Hustle & Flow

Director: Craig Brewer
Year Released: 2005
Rating: 1.5

I believe it's readily understood that the American Dream involves riches and respect and comfort, but for black culture, that Dream - at least, if I were to begin to take this mechanically plotted movie semi-seriously - is to basically be Ludacris, to rap about committing all sorts of crimes and coming out on top, of abusing women, of getting drunk, of smoking dope and getting paid millions for it. It's not 'doing good' for people or having a successful home life (which Anthony Anderson's character has and isn't happy with - his movie wife has to bend to his will, bringing food to their recording sessions) or even having a high paying 'regular' job that does not involve Cristal or jewelry by Cartier. The movie's only saving grace? The performances, especially that of Terrence Howard, who takes what's essentially a contemptible scumbag and makes him human - he remains believable even when the film turns into a violent shootout and concludes on an unlikely positive note, granting his pimp/drug dealer a hardly deserved sense of redemption.