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Five Star (2014)

Five Star (2014)

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5.3 12 votes


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After John’s absent father is struck by a stray bullet, Primo takes it upon himself to verse the young boy in the code of the streets—one founded on respect and upheld by fear. A member of the Bloods since the age of twelve—both in the film and in reality—the streets of Brooklyn are all Primo has ever known. While John questions whether or not to enter into this life, Primo must decide whether to leave it all behind as he vows to become a better husband and father. Set during those New York summer weeks where the stifling heat seems to encase everything, Five Star plunges into gang culture with searing intensity. Director Keith Miller observes the lives of these two men with a quiet yet pointed distance, carefully eschewing worn clichés through its unflinching focus. Distinctions between fiction and real life remain intentionally ambiguous, allowing the story of these two men to resonate beyond the streets, as they face the question of what it means to be a man.

IMDb Rating 5.3 12 votes


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(10) comments

  • Ted SApril 6, 2015Reply

    Five Star is a meditative gang film about the struggles of being a man. It’s beautifully shot and even more beautifully acted. Real life gang
    member Primo Grant gives a riveting performance as a version of
    himself. It’s full of raw emotionality that’s a rare sight on film.
    John Diaz plays a young student of Primo’s whose father passed away
    under mysterious circumstances. Both men bring a nuance to their
    characters that ground them in the reality of the filmmaking and create
    portraits of real people struggling with one of our most common and
    modern dilemmas.

    The film starts with maybe the most intense and emotional scene. Primo
    recalls the birth of his handicapped son and his being in jail at the
    time. His son has autism, but to Primo he’s perfect. This immediately
    sets the stage and the tone for the rest of the film. Dark, sometimes
    humorous but always with a subtextual menace, the film traverses the
    gang lifestyle in a completely new, and real way. This isn’t scarface,
    it’s much closer to The Wire. These are real people who have found
    themselves in these situations because of varying factors. It does not
    glamorize gang life nor does it hold moral judgement over it. What it
    does do is offer a contemplative reaction to the way our world works,
    and the worlds we don’t really understand.

    The filmmaker’s voice is never lost in this blending of fiction and
    reality. Keith Miller’s first film “Welcome to Pine Hill” has a similar
    approach to a very different subject. Miller’s ability to bring out the
    reality of a person and their situation and arc it into a narrative
    that feels like a movie that the audience has been sucked into is
    astounding. While some might characterize both his films as “raw” they
    are not in the sense of a docu-drama, but in the sense that the cameras
    are free flowing and the characters represent fully developed and often
    troubled people. Make no mistake these “real life” stories are fiction
    and there is the clear hand of an auteur at work behind them.

  • Nathaniel LApril 7, 2015Reply

    Keith Miller’s “Five Star” is an intimate and engaging examination of gang life and the pressures young men in urban environments can encounter when confronted by potentially disastrous situations. An absolutely compelling story, told with the steady hand of a young Altman, with a dash of Pelecanos here, and a little Lehane there.

  • Lee MJuly 31, 2015Reply

    Slow and steady, and with remarkable assuredness, Keith Miller’s “Five Star” plays mean-streets drama in the lowest of keys.

  • Jillian LAugust 2, 2015Reply

    The main draw for this one is the blend of documentary and storytelling. The actual plot is false, but Primo is an actual member of the Bloods and John Diaz is an actual kid from New York. That is the part of this movie that works. Instead of the cliched “coming of age in the ‘hood” thing we’ve seen over and over, we get a more true slice of life. We see Primo playing with his kids and talking to his wife about rent and security deposits. It’s actually quite interesting. In fact, the very opening monologue about the night his son was born is the most compelling part of the whole thing. Speaking of, that’s the area where this didn’t quite hit the mark for me. Yes, seeing the slice of life was interesting, but it wasn’t exactly compelling. I found myself half-watching almost the entire middle. But, I will say that slice of life isn’t my favorite, and I’m big on dialogue. And when there’s five whole minutes of John and his girlfriend mumbling to each other, it just doesn’t do it for me. But, this is still interesting, and is a refreshing departure from what we usually see in this genre.

  • John TAugust 8, 2015Reply

    I want to like this more. I liked the acting, mostly, and it looked pretty authentic. However, them fighting all the time and the back and forth got old. And the ending didn’t seem at all realistic or entertaining. This could have been a little better thought out.

  • Ian CAugust 23, 2015Reply

    An ambitious flick. The choice of real life thugs worked but the story itself is boring as fuck and only comes to life during the final act.

  • Facebook UMarch 31, 2016Reply

    Kind of well done but the whole thing is like hanging out with ordinary drug dealers. Not something I would do in real life or in movies. No shoot them up, just very sensitive film.

  • Serge LMarch 31, 2016Reply

    Kind of well done but the whole thing is like hanging out with ordinary drug dealers. Not something I would do in real life or in movies. No shoot them up, just very sensitive film.

  • Shaun K LMarch 3, 2017Reply

    I found this a very interesting little indie film. It’s the story of a young guy trying to make sense of the world he finds himself in after his father is murdered. He is taken under the wing of the Bloods leader in New York by the name of Primo ( Who is actually a real gang member who joined the gang when he was only 12 years old) He gives such a great and realistic portrayal of this man.

    What I found interesting was how it seemed to draw me in I find I couldn’t take my eyes of the screen I want to see what was going to happen with these two characters. A simple told and made film on a little budget.

  • Eric GMarch 29, 2017Reply

    A scaled down Moonlight but just as compelling. Provides an honest and direct look into lives that are more fragile and complex than what is seen on the news. It’s a search for acceptance, respect and responsibility. The actors are so subdued and without hype that you think that you are in every scene as a friend or bystander. Very good with no frills.

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