THE man standing up on the stage was of a large stature, making the stage look less immense. Queried by the judges he politely answered their questions. There was a hint of nervousness in his voice. One of the judges asked him to begin his audition. A song began to play with a solid beat and the man began to dance to it. The television camera cut back to the judges who all were sitting in a row, each one with a look of disbelief on their faces. The big man shocked all of them with his dancing that was part cheerleader moves, part dance and part pole dancing; all were being done exactly to the beat. To finish off his performance he did a twirl with a leap into the air, coming down into a full leg split with one leg stretched all the way in front of him and the other in the opposite direction behind him. The audience erupted with applause as well as the judges who were still in a bit of shock. Because of the man’s size the judges as well as the audience assumed dancing would have been the last thing the contestant would have performed. I have come across similar scenarios in my fitness classes. A person would walk in and look like they would rather be at the dentist’s office getting a tooth drilled than being in an exercise class; however, once I started the class the person would get into it in an intense way. Years ago I taught an aerobics class that was made up of a mixture of strength and dance moves. First I have to tell you I took one look at this one man and thought he would hate the class, figuring his wife standing next to him had forced him to come with her. He was over 6 feet tall and stocky. Talk about shock for both of us; I was stunned he stayed for the whole class and he was amazed how tough of a workout it was to keep up. It goes to show you one can never assume something based on a person’s appearance. It is a lesson well learned since I was surprised with what I discovered in this biographical music drama. FROM a young age Afeni Shakur, played by Danai Gurira (The Visitor, Mother of George), taught her son that words were more important than a basketball. Based on true events this film went through the life and death of actor/rapper Tupac Shakur, played by relative newcomer Demetrius Shipp Jr. Normally I am not a big fan of a story jumping back and forth in time; however, the way the script was written made this a non-issue for me. Starring Hill Harper (Concussion, CSI: New York-TV) as the interviewer, Kat Graham (17 Again, The Vampire Diaries-TV) as Jada Pinkett and Dominic L. Santana (Love for Sale, Dead Heist) as Suge Knight; I thought the acting was excellent. There was not a time I did not think I was watching Tupac. Since I am not too familiar with his work I found this movie enlightening. If one already is familiar with Tupac this film may only be repeating known facts. I will say I wished the script had given more personal background about Afeni and Tupac. Now get this, as people were leaving at the end there was a tap on my shoulder. A man stopped to ask me what I thought about Tupac. I said I had no idea where he came from or who he was, but was now impressed with what he accomplished in his short life.
2 3/4 stars
Besides being a valid emotion, anger can play a vital component in the creative process. Some of the most beautiful classical music we listen to, from artists such as Frederic Chopin and Pyotr Tchaikovsky, came out of outrage for what was taking place within their respective countries. If you take a look at the paintings by Francis Bacon you cannot tell me there were not some kernels of anger inside of him that generated some of his creations. Of course, the arts are not the only beneficiary of angry emotions; I believe every facet of any field from sports to science has individuals who were motivated by anger and frustration. It is like the basketball player who was told he was too short to play, who then pushed himself harder to become a better player. As for me, it took me many years to understand my anger and direct it to something positive. Being told I was too big and could not play in some athletic games caused me to take my anger and stuff it inside of myself. However, I thought that meant I should stuff my face constantly with food. I do not know if there was a single event or something else that flipped a switch inside of me that motivated me to start exercising and focus on healthier food choices; but whatever it was, I am grateful I learned how to deal with my emotions in a nurturing way. Watching this musical movie one cannot help noticing how anger played a part in everyone’s life. FROM a tough neighborhood three friends came together to vent their anger in song that caused a revolution of change. The first thing I want to say is directed at those individuals who do not like rap or hip-hop music. Please do not let that determine whether you watch this biographical drama because you would be missing out on a raw and compelling movie watching experience. I am not a fan of some types of rap music but seeing how the songs in this film came about added a whole new level of understanding for me. Starring newcomer O’Shea Jackson Jr. as Ice Cube, Corey Hawkins (Non-Stop, Romeo and Juliet) as Dr. Dre and Jason Mitchell (Contraband, Broken City) as Eazy-E; these three actors did an intense job playing members of the musical group N.W.A. Having O’Shea play his real life father Ice Cube was creative cloning casting by the studio because he looked just like his father. Now I will say there were parts of the story where I had to wonder if things were being exaggerated or sanitized because they seemed so outrageous to me. But ultimately I did not care because I felt I was watching musical history being made. There was strong language used throughout the movie.
3 1/4 stars