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GET RICH OR DIE TRYIN' - 2005

SELECT ANOTHER FLICK CHICK MOVIE REVIEW FROM THE FILM CRITICS IN BLUE
J. ThorburnV. AlexanderC. PattersonJ. CorcoranPolly Peluso
Erica Vital

ERICA HECTOR VITAL

GET RICH OR DIE TRYIN'

50 Cent: As American as Apple Pie

By
Erica Hector Vital
Red Rock Review
ericavital@cox.net
ericav@theflickchicks.com

Flick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha Chemplavil

What can be more American than the half dollar?  It's a hard currency minted in silver, embossed with the face of a martyred president who was considered a bounder in his own right, a product of an immigrant family, Irish to boot, rumored to have nefarious connections, charming as hell.  Armed with charisma and illegal weaponry, the legacy of the gentleman pirate, as American as apple pie, continues as there is no current pop product more dedicated to exercising the rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness than rapper turned matinee idol 50 Cent. 

The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha Chemplavil, Get Rich or Die Tryin', 50 cent, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Joy Bryant, Omar Bensen Miller, Tory Kittles, Terrance Howard, Ashley Walters, Marc John Jefferies, Viola Davis, Sullivan Walker, Jim Sheridan

Getting paid and getting laid.  Perhaps this is what the powers that be find so objectionable about the in-your-face ascendance of hip-hop royalty.  The bling is little more than a red cape.  It is the bullfighter himself, the lyric figure of the music maker, the body shaker, that drives neo-cons and old-cons to the FCC and ratings boards with a quickness.  Buff, deeply brown, and lyrically fearless, 50 Cent is not so much as terrifying in his gangsterism as he is threatening to the ideal of untainted Americana.  Fi'ty embodies the pull yourself up by the bootstraps mythology unflinchingly paired with the marketing chutzpah of a Fortune 500 mogul, leaving the mainstream to ask why he has to be so bold with it, so uncompromisingly defiant, as he and his minions floss the trappings of wealth and leisure, boisterously laying claim to the bounteous “booty” of drugs, women, guns, and rims. 

In the hands of Jim Sheridan, director of My Left Foot, In The Name of The Father, and In America, the hotly protested, recently released Get Rich or Die Tryin’ is more than just another gangstah vanity vehicle.  Sheridan, who spurred Daniel Day-Lewis to an Academy Award for Best actor in 1989, has staged an often times dazzling homecoming for Curtis Jackson, aka 50 Cent. 

 The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha Chemplavil, Get Rich or Die Tryin', 50 cent, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Joy Bryant, Omar Bensen Miller, Tory Kittles, Terrance Howard, Ashley Walters, Marc John Jefferies, Viola Davis, Sullivan Walker, Jim Sheridan

We are familiar with the story: black boy, hard streets, single mother.  But Fi’ty, as the young Marcus Jackson, played with a sweetness and charm of his own by Marc John Jeffries, aka Isaiah of Losing Isaiah, has an idyllic life in many ways.  He is immersed in a community that is defined by a loving grandmother, Viola Davis of Antwone Fischer, a ragtag group of friends, a childhood sweetheart who later blooms into a full love interest, (the lithe and lovely Joy Bryant), and a grandfather, (veteran actor Sullivan Walker), whose West Indian lilt is shorthand for a steadfast, loving male figure in Marcus’s life.

He also has a mother like no other in recent film.  Serena Walters, as Fi’ty’s drug slinging moms, Katrina, is no downtrodden stereotype of noble suffering.  If there is a smidgen of truth in the screen depiction, Katrina Jackson was not afraid to go out and get hers.  Fi’ty Cent has alluded to family ties to a Jamaica, Queens drug dynasty, and if it began with this fearless lady, then Fi’ty’s drive and daring are his birthright. 

 The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha Chemplavil, Get Rich or Die Tryin', 50 cent, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Joy Bryant, Omar Bensen Miller, Tory Kittles, Terrance Howard, Ashley Walters, Marc John Jefferies, Viola Davis, Sullivan Walker, Jim Sheridan

Jim Sheridan is a master at shooting strong characters who are in some way marked by longing.  Marcus’s young life is shaped by the absence of a father.  This emotional abyss deepens when street-savvy, Oedipally beautiful Katrina is violently murdered.  With the mother gone and aging grandparents struggling to raise other children-in-crisis in a cramped Queens home, Marcus, burgeoning into a rapping young Caesar, has no choice but to take up the family business, whose creed passed on by brutal drug lord Majestic, Adewale Agbaje, who may or may not be his unnamed progenitor is, “Show no love. Love will get you killed.”

In Get Rich the bustling drug corners are ready to erupt and the dance floor on a Saturday night is a potential killing ground.  The Columbians are bitter rivals to the kingdom that had been erected under the reign of Katrina and a shrewd, politically connected kingpin, Levar, the incomparable Bill Duke.  Duke as an endangered drug monarch who is another possible father to Marcus, and Terrence Howard as Marcus’s trigger-happy back-up, Bama, lend weight to a cast that is sure under Sheridan’s direction. 

Fi’ty himself is surprisingly easy in front of the camera.  There is an awkward moment when in the middle of a particularly tense hold-up scene, Marcus winks at a Columbian boy who is being held under the sights of Bama’s gun. You can almost hear the publicist in the background demanding that the audience be reassured that Fi’ty would not be a party to shooting a civilian, particularly not a member of the hip-hop mad demographic.   But the story, and a lush script written by Brooklyn born Terence Winter, who has written for The Sopranos, do the work of establishing the humanity of a young man who is not a monster but a reflection of the ambiguities, the heartaches, and the fears of any of us who are bold enough to step into life with the ferocity of a 50 Cent.

The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha Chemplavil, Get Rich or Die Tryin', 50 cent, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Joy Bryant, Omar Bensen Miller, Tory Kittles, Terrance Howard, Ashley Walters, Marc John Jefferies, Viola Davis, Sullivan Walker, Jim Sheridan 

Sheridan lights scenes into portraiture—there is a definite affinity for the skin tones, the verbal cues, and the visual markers of this particular corner of African-American culture that pop under the director’s camera.  Sheridan is a lover of mysticism, delighting and despairing over the potential for magic in scenes of birth, rebirth and death.  Magical-realism in such moments as Fi’ty’s infamous shooting is necessary and natural, because the story here is not only the traditional journey of the artist as a young man.  The story of Marcus Jackson is the journey of every marginalized American sprung from the rubble of American imagination, cultivated under its harsh judgments and hard realities, but still raw and brash enough to swagger out of the darkness and into the limelight.

Flick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha ChemplavilFlick Chicks Chick-O-Meter The Flick Chicks, film, video, movie reviews, critics, Judy Thorburn, Victoria Alexander, Polly Peluso, Shannon Onstot, Jacqueline Monahan, Tasha Chemplavil

SELECT ANOTHER FLICK CHICK MOVIE REVIEW FROM THE FILM CRITICS IN BLUE
J. ThorburnV. AlexanderC. PattersonJ. CorcoranPolly Peluso
Erica Vital

 

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