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As a member of the Hollywood community, I was blown away by this
film... By the tight screenplay, the professional direction, and the
phenomenal acting. In my opinion, I think this is one of the best films
of the year so far.
With that said, it is not a film for children. It is not a film meant to portray ideal role models for children. It IS a film meant to realistically depict the lives of people who live at the very bottom of America's socioeconomic ladder.
If you find yourself unable to reserve judgment against people born into a life so vastly different than your own, you will probably not like this film. In order to appreciate it, you have to be able to see past the moral and ethical ambiguities of these characters.
So if anyone feels unsure whether they can handle the ugliness of this type of world, but still feels curious enough to see it, take a cue from the Anthropologists...
When studying a culture vastly different than your own, make sure to leave the rights and wrongs of your society at home. Because once you impose the moral judgment and ethical standards of your world upon another's, you've sacrificed your objectivity. And by doing so, miss the very point of empathy.
...and I enjoyed it. What saves the film from being just another badly
made 'hood flick, is Terrence Howard. I am so glad Craig cast an actor
and not a rapper to play the lead. Terrence brings depth of character,
pathos, and sympathy to a low brow pimp with low quality product to
This movie could've turned out bad with clichéd acting and over the top performances (there were moments where I felt his strip club whore was too much), but what makes you stick with the story, is that you really feel sorry for these people and you want them to succeed. The producer Stephanie Allain was at the L.A. premiere, and said that the character wanting to have a dream of better things was the universal theme that struck her. Craig (the director) also said that the story used bits and pieces of his own life and people he has met in Memphis to craft a story that really does happen to a lot of black people trying to get into the rap game. True, the hook of the story, a pimp wanting to be a rapper, sounds really funny. Lord knows if Mike Epps or Brian Hooks (or God forbid, Snoop) had been cast in the lead, this movie would've turned booty real quick. But once again, Terrence Howard makes this story come alive. I enjoy rap, but don't find crunk and a lot of lyrics enjoyable, but I must admit, in the context of the world it comes from and the hopes that these characters have, I was one of many people (the black ones in particular) who found myself swaying and singing the lyrics to "Whoop that Trick" et al.
As for the person on this board who commented that he too was at the Los Angeles Film Festival and found the white characters "acting black" tiresome, it must be said that in the south, black speech patterns and culture get picked up by whites. Living in close proximity creates that, and I didn't feel that the white characters were playing black. There was one comment in the movie where DJ Qualls arrives and Terrenc Howards character pulls Anthony Anderson aside and and questions the white boy's skills as a beat junkie, but that was the only time his color was brought up. But it was natural, no different than guys from Metallica questioning the skills of a black dude auditioning for a guitar gig. The subtext was simply "Does this dude even listen to crunk music?" Once his skills are proved, there is no question of race anymore.
The film should do well. I will see it again with my mother. Yes my mother. She loves Terrence Howard as much as I do, and I feel the movie should have a wide audience, young and old (with parental supervision). I enjoy watching Terrence Howard work, he makes you feel everything he feels on screen, and if this thing doesn't make him blow up, I don't know what will. He is the movie. See it for yourself and decide for yourself. Cuz it's hard out here for a pimp, ya'all.
Ps. For those feminists who get their panties all twisted because of any images of female exploitation, I must comment that all the women in this film (as broke down and trashy as they are) have dreams too, and Terrence's character realizes that they deserve better and strives to help them by helping himself. There is no such thing as a good pimp (like there is no such thing as a good slave master) but what redeems Terrence is that his pimp transforms his life and all those around him for the better.
I just saw this flick to a packet house in NYC and the entire audience,
myself included was with every frame of this film. Every single beat
hits exactly where it is supposed to. Every review I read talks about
the music and the acting, but how about how genuinely funny this film
is a way that few are?
They took the material seriously rather than letting it devolve into schmaltz or comedy. The direction is straight on, no BS, no showy shots. They take their time with each scene.
Good story, perfect characters well realized. Witty, crackling dialogue. You can't make this stuff up. And comparing this to 8 mile is like comparing dogshit to gold.
A deeply flawed protagonist who is able to reach into himself and transform himself through the power of art, larger themes involve the disillusion with fame, consumer culture.
This is everything a film is supposed to be. If it makes you feel good to knock this film, then you are a snob. If you think can make a better movie than this, then go ahead!
People who love movies love this film. This is what film is about.
Incredibly moving, yet definitely not for everyone, Hustle & Flow tells the story of D-Jay, an incredibly conflicted Memphis pimp down on his luck. In one of the most raw and intense performances of recent memory, newcomer Terrence Howard embodies D-Jay with an animal-like ferocity that will help you overcome what few formulaic clichés embody the script. In his mid forties, D-Jay seems too old and far too nice for his profession, and his "hos" seem to take notice. You see, D-Jay represents a lifetime of failed dreams, ambitions, and wrong turns. It seems as if it could all be over, but then fate offers him the opportunity to realize his life-long goal of becoming a successful rap star. D-Jay pours his heart and soul into his music, just as Howard pours his into the performance, and the result is somewhat of a urban Rocky, a true underdog tale. This is perhaps the first hip-hop film to actually get it right, and everything that 8-Mile should have been. Don't let the subject matter keep you from enjoying Howard's brutal tour-de-force.
"Hustle & Flow" is a very strong directorial from writer/director Craig Brewer, and it is very worthy of the buzz that it has been generating for the last couple of months. I got to see it last night at an AFI screening at Arclight Cinemas in Los Angeles, and the audience really reacted positively to what they saw. The story is similar in some respects to "8 Mile," but it is a far better movie (and "8 Mile" was pretty good too). It features a tremendous performance by Terrence Howard as a low level pimp who suddenly breaks out of his dark surroundings to become a respected rapper. Craig had commented that had he made this movie within the studio system, he probably never would have been able to cast Terrence in the movie, and that would have been tragic. Anthony Anderson is also excellent as his friend/producer, and there is also Taryn Manning who is very strong in a role as a prostitute who wants to do more with her life. It's a movie with a lot of heart and integrity, and will appeal to anyone who has ever aspired to something with all their heart, regardless of the road blocks ahead. Here's hoping that "Hustle & Flow" gets the audience it truly deserves!
Terrence Howard plays a Memphis pimp who decides to give hardcore
rapping a shot in this arresting, gritty drama. Howard plays DJay, who
pimps girls out of his beat-up Chevy Nova. When he comes into the
possession of an electronic keyboard, DJay plays around with it and
finds he has a talent for writing and performing hard, violent lyrics.
On its face, this seems like a typical "man rises from the ashes of his hardscrabble life to experience success and then watches it all crash down around him" kind of movie. It's not a movie about suffering, success, and redemption, in other words. But it's not as predictable as it may seem at first blush, and Howard is not your typical actor, by any shot.
DJay lives with his small stable of prostitutes in a tumble-down shack in the Memphis ghetto. As pimps go, he's not exactly Donald Trump. Some dance for an exotic club during the day and hook at night; some hook all day. But the money's not rolling in for DJay, who remains somewhat confident that he'll someday come out ahead. When he obtains the keyboard, inspiration strikes, and a chance encounter with an old classmate (Anthony Anderson) who's now a producer (of sorts) gives DJay the opportunity to jump out of the rotten life he's carved for himself.
This never feels like a typical rise-and-fall story, and that's thanks in no small part to the powerful performance by Howard, who's much better here than in the critically lauded (by some) Crash. Appearing with Howard in Crash was Ludicrous, who also has a big role in Hustle and Flow - hey, some rappers are very good actors, it turns out. Howard, aided by a crisp script from Craig Brewer, who also directed, never portrays DJay as simply a nice guy with some flaws, someone who's been handed a bad hand and is making the best of it. It's clear that DJay's made all of his own choices, and the situation he finds himself in - depending on hookers for his livelihood - is of his own doing.
But neither does the script show DJay as being entirely bad, either, as evidenced by some surprisingly tender, moving scenes between DJay and Key (Anderson) and DJay and Shug, his pregnant woman. These scenes don't come off as stilted or insincere, and that's thanks especially to Howard's strong performance. True, too, are the scenes in which DJay lays down a rap track in his home; you can feel the rage seeping through your television.
This movie might be a difficult sell to those who have trouble relating to the environment and atmosphere in which DJay operates. Undoubtedly those who grew up on the wrong side of the tracks will recognize aspects of their own lives, identifying strongly with one or more of the characters. But even those of us who have never lived in squalor, who've generally had advantages that others do not, can appreciate the intense, gray world in which DJay and his associates live. Had this been a simple, typical biography of a musician from the mean streets, it wouldn't have had near the effectiveness, the passion of Hustle and Flow. The movie intrigues you, makes you want to know what happens to DJay, even when it's obvious he's a bit of a jerk. But because he's not a stupid man, his actions cannot be painted as simply good or simply bad. Howard, in particular, is well deserving of his critical accolades here.
(Synopsis) DJay (Terrence Howard) is a streetwise hustler and Memphis
pimp with a stable of 3 girls, Shug (Taraji Henson) who is pregnant and
not working, Lexus (Paula Jai Parker) who works in a strip club, and
Nola (Taryn Manning) who works out of DJay's old beat-up car in a back
alley. Even with two girls working and DJay selling dirt-weed on the
side, it is hard for them to make ends meet. The utility company is
about to shut off their utilities, if they don't pay the bill. DJay
feels that he has hit rock bottom, and he needs a change in his life. A
bum trades him a Casio keyboard for some weed, and DJay takes it home.
While playing the keys, DJay gets an inspiration to write rap music. He
begins to write down his pimping style raps, his flow, in a little
notebook while Nola is turning tricks. DJay runs into Key (Anthony
Anderson), an old friend and sound engineer, who takes him to a church
choir performance that reaches DJay's soul. DJay looks inside his soul
and decides to get out of the business, and now he has a dream of
becoming a rapper. DJay teams up with Key to make a demo song. Skinny
Black (Ludacris) is a platinum selling rapper about to return to
Memphis for the 4th of July. DJay believes he can hustle Skinny to hear
his tape, and his dream will come true.
(Comment) The movie was filmed all around Memphis during 2004. Memphian Craig Brewer wrote and directed 'Hustle and Flow,' and I went to the red carpet movie premiere in Memphis on 6 July. Craig Brewer told the audience about his father's watch that was used in the movie, and he was wearing it for good luck that night. He was also wearing a 3-carat diamond ring that belonged to Sam Phillips. As for the movie, Terrence Howard's role as DJay is a remarkable one in that he becomes immersed in the character of DJay. Howard comes off as a real pimp with all the anger, conflicts, and frustrations, which he encounters in life. There is no such thing as a good pimp, but the character of DJay realizes that his women have dreams too, and that he wants to change everything around him and them for the better. The subject matter and the lyrics to the rap music are a little rough, but the movie is a good one to see. (Paramount Classics, Run time 1:54, Rated R) (8/10)
Movies and music, that's the winning combo when it comes to industry
amalgams but haven't we seen it all? We have the good; The Bodyguard
and 8 Mile, the bad Honey and the downright ugly aka Glitter (put the
crossbow down, I had to mention it). However, this John Singleton
produced flick snipes at the genre from a different angle.
The increasingly talented Terence Howard (recently seen in Ray and Crash), plays DJay, a pimp turned rapper who wants to prove his worth and swap his tricks for a trade in America's crunked up south.
Newcomer Craig Brewer takes the helm as we visit Memphis and see it through the eyes of the down but not outters consisting of DJay and his working girls. When he reunites with school friend Key (Anthony Anderson) they decide to take charge of their lives and realise their dream by putting together a demo tape of their skills, with the hope of hitting the big time.
This is not a bad movie, in fact Howard is equally as convincing as a pimp with a newly found heart and as a rapper, something that was both a bold and a fruitful choice. If the star hadn't convinced on any level it is a sure-fire guess to say a non-rapper would never be allowed to rap in a movie, but he did and he did it well.
The standard underdog making it to the big time route has been bypassed and replaced with a story that hold's your attention and has an unpredictable and real conclusion.
Amongst Flow's supporting cast, Isaac Hayes takes stage as the bar-owner who puts DJay in touch with the hometown's former star- Skinny Black, played sneeringly by Chris 'Ludacris' Bridges. As well as these two familiar songsters, Anthony Anderson and DJ Qualls, of Road Trip fame, make up the group and put in solid performances. The female cast who constitute DJay's trade are Eminem's ex-girlfriend in 8 Mile, Taryn Manning and Paula Jai Parker as the outspoken Lexus, again all providing non-sterling but convincing turns as part of the phat pack.
But it is Taraji P. Henson's part as the heavily pregnant Nola who catches the eye as a sweet and naïve part of the outfit. It is her who seems to be the only person that allows DJay to relinquish his sometimes brutal pimp suit and put on something more responsible and caring as he ventures out hustling for his right to fame.
This is not your standard cheer at the screen rise-to-fame story that Americans seem to love, too much. What it is, is a well thought out project that takes you on a journey of trials and tribulations that are the all more convincing when performances by Howard, Manning and Henson garnish the story.
I recently had the pleasure of viewing a local Hustle & Flow screening. I referred to this site beforehand to look at the technical details of the movie and to gain a general understanding of the buzz from the message boards. All I seem to recall reading were negative comments about the movie saying that it was such a cliché. Well, maybe I haven't seen as many movies in the hip hop coming of age genre, but the only movie I recall being remotely close to this one was 8 Mile (which I liked btw). Anyways, I saw the movie and I really don't think it was that cliché. The dialog is definitely original, the characters are original, the location is original, and there is a lot of depth within the character of DJay, the pimp trying to become a rapper. I thought the acting in the movie was excellent and I am glad that there is a wide release movie out this summer that isn't a sequel and didn't cost $200 million to make. This movie is bound to do very well, it only cost $3 million to make and it is a pretty good movie. The only problems I had with this movie were with some of the logic and character motivation. I don't think the movie explained very well WHY DJay (the pimp) wanted to become a rapper all of a sudden. They make the entire music making process seem like a piece of cake, but hey it is a movie and there are ultimately time constraints. I thought DJ Qualls was gonna be just a really lame piece of comic relief, but he actually adds depth to the film. I found Hustle & Flow to be very enjoyable and much more memorable than Batman Begins (which I saw last night!). This movie is definitely worth seeing this summer.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
D-Jay (Terrence Howard) is a pimp from Memphis trying to do more with
his life. When he learns that a hugely successful rapper, played by
Ludicrous, is returning home to Memphis, he plans to become a rapper
himself, writing songs about life as a pimp in hopes of being
Hustle and Flow is an inspiring, engaging and intense film of becoming something. The majority of the film is realistic with relatable characters and situations. It shows the many struggles of life and it proves that hard work does pay off. The beginning of the film was a little tough to watch because of the living style of the main characters. It was a little scary to see what some people have to do just to get by. I think director Craig Brewer did a fine job at portraying these situations without making them seem too cheesy or over the top. The second half of the film focused on D-Jay and his struggles to find his right music. The music is surprisingly good and meaningful. I say "surprisingly" because rap doesn't really interest me but the film actually made it tolerable.
The lyrics don't hold back and they may be offensive to some. I thought they were okay and they had more to do about life rather than the usual stuff you hear in rap songs. My favorite scenes were the ones that took place in the recording room. As cheesy as this may sound, they were more inspirational and engaging. It showed different types of people working together and coming up with some nice material. The final act features D-Jay meeting with Skinny Black and hoping his songs get picked up by him. The conversation between Skinny and D-Jay was pretty good but it was also a little depressing. It's sad to have someone lie right to your face about how good you are and then find your music in the toilet. It just shows how tough the real world is and it makes D-Jay tougher for not giving up. The ending wasn't as strong as everything else. It was a little cheesy and unrealistic. However in some ways, it was nice to see a sort of happy ending.
The acting is terrific and everyone gives a good performance. Terrence Howard plays D-Jay and he gives a very engaging performance. His character isn't very likable but it was easy to root for him. His performance was just that good. Taryn Manning is just as good as Terrence and she also deserved an Oscar nomination. I can't believe this is the same girl from Crossroads considering her performance is really strong. I don't really like Anthony Anderson but even he gave a good performance and it was easily his best performance ever. Taraji P. Henson and DJ Qualls are also just as good as the other actors. Personally, I think Ludicrous gave a better performance in this film than in Crash.
While the film is pretty good, it's not for everyone. Most of the characters are unlikable due to their lifestyles and attitudes. Some people may find it hard to care about these characters if they think so low about them. Also, the women in this movie are mistreated and some people may be disgusted by this. The story is also unoriginal and it there were a few clichés. Personally, I thought that the acting and the direction were strong enough to overcomes these weaknesses. In the end, Hustle and Flow is a difficult film to watch at times but it's still a strong film that's worth checking out. Rating 9/10
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