Movie Review by Dr Kuma
Starring: Tupac Shakur, Biggie Smalls (aka Christopher Wallace)
Director: Nick Broomfield
BIGGIE and TUPAC documentary filmmaker Nick Broomfield is at it again. After stirring up a hornets nest with the excellent if disturbing rockumentary KURT & COURTNEY, he now sets his lens sights on two other very controversial figures, Tupac Shakur and Christopher Wallace aka Biggie Smalls. As with Kurt Cobian, both these musicians met with grizzly ends looking down the barrel of a gun. Whereas Cobian was supposed to have turned the gun on himself (see the film to see why I say supposedly) both Tupac and Biggie were slaughtered by outsiders, or, in other words, as Broomfield stresses, people who seem to be outside the law.
It is a story of two friends who, as artists on rival labels, were manipulated into becoming deadly enemies. It is a sad, sad story, full of misguided people with misguided loyalties, or in the case of certain named rappers, misplaced words leading to a war of nerves. The other players in this modern day tragedy range from the label manager Suge Knight, a host of exceptional teachers and ‘good’ cops who knew the players, to the woman who knew Biggie better than anyone, his mother Voletta Wallace, who’s thoughtful words add real pathos to the piece. There is a huge gulf it seems between the old style ‘apple pie’ cops such as ex-detective Russell Poole to the other officers who are named and shamed in this documentary.
If you are a fan of the music then there will be plenty here for you to mourn. If however, you are interested in finding out how much further you seem to get in America by having a camera crew with you and a certain naive charm, you will find this fascinating. Nick Broomfield is a thinking man’s Lou Thereoux and sometimes you can’t believe how brave or just plain stupid he can be. His off kilter questioning technique and presence really does seem to throw people into being candid when they obviously don’t want to ‘name names’.
Dr Kuma’s verdict: A fascinating picture of two musicians falling foul of power games within an industry and country that promotes ‘gansta’, but allows guilty people to escape the rap.