Manager (Paul Giamatti) explains to the LAPD that these are not criminals but recording artists NWA

Manager (Paul Giamatti) explains to the LAPD that these are not criminals but recording artists NWA

REEL REVIEWS: Back into the fire

Taylor and Howe take a look at the new movie, Straight Outta Compton

  • Aug. 30, 2015 12:00 p.m.

Growing up in the ‘80s in the Compton, area of Los Angeles, five young men escape their world of gangs, drugs, violence and poverty through music. They call themselves NWA (N-words With Attitudes) and rap about what their lives are like, dangerous and difficult. Their name and their music is controversial and their raw style instantly becomes popular.

Dr. Dre (Corey Hawkins), Ice Cube (O’Shea Jackson Jr.), Eazy-E (Jason Mitchell) would go on to become household names, worth millions. They are innovators in music, more business-savvy than their counterparts and invent gangsta rap, but that is just the beginning.

We say, “It’s a good movie anyone could appreciate.”

TAYLOR: The boys from NWA, (and they were just boys at the beginning, Cube was still in high school), pushed the limits of the first amendment, the American right to free speech. Their first worldwide hit and probably most famous song is called F- tha Police. That generalized sentiment permeates the album and movie that share the same name Straight Outta Compton. Interspersed throughout the film and music are a litany of clichés about gangsta rap and rappers, but they were original at the time. This is an origin story. You don’t have to like rap music or hate the system to enjoy this film. It is powerful and moving, dense and yet open, personal to the characters and social in its statement. Its intensity is accessible, at times heart-stopping. I kept thinking, “Somebody is gonna die here.” A few did.

HOWE: I loved this movie, I’m even going to proclaim it one of the best, if not the best movie I have seen this year. Growing up in England in the ‘80s I hadn’t heard of NWA. BBC Radio One played more of the mainstream, flowery, softer, hip-hop/rap music: Run DMC, Grand Master Flash and De La Soul (whom I love for adding a comedic side to their music). Straight Outta Compton fascinated me. It’s biopic, epic and complete from inception to present day. I agree you don’t have to be a rap fan to enjoy this film. I watched a Nina Simone documentary a couple of weeks ago; I don’t like her music, but the story was intriguing and the film well-made. Don’t judge this movie just because it’s about rap, judge it by how well it’s made and acted. This is a serious film worth noticing.

TAYLOR: Run DMC is flowery? Well, What Happened Miss Simone? was great and made me fall in love with Simone’s music. (It’s on Netflix, check it out.) I’m not really down with NWA, although I do like some rap. NWA always struck me as immature, young and angry. In the film, as in their lives, some deal with things better than others. Dre and Cube are tycoons now. Other people are dead, some are in jail. It’s a hell of a story. The tension in Straight Outta Compton is real and it alone is worth the price of admission. Everything else is icing, really tasty icing.

— Howe gives Straight Outta Compton 5 pool parties out of 5.

— Taylor gives it 4.5 blue and red bandanas tied together out of 5.