Thursday, December 31, 2015

Movie with Abe: Straight Outta Compton

Straight Outta Compton
Directed by F. Gary Gray
Released August 14, 2015

It is often said and written that artists in all fields have the chance to change the world through their chosen form of expression. Music has a certain power that can allow a song, a singer, or a group the opportunity to define a generation. When music speaks for a particular community or subset of the population, its effect is exponentially amplified. “Straight Outta Compton,” which tells the story of hip hop group N.W.A. and the type of music the group made popular, definitely makes a case for gangsta rap and its impact during the formative years of the group that made it popular.

“Straight Outta Compton” begins before the formation of N.W.A., charting the individual careers of Dr. Dre (Corey Hawkins), Ice Cube (O’Shea Jackson, Jr.), and Eazy-E (Jason Mitchell) as they took different paths and came together to record their debut album that helped to launch their futures. One theme is clear above any other, and that is how much their music was shaped by their life experiences. In an early scene, Dr. Dre is told explicitly not to play rap, and Ice Cube appears on stage moments later to yell his profanity-laced lyrics at an eager audience. These rappers’ interactions with the police especially, and law enforcement’s understandable attempts to stifle them, form a major part of who they are and why they do what they do.

The events of “Straight Outta Compton” happened recently enough that much of them are still well-known, and the surviving players still have relatively thriving careers that have pushed them over the edge in terms of achieving inarguably meteoric success. This is very much a reenactment of their early days, one that feels authentic in many ways, a major factor of which may be that the actor portraying Ice Cue is the actor-musician’s real life son. That casting surely adds meaning to the film, and the entire ensemble was recognized with a SAG Award nomination for their work. The film is a solid recreation of events and an engaging depiction of people and music. Clocking in at a lengthy 147 minutes, it covers a long period of time and is fueled by the fury of its music and the renewed relevance of its content, pushing back to question whether where you come from or what you look like should dictate what you can accomplish in life.


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