Killer of Sheep

“A great-the greatest-cinematic tone poem of American urban life” (David Edelstein, New York), Charles Burnett's Killer of Sheep evokes the everyday trials, fragile pleasures, and tenacious humor of blue-collar African Americans in 1970s Watts. Burnett made the film on a minuscule budget with a mostly nonprofessional cast, combining keen on-the-street observation with a carefully crafted script. The episodic plot centers on the character of Stan, a slaughterhouse worker mired in exhaustion, disconnected from his wife, his children, and himself. Stan and his neighbors struggle just to get by, let alone get ahead; as befits an L.A. movie, vehicular metaphors of breakdown abound. Only the kids, leaping from roof to roof, seem to achieve a mobility that eludes their elders.

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