African Gangsta

The swaggering hoodlum has become a staple of American film, from James Cagney in 1931’s The Public Enemy to 50 Cent in the recent biopic Get Rich or Die Tryin’. The infectious thump of gangsta rap and glamorized images of thug life have found international acceptance in the favela slums of Rio de Janeiro, the ghettoized housing projects in Paris, and in the tin-roof shanty towns of Soweto. Tsotsi is set in the broiling, dusty streets of South Africa, but the protagonist (played to perfection by Presley Chweneyagae) remains cool in his black leather jacket as he commits heartbreakingly violent crimes. Tsotsi means “thug” in South Africa’s Tsotsitaal patois, and Chweneyagae’s glowering demeanor is instantly evocative of today’s rap stars. The film’s setting and the plot’s bittersweet twist separate this cinematic gem from the exploitative wanksta wannabes. Tsotsi has won eleven international awards, including the 2006 Academy Award for Best Foreign Film. See it tonight at 8:30 at the Miami Beach Cinematheque. Tickets range from six to ten dollars. Call 305-67-FILMS, or visit www.mbcinema.com.
Fri., July 21
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Patrice Elizabeth Grell Yursik