Hey, everyone. "Moriarty" here with some Rumblings From The Lab.
This is the first review I’ve seen of Curtis Hanson’s first film since the woefully underseen WONDER BOYS, and I’m dying to see it. If he has managed to get something special out of Eminem as an actor, it’ll be one of the year’s biggest shocks.
Hey Knowles. So I got to see Slim Shady’s film debut, 8 Mile, here in Oak-town tonight. Let the F-bombs prevail, cuz this is one fucking orgasmic nut of a good flick, you fucking shit. “2 trailer park girls go round the outside, round the outside…”
We all heard things ‘bout this movie straight from MTV and that its supposedly (or not) based off of Eminem’s real life. From what we know of the real Slim Shady, if this film ain’t his real life, it’s gotta be not too far off. Eminem has always said ‘Slim Shady’ is an alter-ego; in this film, there is no ‘Slim Shady.’ It’s raw, Eminem as you probably have never seen him. And it’s a refreshing surprise as when I realized what this film was, I expected to see what we’ve all seen. Expect different. And be satisfied.
First Curtis – ‘L.A. Confidential’ was the shit. TB’ers will say that it’s an overrated piece of squirrel poo, but we all know it should’ve won Best Picture instead of ‘Titanic.’ And then there was “Wonder Boys” – definitely a movie that I didn’t love right away. The characters that he (and, yes, Michael Chabon) brought to life, the interesting pacing that he gave to it (very deliberate – not slow, deliberate), the overall feeling that it gave me... I really think prepared Curtis for this one. But let me tell you – 8 Mile is NOTHING like “Boys.” This story takes place in a more, I guess you can call it, “realistic,” world with not a whole lot of sunshine in the setting and the situations. And characters struggle with themselves and other people’s expectations of them. The characters in this movie live in Detroit, more specifically in an area called ‘8 mile.’ I’ve never been there, but the way this place is portrayed; it’s a fucking shit of a dump: White Trash and the Ghetto meet head to head here. Hanson could have easily gone the route of playing the drama of his scenery, but what’s refreshingly satisfying is that he’s given lives, struggles, and dreams to each of these characters he introduces us to. And the cool thing being that the characters do live and breathe through the actors Hanson chose to work with. “Yea, but what about Eminem?” I’ll get to that in a sec, but it’s Kim Basinger who gives another incredible performance under his direction. And then there’s Mekhi Pfeiffer who matures more every film he’s in; in this one, he brings an intensity and authority first seen in his last film, O. Brittany (I’ll never tell) Murphy has a role that is more complex than it appears. Her sweetness has an edge. And the rest of the supporting cast is filled with actors I don’t know but they add more than exposition, they create Hanson’s world. The pacing couldn’t be any better like “LA Confidential,” the characters change and grow subtly. And, while there is a distinct climax, the payoff is subtle, it’s clean, and it’s true.
OK, Eminem – He IS Jimmy Smith, Jr. aka Rabbit. “Rabbit?! What the hell kinda name is that?” I know , I know. But take that for what you will. Whatever the motivation, though, the guy everybody loves to hate, can act. And he is pretty fucking phenomenal. The “Slim Shady” persona as we know it would not carry a whole movie and as mentioned above, I was surprised to hardly see it. He fought, he raged, he got angry – but we saw the motivation, we saw him go through shit, and we saw it all build. We saw what went into the lyrics... and that brings me to why he was probably so great in the role. He’ll admit to his weaknesses. He’ll call himself a white-boy pussy. And, in this role, he shows so much vulnerability that I forgot that I was watching the man of controversy himself. Trust me on this. He’s GOOD.
The story – The story isn’t so strange to regular moviegoers – we’ve seen it before. Kid from the wrong side of the tracks has a dream and struggles to achieve it. Half-assed opportunities come up but they don’t pay off and the kid is stuck in his job at the factory. He also has to battle his own insecurities, his fucked up family situation, and the loyalties to figure out exactly what he wants and how badly he wants out. Jimmy is part of the “freestyling” scene in Detroit; a hip-hop form of poetry where 2 people battle with the best rhyme session – a “battle” per say. And it is NOTHING like “Beat Street” and “Breakin,” This is rough and very real. Jimmy’s a great rapper who’s looking for a break. But he clams up when he’s on stage, he gets his ass kicked by rivals, he gets dogged by girls, his friends betray him and his mom is sleeping with a guy he went to high school with. It builds. The piss and vinegar explodes and when it comes time to put up or shut up at the film’s climactic battle, you know what’s next. He kicks ass but in a less-than-conventional way. Guess what? He still doesn’t get the record deal, he doesn’t run up to the girl to kiss her, no high fives to his rivals and he still doesn’t trust his friends. He just walks back to his everyday job, makes it on his own cuz he knows he can... at least he knows he has to.
This is something worth seeing. If not for Hanson’s amazing direction, then at least to see a side of Eminem we all haven’t see yet. "Guess who's back... back again..."
If anyone else has seen this, let me know what you thought. Good lord... what if Brian Grazer’s serious about Eminem being nominated for an Oscar this year?!