Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Week 34 Straight Outta Compton

Director: F. Gary Gray
Writers:  Jonathan Herman (screenplay) S. Leigh Savidge, Alan Wenkus
Andrea Berloff (story)
Seen:  30th August 2015
Venue: IMC Galway
Snacks: Quavers
Mood: Nostalgic

Straight Outta Compton is a film about five guys who formed a band called NWA (Niggas With Attitudes) in the 1980’s that arguably changed not only the music scene but pop culture itself.
The story of NWA is fascinating and remarkable there is no question of that and when you combine their individual stories with the story of the band you gotta a pretty good film. 
NWA not only pioneered a whole new genre of music (Gangster Rap) but they also raised awareness of the harsh realities of growing up in a place like South Central Los Angeles. The L.A that NWA rapped about did not match the connotations that many people had of Los Angeles California.
The reality of life in L.A for them was a place of drugs, gangs and where violence was as rampant as police brutality. They were slammed by critics at time for promoting violence but they argued, and I agree with their sentiment, that “NWA was just reflecting what was going on in their hood”. Undeniably there message was aggressive and close to the nerve, but what is also undeniable is the facts.
South Central L.A in the 80’s was one the gang/murder capitals of the world, it also had a drug problem that was often cited by the media as a “crack epidemic”. Their message about police brutality was also vindicated when the Rodney King tapes surfaced in the early 90’s. The King incident highlighted the role of the  police in the brutality that was going on for a long time in places like Compton.
It’s also evident that NWA’s legacy has longevity and the story of the band has still mass appeal today. The box office is strong globally and little old Galway’s IMC was almost full to capacity with a crowd made up mainly of young people - late teens early 20’s. Indeed it is probably due to the legacy of an original band member that many of the young people where at the film. Andre Young aka Dr. Dre, has produced many of  the great rappers of the 21st century including Snopp Dogg, 50 Cent, Kendrick Lamar and Eminem.
Straight Outta Compton is certainly a finely directed and well-acted film especially O’Shea Jackson Jr (who plays his father Ice Cube) Jason Mitchell (Eazy-E) and Corey Hawkins (Dr. Dre).  The director Gary Grey who also made The Italian Job and of course the classic Friday did a brilliant job in keeping the audience engaged in a story that spans over several years.

Nevertheless, I think there is one major flaw with this film for me anyway, Ice Cube and Dre, who both were producers on the film, come out looking pretty good compared to other characters in the story of NWA specifically Jerry Heller (manager of NWA) and Eazy- E. For those of you who like me are familiar with the NWA story, it was not as simple as it was portrayed in Straight Outta Compton the film. 
Nevertheless this is a well dissected examination of an unconventional band that had the balls to fight the status quo of the time. I highly recommend Straight Outta Compton, although with a footnote, if you have no interest at all in rap music this might not be for you. 

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