Saturday, February 13, 2016

Straight Outta Compton - 1 nomination

Original Screenplay - Screenplay by Jonathan Herman and Andrea Berloff; Story by S. Leigh Savidge 

Straight Outta Compton follows the story of gangster rap super-group, N.W.A., whose famous songs like F*ck Tha Police and Gangsta Gangsta changed the face of rap music.  Tired of the police brutality they experienced and surrounded by neighborhoods filled with drugs, crime, and hopelessness, NWA tapped into the anger of a generation and hardened rap music that had been filled with songs about butts and knockin' boots.  Their rap was angry, political, counter-culture, and misogynistic.  The screenplay follows the group's rise, their squabbles, and their relationship with their manager, Jerry Heller, who is portrayed as a sleazy guy who manipulates the band and fosters jealousies and turmoil.

Full disclosure, I am friends with Jerry's nephew, a person whose integrity I believe to be of the highest degree who witnessed all of this as a young man, and he resolutely stands by his uncle, and claims that the portrayal of the relationship is patently false.  I believe him.

Nonetheless, even though I was not a fan of N.W.A. at the time that they were popular, my mind was opened to their music and their story through this excellent film.  The nostalgia of the songs resonated, and one simply cannot miss the genius that came through their lyrics.  It's incredible to see young stars we know today coming through their recording studio doors (Snoop Dogg, Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, etc.) and it's especially interesting knowing the senseless, violent deaths that came after the movie ends.  In some cases, the inability to escape the gangster lifestyle overshadowed the talent that clearly ran through all of their veins.

As I always say, movies are not documentaries, and even documentaries are not always the whole stories.  What I hope is that those who loved the film and want to know more about these characters will be inspired to learn their true stories, when not glamorized by a Hollywood tale.

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