August 17, 2015

Straight Outta Compton (2015)

Straight Outta Compton (2015) - Movie Review
Directed by: F. Gary Gray
Country: USA

Movie Review: Hip-hop was part of my childhood in a small scale. I was never an aficionado of the genre, but have to admit an initial curiosity about the multiplicity of grooves and especially about the messages conveyed by its performers. The vibrantly paced “Straight Outta Compton” isn’t just a film about hip-hop but much more. It competently covers the episodes around the formation of the band N.W.A. in 1986 Compton, California, and all the subsequent happenings that led to its end and division of its members: Ice Cube (his son O'Shea Jackson Jr.), Dr. Dre (Corey Hawkins), Eazy-E (Jason Mitchell), DJ Yella, and MC Ren. The director, F. Gary Gray (“The Negotiator”, “The Italian Job”), counted with Cube and Dre as part of the production crew, guaranteeing a biopic as precise as possible. For obvious reasons, these latter two members, together with the ambitious leader, Eazy-E, are the ones whose paths are followed in more detail. The strong social-political context is accurately pronounced, formulating an exultant combination of music, attitude, and action. These aspects fiercely mirror what the musicians were going through in the ghetto - police brutality and intimidation, racial discrimination, and social tensions with emphasis on violence and drugs. In addition to this, we also penetrate into the ‘business’ of the record labels, and the contractual disagreements that first put away Ice Cube, and then Dr. Dre, and later on Eazy-E. Playing both the hero and the villain, Jerry Heller (Paul Giamatti), was the opportunistic manager that claimed ‘I can make you legit’, after discovering their raw talent. However, the creepiest case is the erroneous association between Dr. Dre and the gangster/producer, Suge Knight. At a certain point the divergences among the musicians were beneficial, conducting them to record meaningful albums. “Straight Outta Compton”, whose title was taken from N.W.A.’s debut record, flows at an appropriate steady beat, in defiance of some narrative gaps. Best moment? Playing ‘fuck tha police’ in concert and its tumultuous effects.

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