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geezer cinema: concrete cowboy (ricky staub, 2020)

Concrete Cowboy is a paint-by-numbers coming of age story about a boy and his father. With one exception, there is nothing you haven't seen before, resulting in that oddity, an R-rated family movie. (The "R" comes from "language throughout, drug use and some violence", but come on.) It's that one exception that makes Concrete Cowboy a bit more than just another story: it's about a community called the Fletcher Street Urban Riding Club. Wikipedia explains:

Part of a century-long tradition of black urban cowboys and horsemanship in Philadelphia, local horsemen maintain and care for horses and teach neighborhood youth to do so. They encourage academic excellence and provide positive ways for local youth to spend their leisure time outdoors.

It's not just the presence of horses on the streets of Philadelphia that make a difference, it's the focus on black cowboys in the 21st century. It's not a story you see every day, and so even though it is presented in a fundamentally conservative way, fitting snugly into its genre, it's still intriguing. Granted, while I was watching, I was thinking mainly that I'd seen it before, but afterwards, realizing that I hadn't actually seen urban black cowboys made the movie stick in my mind.

It's the first feature for director/writer Ricky Staub, and he shows a good understanding for what makes a movie worth seeing. It is entirely possible he will make better movies than Concrete Cowboy. In the meantime, you've got Idris Elba, which makes up for a lot, Caleb McLaughlin as the son, and some nice support from Lorraine Toussaint and Method Man, among others. Concrete Cowboy is a nice enough way to spend two hours.

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