Nick’s Picks – August 19, 2015

STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON

Compton

Straight Outta Compton comes off as a sugar sprinkled rap video with splashes of gangsta life as icing on the infested unequal racially charged prejudices aimed at black teenage boys growing up in Compton, California. Specifically this particular group of boys who later changed the history of music and popularized gangsta rap as the new hip hop better known as West Coast Hip Hop.

Director, F. Gary Gray teams up again with Ice Cube (from the Friday movie) along with Dr. Dre, as producers, to bring to life the story behind the birth of N.W.A. (Niggaz Wit Attitudes) as an entertaining biopic that only teases you as to the real struggles and challenges of growing up in “da hood” and fulfilling the dream of stardom, women and money. It’s the vanilla version to Boyz In Da Hood.

Admirable in its attempt to honor and celebrate the 27 year anniversary of the debut album, Straight Outta Compton, this film seems like a two and a half hour throwback Thursday. At best it should’ve ended at 100 minutes or less. Sitting through this 2 hour movie and you’re still left with so many unanswered questions, especially if you know anything about the persons being portrayed in this film.

The young stars cast to play these iconic characters did an admirable job but not so well of a job that makes you forget that they are play acting. O’Shea Jackson, Jr. playing his dad, Ice Cube, was a younger, more handsome counterpart and could yell and scream like his father, but nonetheless a weak imitation. Corey Hawkins as Dr. Dre was equally mediocre but better at representing the musician as opposed to just Dr. Dre the “man.” The most pleasant surprise came from Jason Mitchell as Eazy E, the former drug dealer turned record label owner of Ruthless Records along with co-owner Jerry Hiller (Paul Giamatti). Wanting to get out of the drug business he invested his drug money into the label and thus N.W.A was born. The group included two other members, Neil Brown, Jr. as DJ Yeller and Aldis Hodge as MC Ren, both pretty much forgettable. This film exposes the ups and downs, the break-ups and make-ups, up to the death of Eazy E due to complications with AIDS at 31 years old.

What this movie gets right is the production setting as you feel that you are transported back to the late 1980s. Jerri curls, low-riders and racist policemen infect the atmosphere trying to create a world of racial tension so that the inflammatory language of such songs as “F*$k tha Police” and “Gangsta Gangsta” are meant bring awareness to the police brutality and racial profiling during the era of Rodney King. With everything that’s going in our country today barely grazes the heartstrings.

If you’re a fan of N.W.A you’ll enjoy this ride down memory lane with its small bursts of familiar characters, albeit brevity of story referring to Eazy E, Dr. Dre and ice Cube’s involvement with Suge Knight, Snoop Dogg and Tupac. For a movie that’s almost 3 hours long a more in depth exploration of the hidden gems behind those curtains would’ve made for a deeper, more compelling and thrilling ride.

On the whole this is a nicely told story, more salt than pepper and it could’ve been so much more spicy. We caught a glimpse into the early days of life growing up in Compton. Yet, the reality is not much of it is on screen in this movie. Dr. Dre and Ice Cube comes off more confused, bratty and meekly adorable than more gangsta and rebellious. Either way you’ll sing along and bop your head to the music … straight outta your seat.

Starring: O’Shea Jackson, Jr., Corey Hawkins, Jason Mitchell, Paul Giamatti
Director: F. Gary Gray
Company: Universal Pictures
Now Showing: In Theatres
MPAA Rating: R (violence, strong language, nudity and sexual content)
Grade: B

FREE DVD GIVEAWAY

We are doing a Free DVD Giveaway! If you are interested in a chance at winning a free copy of one of our grab bag items, it is really easy! All you have to do is send me an email at HoustonMovieGuy@gmail.com. The subject line of the email should read DVD GIVEAWAY. In the body of the email, be sure to put your name, full mailing address and which DVD or Blu-ray you would like. Winners will be selected by random drawing.
Best of luck!

VENDETTA – Lionsgate

Dean Cain and WWE Superstar The Big Show star in “Vendetta,” an action-packed thriller about a detective pushed beyond his limits who will stop at nothing for vengeance. When his wife is killed by a criminal that he put away, Mason (Cain), a hard-nosed detective, deliberately gets arrested in order to get revenge. While inside, Mason discovers a new criminal enterprise that those behind it would kill to protect.

OBAMA AT WAR – PBS

Inside the Obama administration s struggle to deal with ISIS and the deadly civil war in Syria. With interviews from key military and diplomatic leaders, Obama at War examines the hard choices facing the president as he tries to defeat the Islamic State without dragging America into a prolonged regional conflict.

DRESSED TO KILL – Criterion

Writer-director Brian De Palma maintains a fever pitch from start to finish with this “steamily libidinous and extremely bloody thriller” (Newsweek)! Starring Michael Caine, Angie Dickinson and Nancy Allen (in a Golden Glober-nominated performance), this taut psycho-sexual chiller is a razor-sharp tale of passion, madness and murder that’s as scary as the devil with suspense to spare! Fashionable Manhattan therapist Dr. Robert Elliott (Caine) faces the most terrifying moment of his life, when a psychotic killer begins attacking the women (Dickinson and Allen) in his life- with a straight razor stolen from his office. Desperate to find the murderer before anyone else is hurt, Elliott is soon drawn into a dark and disturbing world of chilling desires. And as the doctor edges closer to the terrible truth, he finds himself lost in a provocative and deadly maze of obsession, deviance and deceit- where the most harmless erotic fantasies…can become the most deadly sexual nightmares!

SOAKED IN BLEACH – MVD

Soaked in Bleach reveals the events behind Kurt Cobain’s death as seen through the eyes of Tom Grant, the private investigator that was hired by Courtney Love in 1994 to track down her missing husband (Kurt Cobain) only days before his deceased body was found at their Seattle home. Cobain’s death was ruled a suicide by the police (a reported self-inflicted gunshot wound), but doubts have circulated for twenty years as to the legitimacy of this ruling, especially due to the work of Mr. Grant, a former L.A. County Sheriff’s detective, who did his own investigation and determined there was significant empirical and circumstantial evidence to conclude that foul play could very well have occurred. The film develops as a narrative mystery with cinematic re-creations, interviews with key experts and witnesses and the examination of official artifacts from the 1994 case.

ROOKIE BLUE: Season 5, Volume 1 – E1 Entertainment

Season five begins with two lives hanging in the balance, officers Sam Swarek and Chloe Price have been shot in the line of duty. But life at 15 Division must go on. Our officers have sworn an oath to serve and protect, no matter the consequences. But as the shell-shocked officers struggle to pull the pieces of their lives back together, they can t help but wonder: Will things ever work out the way they re supposed to?

LAMBERT AND STAMP – Sony

Lambert and Stamp tells the remarkable story of Chris Stamp and Kit Lambert, aspiring filmmakers who set out to find a subject for their underground movie, leading them to discover, mentor, and manage the iconic band that would become known as THE WHO. They forged a complex and moving relationship, fueling the band’s artistic development and leaving an indelible imprint on their time and generations to come. The film is charged with a mad concoction of noise, love, rebellion, artistry, and hilarity, as it takes us along on the surprising ride of two men who shaped one of the most exciting bands of all time.

CUB – Artsploitation Films

This dark, bloody imaginative fairy tale about a camping trip that turns into deadly carnage draws on such influences as Lord of the Rings, Friday the 13th and The Devil’s Backbone. The story follows 12-year-old outcast Sam who, along with his troop of cub scouts and their teenage supervisors, camp in woods rumored to house a mysterious and deadly werewolf. Inquisitive Sam, certain the woods are inhibited by something evil, soon stumbles upon a feral young boy and, eventually, his evil psychopathic mentor. But convincing the others of the danger falls on deaf ears, and soon ingenious traps begin to take their violent toll on the group. A wildly entertaining killer in the woods actioner. NOTE: Dutch, French, Flemish languages with English subtitles.

THE BLACKLIST: Season 2 – Sony

For decades, ex-government agent Raymond “Red” Reddington (James Spader) has been one of the FBI’s Most Wanted fugitives. Last season, he mysteriously surrendered to the FBI but now the FBI works for him as he identifies a “blacklist” of politicians, mobsters, spies and international terrorists. He will help catch them all… with the caveat that Elizabeth “Liz” Keen (Megan Boone) continues to work as his partner. Red will teach Liz to think like a criminal and “see the bigger picture” whether she wants to or not.

KUNG FU & TITTIES – MVD

Richard Titties, an out-of-shape martial arts wannabe, is shot into an alternate dimension after his girlfriend Cynthia is kidnapped. Her captors are a group of tittie obsessed madmen led by Zeefros, the master of the supernatural realm. Z2eefros kidnaps women for the sole purpose of seeing their titties. Richard joins up with his sister Raine Brown, a Gorilla and a gaggle of other strange characters, in order to save his girlfriend. He must search inside, overcome his futile martial arts skills, and find the kung fu fighter within if he is to save himself and all those that dwell in the alternate world.

LITTLE BOY – Universal

In a heartwarming tale of faith, hope and love, a little boy tries with all his might to achieve the impossible: bring his father home from war.

NCIS NEW ORLEANS: Season 1 – CBS Paramount

A spin-off of “NCIS” that is set in the Crescent City. The cases and lives of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service’s New Orleans branch, which consists of Senior Special Agent Dwayne Cassius “King” Pride, Special Agent Christopher LaSalle, and Special Agent Meredith Brody.

NCIS LOS ANGELES: Season 6 – CBS Paramount

Season 6 of NCIS: Los Angeles blows suspense out of the water in 24 adrenaline-charged, thrill-seeking episodes. Agents ‘G’ Callen (Chris O’Donnell) and Sam Hanna (LL Cool J) lead their team of high-caliber operatives, including Special Agent Kensi Blye (Daniela Ruah), LAPD liaison Marty Deeks (Eric Christian Olsen), tech wizard Eric Beale (Barrett Foa), and intelligence analyst Nell Jones (Renee Felice Smith). This season, the team mobilizes to protect beloved Operations Manager Hetty Lange (Linda Hunt) from a lethal Cold War enemy, even as they’re being investigated by the Department of Justice. NCIS Assistant Director Owen Granger (Miguel Ferrer) struggles to keep the unit in check, as they push every boundary and cross every line to defend their country, complete their missions and safeguard their own.

NCIS: Season 12 – CBS Paramount

World Class Action. Fielding cases from local cyber-terrorists to international pirates and elusive serial killers, the NCIS team keeps adventure in the line of fire. Led by Special Agent Jethro Gibbs (Mark Harmon), this expert squad hunts down humanity’s most notorious enemies in the name of freedom and justice for all. Co-starring Michael Weatherly, Sean Murray, Pauley Perrette, Rocky Carroll, Brian Dietzen, David McCallum and Emily Wickersham, this 6-disc, 24 episode set showcases suspense at its nail-biting, pulse-pounding best.

BATMAN: Unlimited Monster Mayhem – DC Comics

It’s Halloween in Gotham. To celebrate, the city’s spookiest villains (Scarecrow, Clayface, Solomon Grundy and Silver Banshee) have all joined forces and gone on a crime spree. Batman swings into action to stop them, joined by Green Arrow, Cyborg, Nightwing and Red Robin. But it seems that the fiends are working for the clown prince of crime himself: The Joker, who has a surprise of his own – A computer virus that makes all technology laugh and obey his every command! Can the heroes stop the virus before it turns all of Gotham into Jokertown? Will Batman find a way to beat the Joker now that his trusty gadgets and vehicles have succumbed to digital laughter?

Synopsis used with permission

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