Aspiring emcee DJay works the angles to get his first record made with help from assorted people in his Memphis 'hood. And when he hears that hip-hop superstar Skinny Black is heading to his area, he throws together a supreme hustle to grab Skinny's attention. Written by
A very good film. I have noted criticism that the film slips into formula in its second half; true. But the situation is so bleak for these characters, I doubt that American audiences would have accepted a more believable ending; and, after all, there were far worse "happy" endings that it avoids.
The gritty staging, the solid no-frills camera-work and editing, and some really excellent performances make this well worth the effort to confront dishonest characters struggling to find some sort of integrity in their efforts to survive and succeed. These characters are not likable - none of them are, they each have a tic that denies them total sympathy from the audience. But they are all very human for that, and so ultimately win our respect if not approval.
Among the actors, two performances especially shine. Terrence Howard as DJay shows timing and expression worthy of much older, more "schooled" actors. Anthony Anderson is a real and pleasant surprise; stuck in character roles for the past decade, Anderson has become a real annoyance to me, as the usual character he plays is really excessive, a caricature. In this role, he is allowed to just act, and he delivers a wholly believable multifaceted performance.
Hollywood has been producing such bad films that saying this film is among the best released this year may not be saying much (there are real and undeniable weaknesses to the film). Nonetheless, on the whole, the film is a commendable and rewarding effort to present a drama involving human beings living close to real life, and not cartoons. I credit that effort, and recommend a viewing.
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