As a movie about a young man who finds himself through romance and the intelligence of poetry, Slam kinda sucks. It's a by-the-numbers, good-guy-makes-good story. As a member of the prison-film genre, though, Slam finds true poetry in vérité moments no other film can touch. It's the story of a talented writer named Ray who's sent to the joint for getting caught with a bit of weed at the scene of a shooting.
Once there, the thugs think he killed their friend, and the tension begins. Although the prison scenes' screen time is proportionally small, when director Levin takes his camera inside the city jail in Washington D.C., his experience as a documentary filmmaker is overwhelming. It's "you are there" filmmaking at its finest, and we can feel young Ray's life hang in the balance.
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