Hustle & Flow

I noticed (in ‘s entry) that Hustle & Flow got a couple of Oscar nods, which reminded me that I wanted to recommend the film.

and I watched it on DVD last week, and it was really good. I had originally wanted to see it because a) I like hip-hop and b) I really like Terrance Howard. Therefore, I expected to like the film quite a bit….but was really impressed by how much better it was than I had expected.

The movie is about a pimp. Not a glamorous “bling bling” pimp archetype, or even the vicious violent stereotype….but a decidedly unglamourous, dirt-poor loser, who acts as money manager/chauffer to three women– a corn-rowed white girl who does most of the “work”, a stripper who regularly berates him for his ambitions, and one who doesn’t work, since she’s pregnant by an unknown “client.” These individuals form a disfunctional family unit of sorts. The way the relationships and the realities of their lives are portrayed prevents you from making easy value judgements about them…and I really like how that is done. D-Jay (Terrence Howard) is essentially undergoing a midlife crisis….he worries that it’s all over for him — that this is all he’ll ever be. When he learns that former local rapper turned superstar named Skinny Black (played by Ludacris) is coming back to town for the 4th of July, D-Jay scrambles to put together a demo tape with the help of an old high school buddy (who’s now a solidly middle-class guy, but also experiencing his own fears about never realizing his dreams), and a geeky white musician. The hope is that Skinny will hear the demo, and D-Jay will “break out.”

You end up caring about D-Jay, even though he’s a manipulative scumbag….purely because of the strength of Terrence Howard’s performance. The script is brilliant (the white girl at one point layng bare the pimp/ho relationship with the revelation to D-Jay that she’s fully aware that he manipulates her…but, as she says: “…I let you. I let you, because sometimes my mind needs to be played with.” Because that’s how she gets through the life she’s living.) The music is also hot as hell. There are several scenes which show them building a track by layers, which is exactly how I work when I’m doing electronica, so I loved that.

Funny thing: The Academy has nominated “Hard Out Here For a Pimp” as Best Original Song, which I find hilarious….not because it’s not deserving (it is), but because they’ve nominated a song with that sort of title. Must’ve killed the stuffed shirts among them. In my opinion, the first song from the film, “Whoop That Trick” is much better….but is so heavy with profanity that there’s no way they would’ve nominated it. I’ll post both tracks on this week’s Friday Music, so you can form your own opinion.

This has turned out to be much longer than I had intended, so I’ll sum up: Rent Hustle & Flow, and watch it with an open mind. I think you’ll like it.

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