Wed night I went to a private preview screening of the Jamaican underground cult
classic Shottas – (aka the Jamaican Scarface), which was supposedly finally going to open September 22. Its release has been pushed back to Nov 3 – thank goodness – now nothing can interfere with my mandatory opening night viewing of Jackass 2. Ahem. (Yes, I have to see Jackass on opening night. I don’t care if everyone else says it’s a piece of crap. Queens Girl knows why.)
Anyway, Shottas is an unreleased cult classic – it’s been circulating in bootleg copies since at least 2002, when it screened at the Toronto Film Festival, with a couple of different soundtracks – the one I heard at the “official” screening Wed night was pretty good – more “gangsta” than “culture” – but who knows if that’ll be the final one. The suspicious lack of any and all credits – for anything! – at the end of the film indicates they STILL haven’t cleared the music rights. This is not all that surprising.
So what is this movie? It IS the Jamaican Scarface (“shottas” is Jamaican patois for gangsters), with Ky-mani Marley (a son of Bob’s), Spragga Benz, and Wyclef Jean as a bunch of Jamaican gangsters in Miami and Jamaica, growing up, taking over, living the life . . .with tons of slo-mo, fast-mo, and regular-mo bloodshed and massive gun battles. Brian De Palma has a lot to answer for – as does Sam Peckinpah.
But I really liked this movie! Especially the first part. The stunning portrait of Kingston reminded me of the vision of Jo’burg in last year’s great Tsotsi. But the narrative falls far short of that film’s, Spragga Benz doesn’t perform a bit of dancehall, and Wyclef ain’t exactly as talented an actor as he is a musician/producer/etc. . . well, I still say go see it, whenever it finally shows up in theaters. But don’t expect a masterpiece. Just hope the soundtrack I heard is the one you hear – cuz it rocked.