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The first thing I ask a movie like this to be is honest. If you're not
going to give me romance and white dresses and beautiful vistas, then
be honest. But if you're going to be honest, don't be cynical. Hustle &
Flow is wonderful. It will never be a Hollywood movie. But the grit,
the sweat, the hurt, the grimness of poverty, the hope and yes, love -
it's all there. I didn't see one phony face, hear one phony line.
Like his first movie, The Poor & Hungry, Craig Brewer has an intelligent eye that I haven't seen matched by anyone except perhaps Satyajit Ray, for the poetry of poverty and small lives. Brewer doesn't romanticize it, doesn't condemn it, doesn't celebrate it (that would be a Hollywood movie). He just sees it, and somehow, miraculously, let's us see it. Then he takes us beyond our preconceptions and judgments into the hearts of the people he portrays. I can't call them characters because they're too real.
Terrance Howard is superb; so many people have already lauded his performance that I won't say anymore about that here. So is the rest of the cast - Sug, Nola, Key. I can't say enough good things about this movie. So, turn off your TV and walk yourself to Hustle & Flow where the good stuff is. Even if you detest crunk / rap / hip-hop, go see it. Even if you don't want to know about 'niggas and hoas' go see it. If you value honest movies, you won't be sorry.
If like me you hate overly formulaic films, films that you have seen
over and over again with different titles then Hustle and Flow will be
a real treat. The movie focuses on what makes a movie great, the acting
and the script. Everything else is an extra.
The movie shows that the reality of life is that a lot of people end up living lives that were not their dreams or not even lives that they would have chosen but instead lives they just fell into. Nevertheless, you live that life the best you can while still holding on to that dream. Often that dream is simply nothing more than there has to be something better or something more.
This movie was a lot better than I expected, and I expected something decent -in spite of the usual rave reviews that everything gets these days.I was really smacked upside the head by this one because it was unique with the casting and the underlying tension in the story. This is not that boring ass 8 mile crap,and if your afraid of hearing the "N" word then just don't go to see this movie. This story is painfully easy to relate to because it's about struggling to achieve a blurred dream and convincing yourself that "it ain't over for you" as one of the songs say.Most people can relate to this unless they've already given up.The casting has a natural racial mix that really really felt good. Too bad Spielberg and Scorsese can't cast like this. The raps were hard and good ...they were actually a member of the cast and a real pleasure.Whether you like rap or not you'll enjoy the honesty of it. Terrence owned this role while not over acting it,like so many actors do lately.I'll buy this soundtrack even though I'll have to use earphones on it because it's pretty raw.
Better than 8 mile, as rap movies go. TERRANCE HOWARD, got off!!! This role kinda reminded me of the role TERRANCE, played in the movie, DEAD PRESIDENTS, I have followed his work, and his ability to play different types of characters...good/bad guys, to corporate exec/lawyers, Confirms my thoughts that he is one of the most under rated actors in Hollywood! Paula Jai Parker, is no stranger to playing a street hooker, as she played in the movie PHONE BOOTH, she was very convincing. I just hope she does not get "locked", into these type of roles. It could be damaging to her career! Some females, are gonna have a problem with the female characters in this film, no doubt, But if they can get pass all that, the guts of the film will clearly appear! As we all know, "PIMP'N AIN'T EASY", so let's try the RAP GAME!!
This newcomer writer/director manages to masterfully encapsulate the audience in a world to which most could not fathom. These seriously flawed characters take us on a journey that tugs at our heartstrings, while reminding us that to err is human, especially while risking it all to "walk the talk." The entire cast was amazing. Terrence Howard proves to be a true talent once again, this time teasing us with his harsh lyrics and passionate vocals. Anthony Anderson delivers an outstanding performance as Terence's character flashes a mirror that has him reflecting on his own decisions and position in life. The characters are all highly evolved and make the experience that much more interesting. I highly recommend this film to everyone and anyone, rapper fan or not.
Is Hustle and Flow about dreams? Most definitely. Does the film tell us
that dreams can come true no matter what? No, it doesn't but what it
does get across is the message that you should try to achieve them, no
matter what happens or what situation you're in. This is the kind of
lecture Hustle and Flow gets across in an engaging and realistic manner
thanks to the final few scenes which border on tragedy at its very best
when a certain someone who a certain someone else looks up to dismisses
the dream in an instant after so much work. For a film to focus on
someone whom most would consider part of the dregs of society; have
them go through so much, but not in the way of neatly plotted
narrative, and then to have the bubble threaten to burst is a brave
move because it could so easily be misread as a message that no matter
what, you will fail.
But right nearer the end, the film bails itself out by having its protagonist placed in a position of power from which others will look up to him in the same manner he once looked up to others. This is a brave film that introduces Djay (Howard) as someone you wouldn't give five minutes of your time to before taking him on this journey and then having the audacity to hammer home the wrong ideation. Djay is an African-American living in Memphis but he represents any living being who feels as if they're stuck in a rut without having found their 'form' or their calling. Like most African-Americans in Hollywood films, he is a pimp with few redeeming qualities. But the surprise here is the manner in which Hustle and Flow grabs this protagonist after a relatively low-key; urban cause and effect fuelled opening and has them suffer an epiphany so early on with two incidences opening his mind: that being the acquiring of an old electronic keyboard and the chance encounter with Key (Anderson), an old school buddy.
The fact Djay specifically mentions his childhood when toying with the mock keyboard is one thing but the further emphasis on Key's character as a friend from school and the fact he is now in the music producing industry are two things that I feel call Djay into the world of music they push him over the line if he was not already on the brink, albeit he perhaps did not know he was. The film at its core is about how one man can venture outside of the boundaries he knows like the back of his hand. Djay is a pimp and while he is not happy in that role, it is a role he seems accustomed to. His trading and dealing within his profession sees him sit in a car and talk every so often to customers perhaps interested in the girl he sits beside it is simplistic and Djay is in a groove but the film follows a 'promotion' of sorts when he is elevated into the world of music. But the film covers the dangers of venturing outside this groove if anything else and the study is quite brilliant.
It is not only Djay that the film touches on when it comes to characters being out of the boundaries of comfort. The film tells us the basic message that in order to achieve, do not keep yourself in the passage you're currently in and this counts for Djay but Key's scenario of already having a seemingly 'perfect' life is equally interesting.
As a character, Key has elevated himself above Djay's prior position and has a nice house compared to Djay's dwelling; a loyal wife whom we elevate above Djay's girls thanks to the scene in her living room in which they sit in opposing positions, the simplest of compliments breaking out into an argument between Djay's two representatives and he also has a living in the music business which we put in stark contrast to Djay as a pimp. As the friendship rekindled wears on, Key will be tested in his patience and so will his relationship with his wife who is most concerned about the time he spends at the house with so many of the loose women she has recently had prior contact with. But as the film develops through its musically driven narrative complete with Oscar winning 'It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp' which in itself is about the rut and prior groove Djay found himself in, it becomes apparent that the hero of the hour is eyeing up a bigger prize and that is a rendez-vous with now legendary rapper Skinny Black (Ludacris).
For the final third to be so involved and so decisive with the climax of this dream is quite extraordinary. The feeling of all or nothing is really put across in an impressive manner during this particular passage and the 'certain failure' which partly comes with this sort of story is somewhat harrowing in the sense that not only does it seem Djay might fail but the film may seem as if it will put across the wrong message completely. But the film is not that nasty and isn't about to undo all its hard work. A grittier and more hard hitting ending might well have worked against the film more than anything but for what it is, Hustle and Flow is an interesting and satisfying film which will give a sense of feeling and one of brooding atmosphere as it steers its way towards a dramatic climax.
I didn't expect to like this film, but I've recently seen Terrence
Howard in Idlewild and Craig Brewer's wonderful Black Snake Moan, so
when my wife suggested we try it, I agreed. I was knocked out by
Terrence Howard's performance.
I've wondered what I'll say if someone asks me "What's that movie about?" On the surface it's the story of a pimp who wants to be a rapper. What it's really about is human aspiration, the hopes and dreams which keep us alive. It's about caring for the people around you. It's about perseverance in the face what look like insurmountable obstacles. It's about real people.
I'm a 60-year-old white guy, and even the rhythm of rap usually makes me want to run from the room and plug my ears. Having now, through this film, shared DJay's creative process, I can now appreciate the message and emotion behind it. I still don't like the medium in which the message is sent, but I'm no longer instantly repelled by it. I've found myself humming "It's hard out here for a pimp," which is so ironic that I just laugh when I find myself doing it.
I didn't watch last year's Academy Awards, and was not aware that Terrence Howard had been nominated for his performance in this film. I was delighted to learn that he had been, as performances in low-budget films seem often to be overlooked. This an excellent, if disturbing, film.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
About 30 minutes into Hustle and Flow, not only did I think Terrence
Howard had already earned his Oscar nomination, but had already won it.
In DJay, he creates a very deep and layered character capable of brutal
violence and unexpected moments of compassion at times. But mostly,
he's just a real guy caught up in unreal businesses pursuing a dream.
While Howard absolutely owns this film, the film is made great by the supporting cast that surrounds DJay, especially the women. In what is a very weak field of Supporting Actresses, both Taryn Manning (Nola) and Taraji Henson (Shug) would have been very worthy nominees this year. It is through these women (and the performances of the actresses) that we are able to see the gentler side of DJay. The moment where Shug tells DJay how much singing on the demo tape meant to her was one of the films best moments. As was the exchange between DJay and Nola as he's being arrested. Another great sequence happens when Key's wife Yevette (Elise Neal) gives up trying to fight her husbands dream and instead brings over the sandwiches. Every character in this film is deep and makes you care about them.
I thought that, towards the end of the third act, when things take a turn for the worse between DJay and Skinny Black, that the film briefly spiraled out of control and got a little away from itself. Thankfully, it reeled itself back in pretty quickly once DJay was in prison. Maybe the three minutes or so of brutal violence and gunshots could have been replaced with a different way of DJay being incarcerated.
Terrence Howard hooked me from the beginning and his performance didn't let me go until it was over. I was very much on the edge of my seat the whole time in a film that doesn't have much edge of your seat action. Hustle and Flow is frequently funny, dramatic, moving, shocking and sometimes all of them. And it's moral is that it's OK to have a dream and pursue it. And it doesn't do it in a hokey way. Unforgettable and possibly the best film of 2005.
OK I know this movie wasn't made for old white guys like me. I rented
it because Terrence Howard was nominated for best actor, and I was
curious. So the fact that I don't think rap is an art form, don't think
it's music, don't think it's worthy of the money it generates is
irrelevant. I find the whole rapper, guns, ho's, violence, ghetto deal
with the strutting, macho posturing that accompanies it to be very
irritating. And while I understand the money they have (and I don't) is
a big factor to this dislike, hopefully I'm not too obvious about it
But as to the film, Terrence does a fine job of playing a ghetto black he was very believable as some no-hoper hustler. And my equally old wife and I watched the whole movie and found it entertaining, funny at times, and were very appreciative that it wasn't as profane and violent as it could have been. So the movie is not the issue, although I couldn't refrain from commenting on rap above.
But I do not understand the acting 'stretch' I keep hearing regarding the lead actor; and why this justifies his nomination in this somewhat above average film. He's an actor, and judging from his role in 'Crash', he can play other roles as well. But that's just it I don't think for a black actor, that playing upper class, and then playing ghetto is all that tough of a stretch. Oprah does it whenever she wants to make a point, Denzel does it at a drop of a hat; Richard Pryor was another example; heck, I bet you could even throw in Bill Cosby. Black entertainers do this easily (and hopefully this doesn't qualify as insensitive stereotyping). Hell, almost all the rappers who go on to acting roles CAN act between these extremes. Now, some might say 'why should you penalize this talent (or even minimize it) by not recognizing it at award time? You wouldn't talk about ignoring or penalizing Bobby Bonds just because he makes it look easy would you?'. And I don't have an answer for that one it's a good point.
Possibly this performance being nominated is not all that bad a deal anyway. It's just that maybe it took a nomination away from a Morgan Freeman, or heck even a Jeff Daniels. Besides, I'm still carrying a grudge that Guy Pearce wasn't nominated for 'Memento'.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I thought this movie was great. I came away thinking about all people who have a dream...no matter what. Although I am not a huge fan of rap I can see it's value. Some of the lyrics in the songs are much better than the stuff that some popular rock songs are made of. (I didn't really think these lyrics were very inspiring but I did like the beat) Think of all of the kids that want to grow up to be a rock star? I think it's great that your 15 year old has the opportunity to teach other kids, who are either yanking his chain or are quite possibly ignorant, not to believe what they see in movies. It would be great if he felt confident enough to help them be critical thinkers and to lose the tendency to generalize. I think it would be great if you could talk this through with your son and have it be a learning experience.
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