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8 Mile
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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

impressive acting debut

Author: Roland E. Zwick (magneteach@aol.com) from United States
29 March 2003

Rapper Eminem makes a spectacular screen debut in `8 Mile,' a film designed to showcase the performer's talents as singer, songwriter and, now, actor.

In this semi-autobiographical tale, Eminem plays a young white rapper named Jimmy who is struggling to achieve respectability and recognition in an area dominated almost exclusively by black artists. We've seen this story before in films ranging from `The Hustler' to `The Cincinnati Kid' to `Rocky': the hotshot, talented newcomer attempts to make a name for himself in some specialized area (be it pool, poker, boxing or rapping) by challenging and defeating the highly respected and established reigning champ. In terms of plotting, `8 Mile' offers little that is new or exciting, but what makes the movie work is the fine sense of detail and texture that writer Scott Silver and director Curtis Hanson bring to the world they are showing us. Set in 1995 Detroit, the film superbly captures the unmitigated bleakness of its urban setting: from the burnt-out, abandoned buildings to the graffiti-covered walls to the dank, cavernous music clubs to the rundown trailer parks. Jimmy is caught in a world that offers the poor working class stiff little opportunity for hopes and dreams beyond those he can make for himself - and Jimmy has found rap music to be the best chance for his ticket out. Yet, Jimmy is no pie-in-the-sky idealist. He knows that he can't afford to put all his eggs into one basket and so he remains levelheaded and pragmatic in his aspirations and goals. Beyond the obvious handicap of his skin color, Jimmy is also having to cope with a crumbling relationship, an alcoholic mother, her abusive boyfriend and some `concerned' parties who, despite what they may say, may not always have Jimmy's best interest at heart.

Each of these characters has the potential to become nothing more than a hokey stereotype, but the acting and the writing keep most of it real most of the time. Kim Basinger, Mekhi Phifer, Britanny Murphy and several others all turn in fine performances in their roles, but it is Eminem himself who makes the film work. Jimmy, despite all the frustration and rage smoldering under the surface, comes across as a decent guy who wants to make something of himself and to help those people who mean the most to him in the process. Eminem is a natural on the screen, and it will be interesting to see if he will be able to so successfully inhabit a character who is not so carefully tailored to fit his ready-made persona. My suspicion is that he will, though only time - and his next few roles - will tell.

`8 Mile' affords a fascinating glimpse into a subculture that many of us have hitherto viewed only from the outside. Especially intriguing are the `hip-hop battles,' wherein rappers come on stage and challenge one another to perform spontaneous mutual put-downs, with the audience getting to determine the contest's winner. No matter what one may feel about rap music itself, one has to admire the talent involved in composing these rhyming verses extemporaneously. The music may sometimes be execrable, but the love of language that pours forth out of the mouths of these young practitioners is actually quite encouraging and captivating (though one wishes that that talent would be channeled in a more positive direction at times).

An interesting side note: at one point, Jimmy recites a rap defending a homosexual co-worker. After all the bad blood that has gone down between Eminem and the gay community in the past, I wonder if this is the rapper's attempt to make peace and bury the hatchet. If so, it is a gesture well worth making.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

It wasn't bad, but....

Author: (jwinkler71) from Indiana
28 March 2003

After viewing '8 Mile' I have to say that it definitely didn't deserve the accolades it received from critics, but it isn't a bad movie. However, to anyone that watches this movie and thinks it's the greatest thing since sliced bread I do have two words for you: 'Purple Rain'. This movie is basically a remake of the famous 80's movie starring Prince who battles his way from an alcoholic family and his own demons to "win" against the mean-spirited bad guy musicians played by Morris Day and the Time. Scene after scene copied Purple Rain to the extent that I kept expecting Eminem to bust out with "Baby, I'm a Star" in the final scene.

The film is shot well and the performances are actually good in parts. Kim Basinger is so good as the white trash mom that it makes you wonder how she channeled that performance without a little trailer park in her blood. Brittany Murphy is an exception (as usual) who fumbles around in her role like Ray Charles strapped in a Tilt-O-Whirl.

Eminem, for his part, does a fairly decent job glaring and strutting about. Although I am no fan of rap music, the music throughout the movie is enjoyable and the "rap battles" are fairly engaging and funny at times.

All in all, not a bad night's rental. It could have been much, much worse.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

We have a new winner.

Author: Spleen from Canberra, Australia
24 March 2003

"8 Mile" has recently won the most questionable Oscar of all time.

The worst that can be said of previous Oscar decisions is that they've been aesthetically misguided: "Hamlet" (1948) being awarded Best Picture despite being inferior to "The Red Shoes"; "Forrest Gump" winning the same award despite being no good at all; that type of thing. There have also been one or two doubtful procedural decisions. Denzel Washington won Best Lead Actor even though he wasn't, in fact, the lead actor of the film he won the award for - but whether or not he was the lead is itself an aesthetic judgment, of sorts, and anyway, it's ARGUABLE that he was the lead, at least to the extent it's arguable that the musical score of "Chariots of Fire" is superior to that of "Raiders of the Lost Ark".

But declaring "Lose Yourself" to be the best song is to make a simple mistake of classification. "Lose Yourself" is not a song. I'm not saying anything against it here. I'm sure it's a very fine piece of rap (and I'm not saying this in a patronising way - I really AM sure it's a fine piece of rap, and what's more, I find myself liking it), just as I'm sure that "Kubla Khan" is a fine poem. But anyone who calls either work a song has failed to grasp the meaning of the word. Songs are sung. Rap is rapped. To rap is not to sing.

If I loathed rap in an exaggerated way before seeing "8 Mile" it was probably because it had been sold to me as music, and while some (but not all) rap may in fact be music (in a borderline kind of way), its virtues are not musical virtues; and even the most musical rap comes nowhere near to being a form of song. "8 Mile" wisely leaves the music side entirely out of it. The impression we get of Detroit here is of a city alive with an artform unlike any other, one combining verbal and vocal dexterity, timing, rhythm, and the ability to cultivate a kind of false truculence. And Rabbit does it differently again. For most of the film he comes across as being inferior to many of those around him. His friends and enemies alike have smoother, more relaxed, in almost every way more impressive delivery; Rabbit comes off as being detatched and studied, so much so that he's almost embarrassingly awkward at first, although his style shows its strengths towards the end.

At least one reviewer claims that "8 Mile" shows Eminem not to be honestly expressive after all, and he's right. That's what's refreshing about it. The idea that art should be expressive of the artist, or that the best art is on average more expressive than the worst, or that more expressive art is on average better than less expressive art... well, some of these claims MAY be true, but we'd need to conduct a cunning statistical survey in order to find out. It was the claim that it was "expressive" that helped turned me off rap in he first place. I thought I was being told to like bad music on the grounds that (like an anguished scream) it expressed something. "8 Mile" shows me that some rap is not so much bad music as good something-else, but rap as a genre probably includes a lot of bad something-else, too, and that stuff is no doubt expressive, too. I like the fact that Eminem's closing song says "lose yourself", not "express yourself".

I still feel it's something of a waste of a film to give us this vision of Detroit, sketch out for us the virtues and nature of rap, and then mold the material into no particular form, not even that of a struggling artist eventually making it. The story progresses from the point at which Rabbit has stage fright to the point at which he no longer has stage fright. That's it. A lot of other story strands must go nowhere in order for so much good film-making to come to, compared to what's promised, so little.

Despite what you may have heard there's nothing wrong with Eminem's performance. It may be that this is the only role he can play at all, but so long as he plays it well, what business is this of ours?

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

a movie that makes you smile

Author: Meltdown53098533 (Meltdown53098533@aol.com) from london, ont.
20 March 2003

8 Mile is what a lot of the critics say. They praise it with great reviews and when I saw this in theatres I knew I HAD to get it on DVD because it wasa great 2 hours. Sure it relates a lot with Eminem's real life but a lot of it is a story. This movie is so good that people who saw Rocky will like this a lot because 8 Mile has its moments that have the feel of Rocky. Yet this is still a rap story of a white man named Jimmy Smith Jr.. He feels he must win a rap battle in order to get some recognition in hopes to be a rapper. He has his friends Future, Chedder Bob and finds romance in a beautiful girl named Alex. As things progressively get worse in "Rabbit"'s life, he still finds a need to win one of the competitions, through all of the crap that is in his life. This movie is (of course) more for the teens, as they will enjoy it so much more than saaaay, teen parents who hate rap, language, sex, and drugs. But the ingrediants that the adult may dislike are the very ingrediants that make 8 Mile a winner for all who enjoy today's realities. 7.9/10-- my professional rating

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

I was SO surprised

9/10
Author: nightraven_Dk from Denmark
15 February 2003

I don`t wanna say too much about this flick........only this...now i didnt have high expectations for this one and i was amazed by the acting by Eminem, this guy really rocks and so does this movie....do yourself a favour a go see this one....MASTERPIECE

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Perfect movie and music - Eminem is again number 1

10/10
Author: sefutau from Romania
4 February 2003

Please look at the end of the movie (the final battle). All the "ugly" people who write bad comments for this movie do this because they are gelous on Eminem. Not only that the black age are finished but this guy have a lot to say. Please listen the text from all his songs and you will see that he is "the most inteligent"

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Enjoyable movie let down by story

Author: trut from Melbourne Australia
19 January 2003

I found "8 Mile" thoroughly enjoying, however it wasn't the best movie I've ever seen. I don't think the story was original well structured or had a decent ending. I also found that a lot of it seemed to consist of hackneyed "large group of extras cheering and snarling" shots, while many of the scenes were of the "gang meets gang and they get angry" variety.

Eminem's performance was very good. I was disappointed that Brittany Murphy had such a small insignificant role, given the way the movie was advertised.

Kim Basinger was also good, although there were a couple of moments where I found her accent not convincing enough (it wasn't THAT bad).

The movie was well shot and the sound was done well. I liked the handheld, sweeping feel and the dirty, brown PD and cinematography was quite suitable to the setting (Detroit). It reminded me a bit of "Ali". As I've mentioned, the acting was good (I would go so far as to say some of it, including from Eminem, was excellent). Dialogue was good - and not just in the rapping.

The humour was good. I found myself laughing, however most of this was at Eminem (rabbit)'s words in the finale.

The only thing that I think caused a number of problems was the story. With a more original, more structured story, with better conflict and resolution, and cause and effect, the movie could have been better.

The characters in the group were not well developed and were based on trite stereotypes - the white, stupid guy provided comic relief (as does the fat guy), the taller intelligent guy with glasses spent the movie saying things that were supposedly 'intellectual', and so on. The characters in the rival gang 'free world' seemed to be even more devoid of personality.

However, the good direction, art, sound and technical quite an enjoyable movie. Utimately a good movie that has been let down by what is, in my humble opinion, a weak screenplay.

I won't see it again in cinemas. Maybe I'll get it on DVD one day.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Good Direction by Curtis Hanson!

8/10
Author: ilovedolby from New York State
18 January 2003

Surprisingly good film starring the notorious rapper, Eminem. Directed by Curtis Hanson who's done such films as L.A. Confidential and Wonder Boys. Brian Grazer of A Beautiful Mind produced the film. I admit, I had my worries about this film from the start. I'm not an Eminem fan and when I heard that he was making a movie, I thought this was going to be another teen-music sensation disaster. Some of you must remember Brittany Spears' film; Crossroads released back in February of 2002. And what about the Lance Bass flop, On The Line. Not to worry though, 8 Mile was excellent. The reason I went to see it was because of Curtis Hanson, whose work on L.A. Confidential was enough for me to want to see this film. I was very impressed by most of the performances in the film. However, Kim Basinger, who portrays Eminem's character's mom, isn't all that great. She is believable at times, while other times she's phony. But over all, the film was very impressive. It's important to point out that this film is not about Eminem specifically, but rather, loosely based on his life. ***

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Finally, a movie with a music star that's not just not bad, it's actually very good.

8/10
Author: jeev7882 from Chicago, IL
4 December 2002

The entire cast and crew did such an excellent job with this movie that it could have easily been the best movie of the year if Scott Silver's script hadn't messed up a thing or two here and there. Finally, a movie with a music star that's not just not bad, it's actually very good.

The discussion first starts with, who else, Eminem. He has come under some scrutiny because he is playing a character that is very loosely based on himself. Because of this, everyone seems ready to brush off his performance as either "ok," or, "pretty good." There are two big things that disturb me about that. First, didn't Adam Sandler just get heaps of praise for playing a slight deviation from his normal characters in Punch-Drunk Love? Many seemed to think that it was the best performance of the year. And second, and most importantly, if anyone can name me just one other person - actor, director, music star, or anything else - that could have played Rabbit, please, let me know. There is not a rapper with as much talent in his lyrics or his rhymes as Eminem, so there is not another soul on this planet that could have played Rabbit (and if anyone E-Mail's me with the suggestion that Vanilla Ice could have done it, please, go find some help for yourself). Because of all this, Eminem gives one of the best performances this year. He is emotionally charged and you can tell that without him this would have been a bad movie. I don't know if it's because he's one of the biggest music stars in the world or something else, but he has a screen presence that is huge and magnetic.

The rest of the cast holds their own. Mekhi Phifer is easily the standout as Future, Rabbit's best friend. I didn't know much about Phifer before this movie, but he is definitely a promising talent. He never tries to take over a scene from Eminem; he knows he is on the side to play Rabbit's best friend and advisor. The women in the movie are played down quite a bit. Basinger who last won an Oscar when working with director Curtis Hanson, won't be getting one this time around, but she does what she can with her screen time. We love and hate her as Rabbit's mother and I think that she does a good job of playing the typical trailer mom. A lot of critics seemed to think she was too beautiful to play the character. This is one of the stupidest things I've ever heard. Are these people honestly saying that there are no good looking people at all in trailers? Obviously, since all the rich higher class people are so beautiful. The other major female role is Rabbit's girlfriend, Alex, played by Brittany Murphy. Honestly, I'm as familiar with Murphy as I am with Phifer. Her character was the weakest one out of the bunch. We never got to know her at all, and I don't know if it's even correct to call her Rabbit's girlfriend. All they did was fool around once and we are expected to like her and take her words of wisdom to heart. Note to Scott Silver: don't put in a love interest just because you think there should be a love interest in the movie. Murphy herself is attractive, but not much more. She doesn't get to test her acting chops as much as she may have liked to.

Now, the movie itself has some scenes that will blow you away. The very beginning is one of the best opening sequences I've ever seen. The very first shots show Rabbit standing in front of a mirror preparing for a battle. He looks at himself as if his reflection is the enemy, he makes fierce rapping hand gestures at himself and goes through all the lyrics he can think of in his head - analogous of a boxer waiting in the wings before a fight. The battles are all incredible; a battle is a duel between rappers where they each get 45 seconds to trade insults. In the end, the winner is judged by the roar from the crowd. The battles are easily the highlight of the movie because of their originality and their capability to take the movie onto another level all together. There are official battles hosted by Future and everyday battles at work or on the street, both of which work in their own ways. It is incredible how these insult trading sessions of freestyle rap can completely engulf you into the world of 1995 Detroit. I immediately understood that these insults were not personal, that they were a way of fighting without physically beating the hell out of each other (though there is a decent bit of that too outside of the battles). Every time Rabbit was one of the performers the energy just shot though the roof and my eyes and ears were at full alert. There is one scene in particular during a lunch break at Rabbit's job where a girl raps about the hardships and unfair treatment they get at their job. A man responds and puts her down, seemingly winning the battle before Rabbit steps in and puts him in his place. And then there is the final battle; it definitely does not disappoint. Each rapper gets a 90 seconds and Rabbit gets to go first. He tells the crowd everything that his opponent is going to say about him from white jokes to cracks about living in a trailer with his mom, and then he goes on to decimate away his opponent and his entire gang.

Another vital element of this movie is the settings. Hanson wisely chose to shoot in Detroit rather than cut costs and go across the border into Canada. Hanson now has an even more impressive resume adding 8 Mile to L.A. Confidential, Wonder Boys, and The Hand that Rocks the Cradle. The eerie run down image of 1995 Detroit is both realistic and visually wonderful. Hanson has always been known for being able to capture the essence of a large city well with Pittsburgh and L.A. being the settings for his last two movies. Will someone just give this man an award? He is one of the most consistently brilliant directors right now but his commercial draw is almost irrelevant, especially when compared to names like Soderbergh or Shyamalan. Though he is a less impressive screenwriter (what was he thinking with A Knight's Tale?), no one can question his talent as a director.

For 8 Mile, although the script seemed to be left up to Eminem for the most important exchanges, Silver had a good message at heart. Instead of having the typical rags to riches story, he instead takes the approach of showing a young man who is going to work through his hardships and earn enough money to make it big himself without some multi-million dollar record deal coming out of the blue. After the final battle Rabbit goes back to his job where he has worked hard to earn extra shifts and make more money. In a sense it's anti-climactic, but it is abrupt and doesn't dwell on itself for long enough to bring the movie down from it's climax. Instead, it strikes the right tone as the movie fades out to the best song of the year (for a movie or otherwise) "Lose Yourself." I don't think a song has ever captured an entire movie and it's themes as well as "Lose Yourself," and there may never be another song quite like it. Will Eminem get an invite to the Oscars? Don't bet on it, but it's not like the Academy ever gets it right anyways.

As I left this movie I felt myself wanting to go to a real life battle, and if I weren't fearful for my life I may have done that. I got the same feeling coming out of 8 Mile as I did coming out of The Legend of Bagger Vance. Coming out of the latter, I wanted nothing more than to go play golf all alone on a beautiful serene golf course. Coming out of the former I wanted to be Rabbit - a poet from the ghetto who can work magic with his lyrics off the top of his head.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Accurate, Interesting, Oddly Un-Hollywood

Author: chris-1214 from Michigan
22 November 2002

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I don't know or care anything about Eminem. I grew up outside Detroit and went to movie to see if my neighborhood would be on film.

This is an unusually accurate movie about having an alcoholic parent and living on the color border in Detroit. The rest of this review is spoilery.

I think a lot of the reviewers here have entirely missed the point of the movie. It's not about Eminem. It's not about making it big.

It's about figuring out how to get to work on time when you live in chaos. It's about maintaining your dreams before you succeed. It's about putting up with and trying to take care of your family and friends even though you'd rather not (much of the time). It's about living in Detroit.

The individual performances were very good, and the characters were (mostly) unusually realistic for a film. Someone said Basinger was too young to be Rabbit's mom. She's 19 years older than Eminem--that's three years older than is necessary. She portrayed an alcoholic with astonishing accuracy. Believe it or not, there are many attractive losers in the world and in Detroit. Playboy does not recruit in trailer parks. Perhaps the character could have become a hooker, but that is not the happy life you see in movies. The only thing unbelievable is that her teeth were in such good shape. Dentistry is expensive.

Murphy's character, the girl who will do ANYTHING to get out, was also very realistic. Most of the friends were people everyone knows (I found Cheddar Bob slightly over the top, but his house was awfully familiar; I could smell the cigarettes).

I'm surprised this movie was made. I really enjoyed it.

The rap scene at the end was amazing. But if you can be that articulate, why would you ever need to hit anyone?

So interesting. 10 for 10 for me.

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