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No matter who we are, no matter where we live, we're all bound by borders. Many of us are content to live within these borders--others are simply forced to exist within them. But some of us need to break out, burst through, even if what is on the other side is both frightening and unknown. From this comes the tale of one young man's dilemma as he navigates his way through his colliding worlds. Set against Detroit's hip-hop scene in 1995, Jimmy Smith Jr., a young white rapper, struggles to find his voice. The people of Detroit know 8 Mile Road as the city's perimeter. It is also a psychological dividing line between urban and suburban, between black and white, between where Jimmy is and where he wants to be. Here, survival is key, and for many, the emotional life preserver is hip hop. In the absence of nurturing parents, Jimmy and his friends--cool and charasmatic Future, optimistic dreamer Sol, aspiring activist DJ Iz and slow but steady Cheddar Bob--have created their own family. Jimmy and his "crew" (Three One Third), live on hopes of getting their "big break" while struggling to eke out a living at their dead end day jobs. At night, they feed their dreams in the hip hop clubs where the city's best rappers battle each other with abusive rhymes that are wielded like weapons. Here, words are meant to wound and victory belongs to the quick-witted.
For more about 8 Mile and the 8 Mile Blu-ray release, see 8 Mile Blu-ray Review published by Jeffrey Kauffman on October 27, 2010 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Eminem, Kim Basinger, Brittany Murphy, Mekhi Phifer, Evan Jones, Omar Benson Miller
Director: Curtis Hanson
» See full cast & crew
8 Mile Blu-ray Review
Eminem is amazing in his starring debut.
Reviewed by Jeffrey Kauffman, October 27, 2010
On April 7, 1970, Hollywood gathered in all its glittering resplendence for the Academy Awards for films made in 1969. It was the year John Wayne took home his "career" Oscar, and the year that tongues wagged when the Best Picture statuette went to the once and future X-rated Midnight Cowboy. But let's take just a moment to peruse the Best Original Song category. The nominees that year were "Come Saturday Morning" from The Sterile Cuckoo, which had become the last significant chart hit for 1960's male vocal group The Sandpipers; "Jean," from The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, which had charted in the version by its celebrated composer-lyricist, Rod McKuen; the title song from True Grit, which became a minor hit for co-star Glen Campbell but which was an "easy listening" staple on radio of the time in many instrumental cover versions; "What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life?," from The Happy Ending, which really hadn't made much of a commercial impact at the time, but which has gone on to be recognized as one of the supreme achievements of composer Michel Legrand and the ineffable lyricists Marilyn and Alan Bergman; and the Top 10 hit which took home the Oscar that year, Bacharach and David's jaunty "Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head," from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Never again was the Best Song category to be filled with five popular or at least critically acclaimed songs of this stature, and it marked the passing of an era. For literally decades, the Oscar nominees for Best Song included one standard after another, whether or not any individual song brought home the trophy. Sometime spend a few minutes perusing the nominees from the 1930's through that halcyon year of 1970 and I promise you will be astounded at the number of classic songs which got Oscar's notice.
Of course times and tastes change, and I'm probably dating myself by saying I prefer songs with a poetic lyric and hummable melody. Though there were notable exceptions to the decline in Best Song nominees post-1970, including the wonderfully pretty Disney trifecta of the 1990s, things had gotten positively odd by the advent of the 21st century. Eminem (along with his co-writers) copped the 2002 Oscar for "Lose Yourself," the first time a hip hop song had achieved the honor of winning the statuette, and a couple of years later, an even stranger choice, "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp," certainly signified the passing of the torch to a younger, bawdier Oscar voter. Whatever qualms we older folk may have in lamenting more melodic times gone by, it can't be argued that Eminem's astounding starring debut in 8 Mile (after a cameo in The Wash) delivered a palpable emotional punch, both musically, with Eminem's rapid fire, street smart lyrics set to a pulsating beat, and, perhaps more surprisingly, with his actual performance, which is grounded and as natural as anything that came out of the Strasburg era.
8 Mile is a semi-autobiographical film, probably playing to Eminem's strengths as a musician and actor. Here is assumes the slightly fictionalized character of Jimmy Smith, a kid stuck in a dead end job who has big dreams of making an impact with a hoped for music career. Sound familiar? Of course it does; it's the same cliché ridden idea we've seen since those early Warner musicals where Ruby Keeler "went out there a chorus girl, and came back a star!" But, surprise of surprises, director Curtis Hanson and scenarist Scott Silver invest this film with such a gritty, real feeling ambience of what growing up on the "wrong side" of 8 Mile Road in Detroit must be like, this film is worlds away from any "musical" you've ever seen, whether that be the fantasy laden world of MGM's Golden Era output, or more jaded fare like Fosse's Cabaret. Of course, 8 Mile isn't really a musical, though music is part and parcel of its fabric. This is instead a very intimate family and personal drama, more like the kitchen sink films which populated movie houses back in the 1950s. While it certainly hews to the standard formula of "poor kid making good," 8 Mile manages to bring some life to this well worn and hoary idiom, perhaps against all odds.
8 Mile is a strangely brave film in both its subject matter and its portrayal of the clash between white and black hip hop cultures. Jimmy is the butt of harassment from a black rapping clique, and it's almost comical to see typical gang behavior come down to who can spit out the most inventive rhymes at club showdowns. But 8 Mile twists the stereotypes ever so slightly, especially in the film's denouement, positing the "white trash" Jimmy as the real rapper and the pretense-filled, actually upper crust, Papa Doc (Anthony Mackie) as the outright poseur. 8 Mile also doesn't shirk from the harsh realities of Jimmy's home life, with Kim Basinger turning in a surprisingly nuanced performance as Jimmy's alcoholic mother. The late Brittany Murphy is also on hand as Jimmy's love interest.
Hanson might seem at first glance to be an unusual choice for a subject matter this urban and grimy. Even his seedier subjects, like L.A. Confidential, are often cloaked in an intentionally ironic Hollywood sheen, but here he sheds the glamour and creates a viscerally dark and often depressing world of wounded souls struggling to break free of the shackles imposed on them by both bad choices and, frankly, no choices at all. In fact it's Jimmy's valiant effort to escape his self-imposed resignation to his fate that gives 8 Mile its emotional impact. Eminem inhabits this role in a completely convincing way. He has insisted this really isn't his life story, per se, but he brings a veracity to this portrayal that is gut wrenching and ultimately triumphant.
8 Mile Blu-ray, Video Quality
8 Mile sports an intentionally grainy and gritty image, and this Blu-ray's VC-1 encode, in 1080p and 2.36:1, mimics that look perfectly. A lot of this film is filled with a kind of odd green fluorescent light ambience, and that ghostly pallor gives things a suitably nightmarish sheen a lot of the time. Grain is certainly more than evident, especially in these green-lit and otherwise dark segments, but it's all very natural looking and never devolves into noise levels. This is inarguably a major upgrade from the SD-DVD release, with excellent sharpness and fine detail, and really appealing contrast and exceptional black levels. There are occasionally very minor shimmer issues, typically on hair, but they're few and far between and very transitory. Overall, this is a great looking Blu-ray with a sharp and very well defined image.
8 Mile Blu-ray, Audio Quality
8 Mile is presented with a nice lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track that really only exploits the potential of surround lossless sound in its excellent musical sequences. Thumping bass lines and drum loops fill the low end with a generous amount of "oomph," and fidelity across all frequencies is exceptional. The rest of this film is really rather quiet, with low key dialogue segments filling the bulk of the running time. That means not a whale of a lot of surround activity, but still a fine and very nicely realized track, with clarity and precision. Some of the club scenes finally erupt with a nicely robust amount of surround usage, even without the nonstop underscore. This is a well mixed and nicely detailed track, though it really doesn't contain any knock your socks off immersion.
8 Mile Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Three OK extras are included on this Blu-ray:
8 Mile Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Even if you couldn't care less about rap culture and hip hop, you'll most likely find 8 Mile to be an involving and compelling film experience. Eminem delivers a blistering performance, and the supporting cast is uniformly excellent. The biggest surprise here may in fact be director Curtis Hanson, who really gives a palpable feel of what lower class Detroit is like. Highly recommended.
8 Mile: Other Editions
8 Mile Blu-ray, News and Updates
• Today on Blu-ray - April 14th - April 14, 2009
As a rapper, Eminem was able to defy the odds and rise to the top of music charts with his explosive lyrics and memorable beats. It was no surprise when he was picked to play Jimmy "B-Rabbit" Smith in '8 Mile', a story based heavily on his past and humble beginnings. ...
• 8 Mile Back on Blu-ray Release Schedule - February 19, 2009
Universal Studios Home Entertainment has announced that the Eminem film '8 Mile' is now back on their Blu-ray release schedule, set to hit store shelves on April 7th. Originally scheduled for release last November, the title was delayed in order to coincide with ...
• 8 Mile Blu-ray Delayed - November 18, 2008
According to various retailers, the upcoming Universal Studios Home Entertainment Blu-ray release of Eminem's '8 Mile' has been been delayed from its original November 18th release date. The semi-autobiographical film will now come to the high definition format ...
» Show more related news posts for 8 Mile Blu-ray
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