Ideas simply flow around DJay (Terrence Howard) a philosopher of sorts who waxes prophetic to whomever will listen. But this Socrates isn't from the hoity-toity world of togas Grecian gods and flowing wine. No DJay is a shrewd pimp from the sweat-drenched southern streets of Memphis. Living on the fringe of society he hustles his women from his car and wonders often out loud what happened to all the big dreams he had of making in the music business. But when he runs into an old friend Key (Anthony Anderson) a sound engineer with similar aspirations a light bulb goes on. DJay starts to write down his freestyle raps and teams up with Key and Shelby (D.J. Qualls) a church musician with a beat machine to lay down bass-thumping crunk tracks full of heart and soul. Suddenly DJay's whole attitude changes much to the surprise of the women in his life including Shug (Taraji P. Henson) and Nola (Taryn Manning). So much so that they too get caught up in DJay's flow and set out to help him. DJay knows it's now or never. He knows he's gonna have to hustle like he's never hustled before if he's ever going to break out and live his dream.
Terrence Howard is one of those quintessential character actors whose name you can never remember but whose enigmatic and superb performances--as well as his pair of mesmerizing eyes--you can never forget. He's played a fellow pushed to the edge in Crash a smooth jazz player in Ray and even a biker boy in Biker Boyz. Now it's his turn to be in the limelight. He is simply astounding in Hustle & Flow playing the sometimes dangerous sometimes kind DJay as a guy on the edge--whatever that edge may be fame or disaster. Whether he wants it or not this is going to put Howard on the map toward movie--and possible Oscar--stardom. Of course Howard is also assisted by a superlative supporting cast. In the women's corner Manning (8 Mile) as DJay's top earner Nola and Henson (Baby Boy) as his former "go-to" girl sidelined with a pregnancy turn in performances of a lifetime. Henson's especially exceptional: her innately sweet and giving nature influences DJay in ways he never imagined. Anthony Anderson who has been scoring major points for his malevolent turn on TV's The Shield continues his dramatic break from inane comedies (thank GOD!) as Key the voice of reason in DJay's wild world. Also holding his own is Qualls (Road Trip) the "skinny white boy" who still knows a thing or two about crunk. And once again rapper-turned-actor Ludacris makes a memorable cameo appearance as a former Memphis boy who makes it big in the hip-hop world only to turn his back on the ones who helped him get there. Kudos all around.
Like many well-made independent films before it Hustle & Flow is a testament to passion--a fervent vision from a filmmaker who has not only lived the life he's so lovingly recreating but who also wholly believes in its virtues. First-time writer-director Craig Brewer who hails from the same Memphis streets creates Hustle & Flow straight from his heart. Through his poignant script and unfaltering gritty and grainy vision Brewer gets everyone pumped up." This is a Memphis story--a movie about making music by any means necessary " Brewer explains. "Music has been our common love and language. It's our chance to take our pain our struggle our tools and put it into something that has a beat raw and unfiltered." Director John Singleton was so enamored of the script's pulse which introduces us to the world of crunk--a subdivision of southern hip-hop--that he personally financed and produced the film. Also duly impressed were the folks at the esteemed Sundance Film Festival who handed the film its Audience Award back in February. Memphis crunk rapper Al Kapone who provides two of DJay's most memorable tracks "Hustle & Flow" and "Whoop That Trick " adds "We've got such a deep history of music out of this city from Stax to Elvis to rock-and-roll to the blues…we always knew there was something here but we were never able to carry the torch. We always had this energy wanting to bust out--we wanted to be heard and be recognized." And now it can. Hustle & Flow will crunk your world.
Shooting on the romantic adventure film Beyond Borders starring Angelina Jolie will begin Thursday in northern Thailand. Co-producer Lloyd Phillips told The Associated Press on Wednesday that main filming on the movie will wrap up following about five weeks of shooting in the country. The Thai locations will stand in for Cambodia in the 1980s during the devastating rule of the Khmer Rouge. In the film, Jolie plays a married American socialite in London who falls in love with an idealistic doctor played by Clive Owen. Filming began in December, with previous shooting done in Namibia, standing in for Ethiopia, and Montreal, standing in for London and Chechnya. Beyond Borders, directed by GoldenEye's Martin Campbell, is expected to be released around Christmas.
It's absolute rubbish. That's what Madonna's spokeswoman told Reuters about media reports that the pop icon had made a series of unreasonable demands before taking to the stage for Up For Grabs debuting next month in London. Recent press reports claimed Madonna demanded a raised stage to stop fans from rushing her, theater staff were told not to have eye contact with her and cast members were told not to call her "Madge." Up For Grabs debuts in London May 23.
Noah Wyle, ER's handsome Dr. John Carter, and his wife, Tracy, are expecting their first child in November, the AP reports. Wyle, 30, met Tracy Wyle, a makeup artist, on the set of The Myth of Fingerprints in 1996. They became engaged on Valentine's Day in 1999 and have been married for about two years.
Supermodel Claudia Schiffer will marry her boyfriend, British producer Matthew Vaughn, before the end of the year, Ananova.com reports. Schiffer's mother reportedly told Germany's Bunte magazine that rumors of the couple's split were false and that her daughter will "marry within the next six months." Schiffer, the one-time companion of magician David Copperfield, and Vaughn, who produced Guy Ritchie's films Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch, live together in London's Notting Hill.
Former Beverly Hills, 90210 star Jason Priestley will drive for Kelley Racing in the Indy Racing Infiniti Pro Series, the AP reports. The 32-year-old actor has competed in several racing series before and has worked as a TV commentator at Indy Racing League races.
Pippi, Ozzy Osbourne's little black Pomeranian, is missing. A regular fixture on the MTV series The Osbournes, Pippi has apparently been lost for two months. According to MTV.com, the family is offering a $500 reward for any information leading to the dog's retrieval.
In the Biz
Billy Bob Thornton has been cast in the title role of Terry Zwigoff's Bad Santa, Variety reports. The Dimension Films comedy, which is set for a Christmas 2003 release, follows two con men who travel to malls dressed as Santa and his elf.
Darren Star, the creator of HBO's successful comedy Sex and the City, will direct a film adapted from the book Diary of a Manhattan Call Girl: A Nancy Chan Novel by Tracy Quan for Sony's Revolution Studios. The book, based on Quan's Salon.com column, centers on the diary of a call girl working on Manhattan's Upper East Side, Variety reports.
Harrison Ford and Josh Hartnettare in talks to star in another Revolution Studios project about a pair of cops who become involved in a crime that revolves around the music business, Variety reports. The untitled police drama will be helmed by Ron Shelton, who wrote and directed White Men Can't Jump and Tin Cup, and is set to begin production this fall.
CBS chief Leslie Moonves said Tuesday the network likely would not air the Robert Urich movie Not in Our House because of its rough subject matter. According to Reuters, Urich plays a pedophile in a story about a family a year after an incestuous relationship comes to light. The film co-stars Meredith Baxter.
Francophone Celine Dion will headline this year's Billboard Latin Music Awards in Miami Beach, Fla., on May 12, the AP reports. The Canadian singer's song "My Heart Will Go On" became the first and only English-language single to top the Billboard Hot Latin Tracks chart. Dion will join previously announced performers Marc Anthony, Jaci Velasquez and Thalia.
Will Smith may have walked away from this year's Academy Awards empty-handed, but the rapper-turned-actor hasn't lost steam. According to MTV.com, Smith's next album will hit stores on June 25 and will feature two singles from Men in Black 2. Smith has not released new material since Willennium in 1999.
Rosie O'Donnell presented Gene Wilder with the first-ever Roche Beauty of Giving Award on Wednesday at the Waldorf-Astoria hotel in New York. The award was handed out as part of the Cosmetic Executive Women's Beauty Awards. Wilder is the founder of Gilda's Club, a support network named after his wife, Gilda Radner, who died of ovarian cancer in 1989. O'Donnell also praised the beauty industry's commitment to charities that support women with cancer.
Warren Beatty and Kevin Spacey will be honored at this year's San Francisco Film Festival. According to the BBC News, Beatty is being awarded the Akira Kurosawa Award for lifetime achievement in film directing, while Spacey is being honored with an acting award. The festival opens today and closes on May 2.
Science fiction writer Damon Knight died Monday at a hospital in Eugene, Ore., of age-related causes, the AP reports. He was 79. Knight, whose final novel Humpty Dumpty: An Oval was published in 1996, was also an influential teacher, critic and organizer, helping to found the Science Fiction Writers of America. He also served as editor for the science fiction anthology series Orbit. Knight is survived by his wife, two daughters, two sons, two stepsons and seven grandchildren.
Jimi Hendrix's father, James Al Hendrix, died in his sleep at home Wednesday after a long battle with congestive heart failure, the AP reports. He was 82. Hendrix, a former Golden Gloves boxer, worked as a plumber, electrician and gardener before retiring in 1979 due to poor health. Hendrix is survived by daughter Janie and son Leon.
The second annual Women's Film Festival showcases the work of four burgeoning female filmmakers: Nicola Hart, Carol Mayes, Dani Minnick and Paula Walker. Host Penny Marshall introduces each film and talks to all four directors about their work, aspirations and creative influences.