I didn’t really know what to expect when I went into Straight Outta Compton, since I’m basically a hip hop philistine, am super white and about ten years to young too remember NWA as a unit (though obviously, have thoroughly enjoyed the talents of both Ice Cube and Doctor Dre, as I am a human being who is currently alive.) But I do really like music bio pics. (I think I’ve seen Walk The Line about a hundred times.) And I’d heard really good things about it.
Straight Outta Compton does a really good job of telling the intertwined and then divergent stories of Doctor Dre, Ice Cube and Eazy E. It contextualizes their music in it’s time and place, and makes a compelling argument about the power of popular art. Great art leaves you feeling unsettled, which is why it makes sense that Straight Outta Compton reminds us that NWA’s most lasting work is “Fuck Tha Police,” which is all about unsettling feelings.
The movie is beautifully and lovingly crafted by F. Gary Gray (who also created Friday, and thus the Ice Cube that many people know.) and paints the guys in broad almost archetypal strokes. Dre is a driven genius, who just wants to focus on creating music, caught up in a world that facilitates his art, but also distracts him from it. Cube is a world class story teller and activist who no one understands. E is a doomed hanger on, who rode to glory on the other guy’s coat tails.
If that sounds like a condemnation, I don’t mean it as one. It’s a brilliantly accessible way into this truly singular story. The young cast inhabits these legends very well, and look eerily like the real thing. In the case of O’Shea Jackson Jr. this is because he’s actually Ice Cube’s son, which is kind of a strange choice. Jackson lacks his father’s ability to take up the entire room with his presence but gets his quiet intensity right on point. I’d actually love to see a sequel staring Corey Hawkins about the Aftermath years, but it probably won’t happen. Jason Mitchell makes Eazy E so damn likable, you want to root for him, even when he’s alienating everyone
The movie is well done, and I’ve had “Fuck Tha Police” in my head for the past week.
- Straight Outta Compton
- Mad Max: Fury Road
- Inside Out
- Jurassic World
- Ricki And The Flash
- Avengers: Age of Ultron
- Fantastic Four
- Terminator: Genisys
- Pitch Perfect 2
Creed: Creed! Creed, Creed, Creed! Creed, Creed, Creed. Creed, Creed, CREEEEDDDD!!!! (You should be reading that to the tune of “Eye Of The Tiger.”) It looks so good. Michael B. Jordan is the best. Rocky is training him! Phylicia Rashad is his mom! GOING TO BE SO GOOD! Seriously though, this trailer is amazing, and I love that we just barely hear “Gonna Fly Now” straining at the end.
Ride Along 2: I actually thought to myself as the lights went down, “Huh, I wonder what movie Ice Cube is in this fall, I bet there’s a trailer for it.” Here it is. He’s going to hook up with Olivia Munn! Good for him!
Crimson Peak: Again. Love it.