Saturday, February 4, 2017
STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON (2015)
Directed By: F. Gary Gray
Written By: Jonathan Herman & Andrea Berloff
Story By: Andrea Berloff, Alan Wenkus & S. Leigh Savidge
Cinematography By: Matthew Libatique
Editor: Billy Fox & Michael Tronick
Cast: Corey Hawkins, O’Shea Jackson Jr., Jason Mitchell, Paul Giamatti, Lakeith Stanfield, Neil Brown Jr., Aldis Hodge, Alexandra Shipp, Elena Goode, Orlando Brown, Dean Cameron
In 1987, five young men, using brutally honest rhymes and hardcore beats, put their frustration and anger about life in the most dangerous place in America into the most powerful weapon they had: their music. Taking us back to where it all began, Straight Outta Compton tells the true story of how these cultural rebels-armed only with their lyrics, swagger, bravado and raw talent-stood up to the authorities that meant to keep them down and formed the world's most dangerous group, N.W.A. And as they spoke the truth that no one had before and exposed life in the hood, their voice ignited a social revolution that is still reverberating today.
As this movie is more a bio-film of a music group through time and the ages from it's beginning to the literal end. Where they can't perform anymore due to the death of one of it’s members, is spread out as the majority well known members of the group each have storylines that are more epic and beneficial. While more obscure members are given short shrift more moved to the background. Though you can tell who will have more screen times especially if you look at who the producers are.
By the time we reach the second half of the film. It is more spread out amongst the more popular members individual dramas of what success has brought and how they handle it.
The film offers some tantalizing details as well as standard storytelling. Though the film always stays exciting.
From it's action oriented opening seeming in the ordinary which is one of the standout moments of the movie, to some scenes of debauchary, blatant racism, melodrama and even some thrill elements provided by the villainous character of Suge Knight and the law. Now of course trying to condense a legacy and history into a 2 hour plus film like most films of this type some facts and aspects are changed or skipped over to provide a more dramatic story lines and themes throughout. Though it allows for the main characters flaws, weaknesses and bad decisions to be clearly on display.
Jerry Heller is played like a typical record executive. Stealing money latching onto the leader of the group and treating him special and turning the rest into mere workers for the so called leader Eazy-E. separating him to a degree so that he is dependent on Jerry. It helps as Eazy is a drug dealer he can see the business side more as at first he funds the outfit and Jerry provides as a business partner but as someone older and teaches him about the business. A father figure of sorts so when the inevitable happens. It makes their betrayals and Goodbye all the more heartbreaking.
Paul Giamatti truly sells the character as he is deceitful you can see the emotion and connection he has at least with Eazy. As you see him defend the group and try to get them
A deal with passion. Though becomes a menace when it comes to actually paying them or treating them fairly financially and it seems he doesn't realize that he is being a criminal. He sees it as business as usual and then owing him. As they came to him. This is the second film of that same year where he plays a pariah to music legends. He played a more vindictive role similar to this is the Brain Wilson story LOVE & MERCY. He deserves an MVP award for playing villains in music bio films at this point already.
Though the films most powerful scenes are those where the group encounters racism. Like when they are outside the studio and the police roll up on them. They harass and accuse them or when they are arrested for nothing in their own neighborhood and the cops threaten and threaten to arrest their family members for just asking questions. It shows how they overcome that prejudice as they come together to be successful but also gain a voice against the oppression they are constantly under and become an inspiration as well as informative for young people to have voices and speak up and out and the possibility to make it out and be successful. Yes the film doesn't show the other side which might be the music, inspiration or influence for negative aspects of that life and making it seem more and a rite of passage. Either way the music opens more people eyes to the plights of young minorities in urban neighborhoods.
The film has so many memorable scenes the opening, the concerts, the after parties, the police harassment, getting arrested on stage, Ice Cube demanding his money, Eazy getting jumped, the hospital scene.
The film surpassed SCARY MOVIE to become the all-time highest domestic grossing film from a black director in the United States. Director F. Gary Gray directed the real Ice Cube in FRIDAY and the real Dr. Dre in SET IT OFF.
Originally, Dr. Dre did not want to be involved with the movie at all, until Ice Cube sent him the script. F. Gary Gray being the director sealed the deal.
F. Gary Gray's first directorial effort in 6 years. His last project was Law Abiding Citizen.
The movie inspired Dr. Dre to secretly record his first album in 16 years, set to release on August 7th, 2015. The album's name is "Compton: A Soundtrack" and he tweeted it is his "grand finale."
The original cut of the film was 3 hours and 30 minutes. The cut scenes included Dr. Dre's infamous beating of journalist Dee Barnes, the incident where Dre was shot four times in the leg, and a graphic flashback of his younger brother's death.
The film feels liberating in a ways is it shows the changing face of culture and music. Showing the growth and influence of rap and hip hop that helped bring. About change and shaped the culture as well as manages to do it in a dramatic and refreshing way and change.
For people my age it also allows us to see how a group we just liked and enjoyed the music to growing up hanged not only the music world. It society in general. Paving the way
For so many artists. We get 'to see what went on behind the scenes making this music. It also provides a look st love through friendship, a brotherhood that no matter what happens over the years. That care and love is always there, especially as you bond and have one of a kind experiences that can never be repeated.
Every one of the actors excels in their roles. Even O'Shea Jackson jr, playing his father Ice Cube, he comes off the more charismatic of all of them.
This film is a step up for director F. Gary Grey truly showing off his skills and Improvements as a director. This is a long way from FRIDAY. It is also with this film an obvious passion for the material. That he tells what could have been a routine movie and he injects a vitality and energy in presentation. That has been missing from his last few films and hasn't really been seen since SET IT OFF, which was his second feature film. While his other films seemed to provide more of a minority element in casting, but felt either uninspired or more like paycheck jobs.
Even if not a fan of the group or their music. You should check out the film. As I am sure some music artist you like would cite them or individual members as an influence or inspiration, maybe even a collaborator.
It's also a film that just feels cool itself throughout.