Coming to DVD from director Rhyan LaMarr and Cinedigm comes the story of two young men and when the media get it wrong with CANAL STREET.
Kholi (Bryshere Y. Gray) is a young man is dealing with the emotional separation with his mother. Father Jackie Styles (Mykelti Williamson) is a lawyer who has started with a new firm while Kholi starts in a new school in Winnetka. Almost immediately he meets Zoey (Juani Feliz), a young lady with a glowing smile. At the same time he meets Brian Sudermill (Kevin Quinn) but their meeting isn’t such a good one.
The challenge of a one on one in basketball is given to Kholi and as they move closer to the bet being over, Brian offers up a bit of roughness. Zoey lets Kholi know that he should keep it together and don’t give in to what Brian and his group are dishing out. To ease tensions, Zoey invites him to a party and sees it as a way for everyone to get to know the new student.
During music class, Kholi and Brian discover they share the same interests with an acknowledged fist pound. At the party, Kholi brings two friends and the night actually goes quite well, even to the point of Kholi giving Brian a ride home. On the drive with his friends in the back seat, the two young men discover even more about one another.
Dropping off Brian, Kholi is feeling good until he turns the car around down the street and comes up on Brians body in the middle of the street. Jumping out, his two friends tell him he must get back in because they will be blamed. Kholi refuses to leave and screams out for help. That’s when Brian’s father Bill (William R Moses) runs out of the house to find the two boys in the street.
Kholi is arrested and it sends shockwaves through the town as the public begins to take sides and the media is taking over. There are people using the situation for their own gain and those who believe there is more to the story – like the very disturbing truth.
Gray as Kholi is a young man who has dealt with a lot of hard knocks. Keeping his mother close in his mind, it is probably the only thing helping him while awaiting trial. It seems that everyone has an agenda except what is going to happen to Kholi. Gray looks like an angry young man but then again I think I’d have the same face if enough people tried to change the course of my life.
Quinn as Brian is the school jock who is in a clique wanting to teach the new guy who is who. Of course when he realizes that he’s misjudging Kholi and as a new friendship actually begins to happen. It is what happens on the street in front of his house that he can’t do anything about.
Williamsson as Jackie is a father who happens to be a lawyer but it doesn’t stop him from feeling every bit a father. When he realizes that all eyes are on him, he also knows they are judging a son he believes is innocent. Feliz as Zoey knows both boys and doesn’t appreciate being put on the stand to pit one against the other. Moses as Bill is a man grieving for the loss of his son. In his anger he believes what is easy to believe and cannot come to terms with his grief.
Other cast include Lance Reddick as Jerry Shaw, Michael Beach as Ronald Morgan, Jamie Hector as Pastor Sam Billings, Jon Seda as Det. Mike Watts, Will Yun Lee as Officer Hank Chu, Harry Lennix as DJ Terrance Palmer, Nora Dunn as Marge Sudermill, LaRoyce Hawkins as Amari Crawford, Ashley Black as Ashley, Rachel Cerda as Det. Regan, Katie Chang as Elizabeth Chu, and Mekhi Phifer as Prosecutor A.J. Canton. There are also cameos by Don Benjamin, Casper Smart, Da Brat, Charlamagne Tha God, Emily Walker, DeStorm PowerHeadKrack, and Angela Lee.
CINEDIGM has strategic relationships with over 60,000 physical retail storefronts and digital platforms with Wal-Mark, Target, iTunes, Netflix, and Amazon as well as national cable and satellite Video On Demand with an impressive distribution footprint that reaches ninety-three percent of all connected devices in the United States. The company’s vast content library boasts over 52,000 feature films and television episodes. To learn more please visit www.cinedigm.com.
I am purposely being vague about this review because I want the viewer to take it in for themselves. With the tide of shootings in our country and the stories out in the media before the facts are in, CANAL STREET is a perfect example of it all. Finding myself with a case of the head shakes, it is everyone talking about something and making judgements before the facts are in.
The worst part of it is that it is the media in all forms that consistently do exactly that. Instead of focusing on investigating the true facts it is easy to cast dispersions here and there. CANAL STREET forces everyone to take a look at themselves if they are part of the problem or part of the solution.
I would use this film in high school classrooms if I could because although it is about two young men, it is also about how those two young men treat each other and how all of that can be a catalyst for pain and suffering where there doesn’t need to be.
In the end – guilty until proven innocent!