Guide to Seeing the New 2Pac Biopic All Eyez on Me
The Film Continues the Trend of Inscrutability of Similar Hip-Hop Films Such as Straight Outta Compton and Notorious
6/15/17, 12:14 pm EDT
By John Corry, photo from YouTube
Anyone remember 8 Mile?
There are a slew of scenes in that movie–after that part where Eminem’s crew gets caught rap battling amongst themselves in that parking garage and this other crew gets there and totally ruins the vibe #BecauseThere’sNoReasonToRapBattle(OrDoAnythingElseForThatMatter)IfIt’sNotALLAboutWhoWinsOrLoses–where the film follows the crew around some exports of the city. These scenes collectively last maybe ten minutes, though I may be wrong #NoIMayn’t, and they really do just follow the crew around in their exploits throughout the city, occasionally showing Eminem’s character–the main character of the story–flirting with Brittany Murphy’s character, or rapping to himself; you know, the things rap movies nowadays do exactly the same every time, and, ‘ironically’ (?), in a way totally ripping off 8 Mile.
I mention this to continue onto fellow ‘hip-hop movie’, All Eyez on Me, directed by Benny Boom and starring Demetrius Shipp Jr., and the potential it has for continuing that trend. Be forewarned that I have not seen the movie myself yet, and that all of these opinions are based solely off of what I’ve seen of the preview, and anything else I may know about the movie, including but not limited to the fact that original director John Singleton had worked personally with 2Pac on his 1993 film Poetic Justice and made one of the most celebrated movies on inner-city life ever made, Boys N’ The Hood–
Have the producers of All Eyez on Me even looked into what their subject material is? I mean I’m sure they’ve done their research, but at least in the ‘preview’ it looks as though they’re taking a far more ‘ethical’ aesthetic approach than would be warranted after looking into it. Suge Knight is a real-life asshole, allegedly specifically tried to rip Tupac off himself a good number of times, yet, again at least in the All Eyez on Me preview, he’s coming off like a fucking inspirational/motivational/money’s-your-drug-now guru/saint behind which there is no corruption but what the system has so systematically put on him. ‘It’s not his fault he’s such an asshole, he’s a victim of circumstance!’ Ok, then (seriously) who isn’t a victim of circumstance? Was Obama? Was JFK? Was 2Pac? Was Stalin?
This is all because a preview pissed me off–
On top of this, former All Eyez on Me director John Singleton has expressed disdain over the film, saying: ‘They were trying to tell me, ME, how to direct a movie about Pac.’ Do be advised that John Singleton and Pac may or may not have been on bad terms at the time of Pac’s death in 1996, but the dude (Singleton) did a helluva job on Poetic Justice, perhaps as more relevant to the question of whether or not he should have had more artistic freedom on a movie like All Eyez on Me than Poetic Justice.
‘Artistic integrity’ aside, there are more reasons to be skeptical if you’re not going to the movies just to watch your mom cry at the dying failures we’re all destined to become once we ‘grow up’. The last two big ‘hip-hop’ movies, 2009’s Notorious and 2015’s Straight Outta Compton, were also both (preferentially) arguably marred by studio interference as well–if studio interference were the only thing to blame when a movie seems to strictly concentrate on the things which any studio would know would make it more money, rather than on the things which would make the movie truer to its source material, or even just to make it a good fucking movie.
Take Notorious for example. Not to say it’s a terrible movie, but you really think that Biggie was that cheesy of a motherfucker when he got into the studio to record ‘Juicy’? Or that the relationship between him and Puffy wasn’t a little more complicated? Biggie was a smart dude, he couldn’t have wasted so much time ‘being inspirational’ rather than working and hustling (and remember: hustling can at times be a pretty dirty game) than is portrayed in that movie. And what about Straight Outta Compton? N.W.A. was one of the most controversial musical artists in music history and any movie about them that’s going to be true to its roots would recognize that any movie about N.W.A. is a movie about what made them controversial, or at least that would be a fairly big part of it; how who its members were contributed and were able to contribute to that success and not just about Ice Cube and Dr. Dre finding the strength to get out of the ghetto through the ‘motivational power of music’ before they died of AIDS like every other fucking person in that time period apparently did (might as well have).
People complain that movies are losing their original bite/natural artistic flavor in favor of a more streamlined approach; Marvel’s movies only at times feel like full movies (you guys see Avengers 2? #Let’sJustRehashTheFirstOne,NoOneWillNotice(NotManyDid($)) ). If studios want to survive into the future, assuming that the future is one filled with humans and not just dollar signs, they’ll recognize the value of the artist, and stop telling her what to do, or assuming they know how she became such without hearing her own input.
If 2Pac were still alive, existing movie based on his life or not, I can only imagine the questioning going on in at least one of his twenty-seven different personalities, reiterating: ‘The power is in the people and politics we address,’ or, ‘just because you’re in the ghetto doesn’t mean ya can’t; grow.’
He’d be giving motivational speeches through his art, and not only in reference to it.