Bashing Clockers

The experience of watching Spike Lee’s Clockers was a totally different one than I have had with what we have watched all semester. I agree with mostly everyone that has blogged so far, it was just kind of bizarre watching Clockers compared to everything else. The music was what first made it clear to me that the film was not going to fit the same mold of The Corner, The Wire or Homicide. In The Wire, no music whatsoever is added to the show, the viewer only hears music that is actually being played out of the cars on the streets. It seemed like in Clockers the music didn’t fit, as the genres were wide ranging, and there simply was just too much music being played. The film was enjoyable, but I didn’t feel like I got much out of it, as I really didn’t learn anything about Strike or Rocco’s character or the life of a clocker. The film centered around their relationship, and their interactions were believable, but nothing substantial really came of it. As has been mentioned, the plot was rather simple and normal, trying to figure out who committed a murder. There were insignificant subplots, like the one with Tyrone, but their relationship did not hold a lot of value to the viewer. I wasn’t very impressed with Mekhi Phifer’s performance either, as he never really grabbed me even though he was always on camera. The deliverance of his lines fluctuated, as at times it was hard to watch Strike as if he had the stutter that is in the novel, but most of the time it is not apparent at all.

There were a lot of familiar faces, too, which is something we haven’t experienced in the shows we’ve watched. The actors in The Wire and The Corner are actors we have never seen before, and only see in those shows. It was strange being able to recognize all of the major figures even Strike’s boys including familiar rappers like Stickay Fingaz as Scientific.

Clockers appeared to be more about the production of the film than about the overall quality. I think it was helpful to the course to view it, and for us to recognize how it is different, clearly bashing the entire film. Spike Lee is obviously very well respected as a director, but his role as an author in the adaptation seemed to take away greatly from Richard Price’s novel.

2 responses to “Bashing Clockers

  1. I completely agree with you on this point, I think Spike Lee’s role as the adapter of Richard Price’s novel changed the direction and point of the original source material. The actors’ performances diverge significantly from their corresponding characters in the book, and the music and camera create a very contrived, almost cheesy atmosphere on screen. Lee’s production choices seem altogether too motivated by his vision as an auteur than by Richard Price’s vision as an author. Part of what makes the novel so visceral is its exposition of Strike and Rocco’s lives and how they mirror each other on both sides of the law. The film fails in this realm because it doesn’t seem to care about its characters; neither Rocco nor Strike of the film is particularly memorable or sympathetic. As a result, the film becomes less about its characters, and more about their relationships, or other narrative dynamics.

  2. My perception was that in this case, there was just too much of Spike Lee’s presence in this film. Watching it didn’t feel like reading the book, and while that is not the point of the film itself, that created a huge disconnect and, I felt, set up the viewer’s potential disappointment in the film. Though it’s certainly quality work, I have to agree with burritoluca in his assertion that the lack of character-drive isn’t doing any favors for the adaptation, and the story itself suffers.