Friday, August 14, 2015

Inspiring interview with ''Straight Outta Compton'' director F. Gary Gray.

Photo by Getty Images courtesy of  Deadline Hollywood
While my musical tastes do not  normally include hip hop or rap, the story behind those musical revolutions has always been of interest to me; particularly in regards to their Los Angeles roots.  That's why I clicked to read DEADLINE HOLLYWOOD'S interview with the director of the surprise blockbuster - Straight Outta Compton - F. Gary Gray.  The interview was conducted by former Nikki Finke cohort,  Mike Fleming, Jr.

And while the interview serves its  purpose of establishing the street cred of the director - it also simultaneously tells the very non-street world that Gray concurrently lived within during his late adolescence; a world that helped jump start his career as one of Hollywood's most sought after directors.  And that part of his story is only one of many reason why you should read all of  this article and not just the first paragraphs I have here.  First, is an opening essay vy Fleming on the film's history and then the first question and answer of the interview.

EXCLUSIVE: Studio execs who thought of F. Gary Gray as a go-to guy for taut thrillers like The Italian Job, The Negotiator, Law Abiding Citizen and Be Cool already are reassessing as Straight Outta Compton opens tomorrow with rave reviews and strong box office expectations. The film chronicles the fast rise and fall of N.W.A and the birth of streetwise poets who reflected the poverty, gangs, drugs, guns and heavy-handed law enforcement that was part and parcel of living in the Los Angeles ghetto. The film is very personal for Gray, who is around the same age and grew up in South Central Los Angeles just miles from N.W.A members Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, Eazy-E, MC Ren and DJ Yella. There is a Social Network atom-splitting depiction of the birth of an important cultural movement in Straight Outta Compton, and an underdog story of the struggle of young men from the ‘hood to say something important, and then handle the money and women when fame came their way. There is also an unexpected timeliness to ’80s N.W.A songs like “F*ck Tha Police” that somehow seem relevant after incidents in several U.S. cities this year. While the movie is getting the best reviews Gray has received in his career, memories of violence associated with Boyz N The Hood and other urban films has created an unwelcome press narrative that anticipates trouble going into opening weekend. I did this interview because I was intrigued about how similar Gray’s learning curve was to the subjects of Straight Outta Compton, but given the spate of press about heightened security, we start there.

And here is the opening paragraph of the actual interview.
 DEADLINE: Here you have one of the best-reviewed studio movies this year, your Hollywood premiere this week was the hottest ticket in town. And yet the narrative in the Hollywood trades has been about heightened security at that premiere, and concerns about theater violence heading into this weekend. There have been outrageous gun violence tragedies in movie theaters the past few years, but all the shooters were white. Is this racist? Unfair?
 GRAY: I read a couple of those headlines and thought, wow, now you’re grasping for straws, trying to create something that’s just not there. The response to the movie has been great, we’ve enjoyed standing ovations around the nation, and so many people are saying how positive it is. Oprah called it powerful, black churches are supporting the film, and people are coming out of the woodwork who wouldn’t ordinarily endorse or be associated with gangsta rap, street rap or this genre of music. I think maybe there’s something good here and they’re trying to find something that isn’t there. It’s just not there. We had an amazing premiere; I’d never experienced anything like it, extremely cool and positive. It went off without a hitch, everybody enjoyed themselves. There wasn’t an incident to report. I guess they wanted to find something and so they say, ‘Wow, they had a lot of security there.’ I don’t know if it’s par for the course, I don’t know if it’s specific to this movie, but I am not really focused on that. I’m happy people are walking away feeling energized and … surprised. They’ve told us this was more than they expected, that it went beyond a rap movie or a music biopic, and that’s what I’m focused on.
For the rest of the interview - click here to go to Deadline Hollywood's site.

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