Straight Outta Compton | It’s Not A Documentary

To put the bottom line at the top here: I came straight outta the movie theater last weekend  thoroughly entertained by this N.W.A biopic. At least on a popcorn movie level. What served me and my unfettered enjoyment going in is the acknowledgment of the inherent nature of the biopic. Firstly, you can’t effectively distill 29 years – or in the case of the movie’s timeline, a dozen years or so – into a 2.5 hour movie. Even in trying to include as many key moments as possible, a great deal of the “bio” aspect is going to be left on the cutting room floor, if shot at all. Secondly, this is not a documentary, it’s a Hollywood movie with a story, a screenplay, actors and a director (among countless other collaborators and interested parties), which means a plot of the story that is inspired by real-life and real events has to be agreed upon by the respective powers-that-be before the green light can be lit.

Given those two elements, there’s naturally going to be some concerns with the timeline of events (which obviously gets condensed for movie storytelling purposes) as well as whose perspective of the “truth” ultimately gets presented (NOTE: Ice Cube and Dr. Dre are listed as co-producers and there were reportedly some disagreements on an agreed upon “truth” during the arduous pre-production period). So with those two things firmly in mind, I went in with the purpose of being entertained rather than getting informed, since I already knew at minimum 95% of the larger story anyway, and I also didn’t go in expecting the film to present a mosaic point of view that would peer into every nook and crevice to fill in all the gaps within the story. Again, that’s what comprehensive documentaries are for, not Hollywood theatrical biopics. We’ve all seen these types before. These feature films exist as more of a Cliff’s Note, carefully packaged for easy consumption by the masses for two-hour or so escape.

I am a serious docu-junkie, so to ESPN’s Bomani Jones’ point: yes, I would have rather had a documentary that digs deeper and includes all minutia, plus all those ugly things that existed under the rocks, but that’s not what this is so neither I nor you nor the masses should have expected it. Straight Outta Compton is a well-crafted movie with some really nice performances in a story told with a dramatic and socially-conscious (and unfortunately timely) lens. Agile direction by F. Gary Gray of a smart script that’s definitely helped by the sharp casting.

Newcomer O’Shea Jackson, Jr. played his father Ice Cube perfectly and definitely up a few notches from his father’s first acting turn as Doughboy in Boyz n the Hood. The other great portrayal, if arguably the film’s best performance, was Jason Mitchell’s, the fairly new-to-the-game actor as Eazy E. Also strong was Corey Hawkins’ performance as Dr. Dre. This trio was defined well as: the streetwise poet, the streetwise business man (though the movie downplayed his visionary status), and the dreamy, ambitious and goal-driven music producer. With the focus being on these three main players, the roles ofM.C. Ren (portrayed by Aldis Hodge) and DJ Yella (Neil Brown Jr.) are unfortunately relegated as secondary/support status, though they were also cast well. Surprisingly the cameos of Snoop Dogg and 2Pac, both portrayed by even lesser-knowns, were very faithful, which helped keep their sidebar inclusion from seeming superfluous (given the timeline faux pas). R. Marcos Taylor inhabited the alpha dog role of Suge Knight with the required gravitas and command. And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Paul Giamatti’s strong yet nuanced embodiment of former N.W.A. manager and Ruthless Records co-owner Jerry Heller who was essentially the story’s main villain.

As I stated above, as a Hollywood movie Straight Outta Compton delivers the essentials of what you would want from a movie of its kind — it was really cool to see the guys I’d been into so much as a teenager realized on the big screen in such an artful way. Since it’s not a full-bodied real-life docudrama there’s no point in judging it as such. Though had it been, yes, of course it would be totally fair to call the movie out for its egregious lack of certain events and details, such as the more potent nature of the group’s (and the culture’s) misogyny and some of the altering of the chronology of events. Yet as merely a Hollywood move, I’d give it an A-.

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LINKAGE: Brandon Rucker Writes @ Blogger

Reactivated. If only because absolutely no one demanded it. Go there now: Brandon Rucker Writes http://brandonruckerwrites.blogspot.com/

Daybook 2 | Update Untitled

I Got Nothing

Firstly, I have no Workbook update to share this past week (or the past week before that) because, honestly, there wasn’t any of that kind of work done the past couple of weeks.

ME3_Garrus_NormandyRe-calibrating Like Garrus *

Making some reconfigurations and changes here and abroad, and so things will be a little different here after that reconfiguration. Going to resurrect my old blog and reassign all my nonfiction writing over there and make Ruckerpedia the venue for my fiction writing and music. Or something like that. Gimme a week to tend to these . . . calibrations . . . and we’ll see what’s what.

* Bonus geek points to those who get the Garrus Vakarian reference.

Back In Briefs

With my novel writing prospects in flux for the immediate future, I see no reason to avert my writing attention from short fiction. The novel stuff will likely have to wait at least until the darker, colder months arrive which is when I go into hibernation mode like a grizzly bear in the American wilds. If then, because it’s quite evident that right now I’m just not novel-ready, despite my public displays of eagerness and determination. Who knows if I ever will be? Despite that, I am still a storyteller and will be exercising those muscles on some shorter works. I think I could use a dozen more bylines under my belt, so it’s time I start submitting short fiction work again since my only new fiction credit in the last 3.5 years happened back in March or whenever (see Four Deep” @ Dead Guns Press) . I’ve zeroed in on a few online venues that I will pay off, er, I mean persuade to read, accept and publish my work this year and next with my meager talents. So yeah, short prose fiction. Speaking of which . . .

Smash Hits

So on Sunday I ran a series of posts that focused on the digital versions of old previously published short works of mine that are live over on Smashwords. I included some ‘behind-the-scenes’ author commentary that you may want to read for a little insight on the work. Fair warning, it’s warts and all on those old pieces. Featured on my Smashwords profile page are these four:

The cursed object story Finder Kept

The bizarro horror story The Underneath

The Poe inspired horror story Pieces of Candice

And of course there’s also the bloody little ditty called Shard

I have four or five more previously-in-print works on deck to upload, so once they’re live I will link them here on Ruckerpedia.

I think that’s all I have this time. Be well, be merry and be better than you were the day before today.

– B.

My Fiction – Pieces of Candice (eBook)

Pieces of Candice: A Horror Story

The Tease

Told in a voice of madness and menace inspired by Edgar Allan Poe, “Pieces of Candice” is the first-person account of what happened when a helpless young woman in a desperate situation ventured into the dark woods for help. It’s psychological horror right in step with classics by the likes of Poe, Stephen King, Clive Barker and Ramsey Campbell.

Author’s Commentary

As a psychological horror story with a touch of gore, it’s certainly one of the darkest pieces I’ve ever written. It’s also one of the earliest as the seeds for it date back to 1994 as I was reading a lot of horror and suspense back then. Writers like Clive Barker, Ramsey Campbell, Stephen King and Dean Koontz, to name the heavy hitters at the time. Not to mention that the serial killer fiction as true crime stuff had been all the rage during that period. When I finally took a stab at writing it in earnest, it took roughly three years of stops and starts to finish it because it was difficult to slide in and out of the narrator’s disturbed mind. I felt pretty icky at times, other times I’d chuckle at my sick sense of the grotesque.

Although I finally finished it in the late 90s, I didn’t pursue getting it published until the summer of 2010 when then editor/publisher Chris Bartholomew of Static Movement put a call out for stories dealing with madness for an anthology aptly titled MADNESS OF THE MINDWith a title and theme like that I knew that “Pieces of Candice” had a likely home. Thankfully, I was right, although I made some changes to certain details and updated others to bring it to this current century.

Recently I decided to spruce the piece up a little more and re-publish the ebook edition on Smashwords as part of Operation: Remember Me? so that it would exist for online reading as a digital download on various eReader devices.

By today’s literary and consciousness standards, this piece probably doesn’t play as well given the old school male predator versus female victim aspect of it. However, if you can get beyond that and don’t mind stepping into the disturbed, socio-pathic mind of Jules (the narrator) for a little night reading, click on the cover image below — designed by yours truly — to access the Smashwords view page for a free read. Just be sure to dissociate the art from the artist.

Disclaimer

None of these old works are my finest work, but they now exist in digital form for posterity, if nothing else. I suppose also as a reminder that as a writer I can always do better.

The Cover

Pieces of Candice 5 (1600w)

My Fiction – The Underneath (eBook)

The Underneath: A Bizzaro Flash of Horror

The Tease

After Ramsey discovers a strange blemish his life takes a swift turn into a painful, surreal experience, leaving him to wonder: is this real life?

Author’s Commentary

This one was published a couple of years back in the bizarro print anthology LIKE FROZEN STATUES OF FLESH, compiled by fellow writer/editor Joe Jablonsky. Written in 2009, it is certainly a bizarre piece of fiction dealing with a fella who has discovered a strange blemish on his skin that was not ever there previously. What happens after that discovery results in perhaps the most surreal story I’ve ever written in my two decades-plus of fiction writing. This one sports one of my better cover efforts. You can click it below to take a brief misadventure into something a bit nightmarish.

Disclaimer

None of these old works are my finest work, but they now exist in digital form for posterity, if nothing else. I suppose also as a reminder that as a writer I can always do better.

The Cover

The Underneath 3 (1600w)

My Fiction – Finder Kept (eBook)

Finder Kept: A Tale of Unintended Fate

The Tease

Like Pandora’s Box, some things are simply best left buried or undisturbed. When a drunken homeless person unwittingly acquires a strange object from a man who is obviously running for his life, the homeless person’s apparent new fortune takes an instant turn for the worse. This is an unfortunate tale of unintended fate.

Author’s Commentary

This was the first story featured in the print anthology BEST LEFT BURIED, selected and edited by Gregory Miller a few years back. I’m guessing my little tale about what happens when a cursed, otherworldly trinket falls into the wrong hands must have epitomized the theme of the anthology because Miller chose to have my story lead the book. It’s no doubt an incredibly huge honor to have your words and your name be the first featured content in any book. This one’s definitely in the “weird” section of my personal library. You click the cover below for a free read.

Disclaimer

None of these old works are my finest work, but they now exist in digital form for posterity, if nothing else. I suppose also as a reminder that as a writer I can always do better.

The Cover

Finder Kept 2 (1400w)