Get on the Bus
Spike Lee's alternately poignant and simplistic tale of twenty men's journey
from South Central L.A. to The Million Man March can't help but grab your attention.
Among those on the bus are George (Charles S. Dutton), who helped to organize
the bus and is the stabilizing factor on board. Jeremiah (Ossie Davis) is easily the oldest of the bunch,
full of tales and lore. Flip (Andre Braugher) is an arrogant and irritating
struggling actor. Evan (Thomas Jefferson Byrd) has his son, Shmoo
(DeAundre Bonds), tethered to him by court order. He wants to show him the
historical event in the hopes that it will give him something to strive for
rather than gangbanging. Shmoo, on the other hand, resents his never-present father
and the entire endeavor. Randall (Harry Lennix) and Kyle (Isaiah Washington)
are a separating gay couple. X (Hill Harper) is a film student (and a rather bad
one at that, judging by the shots we see) who always has camcorder in hand.
Gary (Roger Guenveur Smith) is the light-skinned son of a white mother and a
black cop slain in the line of duty. And there are several others... The majority
of the film takes place on the bus, and concerns the various conversations that
happen therein. The conversational topics range from politics to responsibility,
from racism to crime, and a wide variety of others as well. Many of the discussions
are thoughtful, entertaining and relevant. Unfortunately, they also point out
the simplistic glossing over of other topics presented. In particular, Louis
Farrakhan's anti-semitism, the sexism of the march, and a black Republican
are all brought up at one time or another in the film. Yet, they are quickly
dismissed as trivialities. Why does the screenplay, which deals
intelligently with several other troublesome issues, duck for cover on
these others? In any case, when the screenplay is rolling, and the
discussions are engaging, it's hard to tear yourself away from the film.
The actors do an excellent job...aside from a few speeches which sit a bit
too pat, you almost feel as if the film is a documentary filming real people.
Spike Lee shot this movie in a combination of 16mm film and video, giving
a mixed, edgy feel to many of the shots. On the whole, Get on the Bus
is a bit talky, but it's thought-provoking enough that you don't mind it.
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