Conflict of Interest The Writing Beat
posted by July 27 at 9:08 AMon
The thing about the movie Police Beat, which just came out on DVD, is it’s less a movie and more a piece of writing. It’s an essay. The essay is about white people, about ambition, about trying to please a woman who has different values than you do, about the difference between what you see and what you know, about jealousy, about understanding all too well. Z, the immigrant who narrates, wears his cop uniform and rides his cop bike and delivers the essay in his native Wolof and a little French, with English subtitles. Yes, the cinematography in Police Beat is dreamy, but the movie would be nowhere without the words.
Like, there’s a scene in the middle of the movie when Z is riding his bike around a very leafy Capitol Hill. It’s pretty. There’s piano music. He’s thinking about stuff. He hasn’t heard from his lady in longer than he’s okay with. His patrol partner has taken up heroin. He’s met a lot of shrieking, vituperative, blood-splattered citizens on his beat lately, but you can tell he’s really just thinking about his lady and why she hasn’t called.
Who am I? I am a problem solver…
Why? Because I have all these problems…
And I am by no means alone…
And then (pace doesn’t change but here, so you don’t have to keep scrolling):
To live is to solve problems. That’s the definition of everything… Leaves are stretching out for light because that’s their problem… Ants move dirt because that’s their problem… Flowers are bright not for lovers, but because they have problems….
That’s writing. That’s pure Charles Mudede.
You know what isn’t writing? The text on the back of the Police Beat DVD box.
It goes a little something like this:
From the boldly original director of the controversial Zoo, this is not your typical crime story! Based on actual police reports, Robinson Devor’s critically acclaimed film follows Z, a rookie bicycle cop in Seattle, as he investigates a series of unsettling crimes. A new West African immigrant separated from his girlfriend, Z views all his cases through the eyes of a heartbroken outsider. The city’s many outrageous and offbeat crimes become a surreal reflection of Z’s disorientation and pain. Ride along on this intense emotional journey through the urban jungle in this lyrical spin on the POLICE BEAT.
I guess it sounds very movie-ish, but man if that isn’t a disappointing way to summarize Police Beat. “Not your typical crime story!” “Outrageous and offbeat crimes”! “Writing” like this not only gives you no sense of what the movie is like, it’s exactly what the movie isn’t: badly written and studded with clichés. The person who wrote Police Beat, who shares a cubicle wall with me, told me to take my grievance to Northwest Film Forum, the main producer. NWFF’s Michael Seiwerath said that the DVD’s text and art came from Image Entertainment, the distributor. Attempts to find the writer within the Image Entertainment empire who wrote the Police Beat DVD text have proven unsuccessful.