Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Movies: 8 Mile

Watching a bootlegged DVD of this movie at two in the morning on a thirteen-inch television screen provided a ghetto ambiance that complemented the film perfectly. In fact, because I was watching a DV recording sloppily made in a movie theatre, with a line of gray fuzz running through the screen's center, I cannot tell you whether the dim, dingy haze that surrounds Eminem and his compatriots as they drive around Detroit and hang in the underground club was an aesthetic choice made by the director, or just an affect of the copy-of-a-copy treatment; either way, it worked.

The script, I'm sorry to say, is bare to a fault (considering that I couldn't make out a lot of the dialogue thanks to the television's tinny speakers and the DV's crappy mic, this turned out to be not such a bad thing), and when the characters do speak, their conversation is as intellectually evolved as the dialogue in Flashdance (8 Mile actually feels like the masculine, rapping remake of Flashdance in quite a lot of ways). The acting, though, is surprisingly inoffensive; Eminem seems comfortable playing himself, and Kim Basinger plays his drunken, trailer-dwelling mother with aplomb. It's kind of strange seeing Kim Basinger so fucked up.

What the film lacks in screenwriting it makes up in soundtrack, heavy on early-nineties rap, especially Biggie. Even here, though, my expectations weren't met; I expected to hear something more underground, more hardcore; something I hadn't heard before, but I didn't. Most disappointing were Eminem's rap sequences. I've never been a big fan of his (we started off on a bad foot when I heard his music being played on Live 105, San Francisco's old modern rock/alternative station, on which rap had never been played; I believed at the time (and still do), that his music was included only because he was white), and I haven't listened to enough (any?) of his songs to tell you whether he's an equal rapper to, say Biggie. Based on his rapping scenes in the film, though, he has bad rhythm, and gets more mileage out of the piss and vinegar he isn't afraid to spew from his mouth than from any musical or word-smithing brilliance.

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