Saturday, August 13, 2005

Hustle & Flow

Some films I just fall in love with. I walk out and think, wow, that was fantastic - I loved everything about it. Sometimes there is even a moment when I'm watching the screen and this feeling just washes over me that "omigod, this is brilliant." The earliest instance I can remember was at the very end of "Big Night," the morning after, when the brothers were in the kitchen making breakfast. The camera followed every move, quietly and simply, and all of a sudden it hit me - the film is going to end like this, without any grand Hollywood reconciliation or forgiveness scene, but in a quiet moment like this - because that's how life really is. It was startling, and yet, so very very perfect.

It's happened since, but I still always think of it as the Big Night moment.

It happened again in "Hustle & Flow." It was during a scene when the characters are creating music in their makeshift studio, and the combination of the music itself and the way in which the actors were portraying the wonder they felt at the music coming together - it was as if the magic they were feeling in that room were spilling out from the screen. It wasn't just sharng the magic of the music coming together, but as an audience member, seeing the film itself crystallize in that very same scene. I just didn't want it to end.

I loved Terrance Howard in "Crash" and he's absolutely the only reason I wanted to see this film. On the surface - rap music, pimps, hos - completely not my cup of tea. But I am so glad that I decided to move out of my comfort zone, because it really isn't as much a film about rap as it is about people pursuing a dream.

I had already downloaded the podcast of Elvis Mitchell's interview with Craig Brewer, the writer/director, but I waited until after seeing the film to listen to it. He described the long process of selling his idea to the studios, who all wanted to categorize it as a black/urban film, while he envisioned it as "Rocky" or one of those Judy Garland/Mickey Rooney films where they build a stage in the barn and put on a play. (I'm not sure if he actually used that example, or if I am re-imagining.) It's also the story of Memphis, of locals whose music grows out of their neighborhood and how the industry pulls them away from their roots - and away from the inspiration that made them.

I even liked Ludacris - who I've now seen in two films (he was also in "Crash") and impressed me both times. Who would have guessed? Even more surprising is that after leaving the theater with one of the film's songs running through my head, I was really disappointed when I found out that iTunes doesn't carry the soundtrack. (It's already out on CD, so it's apparently a licensing thing.)


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