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Five Hearts

"Keepin' it Real"

Written by Steven Walker

I hate rap music.  Can’t stand it.  I’d rather listen to country and I hate country, too.  Needless to say, 8 Mile was not on my hotly anticipated list.  Music stars who attempt the transition to acting usually fall flat on their faces.  Don’t believe me?  Watch Under the Cherry Moon, Glitter, Get Rich or Die Tryin’ or anything with Jennifer Lopez.  Better yet, don’t watch any of those and prevent yet another unnecessary suicide.  Really, unless you’re Rebra McEntire in a movie about giant sand worms then you best stay on the stage.

The announcement of Eminem staring in a semi-autobiography sent groans through the pop conscious…until it was revealed that Curtin Hanson would direct.  Wait.  Curtis Hanson?  But he makes, you know, real movies…like L.A. Confidential and Wonder Boys.

Curtis Hansen is about as far from rap culture as you can get in a director, but he took one huge piece of rap vernacular to heart: he kept it real. So real, even, that the movie completely dodges the inevitable clichéd endings of movies like these.  Eminem does not close the movie with a million dollars, a record deal, a concert date, or even a chance run-in with a talent scout.  Hell, he doesn’t even get the girl.  What does he do?  He goes back to work on the graveyard shift at the local auto-factory.  Not exactly a Hollywood ending.

Hansen’s devotion to making the movie feel real, and not like the gangsta wet-dreams that most rap songs seem to be, is what makes everything work.  It allows a piece of heavy metal loving white-bread like me to actually connect with and, dare I say, care about rap culture for at least two hours.  His directing lets me understand the genuine artistry at work in a rap battle.  Something I had always dismissed as silly and juvenile becomes a source of inspiration and drama.  This is the power of movies, people.  It immerses me into an almost alien culture, makes me care about its people and leaves me with a newfound respect for it.

Seriously...the movie is so compelling on simple human levels that I defy anyone who enjoys good drama not to get invested.  The final rap battle is incredibly well staged and performed.  It gets me pumped up every time I watch it and holds up really well to repeat viewings.  I’ve tried to find fault with the film…a reason not to give it a full five hearts, but my personal objection to rap is not enough to discredit the story.  It is basically a perfect movie…humble, moving and inspirational.  Basically everything I never expected from it. 

It also has one hell of steamy sex scene.  If you like warm flesh and industrial machinery, you might want to watch that scene in private. 

And even though it’s been played to death, that song in the credits is easily my favorite rap song ever….though that’s not really saying much. 



Copyright 2008 Flaming Heart Enterprises, L.L.C.