Saturday, August 29, 2015

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 of M.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-.

Friday, August 28, 2015

Back and Better Than Ever

That's right folks, because you didn't demand it, the Brandon Rucker Writes blog is back, reactivated and better than ever! How's that for hyberbolic re-introductions?

Why the return? It's simple: this is my original public blogging home. There's a legacy of sorts here going back to 2009. And since I tend to have a lot to say these days, rather than clutter my main website RUCKERPEDIA ( with all my worldly obsevations, daybook musings, hypes, diatribes and sermons, it's more optimal to do so here in a designated space (plus there's a bigger audience here anyways cuz, y'know, Google rankings).

So essentially it breaks down as fiction stuff over on Ruckerpedia, and nonfiction and journalism here at BRW. Simple.

Get it?

Got it?


Welcome back. First new post, which is about the movie Straight Outta Compton, will post in a bit.

Y'all be good to each other.


Sunday, December 7, 2014

UPDATE: Deactivation Notice

Please note (hah, as if it weren't obvious by now): This blog is no longer active, however, its contents are now archived over at my personal website Ruckerpedia ( Please join me there as it will now be my primary blogging and archiving outlet.



Monday, July 7, 2014

Write-or-Flight: A Response (July 2014, Week 1)

Funny thing about being a writer: if you don’t exercise your writerly muscles regularly, they tend to weaken. Although I write daily (such as in social media, which shouldn’t, and doesn’t, count), I don’t write creatively daily as I probably should, so I am in constant fear of what I like to call writer’s atrophy. I’ve experienced this in the past during different writing hiatuses – syntax gets bad, diction gets compromised, and the overall ability to get the flow of prose to be at a minimum degree of articulate becomes...challenging.

Yet, I have this blog which (mostly) gets mirrored over at my new little website Ruckerpedia. I also have a little blog for my Comic Book Fetish, that I use sporadically. But that's just the journo purposes. It says nothing of fiction writing that occurs (or, doesn't occur these days) behind-the-scenes. Quite simply and rather bluntly, I need to cut the bullshit. Spend way less time on the Interwebs being an info-junkie, spend much less time in social media and in turn spend more time writing from the well of fiction and journalism that is always burgeoning within. 

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

VELVET by Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting

ImageI've just finished reading the first arc of Velvet by Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting. It's a really classy book...a spy caper/paranoid thriller book with style and grace. If you enjoyed what these two did on Captain America and the Winter Soldier books in the past, you'll likely dig this too. I think it's Brubaker's best work to date, and Steve Epting's art is even sleeker than it was on those Marvel books. Love the female lead, Velvet Templeton.

From the Image listing: Collects VELVET #1-5 SPECIAL LOW INTRODUCTORY PRICE! From the bestselling creators of "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" comes this smash-hit spy thriller with a unique new twist! When the world's greatest secret agent is killed, all evidence points to Velvet Templeton, the personal secretary to the Director of the Agency. But Velvet's got a dark secret buried in her past...because she's also the most dangerous woman alive.

The trade collection of the first 5 issues comes out on June 18th for $9.99. Trade collection of the first 5 issues comes out on June 18th for $9.99.