinematic leap into rhymed verse ‘Chi-Raq,’ a film whose eccentricity grows on you. Carvajal approaches the film from an up-close perspective, that of a Chicago resident who has, in fact, known many people who’ve been shot, in Chicago, which is becoming one of the country’s most violent cities. Carvajal does not do voice-over much–this may be his first video essay with voiceover, if my scholarship serves–and he has chosen a nice place to deploy the technique. Where better, indeed, than in a piece about this film, which addresses the matter of gun violence head-on in a way which doesn’t seem head-on at all? The presence of the editor here makes the essay’s central argument, which is that critics back away from ‘Chi-Raq’ because they can’t handle the reality it depicts, quite convincing. After all, neither the quality of the film’s direction nor the brutality of the state of affairs the film satirizes can really be questioned. Can they?
Watch: Spike Lee’s ‘Chi-Raq’: The Blossoms of Violence