Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Rock Solid

If you're a slavish movie geek who trawls the internet for trade breaks regarding the latest film deals and attachments then news about Andrea Berloff, who wrote World Trade Center for Oliver Stone, being brought in to script New Line Cinema's N.W.A bio-pic STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON will seem outdated. The proposed movie will follow N.W.A from their early days in the mid-1980s through the success of their initial albums and on to their eventual breakup, which was by no means a friendly parting. Berloff is an interesting choice for the project, most notably because she's a middle-class American white woman who looks far too genteel to undertake a movie about the self-declared world's most dangerous group. Yet, it's her 'otherness' that makes her seem an attractive fit for the project. I'm hoping Berloff will add a much appreciated dose of humanity to what can easily end up a balls-out generic romp about stereotypical black dudes acting like thugs. N.W.A changed the face of what was perceived as acceptable music to the masses. They were on FBI lists and had Reagan's administration in a real palaver. It was the first time suburban America felt under attack by black icons who were educating their cute Caucasian kids in the art of 'Killing Hookers' and 'Fucking the Police'. They changed the face of music and in turn introduced some of the most electrifying music production engineered by Dr. Dre and Easy-E, with incendiary lyrics usually handled by Ice Cube and MC Ren.

As much as I'm looking forward to STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON, I feel less confident in the actuality Ice Cube, his business partner Matt Alvarez, and Eazy-E's widow Tomika Woods are on board as co-producers. Music bio-pics are invariably compromised by powerful musicians being able to heavily influence their own representations on screen or else they will not grant permission for their songs to feature in the movie. George Tillman's bio-pic of Biggie Smalls in NOTORIOUS seemed dented by the interference of his mother Voletta Wallace and P-Diddy, who both served as producers on the movie. The film failed to convince me that what was depicted was a true assessment of a flawed hip-hop star that had flawed familial figures and a flawed business partner. I was a big fan of Oliver Stone's THE DOORS and revelled in its enigmatic depiction of a rock god; albeit I was none the wiser about who Jim Morrison really was after seeing the movie. Rock/ Music bio-pics are tricky motherfuckers that are hard to pull off commendably. I'm reading the Mötley Crüe autobiography The Dirt that was optioned by MTV Films many years ago. Larry Charles (Borat, Bruno) is on board to direct the movie version of The Dirt, but even though the book is great fun to read, it hardly has any notion of plot or character development.

I'd love to see Andrea Berloff crack STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON and present a story in which our perceived expectations of "The World's most Dangerous Band" are challenged and defied: kind of like the way Martin Scorsese did with Jesus in The Last Temptation of Christ: only this time doing it with jheri curl rap gangsters.

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