by Lauren Spitzer
Eminem goes back to his impoverished roots, playing “Bunny Rabbit” in his first major motion picture 8 Mile. With a strong supporting cast, Curtis Hanson (L.A. Confidential) successfully directs 8 Mile, promoting Eminem as both musician and actor.
The film is set in Eminem’s real-life hometown, Detroit. The hip-hop scene is prominent and the young artists are constantly looking to the scene for a road out of town. The movie’s focus lies on Jimmy Smith, Jr. (Eminem), also called “Rabbit,” a man who is looking for his one shot to the big time.
Rabbit’s struggle, trying to make it in his dying neighborhood, is combined with his trials with an ex-girlfriend, a new girlfriend, a drunken mother and her even drunker boyfriend.
Rabbit’s relationships with these characters are thoroughly developed throughout the film and help show the psychological aspects of a young artist trying to break free.
As a poor, young, white rapper, Rabbit is confined within the city’s perimeter, an eight-mile road that separates the white and black inhabitants of the city. Rabbit is forced to move back into his mother’s trailer after breaking up with his girlfriend.
Kim Basinger plays the hopeless, weak mother whose only chance at survival is getting her boyfriend’s settlement money or winning at bingo. Basinger is not afraid to let her guard down in this role and subject herself to the harsh reality of poverty.
Rabbit displays his musical and lyrical talents at the local hip-hop spot, The Shelter, where fierce battles of freestyling take place on a weekly basis.
Playing a talented rapper probably wasn’t too difficult for Eminem and this film only strengthens his already impressive artistic talent. As Rabbit writes down bits and pieces of lyrics on scraps of paper, the audience sees both a song and a prominent artist in the making.
Rabbit’s crew of sidekicks, “Three One Third,” add a comedic level to the film. The group helps Rabbit realize there is more to life than just riding around in a broken down car and cruising for girls, even though they are pretty content with doing so.
Eminem’s controversial image can most likely be erased after this movie. Besides the obvious, it is not clear how much of the film is based on Eminem’s life. However, he plays the character with passion and compassion for his friends and family, particularly his little sister. His homophobia wanes when Rabbit defends a gay man after someone’s freestyle insults him.
Although many successful and good-looking musicians who attempt the acting world often fail, 8 Mile proves that Marshall “Eminem” Mathers can overcome this pigeonhole. Like the real life Eminem, Rabbit shows an this artist cannot stop pursuing his dream, no matter what the obstacle he may encounter.
The film was a success for Eminem and the supporting cast members. Take an eight-mile road trip to a close theater and see the film – you’ll loose yourself in the moment.
by Joseph Pollak
Disclaimer: This presumably mindless picture is actually decent. Femme Fatale (Warner Brothers) is very surprising. There is a lot of real suspense that one would not expect from a typical hi-tech robbery-adventure story and the acting is actually very good.
Antonio Banderas (Frida) does an excellent job as Nicolas Bardo, a photographer and sometimes paparazzi. Rebecca Romijn-Stamos (Rollerball) also delivers a first-rate performance as Laure Ash, a jewel thief of sorts. With a few exceptions, the plot is excellent. The characters are vivid and have depth.
The plot is complex, using suspense to hook to viewer. Ash is involved in a high-tech robbery that goes awry in France. Through an odd series of coincidences, Ash changes her name to Lily and ends up fleeing France.
On the plane to the United States, she meets a software millionaire. The film then skips seven years and picks up on her return to France with her husband, the new ambassador. Bardo enters by taking a chance paparazzi photo of Ash. The two soon become involved in an odd relationship with a backdrop of Ash’s former accomplices, now out of prison, searching for her to exact their revenge.
The downfall of the movie is a surprise ending. A lot of creative writing professors say that surprise endings are cheap in general. I am inclined to agree with them. Not only does the ending feel like a cop out, it throws away all of the suspense created by the careful crafting of the story thus far.
The treatment is so heavy-handed that the audience actually laughed out loud as it was revealed. While the ending might have been interesting as a DVD special feature, in the theater, it ruined what turned out to be a surprisingly interesting action movie. If the film were 15 minutes shorter, it would have been truly thrilling.