"What Would You Call a Label Like That?" "Ruthless."
I grew up in a bubble. There are parts of “Straight Outta Compton” that, frankly, looked like science fiction to me. True, most of the action takes place during one of the most turbulent times in the city’s history (I was an INFANT during the Rodney King riots, so that’s another thing I didn’t really “get” until later), but that’s not the reason for my psychological disconnect. It’s because there are parts of Los Angeles that I’ve never been to, never seen, and the only people in my life while I was growing up there who could have let me in on what was going on were the kids in my school who were getting bussed in from those neighborhoods who (understandably) didn’t want to talk about it. I’m not totally sure I would have listened if they had.
“Straight Outta Compton” is one of the most successful biopics I’ve seen in recent memory because it does not attempt to justify or clarify its context. You either get it or you don’t, and the film makes it clear it couldn’t give a fuck either way. The narrative is buoyed by its electric main cast, particularly the three leading men who are all, by the way, pretty much new talent (who had all better get SO much more work after this). Like the film itself, the actors are grounded when they need to be and deeply emotional when it counts, creating human portrayals of polarizing, legendary people. This may be THE movie F. Gary Gray (The Italian Job) was born to direct; every moment in this film is designed to either punch you in the stomach or give you time to breath before the next blow. The film is sharp, brash, and honestly? Important. It feels less like a snapshot of the time, less like sentimental rumination (like bad biopics do) and more like an immediate tug from an impatient friend you’ve been arguing with for days. “I hear your arguments,” it says, “and I raise you my own.”
And hell, I’m not even this film’s intended audience! I’m the furthest thing from a fan of gangsta rap, I know next to nothing about NWA besides what I’ve overheard from other people, fuck, I barely know who these guys are. (“Krissy”, you say, “you said similar things about ‘Southpaw’. What DO you like to watch?” Oh, you’ll find out soon, my friends.) So I can only imagine what it feels like for someone who LOVES Dr Dre, Eazy E and Ice Cube to watch this film. I’m here to tell all of you who might want to skip this film because you’re afraid it won’t be accessible, don’t be scared! At its heart, it’s about young artists finding their people and learning how to speak their truth.
Cognac. At least one person has a bottle of it at all times.
-Drink when you see an angry police officer
-Drink when you see someone wearing “Raiders” or “Kings” gear
-Drink for physical altercations
-Drink when you see a naked woman (or however close to naked you wanna get)
-Drink for performances or recording sessions
This review was written by Hollis Beck (Krissy Pappau). “Straight Outta Compton” was produced by Cube Pictures, Legendary Pictures and Newline Cinema, and distributed by Universal Pictures. The film is rated “R” with a runtime of 147 minutes.
Special thanks to my patrons, Kaela Mei-Shing Garvin, Caroline Kittredge Faustine and Antonia Beck. You support helped make this article possible!