Perambulating the Bounds

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Hustle and Flow, as informative as Dr. Phil

I saw Hustle and Flow on DVD last weekend. A masterpiece of location scouting. The exterior scenes really take in Memphis, lots of workaday parts of the city. The muggy Delta climate is a practically a character in the film. And the interiors look like places you might find in a Southern inner city neighborhood (I’m thinking of the scene in the market where DJay meets up with Clyde).

The basic plot was the same as every other music story. Guy from a down and out situation has dream of becoming a star and lifting himself out of his surroundings, he gets a lucky break, suffers a setback, then receives redemption and gets his shot at the big time. In this case the main character is a pimp with a heart of gold, although they don’t entirely romanticize the guy.

Even if the overall plot arc was pat, the movie has well-observed moments between characters. At one point DJay is telling Shug, who is pregnant with his child and more or less his romantic interest (it’s not clear there really is such a thing in this milieu, another one of the angles that seem honest) that he wants to stop pimping and selling pot. This actress is a little bug-eyed anyway (not unappealing though), but when he starts talking like this she looks even more like a deer in the headlights. The scene cracked me up, because it reminded me of the reaction I get at home when I start on some idle discourse speculating about potential futures that has that whiff of mid-life crisis that comes so easily to people who are, well, in mid-life. It had not occurred to me that even if you are a pimp and a small-time drug dealer, no woman wants to hear the phrase “I’ve got to make a change.” Who knew? If “stay the course” is preferred in this situation, little wonder, even in my somewhat less tawdry circumstances, I don’t always receive unbridled enthusiasm when I start going on about my life.

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