|Posted by doktakra on November 12, 2007 at 4:53 PM|
I saw American Gangster over the weekend, and came away impressed. It started off a little slow, and for a second I thought I was getting lost -- which, by the way, is the worst possible feeling in a theater. But the action picked up at just the right moment, as the rise of Frank Lucas unfolded at a steady pace. It reminded me of Scarface in some ways, which is the biggest compliment a rapper could give (just ignore that last comment). I did find a few small things a little odd...none of them ruined the movie or anything, but you know...over-analyzing is my hobby. **Minor spoiler alert if you haven't seen the movie yet.
1) The casting of Cuba Gooding, Jr. as the pimp/club owner was the pinnacle of unintentional comedy. I kept waiting for him to starting yelling, "Hey, Denzel! I'm wearing your underwear!" Seriously, whoever decided it was a good idea to put him in that role should never work in Hollywood again. This singlehandedly ruined one of the pivotal scenes in the movie (the brand discussion).
2) I loved the trio of rappers (Common, T.I., and The RZA) in supporting roles, as you knew I would. The problem was that I was distracted by the Wu-Tang Clan tattoo on RZA's shoulder. They couldn't have him wear a shirt with sleeves, or maybe digitally removed it? I mean, sure, he doesn't have to be a rapper to have a tattoo like that...except that it's supposed to be the late 1960s, remember?
3) We're told that Frank makes his female employees work in the nude so they can't steal anything from him. That actually made me think of a way they still could, especially since the movie is about illegal drug smuggling, but that's besides the point. Some of the women were clearly wearing bras and/or panties, which made me wonder if those particular actresses refused to be fully nude. Um, they couldn't find enough extras to appear naked on screen with Denzel Washington? Hell, I would've done it had they asked me. You heard me.
On a related note, Jay-Z's new album -- which is based on movie and shares the same title, but is NOT the official soundtrack -- makes much more sense after seeing Gangster. I was really looking forward to it, but despite the good reviews from just about every trusted source, I'm not feeling it that much. For the record, I own every Jay-Z album -- save The Dynasty: Roc La Familia (which isn't really a solo album, as much as a Roc-a-Fella collaboration) -- so its not as if I'm a newcomer to his style Even Kingdom Come, arguably Jay's weakest effort, had a couple of favorites that I are in my steady rotation. The man himself calls Gangster a "work of genius," and all modesty aside, Jay is as lyrically sharp as ever. But I just feel like there's something missing -- I find the pace a little monotonous and slow. Maybe that's because it's a 'concept album' with each song based on a scene in the movie and simultaneously incorporating his own upbringing. I'll probably give it few more spins to see if it'll grow on me a little more, but after two listens, I'm yet to find a song I really love.
[Minor Update: "Roc Boys," "Ignorant Sh*t," and "American Dreamin'" have so far warranted repeat play.]