Straight Outta Compton

straight-outta-compton-Review

Directed by … F. Gary Gray
Screenplay …. Jonathan Herman and Andrea Berloff
Story … Leigh Savidge, Alan Wenkus and Andrea Berloff
Music by … Joseph Trapanese
Cinematography by … Matthew Libatique

Runtime … 147 min
Aspect Ratio 2.35 : 1 Color
Camera Red Epic Dragon, Cooke Anamorphic/i, Kowa Prominar, Zeiss Super Speed, Lightweight, Fujinon Alura, Angenieux Optimo and Optimo 2S Lenses

 

 

Cast

O’Shea Jackson Jr. … Ice Cube
Corey Hawkins … Dr. Dre
Jason Mitchell … Eazy-E
Neil Brown Jr. … DJ Yella
Aldis Hodge … MC Ren
Marlon Yates Jr. … D.O.C.
R. Marcos Taylor … Suge Knight (as R. Marcus Taylor)
Carra Patterson … Tomica
Alexandra Shipp … Kim
Paul Giamatti … Jerry Heller
Elena Goode … Nicole
Keith Powers … Tyree
Joshua Brockington … Young Warren G
Sheldon A. Smith … Warren G
Keith Stanfield … Snoop

 

Straight Outta Compton, opens the doors to the place and times that brought together five young men who formed The group NWA, the most influential, hardcore Rap group maybe of all time. The year is 1987, the streets of Compton, a stone’s throw from Los Angeles are a wash in drugs and the resulting gang-wars between the Bloods and the Crips. We are shown a world where to be black, especially, a young black male, seems to give the police the freedom to abuse you at will, and results in an extreme distrust between the cops and the poor black residents.

Every part of these musicians lives were connected to violence, not because they sought it out, but because they were treated with disrespect by the police, distrustful of the legal system and caught up in a world of street-Justice.  It is the subject-matter for their songs, and their audience, first in Compton, then spreading across the country, can relate their first-hand-accounts of brutality. When the world watches the recorded beating of Rodney King, even white America begins to understand.

Personally, it was the scenes spent in the studio, watching and listening to them bond as a group that were the strongest parts of the film. It was often Dr. dre that would write a drum program, assemble a track, then turn to others and ask “What have you got to add?” and it was often  at this stage that the words and emotional intensity were merged. It was during these collaborative studio moments where I was reminded of the Beatles film “Abbey Road.” yet I was also at the same time starkly aware of many critical differences; For one, could anyone ever imagine George Martin beating the hell out of someone for parking in his spot? To be sure, Columbia, and every other major Record label employed tens of lawyers, but they did battle using pens and the courts, not guns and violence that was shown as the standard operating procedure of Suge Knight and Death Row Records.

The film was filled with strong acting performances, but I felt particularly the portails from the five members of NWA, were most powerful when they would drop the Tough-guy bravado, and instead let us witness genuine struggles they were facing. It was also in these moments that we connected most deeply with them, and believed their bonds were deeper than just their music. As one that grew-up  in a world, about as far out of Compton as possible;  no scene drove home the reality of the level of violence the permeated their everyday lives as when they are comforting a friend, and each had a story of a close loved-one that died as a result of senseless bloodshed.  The performance of Paul Giamatti as Jerry Heller, was well acted and was a character that we wanted to like, though never truly trusted.  His was a story, maybe more traditional,  the manager that seemed to have actual respect for the band and recognized that they had something special to offer, but let greed override  any genuine sincerity. Heller reinforced that the band members really in the end had to trust in each other, because not the police, the courts, the agents and managers were going to ever do anything but take advantage of them and their talent.

 

 

 

 

 

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