As we proceed to give you what you need…

I’ve been pretty down the last few days. The knee injury that came up just before Christmas, but seemed to have subsided, has flared up again. I decided to skip wrestling training until I can talk to a physio, then spent a whole afternoon ringing round, trying to find a reasonably priced one. That turned out to be a waste of an afternoon. Meanwhile, I’m cutting all lower body exercises out of my visits to the gym, which makes for a whole lot of boredom and sameness. So annoying. It’s not like I can be, “Oh yeah, I’m hardcore, I blew out my knee.” I didn’t blow it out. The problem is that I have weak pelvis stability on my left hand side, and that is putting too much strain on my knee. Essentially the least hardcore-sounding problem you could possibly have.

Anyway, the point of this story was that the workout I was supposed to do tonight was deeply uninspiring, and I was real close to ditching it, but I could see where that spiral would lead. So I bargained with myself that right after the gym, I could go see Notorious, the Biggie biopic which is easily my most anticipated movie of the year so far. This at least motivated me enough to do a gnarly set of high-rep incline push-ups, and a bunch of other shit not worth mentioning. Then I went to Broadway.

Before the movie, they showed this ad for Pepsi where a guy is chatting up a girl on a beach, then sees a dude getting attacked by a giant octopus, runs to save him, and then the swooning girl agrees to the date. Of course, it turns out the victim and the guy in the octopus suit are both his friends. It made me wonder what the worst ad I see before a movie this year will be, and then I remembered that excruciating one where the unionist from Secret Life Of Us is some kind of stressed out executive, and a mystical Aboriginal toddler transports her to an invigorating Northern Territory holiday. If I see a worse ad than that, I actually will tear an eyeball out. Hopefully belonging to whoever made the ad, but if it has to be mine, so be it

Anyway, between this and Watchmen last week, the theme for this month is shaping up to be “could have been better, but could have been a lot worse, too”. I totally consider Biggie the GOAT, and I would have loved a Biggie movie ten times shittier than this. As it is, it has a lot to recommend it, but also panders to its audience in an irritating way, indulges Biggie’s self-mythologising way too much, and takes itself seriously at inopportune moments. Ready To Die is the greatest rap record of all time* not only because you have an all-time great rapper at his hungriest working over some all-time classic production, but because of the range of moods – gangster stuff, sure, but there’s a ton of humour, sex, and it’s emo as all hell. This movie plays up the gangsterism in boring and unrealistic ways (if you ever saw a movie with a conflicted guy who has to sell drugs because he’s poor, you can happily skip the first half hour), the humour is definitely there, and it does surprisingly well with the sexy. But it cuts the emotion out – except for pisspoor philosophising and the maudlin cult of rapper death – and that’s where it really goes wrong.

The guy who plays Biggie is just fantastic. The script doesn’t give him a ton to work with, but he has an incredibly expressive face and a ton of natural charisma. There are a couple of scenes where he doesn’t have any dialogue, and they give you an idea how phenomenal he could have been with a better written role. Also, and this is really the last thing I expected to say about this movie, the cinematography is A+. The movie starts out grainy, and gets glossier as Big’s career progresses. It could easily come across as a cheesie stunt, but the quality is dazzling. Great 16mm-style stuff, beautiful. It also boasts what is surely the line of the year in, “What kind of grown man calls himself Puffy?”, which reminds me, the guy who plays Puff is also great. I almost screamed out loud in the cinema when he started doing the classic Puffy dance, I fucking love that shit.And the concert scenes are excellent – I got chills from them doing Warning, although I was confused by the apparent assertion that Big won over a hostile west-coast crowd by playing the Tupac-baiting Who Shot Ya?

Also all the Tupac scenes bite, come on, the dude wasn’t a revolutionary philosopher, he was a mug who believed his own bullshit way too much and got himself killed. If he hadn’t been murdered when he was, he would have surely ended up in the Prodigy at Summerjam role, someone digging up a photo from his teenage ballet class. You know Tupac was so street that the one time he tried to sell drugs, he ended up having to return them to his supplier? I like a couple of his songs, but basically, fuck Tupac, and more importantly, fuck Tupac fans. Yeah, I am almost pathologically brand-loyal to the East Coast.

Shit, now I have to go youtube a bunch of old Bad Boy videos. Too bad for you all I don’t remember how to embed those here.

* – I don’t actually think this is true (Illmatic forever), but it’s easily top five.


One Response to “As we proceed to give you what you need…”

  1. Baz Luhrman made the toddler and the unionist – sometimes you need to get lost, etc – ad. It’s the same kid who is in Australia and is part of the same advertising campaign that “film” headed. Hiss.

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