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The Harder They Come

Ok, so my favorite new watch of the year (Rockers) was from 1970s Jamaica until it got bumped by... this movie from 1970s Jamaica.
I am actually left a little bit confused, I've grown up from a teenager to a 50 year-old, thinking of this movie as some low-budget cult-film, just a curio for stoners and Reggae fans.
I actually think this movie should be on the Sight & Sound 100.
This is the story of Ivan (Jimmy Cliff), a young man who comes to Kingston from the country when his grandmother dies. Perhaps innocent when he arrives, the harshness of life in the Jamaican slums turns him first to work for the local preacher and then to the only real employment there is, to try to make a record.

And he has a great song (you still hear it on the radio today), but when he's cast out by the Preacher and exploited by the producer, he turns to a life of crime that just gets worse and worse as Ivan's ambition turns him into a dangerous outlaw and a self-made urban legend.

Like Rockers, The Harder They Come is made for a small budget, about $200k, and features the grittiness of life in the slums of 1970s Jamaica. Like Rockers, it has fantastic music. And like Rockers, it is a fantastic movie. Unlike Rockers, which has almost a kind of sweetness to the way the community pulls together to help one of their own and fight The Man in the face of extreme poverty, THTC shows the dark side Kingston's slums, drug-dealing and violence and murder, while spinning an outlaw tale for the ages.
I saw a few very good movies in 2022 but, admitting the possibility of recency bias, I have to say I think The Harder They Come was my favorite first-watch of the year and possibly my favorite film I saw this year.