I seized the opportunity to take the weekend and enjoy it by going to the movies; something I don’t do often. Not because I usually don’t want to, but because I usually don’t have the time. I took this time to see Straight Outta Compton – the biopic that tells the story of the formation of the iconic Compton rap group powerhouse, N.W.A. (Niggaz with Attitude).
I will be perfectly honest, I went into this film incredibly skeptical. I did not want to see a cheesy film poorly portraying men who have accomplished a great deal throughout their lives. And yes, I did read the reviews of the film before watching it, all of which were quite positive and encouraging. Yet, I was still uncertain.
I’d like to make a quick mention regarding this film. For one: I find it incredibly HILARIOUS, that here in Baltimore City, an area where a great majority of the city’s inhabitants are in fact black, this film is not playing down near the Harbor. In the city. “Why?,” some may ask, well I will quote a friend by saying, “[it is] just too ‘hood’, no better yet, too real for Harbor East.” Landmark Theatre at Harbor East, I will say, you are stupid, incredibly ignorant, close-minded, and an incredibly poor judge of what the people want… (especially post-uprising, but that is a whole other entry), but that is just what I’ll say. Also, I called that Harbor East wouldn’t show the movie weeks before the release, and (sometimes) Baltimore never fails when it comes to proving how right people are about another’s ignorance. I had to search for the film and ended up at the Senator Theatre. Thank you Senator: Smart move on your part and the film is showing in their largest showing room, I believe. You are now my first choice of movie house. Truly. For two: Best part of this whole thing is, this film has grossed over $111 million dollar earnings in its second week out (last time I checked stats, although may have surpassed that number by the time I finish this review). As a comparison, Mission Impossible is in its fourth week out and has grossed $157 million… so there’s that. Go ahead Landmark. Kick yourself for your sheer race-based stupidity. Please! For three: when disturbed white people (sorry white people, but its true) are shooting up Trainwreck, which Harbor East is playing, black people are celebrating a rise above negative public perception and an evolution of man from the dope slinger of Compton to the record studio producer of LA and NY. Ummm… they aren’t shooting up movie theaters. People apparently aren’t afraid to watch niggaz with attitudez, learn in-depth about the topics they shed light on, or watch a movie composed mostly of black leading MEN! Crazy, right?? No. Just truth. Also, I’d like to mention that Landmark is also playing Fantastic Four, huge huge flop this summer grossing a total of $49 million and its in its third week – and it had so much promise… hmm.
Now, if I may say so myself, this film kind of blew me away…. I appreciated the manner of care taken regarding the writing, the cinematography, the plot, the storytelling, the casting, the acting, the directing… Everything. I know that F. Gary Gray was not the first choice as director, but I truly believe his vision worked out beautifully. John Singleton was in fact slated as the initial director, but they decided to go a different route. The route taken by: Set it Off, Law Abiding Citizen, The Italian Job, Friday, The Negotiator… you know him, you just may not know you know him: F. Gary Gray. What a talented individual. What a wonderful mind and a magical knack for ensuring diversity in casting without making anyone feel uncomfortable about it, and telling stories appealing to the masses, rather than the fractions. Being the cinefile I am, I have always loved his work, his mind, his talent.
I also want to mention the controversy surrounding the casting calls. They were labeled “racist” and “racially biased” and criticized by the media for their lack of tact. Now, please tell me why? Should we even try to recall all of the big budget hollywood or smaller budget indie flicks out there and their casting calls? Their heavily white casting calls. Their racially biased casting calls. If we are going to call out a black film as being racially biased, let’s make sure to provide all film that same privilege, please. Why is it that a film based on black men in Compton is called racist whereas movies like say, Trainwreck, for instance was not? Let it be across the board media or not at all. I personally believe they knew this film would be successful, ad wanted to ensure some negativity was attached to such a powerfully positive black film, but that’s just my opinion.
In the wake of what some/ignorant/sleeping/silent America is only just realizing about the current injustice system we so heavily rely on to balance those scales of justice (odd, I know), Straight Outta Compton, is only further evidence of what black america has already known and felt, and inherently understood = America is not fair. America is not just. America can provide incredible opportunity to a select few, but unfortunately, people like Jerry Heller (the manager, also the main white guy in the film) will screw you and the only person you can truly trust is yourself, to make the right decisions about yourself and your well-being. Even in the film the white man tries to tear the black community apart, but the boys from the hood were so strong (together and separately) no one person could break them no matter how hard they tried.
Thus is life (especially for many black people).
Thus is art.
Thus is this film.
Thus is truth.
Looks like Straight Outta Compton is proof that #blacklivesDOmatter!
Thank you Niggaz.With.Attitude. America obviously needed to hear and see this right here. Right now.