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Review: “37” Takes A Stab In The Dark At 1964 Kitty Genovese Murder

Review: “37” Takes A Stab In The Dark At 1964 Kitty Genovese Murder
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Samira Wiley in “37” (2016).

Samira Wiley is the silver lining to an otherwise menial and fictional take on the 1964 Kitty Genovese murder in Puk Grasten’s directorial debut, “37.”

 

In Puk Grasten directorial debut, the fictional take on the since-debunked 1964 Kitty Genovese murder, while mildly entertaining, was menial and glaringly mis-titled. Loosely based upon the often contested atrociously despicable headline turned urban lore, “37” further fictionalizes the the tale by revisiting the day and night of the event through the lives of a diverse ensemble of characters.

Based upon a tale alleged to have rocked North-East America in ’64, “37” is visually artful and manages to wrangle some poignant commentary from the familial dysfunction and prejudices that the ensemble of characters encounter throughout the course of the story. But, it ultimately has nothing to do with the infamous murder after which the film is titled, downgrading provocative lore into a futile and unfulfilling exercise in the importance of being neighborly.

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Cinematic (Cinematography, Acting, Story, etc.) – 3

In March 1964, 37 witnesses did nothing to intervene as Kitty Genovese was raped and murdered in Kew Gardens, Queens, New York… “37,” featuring “Orange is the New Black” star Samira Wiley (“Poussey Washington”), is a fictionalized interpretation of that fatal night. Shot only a few blocks from the scene of the mythicised crime, “37” delivers a convincing period landscape. While the efforts of several of the actors do not go unnoticed, lead by the captivating Netflix-born sweetheart Samira Wiley, the frivolous and practically unrelated story ultimately stifles any sense of emotional investment in the film.

Entertainment Value – 3

The mildly entertaining, and well-intentioned ensemble does its best to command attention, but the film’s abrupt conclusion seems more of an afterthought than the proper namesake it could have been.  The pastiche of fictitious and characters suffer from being underutilized, with colorful story arcs that dead end into an ill-thought third act. The story goes that the witnesses who see and/or hear the assault are too preoccupied with their own problems to help.

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“37” stitches together a mosaic of characters starting with a young family, new to the neighborhood, played by Samira Wiley and Michael Potts, who butt heads on rearing their timid son, as they struggle with racial tension and the morality of the appropriate age to murder mice; a young boy who lashes out amidst his parents’ decaying matrimoney; A pair of eccentric old crones who hiss at passing children and spend their evenings eerily rifling through people’s trash; an odd and anxious young girl, outstandingly performed by Sophia Lillis, who struggles to fit in with her peers only to be gripped by the delusion that Kitty may be her estranged mother. “37” creates much of potential for rich character development is created, only to be abandon the ensemble for a gimmicky third act.

Re-Watchability – 2.5

While mildly engaging the first time around due to the talented ensemble cast, the minimal dramatic pressure that builds from the flickering lobby lights and emotionally haunted children, leaves little to be desired the second time around. While the idea that the Kitty Genovese murder represents a neighborhood’s moral decay, which one can argue to be representative of today’s “look the other way” culture, relative to true-to-life tragedies, “37” is more myth that it is meaningful.

 

Watch the official trailer for “37,” writer/director Puk Grasten’s fictional re-telling of the 1964 Kitty Genovese murder.

  • Cinematics
  • Entertainment Value
  • Rewatchability

Summary

Samira Wiley is the silver lining to an otherwise menial and fictional take on the 1964 Kitty Genovese murder in Puk Grasten's directorial debut, "37." While the idea that the Kitty Genovese murder represents a neighborhood’s moral decay, which one can argue to be representative of today's "look the other way" culture, relative to true-to-life tragedies, “37” is more myth that it is meaningful.

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Pooya

Since his wee lad-dom, Pooya has been a sommelier of cinema. It was likely some acting bug, fallen from the dust riddled ruby curtains of an enchanted old stage that did it. Those cinematic scarabs must have burrowed deep into his brain, irreversibly altering his mind, turning the poor boy down a dismal path. From his earliest years the strange boy would aimlessly wander the aisles of countless video rental stores, amassing his trivial knowledge with vigor. These actions befuddled the boy’s parents, who still would lovingly oblige his unusual attraction to the motion picture. Often seeking refuge in the cushioned seating of his local movie theater, the odd adolescent would immerse himself in the scripted and effects riddled realities unfolding on the screen before him. During his collegiate years, he was twice spotted on stage performing bizarre theatrical rituals before awe-struck audiences. When he departed from academia, he left behind his youth in exchange for a labor routine, but the strange young man never lost his long-cultivated love of film. Recently, Pooya was approached by FilmFad.com to join their budding team of entertainment bloggers. After hours of coaxing and an undisclosed number of honey jars, he accepted their offer. Finally he had come full circle. Finally, at FilmFad.com, he was home.

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