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Killer of Sheep

Killer of Sheep

The Charles Burnett Collection

DVD - 2007
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Killer of sheep: An African-American slaughterhouse worker searches for tiny moments of beauty in his predominantly bleak life.
My brother's wedding: A young African-American man navigates his conflicting obligations while trying to figure out what he really wants in life.
Publisher: [Harrington Park, N.J.] :, Milestone Film & Video ;, [New York, N.Y.] :, Distributed by New Yorker Video,, [2007]
Edition: 2-disc special edition standard format (1.331).
Copyright Date: ©2007
Branch Call Number: DVD FEATURE KIL
Characteristics: 2 videodiscs (332 min.) : sound, black and white and color ; 4 3/4 in. + 1 folded sheet (illustrations ; 17 cm.)
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Apr 22, 2021

Raw American Poetry. Killer of Sheep takes the immediacy of Italian neo-Realist cinema and shapes it into a dreamy, beautiful montage of everyday life in Watts, Los Angeles, California, in the 1970s.

The revelations, in the year 2000, are surprising: black kids in the middle of the Ghetto acted up and goofed off exactly the same as white kids in small towns across the midwest...but not like black OR white kids today. The folks in this movie have an innocence about them that survives, along with their dignity, regardless of the social decay around them. You are left with a simple fact: these are still country people, who happen to be living in a city.

For anyone, like me, who grew up in the 1970s, the movie aches with a sense of a lost era, when being a kid meant building forts out of left-over construction materials, throwing dirt clods, and laying down big fat skidmarks with your bicycle.

And all this is just the subplot. The main storyline, of a slaughterhouse-working father trying to run a stable family in the midst of urban decay, is simple, understated, and powerful. The musical sequences inside the slaughterhouse rival Kubrick's ability to juxtapose music and image in a manner that creates infinite levels of meaning and irony. You can only sit with your mouth half agape and think, 'aaah.'

Like " La Jetee ", this is a movie that will allow you to see life anew, with children's eyes. Never pass up a chance to see it.

Apr 21, 2021

Dull and boring!

Oct 07, 2020

This two-disc set includes two classics and the latter in two versions, one the original release version and the other an expanded "director's cut" including much that was left out of the original, though those additions do not alter the plot. They are the first masterpieces of African American cinema, non-exploitative, kitchen-sink realist presentations of residents of Watts. the famous section of Los Angeles that has seen many antiracist riots and demonstrations. It's a dangerous place, where many feel they must prepare a gun for firing before opening to a knock they don't expect or a knocker who doesn't identify himself. The decade-earlier Killer of Sheep, made during a year's worth of weekends in 1972 and 1973 and shown first in 1977, follows black slaughterhouse worker Stan (Henry G. Sanders), whose daily exposure to real blood and guts has given him insomnia, as he interacts with friends and others who try to get him to join a robbery, need help buying and moving a car-engine block, and talk and relax with him. The dramatic episodes are set apart by montages of children playing. The spacers, especially, but also the episodes show director-writer-editor Charles Burnett's still photographer's eye for riveting composition and expressive command of black-and-white. In the color feature My Brother's Wedding, a man nearing 30, Pierce Mundy (tall, lanky Everett Silas) is working at his parents' dry cleaning shop while two plot elements impinge on him. His friend Soldier (Ronnie Bell) is released from prison, and his brother Wendell's (Monte Easter) wedding to a doctor's privileged daughter, Sonia (Gaye Shannon-Burnett), with whom Pierce can't meet without arguing or--more what we see--exchanging insults. The Mundys are considerably more articulate than Stan and his family and friends In KOS, which conduces to more of a plot--indeed, two plots--in MRW. There is a lot of humor, based in sarcasm, in both films, though for non-black viewers (like me), it may not reveal itself on first viewings. Both these movies suffered from neglect for at least partly racist reasons and didn't really receive broad appreciation until their 2007 relaunches. Each accompanied by a selection of African American popular songs, ranging from hymns to dirty blues, these are two genuine classics. --Ray Olson

FER385 Jul 24, 2013

I come from a film background, and though I found this film visually appealing, and enjoyed the soundtrack, I couldn't make heads or tales of the story. I tought it seemed to be about NOTHING, so I felt I must have just missed the symbolism. So I listened to the commentary by Burnett, and it turns out, the film WAS about NOTHING! I watched the 3 short films, and found them just as boring and dark, and confusing. I was reminded of the Andy Warhol films I grew up with, only the cast was black. Too many pauses in the dialogue...Like watching grass grow. It felt like there was no script or plot at all, and they were just all winging it. For the life of me, I can't understand why this film was counted as one of the 100 Essential Films, etc. It was visually nice, and the music was good, as I said, but that's about it.

Brooklynwalker Feb 21, 2012

I saw this movie a few years ago, and i really enjoyed it.

It's in Black an white, with a nice sound track.

SkycycleX2 Feb 21, 2012

I loved this movie. It seems to capture a time, place and people so authentically that it feels like a documentary. The performances are so simple, unpretenscious and real and the cinematography is beautiful. This is a moving, heartfelt treasure.


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