Cinema: American Pimp

Directed by the Hughes Brothers

The 16 pimps interviewed for this documentary strive to project a sort of outlaw charm as they recount their stories. To hear them tell it, they provide a useful social service while protecting their "hos" from the vicissitudes of street life. But repetition erodes charm. What emerges instead is a portrait of crudely patriarchal males, harshly exploiting pathetically damaged women, then perversely wasting their profits on childish displays of outrageous clothes and cars. Loutishness without self-awareness remains loutishness--and it is finally depressing.

--By Richard Schickel

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