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DAR Film Review: Straight Outta Compton




Hello, welcome to the first DAR film review. My name is Tariku and today I'll be reviewing F. Gary Gray's Straight Outta Compton. My review will be split in four quarters.


1st Quarter
First off, I would like to discuss the direction. Gray really set the tone early of young and hungry black men looking for big opportunities. Shots displaying Dre laying down an assortment of classic records lets the audience know that his passion is clearly music. Cube writing and observing his area showcased his great attention span, as well his passion for writing. The old school feel of the film is visually represented by endless box crates and old vinyl records. The stage performances are fantastic largely due to Gray's direction. Making sure that he showcased the audience and their energy. Made the actual audience in the theatre be more in tuned with the experience. The creative process of some records is a key ingredient to the film's success by once again grabbing the audience's attention and making them feel like they're in the studio with Dre helping to make these records. Certain shots in the film really showed racial tension. One in particular during the aftermath of the group performing Fuck The Police in Detroit. Not only do you see the cops vs NWA, but you also see blacks showing their support for the music and a lot of whites showing disdain towards it. Another shot I will give praise to is one during the scene where we see the LA Riots and the camera shows a crip and blood bandanas tied together. I really thought that shot was powerful and showed togetherness amongst the black community.

2nd Quarter
Second are the performances. A relatively unknown cast, I was quite surprised that most of them seemed like they've been acting FOR YEARS. A lot of people will say that Jason Mitchel's portrayal as Eazy E was the strongest, but in my opinion it's Corey Hawkins' as Dre. His portrayal of Dr. Dre really stood out to me. I believe it's because he had the strongest monologues, especially the one in the Death Row Records building. O'Shea Jr's portrayal of his father would of course feel natural. His was the best on stage performances of course, but I felt like his performance didn't stand out because it wasn't challenging from an acting standpoint.

Emphasis on the chemistry between the group is heavy in this film. The chemistry is more of a down to earth Avengers. You see that through all the good and bad, they'll "always be brothers".

Halftime
Quick praise to the editing of the film, showing the characters real and stage names as they were introduced. The cameos from D.O.C. to Jimmy Iovine to Snoop (who was surprisingly good in his short screen time). I won't spoil anything, but Cube says a particular line that will bring laughs and nostalgia to a lot of people. You'll notice it easily.

3rd Quarter
The music and sound. Great blend of Funk/NWA/and Dre's recent album. "Talking to My Diary" to start off the film was smart as it symbolizes Dre reminiscing on the past and it makes sense given the time period of the film. Certain funk tracks usually played for Dre's scenes to represent his love for that sound. "Just Another Day" when Cube is walking through Compton fits perfectly. "Quiet on Set" and "Express Yourself" in the studio represents the creative process.
Dre saying Aftermath at the end of the film followed by the film showing their careers after NWA ceased also made a lot of sense.

4th Quarter
The Writing/Dialogue. Dialogue felt completely natural. Nothing forced. The screenwriter clearly wanted things to just feel real. Every piece of dialogue fit the tone of every scene. From hilarious back and forth exchanges in the studio to intense exchange of words between the cops and minorities.

A good blend of strong tone and comedy relief, especially from Eazy and Yella.

Overtime
The themes are powerful and some that I personally noticed might turn a lot of heads and make things tense, but here goes nothing. Obvious theme I noticed was "youth taking big opportunities". Another was "racial tension" that of course is very relevant to today's society. Gray really put a lot of focus on the theme of "groups". You notice in a lot of his shot choices there's groupings, whether it's NWA, The Lynch Mob, Death Row, and even the police. The "divide and conquer" theme where Heller caused tension by focusing on only Eazy and not the rest of the group for the sake of business. One last theme was the "slave and the master" with of course Eazy being the slave and Heller the master. You could say that Cube was the Nat Turner of sorts.

Overall, I enjoyed Straight Outta Compton. A period piece that represents the hunger, anger, and ambition of us blacks perfectly. A movie that came out in the right place and time that deserves its praise.

One last thing, shoutout to the portrayal of Suge in this film, because this was WAYYYYY more compelling than the portrayal of his character in Notorious.

-Tye

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