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Crown Heights – Street Reviews

Well, well, well … here’s what they are saying from the highest to lowest rating:

10/10
Necessary and Powerful
nikisaintclair14 January 2018
This is a deeply important movie, honestly and beautifully, told. The acting was impeccable and the score was beautiful. The story is truly powerful. Every American should see this movie. We need to understand the ugly truth of how the criminal justice system really functions in our country, and understand the heroism of the people who fight for real justice.

10/10
WHERE POIGNANACY AND TRIUMPH FACE-OFF.
alvaro-a-quesada-558-14180017 May 2018
Hope— is my favorite word. This story is heartfelt and will touch your soul. It did mine.

10/10
Heartfelt Worth Watching
scjacques29 September 2018
This movie is worth the watch! Awesome cast, great acting! I really felt i was back in BK.

10/10
Crown Heights is amazing
hollywoodhernandez-708681 September 2017
In 1980 Colin Warner (played by Lakeith Stanfield) was charged with a crime he did not commit. He was convicted and spent 21 years in prison, including four years in solitary confinement. All the while he was in prison his friend Carl King (Nnamdi Asomugha) never gave up on correcting this injustice. This is the true story of the movie Crown Heights.

Crooked cops, an injustice justice system and the politics of the day (Ronald Reagan’s “Get Touch on Crime Policies”) all steam rolled Warner’s efforts to prove his innocence. His friend, Carl King, soon discovered that without money for adequate legal counsel a poor man had no access to the justice system. But he never gave up.

While the movie portrays a jaw dropping look at our judicial system for poor people and minorities it is also a hopeful movie about faith, hope and friendship. Carl King almost lost his family to his commitment to prove his friend innocent, but still he never quits trying. He’s convinced that the injustice of his friend could easily be him. He never stops trying to right the wrong.

Marsha Stephanie Blake plays Briana his childhood sweetheart who is also convinced of his innocence and she makes him a promise that one day she will be there to drive him home from prison. They develop a romantic relationship while he’s in prison and she waits for him during his entire 21 years of incarceration.

Crown Heights won the Audience Award at this year’s Sundance Film Festival with good reason. Lakeith Stanfield as Collin is amazing in his portrayal of a man wrongly imprisoned. The actor has to cover a full range of emotions of a man who loses hope, finds love, and discovers the true meaning of friendship. Stanfield does a masterful job.

The movie is rated “R” for violence and sexual situations and it has a run time of 94 minutes. While gut wrenching to watch, I enjoyed Crown Heights very much. At the very end of the movie it’s closing credits make the point that there are about 2.4 million people currently in prison in the United States. It’s estimated that over 120,000 are innocent. On my “Hollywood Popcorn Scale” this movie gets my highest rating, A JUMB0 (with extra butter).

9/10
Incredibly powerful yet tragic story
ppetri-287-86538129 January 2018
The number of people walking out of this movie in tears is enough you need to know. An emotionally draining film that is honest and not withholding.

8/10
Failing systems
Jithindurden25 November 2017
Based on the true story of Colin Warner who was wrongfully convicted of murder and spent more than 20 years in jail and his friend Carl King who devoted himself to prove Colin’s innocence Crown Heights is a powerful film that shows how the system fails the people who need it the most. Having experience with making documentaries Matt Ruskin knows how to not make the actors be melodramatic and yet succeeds to make the viewers on the verge of tears. Lakeith Stanfield is excellent as Colin portraying the teenage confusion to the matured man. The focus of the film is mostly given to the failing judiciary and how it affects the people. There have been films dealing with such subjects before but the significance of such films has not diminished, these type of subjects are needed from time to time as a reminder about the world we live in.

8/10
Quiet Yet Powerful Presentation
larrys322 November 2017
Initially set in the early 1980’s, in Brooklyn, N.Y., this is a very deliberately paced yet powerful dramatic portrayal of the wrongful conviction of 18-year-old Colin Warner (Lakeith Stanfield). At that time crime was soaring throughout the nation, and police, prosecutors, and politicians were looking for convictions, not caring much how they got them.

In this true story case, Warner was convicted when the police pressured witnesses enough to give false testimony and seal his fate. Languishing in a maximum security prison, Warner received tireless aid from his close friend KC (Nnamdi Asomugha) and later from his wife-to-be (Natalie Paul) and a dedicated attorney (Bill Camp)

These type of movies always make me angry because I don’t understand how people in powerful positions can allow others to rot in jail for long periods of time while knowing that they’re innocent. How do these folks live with themselves?

All in all, this film, written and directed by Matt Ruskin, is not for those looking for an action flick, but if you like quiet yet powerful movies then you might very well like this one.

7/10
Good movie, with an even more important social cause
paul-allaer14 September 2017
“Crown Heights” (2017 release; 103 min) brings the story of Colin Warner. “Based on a true story” we are informed as the movie opens, it is “April 10,1980” and we her a gun shot, as people as running away. We get to know Colin, an immigrant from Trinidad, Colin is a petty thief, easily getting into trouble as he hangs out in Crown Heights (Brooklyn).. That evening, he is picked up by the cops and at the precinct, he is urges to confess to a murder he didn’t commit. So why are the cops after Colin then? Colin is denied jail, and before we know it, his trial starts… At this point we are less than 15 min. into the movie but to tell you more of the plot would spoil your viewing experience, you’ll just have to see for yourself how it all plays out.

Couple of comments: this movie is written and directed by Matt Ruskin, best known for his documentary “The Hip Hop Project”, While “Crown Heights” is not a documentary, it might as well have been one. “Crown Heights” focuses on the grave injustice that befell Colin Warner, convicted of a crime he didn’t commit when cops and the DA’s office manipulate (if not worse) various witnesses and bystanders. Just when it seems it can’t get any worse, it does. But the movie tries to make a bigger point and at that, it succeeds only in part. As the years roll on, we see various politicians (G.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, etc.) speak out harshly against crime (culminating with Clinton’s “three strikes you’re out” crime bill). You may agree or disagree with such an approach, but that of course has in se nothing to do with locking up an innocent man as a result of police and DA misconduct. Social injustice is a very important topic, but is “Crown Heights” actually a good movie? I’m happy to say that it is. Even though you get a sense midway through as to how it will all play out, it was riveting watching from start to end. The no-names cast is mostly excellent, in particular Keith Stanfield as Colin (he portrayed Snoop Dogg in “Straight Outta Compton” a few years back.

“Crown Heights” premiered at this year’s Sundance Film Festival to positive buzz. It finally opened at my local art-house theater here in Cincinnati. The Thursday early evening screening turned out to be a private screening, as I was literally the only person in the theater. No matter, “Crown Heights” is a good movie, with an even more important social cause, and I would readily suggest you seek this out, be it in the theater, on VOD, or eventually on DVD/Blu-ray.

6/10
OK, better served as doc
ferguson-624 August 2017
Greetings again from the darkness. Being wrongly accused of a horrible crime would be a nightmare. Being wrongly convicted would be the worst possible nightmare. Prison life must be a daily nightmare. What could make such nightmares even worse? How about serving 21 years for a crime you didn’t commit, with about 4 years of that in solitary confinement.

Numerous recent projects have focused on a legal and justice system that sometimes seems broken. Some of the best include: HBO’s “The Night Of”, Ana DuVernay’s documentary 13TH, and Jamie Meltzer’s documentary TRUE CONVICTION. Writer/Director Matt Ruskin has adapted this most recent based-on-a-true-story docudrama from a podcast episode of “This American Life”.

While the general topic of “justice” is interesting enough, it’s the individual personal stories of justice denied that add such power, immediacy and emotion. In April 1980, in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn, a young man is arrested on suspicion of murder. Lakeith Stanfeld (SHORT TERM 12) plays Colin Warner, a local petty thief whose family is from Trinidad. The “suspicion of murder” is really not accurate, since the arresting cops knew Colin wasn’t the guy, but were more interested in clearing the case than actually solving it.

What follows is a commentary on crooked cops, a flawed judicial system, and the willingness by the guilty party to let another go to jail if it means they remain free. However, more than any of that, this is a wonderful story of one man’s unrelenting pursuit of justice for his friend. Former NFL star Nnambi Asomugha (married to Kerry Washington) plays Carl “KC” King – Colin’s friend who refuses to give up on him and constantly hunts for someone to ensure justice is served … no matter how much time has passed. KC never stops, even when he realizes this is a system that doesn’t often admit its mistakes. The tenacity of KC is likely to have viewers questioning if they have a friend so loyal … or if they themselves could be such a friend.

Supporting work is provided by Zach Greiner, Josh Pais, Luke Forbes, Marsha Stephanie Blake, Adriane Lenox, Nestor Carbondell, Bill Camp, and Yul Vazquez. Natalie Paul plays Antoinette, the saintly woman who falls in love with Colin and marries him while he is incarcerated.

We watch as the wheels of injustice roll over Colin – even demanding that he admit remorse in order to have his request for probation considered. Being a man of strong conviction, Colin holds firm on his innocence despite being hardened by life behind bars. Director Ruskin has delivered a decent movie, but with its vital story and issue, it’s one probably better suited to a documentary structure. He wisely chooses not to pile on the legalities, and focuses more on the frustrations with a flawed system while also including an anti- death penalty message supported by the statistic of 2.4 million in prison – an estimated 120,000 of which are innocent.

5/10
Blindness is Politically Sponsored
thirtyfivestories22 September 2017
A neighborhood sliced with invisible borders. A Jamaican territory and a Trinidadian one. No conflict resides among the two nationalities, but then again no aid does either. An urban island ran on testimony and intimidation. A 15-year-old’s lie spurns a cyclone that tears a son from a mother, a brother from a brother, and innocent man from a few decades of freedom.

Law enforcement has an unreachable quota. Their presidents and governors have enlisted them in a crusade on crime. This holy war equips its soldiers with blinders and psychological torture. Truth becomes relative, and black faces become potentials. Colin is a victim of this indiscriminate reaping.

Walking home with a newly patched up television for his ma, his trajectory shoves sideways. A day meant to restore a brief rupture with his mother turns into an incriminating sinkhole. A cheek pressed to a private Cadillac and wrists wrapped in metallic hoops, circular and compete.

Fear of violence begets organized violence. Violence from uniforms and ties. Assaults on innocent characters and prison beatings from extended calls home. Cruelty becomes normalized, and a morality of unwarranted suppression gains political popularity.

Times are sure to change, but only gradually and with the help of tortured souls. People who abandon all comforts of freedom in hopes of acquitting prisoners who rest in cells. Their bars are fashioned out of lies, and pleas fall of deaf ears just because someone’s words were “convincing enough” a few dozen years ago.

The twirling of clocks begins to laugh. Manically chirping a lamentation detailing the harsh ways of chance. A photo, an index finger, and a terrified foreigner, these are the elements of a stolen life. But they are not. Government agendas, police aggression, and entropy are the real executioners. Freedom is expendable to the underrepresented.

4/10
A Seemingly Endless Sentence Is Offered as a Seemingly Endless Movie
boblipton27 August 2017
Movies have many techniques for keeping you interested and making the time go fast. A moving camera, attractive sets and actors speaking witty lines, and a pleasing score will make the 90 minutes or so of a movie fly. Contrariwise, when a moviemaker wishes to instill a sense of oppression, any of these elements can be left out.

This is a movie based on a real event. In 1980, a black man in that troubled Brooklyn neighborhood was found guilty of second degree murder and sentenced to 15-to-life as the driver in a drive-by shooting. The trouble is, he didn’t do it; he was busy stealing and running over someone else at the time.

This movie recounts the twenty-one-year struggle by him and his brother to get him freed. And during the period of his incarceration, the deadening effect of that imprisonment is made apparent by leaving out all those techniques that would serve to make the lives of the people in this movie more interesting.

The trouble is that the audience is also subject to this oppressive and boring tedium. As a result, this 94-minute feature, which might have made an excellent documentary, fails in the first duty of any piece of art: to engage and, yes, entertain its audience. All we learn is that people make mistakes and take a long time to figure things out.

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