Best Movie: “Rat Film”

Be it rat poison or segregation laws, Baltimore is a city of firsts with national implications that gets treated like a last unless someone wants the National Guard to shut down a protest. Using every format at his disposal, director Theo Anthony pieced together “Rat Film,” a film essay and history of rat extermination and systemic racism and a meditation on the variable meaning rats have depending on the race/class status of the person interacting with them. So, we glide through a video game based on a Google map of Baltimore that grows increasingly less useful and more ominous the closer it gets to realistic simulation. Feigning respect for privacy, the invasive surveillance photography on Google Earth attempts to blur faces, but has trouble distinguishing between humans and inanimate objects. The more one attempts to overlay real photos over the digital simulation, the more the game glitches. The closer one gets to vacant lots and abandoned homes, cracks appear and the universe is glimpsed in the openings. It’s an apt metaphor for something, anything, everything—like the whole movie.

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