We all know the Hamptons as the East Coast’s scenic, sophisticated locale for the upper crust to get decked out in their fanciest (usually white) duds and throw lawn parties that’ll have them feeling like they’re in an F. Scott Fitzgerald novel. The new documentary Killer Bees introduces us to its black residents — particularly the black residents who play in and support the local high school basketball team, the Bridgehampton Killer Bees.
Killer Bees (which lists Shaquille O’Neal as an associate producer) follows the team through a season striving for a state championship. Under the coaching skills of former Bees player Carl “Pujack” Johnson (who could’ve been a basketball star if a friend hadn’t accidentally shot him in his right arm), these boys spend most of the film making baskets and scoring points, in the hopes of going pro and achieving all-star greatness.
But that’s not all that Killer Bees is about — and that’s also what makes the film so disappointing. Directors/brothers Ben and Orson Cummings aspire to shine a light on the Hamptons as a microcosm of how our society lavishes and enables the haves and ignores the have-nots. Unfortunately, the narrative focus constantly shifts and never coalesces. When we’re not following the team, we’re stuck with random, not-that-fascinating townspeople, like a smarmy real estate agent who doesn’t seem all that aware he’s driving out black people.
Ultimately, Killer Bees isn’t that fascinating. It shows how, much like everywhere else in this country, the African American people of the Hamptons are just trying to survive, while rich, white folk just do whatever the fuck they want. Considering who we currently have in office, that isn’t jaw-dropping news.
Directed by Ben and Orson Cummings
Opens July 27, Cinema Village
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This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 25, 2018