Sunday, June 22, 2008

Movies: Hustle and Flow

BET is a controversial channel, criticized by some for its supposedly lowbrow content. I do find it ironic that modern hip-hop videos and Christian televangelism are broadcast on the same network, but I guess it's a good example of how fractured America is. Although I'm not a regular viewer, I found myself watching BET's "Black Buster" movie slot because it featured a heavily edited version of "Hustle and Flow," a film written and directed by Craig Brewer:



This is one of Terrence Howard's breakout performances, and his character alternately evokes pathos and disgust in the viewer. Howard stars as DJay, a small-time drug dealer and pimp who tries his hand at making hip hop songs with the help of an old friend named Key (played by Anthony Anderson). Along for the ride are DJay's prostitutes, a painfully white friend of Key's, and a now-successful rapper who grew up in DJay's area (played by Ludacris).

The movie's big weakness is that it doesn't stray too much from established genre storylines. You can pretty much predict what will happen every step of the way, but the cast does a good job with the material (especially Anderson, who can do much more than the comic relief that he is relegated to in more mainstream fare). The film has a breezy plot and a simple message, although the climax is kind of inspiring - overall, a thumbs-up.

The movie's rated a solid R, with foul language and drug use that must have made the BET censors exasperated.

Rating: 7/10

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