CinemaDave (cinemadave) wrote,

"Trouble the Water" is a hurricane of a documentary that puts today's problems in perspective.

My favorite niece Leigh was a student of Tulane University when Hurricane Katrina devastated Louisiana. She departed the Big Easy on Saturday and I picked her up in the Fort Lauderdale Greyhound station late Monday afternoon. She was out of the news bubble and she did not know about underwater city formerly known as New Orleans.

"Trouble the Water" is a documentary about Scott Roberts and his rapper wife, Kimberly Rivers (a.k.a. Black Kold Madina). With a video camera in their hands, the Roberts family stay in their home to video tape Hurricane Katrina's assault. From her footage, we witness the flooding and a family and friends who take refuge in the attic.

Claustrophobic and cramped, Kimberly opens the window and video tapes the flood waters that are as high as a red STOP sign. She witnesses her neighbor Larry, who heroically pushes a boat up the street and rescues infirmed neighbors. Eventually the flood waters subside and the houses begin to dry out. From the street corner, the Roberts Family report the stench of a dead man who sought refuge in an abandoned home.

Kim and Scott are street tough and fortunately, street smart. While they rail against the Bush Administration, the two acknowledge the failures of Mayor Nagin and former Louisiana Governor Blanco. Neither Kim and Scott exhibit signs of self pity, the two roll up their sleeves and go to work.

With Danny Glover and Michael Moore listed in the credits, "Trouble the Water" has all the prejudices that one would expect from a documentary screened at Robert Redford's Sundance Film Festival. Yet "Trouble the Water" is timely. This documentary puts into perspective today's headlines about the worst economy since the Great Depression. Today's passive aggressive financial woes seem less important in light of smelling the odor of a dead body next door.

At one hour and thirty-seven minutes, "Trouble the Water" drags when Kim's alter ego Black Kold Madina raps a song about herself. After picking up stakes and living in Memphis, Kim and Scott return to their old home in New Orleans and rebuild. In fact, Kim and Scott form their own business, Born Hustler Records. While neighbors do return, the core problems of New Orleans remain, an economy relying on tourism and one of the worst public school systems in America.

As for Leigh, she returned to Tulane four months later in January 2006. She told me that Mardi Gras was as good as it was the previous year. However when the party was over, the city did not clean up the mess, which sat in the streets for many weeks. Crime escalated in the neighborhood and my niece ended up transferring to the landlocked University of Colorado by 2007.

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