trapped in the closet / trapped in the chimney

A year or so ago, our friends Chris and Julie started telling us about this absolutely indescribable little film they’d seen by R&B singer R Kelly entitled “Trapped in the Closet.” I know they must have told us half a dozen times that we needed to see it immediately, but, for whatever reason, we didn’t take their advice. We stuck it on our Netflix list and forgot about it. Well, it finally came up in our queue and we watched it a few nights ago, after Clementine went to bed, and, holy shit… I don’t know what to say.

It’s good, but not good in the same way that something like “Citizen Kane” is good. It’s good like truly visionary art is good. It’s so completely outside of the realm of what’s currently accepted as entertainment that it’s truly breathtaking. R Kelly calls the format hip-hopera. Whatever you call it, it deserves attention. And I hope you believe me when I say that I don’t mean that in an, “Oh my God, this is so terrible it’s funny” kind of way. I don’t. I’m being completely serious when I say that I think it’s a courageous piece of extremely personal filmmaking. I don’t know that the analogy is perfect, but it reminds me very much of the work produced by the writers of song poems featured in the documentary “Off the Charts.” Even though there’s this appallingly bad component, which cannot be denied, there’s also something really beautiful and heartfelt about it at the same time. (As it really is indescribable, you should check it out for yourself. Fortunately, scenes can be found online here, here, and here. There’s also great footage of R Kelly giving running commentary on the film here.)

And, as Christmas is right around the corner, you might also want to check out this brilliant holiday-themed tribute to the R Kelly original, featuring Santa Claus.

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6 Comments

  1. mark
    Posted December 21, 2006 at 11:21 pm | Permalink

    I didn’t mention it in the post, but every word in the film, which is broken up into little mini-chapters, is sung. Every action is narrated in song. If someone reaches for a pencil, for instance, R Kelly will sing, “She reaches for a pencillllll.” Nothing just happens. I don’t know that we’ll ever see another example of this new art form, but it is absolutely amazing.

    And I know that a lot of you already knew about this, as it’s been written about a great deal elsewhere, and even mocked on “South Park,” but I felt as though I had to say something.

  2. srah
    Posted December 22, 2006 at 8:47 am | Permalink

    Trapped in the Closet is truly the greatest film ever made. At least the greatest one I’ve seen so far. I’m watching The Librarian 2: Return to King Solomon’s Mines this weekend.

  3. srah
    Posted December 22, 2006 at 8:48 am | Permalink

    Trapped in the Closet is one of those movies you have to set aside a large chunk of time for. First you have to watch it. Then you have to watch it with the R. Kelly commentary. Then you have to sit around in stunned silence. Then you have to watch it again.

  4. Ted Glass
    Posted December 22, 2006 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

    Yes, it’s truly a work of art. I especially like when the he sings the narration about the midget shitting on himself.

  5. edweird
    Posted December 22, 2006 at 9:53 pm | Permalink

    Umm….I have this thing about pedophiles. I dislike them intensely. I avoid Nine Inch Nails for the same reason. Likely not going to be on my watch list.

  6. JL
    Posted November 3, 2007 at 2:23 am | Permalink

    Sounds completely retarded. What’s wrong with you people?

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