TV Club: The Spoils Before Dying: “The Trip Trap”

Like a string instrument, The Spoils Before Dying relies on tension to make its music. (Is this a bad time to talk about the strings album? It’s a goldmine, Rock, everyone does one.) The joke lives in the tension between our preconceptions of a streetwise mystery and the absurdity unfolding onscreen. It lives in the tension between the preposterous tale, swollen with inaccuracies and generalities, and the keen intensity with which Michael Kenneth Williams inhabits his role. It lives in the tension between the moral Jonrosh is trying to express and the incompetence of his attempt.

When the film transcends that incompetence, the tension—between the petty vitriol Jonrosh is spitting and the majestic statement of artistic vision he delivers despite himself—crests and swells like a great piece of music. The Spoils Before Dying is easily the most beautiful, rousing vindictive diatribe and testament to misguided self-importance I …

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