H. H. Holmes.
Straight Outta Compton Director’s Cut
FROM NOW /CERT. 18
EZQGD A L. A. STORY
EING FORMULAIC isn’t always a bad thing. Straight Outta Compton doesn’t so much tear up the music-biopic sheet as hug it close, before scrawling its own “street knowledge” in the margins.
In a sense, F. Gary Gray’s soup-to-nuts N.W.A story is a virtual remake of Oliver Stone’s The Doors. The era’s changed and it’s a very different musical genre, but both are epic accounts of ultimately tragic groups who rose up through the fissure of American political division, challenged the prevailing
cultural agenda, embraced controversy over their lyrics, and apparently had a moment when one of them noodled on a keyboard for a while before triumphantly coming up with an awesomely catchy riff.
And as if two-and-a-half hours weren’t enough for Gray, who worked with producers and former Ns With Attitudes Dr. Dre and Ice Cube, he’s now put out this Director’s Cut, which clocks in at 163 minutes. In interviews following the theatrical release, Gray had promised that the new version would better address the band’s suspect treatment of women (both lyrically and personally), but all we have are a few
It’s fair to say the cameraman’s joke hadn’t gone down too well.
They’re a “higher class of action hero”, as the disc’s sole extra claims, but disappointing box office suggests ‘class’ wasn’t what was wanted. Still, there’s enough to enjoy in Guy Ritchie’s slick revamp of the ’60s spy show, not least fractious, world-saving odd couple Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer, dj
additional scenes displaying tenderness between Dre and Eazy-E and their respective other halves. Otherwise, it is, frankly, all filler no killer.
Not that it fundamentally damages a film which, deservedly, made $200 million against a $28 million budget, opened bigger than Mission: Impossible Rogue Nation, and now stands proud as the most successful music biopic ever made (in your face, Walk The Line). There were worries that Dre and Cube’s close proximity would render it a vanity project the former was, as the disc’s 35-minute ‘making of’ reveals, on set every day; the latter’s own son was cast… as him! But, while it does skew massively
positive, with an end-credits montage which leaves us in no doubt as to how hugely successful Cube and Dre have been, their involvement gives it a powerful sense of autobiographical authenticity. It’s something that’s bolstered by astonishing performances from its mostly unknown cast (yes, 1995
including Cube’s son, O’Shea Jackson At one point in Jr.), and the rooting of the shoot in Straight Outta real South Central locations. As the Compton you see Ice on-screen gang are told early on by one Cube typing away at hilariously clueless naysayer, “Nobody the script for this wants to hear this reality rap shit.” amiable comedy, in Well, it’s the reality as much as the which he also stars. rap that makes this rise above the They’d make a solid formula. DAN JOLIN meta double bill.