As a movie lover, film maker and actress, I'm not sure how this film passed over my radar without a blip back in 2002 when it was first leaked onto the market or 2006 when it was officially released by Sony, but somehow it did. I have vague memories of hearing about the film here and there, but dismissing it as just another low-budget poorly made Jamaican film that glorifies badmanism I occupied myself with other pursues.
Don't get me wrong I love a good gangsta flick, but I just feel like many movies that come out of Jamaica don't show a very nuanced picture of what the country is truly like for average Jamaicans. There's too much focus on just the gangstas. If I wasn't Jamaican I'd think the country was in a state of anarchy (most foreigners probably already think that).
Moreover, I didn't even know I possessed a latent Ky-mani Marley obsession at the time! That would all change when I saw the film One Love. Add Idris Elba (yum!!!) to the mix and I went haywire.
Anyway to remedy my yaad longings I went on a Ky-mani Marley binge. I drooled at Ky-mani and Idris. After the film there goes me unto wikipedia, like I always do when I've fallen in love with some new to me actor, to find out if he's married...
There I discovered this little gem:
Shottas. The name alone gave me pause. I had very low expectations, but what better way to cure my yaad longing than to get on with my K. Marley fix. I pilfered the DVD from a brethren and cosy up to watch. If I expected to do anything while watching it wasn't to laugh my %!&"#? ass off.
All dem claat deh weh cuss ... in some strange, ironic, weird way they were .... soothing. These were words I hadn't heard in AGES. If it wasn't for laughing too hard I'd've certainly suffered a wilder bout of yaad longing because the film is real Jamaican. I loved it! But man candy Ky-mani and foul mouth wangsta Teddy kept me on a high.
Being in the film industry its woven into my nature to watch films with a critical eye even while I seek to be entertained. I don't purport to be an expert, but I know what I like aesthetically. I know what I appreciate in a film and what I don't.
Shottas was everything I expected it to be and a little bit: better production values than many before it, but sub-par in the grand scheme of what encompasses good film making, in my opinion. The gratuitous violence, rehearsed performances (although I liked what Spragga Benz was able to do, though his role is perhaps not much of a stretch from his real life), the cussing and the overabundance of silicone enhanced tits aside, what I loved about the film was that it was so quintessentially Jamaican. Writer/Director Cess Silvera obviously portrayed what he knew best and he did it fairly well. Cinematically the film fell flat, but an art house film with copious festival ambitions was clearly not Silvera's intention so who the fuck cares.
Like I said before, and the sisterhood may hate on me for this, I actually love gangster movies. I really do. Give me The Godfather, The Sopranos, Prison Break, The Departed, Godfellas and the Shottas of the world over the chick flicks any day. As long it remains on screen I love the gun touting machismo, the posturing, the sex and the cussing. Being the sentimental fool that I am, though, the only beef I had--because it is such an innate part of the gangster genre--is that the men weren't more protective of their women! I'm thinking of Biggs in particular since he was the only one with a woman ... and especially since he's the only one who displayed any form for conscience throughout the picture.
But really that's only a bit issue. I'm one of those equity feminists who believe women can and should look out for themselves so its all good. Besides who the fuck sits through a gun fight and do not run for it? I guess people are different (or Cess Silvera is just a bad director). As mi see gun dis likkle brown gyal woulda pull a Jackie Kennedy and splurt!
All in all though this film was wicked fun. Spragga, Teddy Bruck Shut & dat bad ass shower scene made the film for me.
Favourite quotes from Shottas:
- Go protec yu sowa muma! Teddy Bruck Shut
- A escort yu a bloodclaat escort mi enuh Biggs - Teddy Bruck Shut
- As u slip mi inna u raas! - Inspector at airport
- Ha gway murder dem bloodclaat, watch mi n dem pussyclaat - Teddy Bruck Shut
- Don't u eva seh nuttin 'bout nuh banana boat again! - Teddy Bruck Shut
- Plan fi tan dunce like 'im fadda - Biggs
- Check im likkle latta wen di fire a blaze up - Weed selling father of Fire
- So mek u nuh guh back a Merca to u muma weh u caan nyam steak! Ms. Pauline