Saturday, July 16, 2005

Wolfgange Droege Gets Pimped


Hustle & Flow
2005, USA
Craig Brewer
35mm

You know, normally I’m not a big fan of urban films. Generally, they range from giving me a combination of dry-mouth and a migraine to making me draw up elaborate plans to overthrow a Caribbean island, but Hustle & Flow is different. The poster and promotional artwork I’ve seen makes it look exactly like the type of movie advertised in the back of The Source magazine issues, which essentially re-tells Scarface but with more racial epithets and comically exaggerated gaits worthy of a Monty Python sketch, but the reality of the film is much different. Instead of glorifying the violent, drug-dealing life style advocated but rarely practiced by nearly every Neanderthal visible on MTV, Hustle & Flow focuses on the life of a small time pimp and dimebag hustler, free of elaborate diamond teeth and spinning hubcaps. Played by Terrence Howard, the character of D-Jay has a sympathetic humanity to him that allows us to like him without excusing his actions, which are fairly amoral by the standards of anyone not too involved with Grand Theft Auto. Dripping with the atmosphere of the Deep South, or ‘Drrtty South’ if you’re Nelly and have trouble spelling un-phonetically, the film is a fascination glimpse in to a world that I, having been cryogenically frozen in an age before time and revived by computers in the Communist Empire Of Canadia to patrol suburbia with haughty intolerance and pithy remarks, am unfamiliar with. Life sure is different in the suburbs. Here, we buy our drugs from trust-fund white kids with dreadlocks and arts degrees in the local Irish pub, and people enunciate. Apparently, in the deep South, language has devolved into a sort of lazy, sludgy patois that sounds like the noise first year university students make when you phone them too early in the morning. D-Jay, spurred on by a midlife crisis, attempts to leave his hustling days behind him and enter the rap 'game', so called because no-one takes it seriously except for record company executives and Jewish kids. With the help of the rotund Anthony Anderson and the dependably trashy Taryn Manning, D-Jay attempts to launch his rap career from his bungalow in Memphis. And while the riches part of the standard rags-to-riches story the film tells never really materializes for him, the audience pulls for the characters nonetheless, and even a minor victory on their part is cathartic relief on ours. The soundtrack, on which Howard does all his own rapping, is also apparently quite good, though years of listening to what is best described as the sonic equivalent of firing artillery at a drum kit has left me incapable of appreciating anything with either rhythm or melody anymore. All in all, if you prefer character, style, and emotion over tricked out sports cars and competitions to see how many different slang words for ‘gun’ can be jammed into a 90 minute screenplay, check this film out. If not, go rent Scarface again.

2 Comments:

Blogger Dash Riprock said...

Atlanta? It was Memphis, bitch!

11:40 PM  
Blogger Ash Karreau said...

Whoops. To be fair, the minute I start getting paid for this crap is the exact minute I start fact-checking. Or more accurately, paying attention.

11:46 PM  

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