NEW YORK—The closing film of this year's Ebertfest, Greg Jacobs and Jon Siskel's documentary Louder than a Bomb, is now getting a theatrical release here in New York at IFC Center. To my mind, the film misses greatness by sticking so closely to its conventional sports-movie structure that it generally crowds out any number of deeper topics that the broader subject matter—inner-city youths finding a powerful means of expression through slam poetry, cast against the backdrop of the largest slam-poetry competition in the U.S., held right in Chicago—suggests. Thankfully, the film is chock full of superb slam-poetry performances, and even when Jacobs and Siskel (the latter of whom is the nephew of the late film critic Gene Siskel) curtail some of those performances to move on to their next plot point or interview, the brilliance of even the foreshortened performances are enough to carry the film along. If nothing else, Louder than a Bomb induces in a viewer the excitement of seeing real young budding artists expressing themselves with abandon; they really are something to see.
How electric is the slam poetry in the film? This might give you an idea:
A few of the students featured in the film performed their poetry after a Q&A session, so I figured it'd be worth capturing on video. Rest assured, though, there is plenty more to witness and stand in awe of in Louder than a Bomb. (See here for IFC Center screening info.)