The Life of JaWS

A blog by Jason Sansbury

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Movie Reviews: Kids and Hustle and Flow

(Note: Both these films are full of profanity, some violence and other issues that kids shouldn't see and uptight people ought to leave alone.)

So over the past week, I saw a couple movies via Netflix. (The movie watching has seriously slowed down now that I have purchased an antenna for my TV and can get most broadcast channels.)

Kids. Ugh. Kids is one of those movies that tries very hard to be shocking and titillating and depressing. For my money it succeeds only in depressing. The basic premise is that it follows some New York City kids through their life, which is missing nearly any adult involvement. It tries to then show a bleak side of life, a young man who has HIV, doesn't know it and is set on conquesting as many virgins as possible.
Why it didn't work: It is a world I know. I know kids who are adult-less and, yes, they wind up in some messy, ugly, strange places. The film maker seemed to want to walk a line between condemnation and glorification. The end result is a boring movie with some now famous kids that I could use to shock the heck out of adults if I wanted to but real life does in a much better way.

Hustle and Flow. You should first know this about me: I fancy myself as coming up from a pretty poor background. Now, granted, South Street in Newnan isn't downtown Atlanta or anything but it isn't exactly Peachtree City, GA either. So I think I understand and feel a bit about the haunting of poverty. (And if you beg to differ, that is fine. Just take it up with me face to face.)
And Hustle and Flow is a tremendous movie about one man's attempt to make something with his life. Terrence Howard is an amazingly gifted actor who portrays a pimp trying to make it as a rap/hip-hop artist. The supporting cast are all outstanding and the film works. What I found particularly interesting was the "Making of" feature where it talks about how the director was unable to get funding for a very urban movie because he was white. Liberal Hollywood couldn't conceive that a white man might know something about poverty, depression and pulling yourself up out of it.
Why it works: The film doesn't try and glorify the characters. All of them have major flaws. Some massively so. But it strikes a chord because of that fact- all of us got our issues, our demons and our sins. But at our core, we all want to try and make ourselves into something better than we are. Hustle and Flow does a good job of it. I especially thought the ending was particularly inspired, as it sets you up for one thing and gives you something else entirely.


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