Thursday, March 10, 2011

8 Mile. B

Eminem plays a pissed off, naturally born talented rapper in 8 Mile. The title refers to the line between Detroit and its suburbs, the line between the blacks and the whites. Eminem, whose character goes by the nickname Rabbit, lives with the blacks, is surrounded by them, but never fails to fit in. That's not what the movie's about. Curtis Hanson's film has pretty small ambitions, telling a simple story of a white rap artist struggling to survive in the ghetto. He has friends because he's loyal, and enemies because he's constantly allowing his anger to boil over the top. 8 Mile almost seems like an antidote for die hard Eminem followers who want to see this guy's talent on a giant scale. This movie seems to be made for Eminem, and he invests all he's got in the role. He's not a great actor, but he knows the role well because I assume it's a slight model of his own early life. And while the acting isn't amazing, it's good enough to carry the emotional weights of the story and make us care and cheer by the end. This is feel good entertainment that makes us feel even better due to the difficult things these people deal with 24/7. And the music's excellent too, bringing poetry to the ghetto in all its lust, dirt, and grime. Lose Yourself is a fantastic song, very familiar now, but probably a miracle when the film came out in 2002. I wish I had seen the movie when it was released (the only thing I remember about it was predicting that it and the second Harry Potter movie would be the two movies competing for the Academy Award for Best Picture that year) just to hear that song when it was fresh. Enjoying 8 Mile is easy, but calling it great could only come with covering up the flaws and just looking at the musical aspect of the film. Dramatically it's sufficient, but it's not quite wise enough to compel us to really think about what we're watching. I think it's because the script really is focused on the music, and also because perhaps the ghetto lifestyle is generally shallow, focused more on sensationalism than substance. Where I work, a lot of people dig Eminem's music, his style, his message. I have a friend who thinks of him as a hero. I've become more and more aquatinted with his work over the years and now consider myself a pretty big fan. I'm a fan of this movie, too, but really only because of the artist who inspired it. So if you like Eminem, or rap in general, you'll like 8 Mile.

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