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I just saw this movie tonight, and now wonder why I didn't go see it
sooner. Everything, but everything, about this movie was excellent.
Acting. Terrence Howard is just fantastic. So really are all the actors and actresses.
Characters. Rough bunch, to be sure, but all ... especially D Jay ... showed such deep humanity under very difficult circumstances that they were attractive, appealing, likable. I wanted to know what was going to happen to each and every one of them.
Story. The plot, combining rags to riches with ghetto life with rap emergence ... was not in the least original, which is fine by me when the story is told with such skill and color and flavor and verve. It's a helluva yarn.
The World. The world of the movie is one with which I am myself very unfamiliar. So I sure can't comment on Authenticity. But I can comment on Believability: and this movie has it and then some. A whole world was created and depicted and maintained with a strong, convincing presence that I found very, very deeply moving.
Theme. Yes, it has a message. Not all message movies are effective. This one is, at least it is for me. The message is We gotta have dreams, and pursue them as best we can, within the parameters of the world as it really is. I came away from the movie feeling a sense of Hope and Gratitude. What a gift. What a movie.
Combine a helluva story with great characterization with superb acting in a compellingly believable world with an uplifting theme ... and you have Hustle and Flow. What a wonderful movie.
Terrence Howard delivers a great performance as the pimp with the
dream. However, I can't compare that performance to that of Jamie
Foxx's in "Ray." In other words, it wasn't this mind bending, memorable
performance people like to call it. But it was good. Maybe good enough
to earn him an Oscar nomination depending on the competition this year
in the "Best Actor in a Leading Role" category. He is torn between a
charismatic man who wants to inspire the people in his life versus the
man who has to be that mean boss that everyone can relate to. He just
throws his employees out on the street instead of smiling in their
faces, then slapping them with a pink slip a day later.
The directing was right on. I felt that the director was able to call great shots without taking away from the story. He was able to also provoke believable, great performances by his actors. I thought the lighting was appropriate for the telling and the editing was good also.
The script could've been better. I didn't need to know about his past or what made him turn out to be a pimp (don't confuse me with these nosy, non-imaginative, wannabe film goers that need to know every thing). However, the story starts off slow. It didn't capture me in the first fifteen minutes like a great film usually does. I also didn't see where the crisis decision happened. That's where we really get to know the true character. Also, the argument wasn't clear. I get the whole man and his dream aspect. But I didn't fully understand what the writer/director was trying to say about the dream. Is it like the message of dreams in great stories like "Raisin in the Sun." It would've been that much better if we knew and was able to see a fair and just argument on why dreams do or do not come true.
Now, I would like for people who don't understand life, who live in sheltered worlds where reality is on the opposite side of the bridge or those who know of that reality but want to act like it doesn't exist in order to avoid stereotype and to fit in with others, STOP MAKING RIDICULOUS COMMENTS ABOUT MOVIES PERIOD.
How can that uptown bill guy compare "Birth of a Nation" to "Hustle & Flow?" I bet all my money, with the lent in my pockets, that Uptownbill didn't even see "Birth of a Nation" in it's entirety. If he did, he would see that "Birth of a Nation" was awful not because it was about the KKK trying to make things look a certain way in their own minds, but it was awful because it wasn't honest. And I saw this film to further my knowledge on what not to do as a storyteller. "Hustle & Flow" on the other hand, well, I know a few pimps and despite popular belief, they do pump blood through their veins and they do have hearts. And yes, they can be manipulative and brutal to women as well. But that's just their harsh reality.
And Terrence Howard's character was able to capture all that reality. So, I'm sorry to wet on uptown bill's parade but the film doesn't even come close to "Birth of a Dishonest." Then the guy compares John Singleton to D.W. Griffith? Is he crazy? No comparison. "I understand Mr. Singleton. From Boyz N'the Hood to Baby Boy, you're looking for the truth that exists in the human community (not the black or white but human). You're not compromising that, pulling the wool over our eyes to the reality that exists in the world. Don't pay any mind to people comparing you to D.W. Griffith."
One Caucasian woman is afraid that the film is going to bring heat to her biracial son when he goes back to school, predicting that white kids will be ridiculing him about the whole "pimp" thing. My advise lady: send him to karate class. If someone is that ignorant to ask him questions about pimps after seeing Hustle & Flow, a biracial kid who clearly doesn't live anywhere near the ghetto (she's a doctor, black father is a college professor), then it's just a sad reality of where the next generation's minds are at. Wow, we have to look forward to a lot in the future. Can't wait (thumbs up with a cheesy smile).
Then one person said "One of the worst films of the year." Actually, in my humble opinion, "Crash" was worse than Hustle & Flow. The Wedding Crashers wasn't much better either. And if you really want to see a poorly executed film that serves no purpose other than to glamorize white men taking black woman, then just wait for "Constellation," starring Billy Dee Williams (at his worse) and Zoe whats-her-name. The same people that say Hustle is the worst of the year are the same people that have "Diary of a Mad Black Woman" and "Are We There Yet?" in their DVD collection, and they have "The Honeymooners" on hold for them when it comes out.
Bottom line, Hustle & Flow isn't that bad and it's not that good. And don't worry about stereotyping. Hollywood and these poor excuses for filmmakers of color, that in their zeal to convince us all that all people of color are successful people in medicine and other respected fields, executing these ideas with "on the nose" laments about finding or not finding love in their own communities, they can continue making these films and most white people will still come to their own conclusion about who people of color are.
Hustle and Flow will keep your attention from beginning to end. All of the characters, especially "DJay" portrayed by Terrence Howard is sensational. Djay is a Memphis pimp who rediscovers his dream of being a rapper. With help from his childhood friend, Key, played brilliantly by Anthony Anderson, he embarks on his mission to get his rap music on the radio airwaves. With a wonderful supporting cast, which includes Taraji P. Henson (best known for her portrayal of Yvette in "Baby Boy"), Elise Neal (from the television series "The Hughleys"), Paula Jai Parker, Taryn Manning, Chris 'Ludacris" Bridges, and DJ Qualls, those who dislike Hip Hop will find themselves silently cheering DJay on. The year 2005 will be remembered in the acting community as Terrence Howard's Year. This intense, underrated actor is finally getting his long, overdue share of the spotlight. Terrence Howard who resides in Philadelphia, uses his seasoned acting skills to mix Philadelphia Soul with Memphis Sound to create a Hollywood Hit. After seeing "Hustle and Flow," be sure to see him in "The Four Brothers," "Crash," "Their Eyes Were Watching God" and "Lackawanna Blues."
I was shocked to see Caucasian elderly's in there & people you never think would be interested. We had to check to see if we were in the right show! & I live in Oakland, Cali. They loved it! & the movie has us rolling! I cried on several scenes being it was so real & I was feeling it all over again. Thanks Singleton for giving the world a better perspective into the struggle & also helping them to realize what some of these rappers go thru when starting from rock bottom. For those of you who never lived an oppressed life only to rise up out, these actors played their roles to the tee & the cast was well chosen, especially the white girl who reminded me of my ex neighbor's lily skinny stable sister whose now a social worker. No doubt the ending will motivate many, mainly our youths in disadvantaged communities. And the music was bumping! Loved it all!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
.......We're all entitled to our opinions and points of view, mostly
based upon our idiosyncrasies, prejudices, beliefs, and our
Hustle and Flow was an excellent feel good movie about change, love, faith, perseverance, facing and tackling one's fears to make dreams reality.
Albeit told, excellently mind you, from one of the grimiest of life's many stories (and there are grimier out there) and for those of us that have come from (or still live in) the inner city, none of this is cliché' but simply art imitating life on a level that we can identify with more than others.
This is our culture.
However, as far as I'm concerned my opening comments make it clear that you don't have to be a pimp, ho', black, rocked a mic on stage, studio, or dreamt of doing it, live in the ghetto or like hip hop/rap/crunk music to identify with this movie.
All you'll have needed was to have been in love, been hated on, done things you hated and you'd like to be forgiven for, attended church, dreamed of becoming a lawyer/doctor (Mrs.Taylor) or any other profession and had to overcome "REAL" hardships and make sacrifices to get there, forgotten where you came from, decided to throw caution to the wind and say "Something's got to change in my life" and start changing it, or simply had to get your hustle on to put food on the table or make that change in your life possible to identify with this movie.
The entire ensemble put in exceptional work, making each and every character real. You have to give Terrance Howard his props on this one, but as I look at each actor's performance and try to grade them, they all come up with high marks. I especially dug "Key" Anthony Anderson's character as he's usually cast as buffoonish comic relief. It was refreshing to see him in a serious role and his character was extremely down to earth, identifiable and likable.
Taraji P. Henson (Shug) subtly stole every scene she was in, most times with just her facial expressions which conveyed so much about her and Terrance's (D-Jay's) characters.
This wasn't just a story about a pimp/drug dealer trying to make it big in rap....it's the human story.
I haven't experienced a more satisfying and triumphant movie ending since Shawshank Redemption.
Hustle and Flow's ending ranks right up there.
I have to give a shout out to the comment posted by nitejrny282.
Okay I went to see this movie and had the hardest time finding the movie theaters! I'm from Indianapolis and think that I know the city pretty well cause I've lived here my whole life, but I couldn't even find the theaters on my side of town! Then when I finally found the dang on place everybody in there made a comment about how they never even knew there was a movie theaters at that location! What does that say! Why did they play this wonderful movie in the butt-crack of nowhere! I thought that after a week of being out and seeing how well the movie was doing the other more popular theaters in Indianapolis would acquire the movie. NOPE! Flippin idiots! Then not three days after the movie came out I was at someones house and what did I see, the bootleg! This was not those crappy bootlegs either it was one that said "Propety of paramount pictures" across the bottom! I asked when this person got the movie and how much it cost. He got it the day it opened for $10 and had been showing it at his house all weekend! I was like go to the theaters support the movie and he said it costs too much! Flippin idiots! With all that said this movie was great! I loved it and I've gone to see it twice! I felt this was not just about rapping this is about everything. For someone who as seen life go drastically wrong like myself this movie will strike a cord. I don't want to be a rapper like DJay, but like DJay I want to be something greater than what I've become. For all who feel that way you will love this movie. This movie is not about pimps and their Ho's it's about seeing that even if you've been doing something for a long time and you're used to it, doesn't mean you are stuck for life. Change is good. DJays opportunity knocked and he answered, if it happened for a pimp then it could happen for that guy at McDonalds too. You know what I mean?
Just saw this film today and I have to say I was intrigued and drawn
into the film. Howard's portrayal of a drug-dealer/pimp in a mid life
crisis is pure and true. This movie is about a man who has made the
wrong decisions and wants to make right. Right in whatever it takes.
RIght in the only way he knows how. It's not here to glamorize the
lifestyle of a pimp. It's not here to say drug dealing is OK. It's here
to show that people make bad decisions and you can change. None of the
images or lifestyle make the life of a Memphis Pimp enviable or
desirable. Come on, if you say this, did you actually see the movie??
In fact, a God loving Black man with a wife, a respectable paying job,
whom D-Jay respects and listens to, is the character of hope.
The character's feel real, real in a way of the area they live in. You get drawn into them, believe them. This movie is not a poster child for anti-drugs, it's not a poster child for blacks who live in a crime free environment, it's a poster child for people living in hard times and hard ways. To find your faults and try to change. The imagery alone was to the respect of the film. Grainy and raw, no special effects here, no glossy imagery. Blown out stylization is nil, this is not a music video. Come'on the guy drives a beat up Cutty with a bad paint job.
As for people saying the ending is anti-climatic. Well what did you want??? A high speed car chase lasting 15 minutes, a no-holds bar shootout with explosions and draining bullet shells??? NO, the only thing this film gives IS a sense of hope. A hope for people who have gone down the bad road and can take these roads "less" traveled and use them to help themselves and the people around them. Life isn't easy folks and just because this film shows the hard side of life, doesn't mean it glamorizes it.
Hollywood didn't want to make it, because no Black men die. Sure there's confrontation, sure there's strife and sure there's street activity, but to go and say that this is negative is to forget that fact that most blacks live in this. Live in this environment. just like D-Jay's lyrics say " this may be new to you, but I've lived with it for years."
Kudos and respect, I give it a "10" just for staying real.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
To quote from the Cramps' anthemic cover of the 1950's hit "Rocket in
my Pocket": "Well I don't know about art but I know what I like
sure don't know much about Rap/Hip-Hop/Krump/Crunk/whatever, but I know
a nice little well-told story when I see one. I'll admit "Hustle &
Flow" had not exactly been high on my must-see list but this past
Saturday I really wanted to go to a movie; since I don't live in New
York or Chicago or Los Angeles, what was available was stuff I'd either
seen or didn't care to see
. Then I thought "Well hell, let's give this
a shot." Proved to be a good decision on my part.
We're introduced to a somewhat unassuming-looking black guy in his mid-to-late-30's sitting in his vintage car smoking a cigarette as he lays out some down-home philosophy (which gets tellingly repeated near the end) to an unseen character who then is revealed as a young strung-out-looking white chick. If we hadn't known in advance, we needn't have been Einstein to grasp that she's a prostitute and he's her pimp. Eventually a customer pulls up; when the pimp's initial sales pitch fails to sink in, he exasperatedly tells his "ho" to (paraphrasing somewhat) "explain to this gentleman how this situation should proceed." She gets into the john's car and off they go as the pimp sits and watches and smokes. I don't know how the pimp knows that the client is not some psycho who wants to murder his employee. I suppose one develops a "sixth sense" for that sort of thing.
The pimp is played by Terrence Howard, about whose performance even haters of the move have been raving. I kept wondering where the heck I'd seen this guy before---turned out he'd been in "Crash" which I'd seen relatively recently, as a completely different kind of character. As the pimp he's rock solid, never hits a wrong note, a guy born on the wrong side of the wrong tracks suffering from being just intelligent enough to know what a waste his life has been thus far. He sucks on those cigarettes like an oxygen tube. He's followed the "path of least resistance" to become a pimp, has three in his "stable" under his roof; one of them has an infant son, plus another one is pregnant; it's all he can do to keep them all and himself more or less functioning. I doubt I've ever seen a pimp portrayed this realistically in a movie before. I've known plenty of managers in "legitimate" jobs who didn't remotely have the level of "people skills" needed here.
He takes possession of a Casio mini-keyboard which in the movie's best scene he uses to pacify the squalling son of one of his hookers. This gets him thinking about a music career like that of one "Skinny Black," a Memphis "homeboy" he may or may not have known once. He enlists the help of a childhood chum to concoct a recording studio in his home with egg crates stapled to the walls for sound-proofing; they have to turn the fan off to record and (in the second best scene) the pimp has to go placate his hostile neighbor (using marijuana, apparently the universal medium of exchange) whose music is seeping into their recording session. There's a nice atmosphere in all this of "real" people giving it their all to break into a tough business, hinting back to those "Let's put on a show in the barn!" epics from the 1930's. I couldn't begin to say if the music they eventually record is "good" or "bad" by the standards of that genre, but they sure put a lot of heart into it. The bashful stammering pregnant woman who gets dragooned into being a backup singer and who blossoms with each "take" is an absolute joy to watch. She alone was enough to make me believe this really was the South.
Unfortunately it gets a little formulaic towards the end with the requisite violence which we know in advance won't lead to death because at that point too much time has been invested for such a drastic departure. The "somewhat happy" ending seems just a little contrived. But it's all played with absolute conviction & I for one was perfectly happy to "buy into" it. Not since my 1990's favorites "Smoke Signals" and "Ulee's Gold" has a movie made such an appealingly "human" impression on me. It may be the first movie this year since "Kung Fu Hustle" that I see twice.
Towards the end the pimp tells his friend that if the new baby of a prostitute and an unknown john ever asks him if she could be President, "I'll look her in the eye and lie to her .'cause sometimes that's what you gotta do." Damn, that was poignant. Some day, I reckon, there'll be a black President, and a female President, maybe even both at once; it'd be kinda cool if I could live to see that .
The part of the church-going somewhat-happily-married sound engineer must have been a cakewalk for Anthony Anderson after his turn as the demonic drug lord on the best cop show on TV, i.e. "The Shield." This guy has a genuinely approachable "everyman" quality; I predict he'll have the next long-running "mainstream" sitcom after that of Bill Cosby and Will Smith.....
I heard that they are positioning Terence Howard for an Oscar. But the real movement already began when the H&F soundtrack was sold out in Los Angeles with major and mom/pop retailers and I had to find it in Hollywood. The soundtrack is so dope (yeah, I said dope) that any new appearances by Terence Howard for movie promotion should be restricted to musical performances by D-Jay doing live performances(where appropriate). I'm excited about the buzz in the streets on H&F--the movie, and soundtrack. It's phenomenal that Howard has pulled it off so well that people are paying more attention to D-Jay, and "Whup Dat TricK", than actually seeing the movie--although the tracks are a hit, you cant get the full scope and feeling without seeing the movie first. I'm officially casting my nomination and vote for D-Jay as best new hip-hop artist. 'Yeah, Mane!!"
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Often an actor will kick around Hollywood without getting the awards or
accolades and be one of those recognizable faces that pop up in films
(Robert Duvall, Paul Giamatti) but every once in a while things can
change in just one year with just the right role and performance that
opens everyone's eyes. Story is about DJay (Terrence Howard) who's a
smalltime Memphis dealer and pimp but hates what he's doing and dreams
of doing something else in life and one day gets the idea of becoming a
rap artist. Djay runs into an old friend named Key (Anthony Anderson)
and learns that he's a sound engineer which gives him the idea of
asking for his help to make a demo tape so that he can give a copy to a
rapper named Skinny Black (Ludacris) whom DJay knew years earlier.
*****SPOILER ALERT***** Nola (Taryn Manning) is DJay's cash cow but she also hates what she's doing but he still needs her to use her services in order to make money to finance the recording of his tape. While DJay writes the lyrics for his songs Key has his friend Shelby (DJ Qualls) help mix the music and they also enlist the help of DJay's pregnant girlfriend Shug (Taraji P. Henson) who is used for backup vocalization. Once the demo tape is finished DJay heads to a local bar (run by Isaac Hayes) where Skinny Black is having a party but after handing him his tape things go horribly wrong and DJay ends up in the custody of the police.
This is only the second feature for writer/director Craig Brewer and immediately his script sucks the audience in with the very first shot of DJay talking to Nola about his thoughts of not only about being a man but one's opportunities in life. Howard's performance is revolutionary and with his James Brown-like hair his character DJay is shown as a man who clearly knows that he can't be a pimp forever and Howard perfectly channels this man's desperation and focus in trying to change his life. Howard has been a respected character actor for over 10 years and his face had become pretty familiar for audiences but this is the year that should not only change his career but also the way others will look at him in terms of his talent. Earlier this year Howard gave another solid performance in "Crash" and 2005 seems to be his breakout year and will hopefully lead him to being a leading man in other interesting films because he's one of those actor's that has paid his dues to get to this spot. This film also boasts some good supporting roles with Manning and Henson standing out as the women in DJay's life and it's time for some filmmaker to give Manning a bigger and well written part. I found her character a tad under written but she does have one strong scene where she admits how much she hates prostituting herself and one can't help but think her character deserved more to do. While I can't say that this film is truly realistic (although it's more relevant than the Eminem myth "8 Mile") it still captures the look of the seedy side of Memphis perfectly and shows DJay for all of his flaws like taking his whores money and throwing out one of his girlfriends (with his own child!) into the street. This is one of those low budget films that not only gives a young director the opportunity to show he's a filmmaker to watch but it also gives an actor like Howard (who for years has been under-appreciated) the role of a lifetime and show that he's ready to establish himself.
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