Squeeze

on June 06, 1997 by Karen Achenbach
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   Three 14-year-old friends, Tyson (an excellent Tyrone Burton), Hector (a poignant Eddie Cutanda) and Bao (Phuong Duong) attempt to survive into adulthood on the poverty-blighted, gang-controlled streets of Boston's Dorchester Fields. Trying to save these kids is J.J. (Geoffrey Rhue), an adult who runs a local youth collective.
   Starring at-risk kids who came through the media arts program of the Dorchester Youth Collective, and based on stories by D.Y.C. founder Emmett Folgert, "Squeeze" is the debut film of Robert Patton-Spruill, who developed the screenplay while working at the collective. Consequently, the increasingly tighter traps the youths find themselves squeezed into aren't inventions of a writer but conditions real kids fought to escape.
   A co-production of ca.thar.tic filmWorks and Danan/Moreno Films, "Squeeze" warns that many youths exist in conditions of war, while other people (including most of the adults in this movie) live as civilians, unable to protect these kids from their armed and organized adversaries. When Tyson is saved by being hospitalized with and treated for post traumatic stress disorder, the economic scarcity of the solution underscores the magnitude of the problem.
   Although a few sequences (including a death) are clumsy and stedi-cam work occasionally too fast and close to follow, the majority of "Squeeze" is visually solid, even offering a gem: two exhilarating tracking shots of Tyson running (once with Hector, once alone), recalling the snowstorm sequence of "Akira Kurosawa's Dreams," which completely captures the audience in the experience. Camera/editor Richard Moss' visually adept wipes are exciting. An ethnically diverse cast of compelling players creates intensity, and Leigh Williams piques interest as a gold-toothed, sweet-faced villain Marcus. Audio is a primer on street-teen patois, but some viewers may need a translation.    Starring Tyrone Burton and Eddie Cutanda. Directed and written by Robert Patton-Spruill. Produced by Garen Topalian, Stephanie Danan, Patricia Moreno and Arri Newman. A Miramax release. Drama. Rated R for strong violence, pervasive strong language and some drug content. Running time: 96 min.
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