8 Mile

Director: Curtis Hanson
Year Released: 2002
Rating: 1.0

An inverted take on "what it's like for a black man in a white man's world," with Hanson and producer Brian Grazer making a film of the Eminem myth (it's not 'autobiographical' but there are shreds of truth in there; real cute how they use his on-screen daughter – a stand-in for his real-life daughter - as a tool for sympathy). The end result is flimsy and, at times, outright dull; it's a film about inner torment but because of Eminem's amateur status as an actor – and permanent scowl – you can't empathize with him (admittedly, having knowledge of his 'real-life' rowdiness primes me to dislike him). The gloom and dreariness are added by the heaping spoonful, and lower-class life is shown as something to be escaped from: when the characters aren't working in a machine shop (which is also a great place for 'quickies') they're yelling at each other, fighting constantly, shooting themselves or dreaming of leaving town (and becoming famous). The dark/super-realist approach can be very effective, but this movie doesn't have the existentialist despair of, say, Naked or the root-for-the-loser quality of Rocky. I found it hard to take the final 'showdown' seriously because the whole event is based entirely on the on-screen audience's reaction – without their shouting I couldn't tell who was winning or losing (it made me long for those Steven Seagal-level explosive endings or some kind of closure). Oh, and while I'm thinking of it: why don't all these budding rappers, who have nothing else to do at night, try Bingo? Apparently they're just giving away thousands....