“I felt I really had to do this film because rap music saved my life,” explains Ice-T, narrator and co-director of this glossy documentary which celebrates the men and women who propelled the lyrical art form into the musical mainstream
Almost 50 interview subjects are shoe-horned into 111 minutes, from old skool legend Grandmaster Caz, who surmises: “Hip hop didn’t invent anything, hip hop re-invented everything,” to a typically chilled Snoop Dogg, claiming to get his creative juices flowing by smoking “a bit of weed” and surrounding himself with beautiful women.
Electrifying scenes of rap’s biggest names in full flow, reciting not only their own lyrics but also favourite phrases by peers, offer a new-found appreciation of these men’s wordsmithery and verbal dexterity. And it is largely a patriarchal world, with brief nods to the rapping sisterhood, represented here by Cherry James (one half of Salt-n-Pepa) and MC Lyte.
The film is clearly a labour of love for Ice-T, who criss-crosses America to interview friends within the industry. However, not everything goes smoothly, such as some filming on the streets of New York with Q-Tip, which is interrupted by a curious passer-by. “Homey, you see the camera? Keep it movin’!” begs Ice-T.
Popular figures such as 50 Cent, Jay-Z and Queen Latifah don’t warrant a mention but Ice-T and co-director Andy Baybutt embrace other icons including Chuck D from Public Enemy, Dr Dre and Eminem, who seems genuine when he claims that rap “is the one thing I think I have that I can do well”.
Ice-T is far more flattering. “Whoever thought one of the greatest rappers of all time would be a white cat?” he purrs. Who indeed...
On limited release
In Your Hands (Contre Toi) (15): Almost two years after In Your Hands screened in the French Revolution section of the London Film Festival, Lola Doillon’s slow-burning thriller lays siege to selected cinemas.
The luminous Kristin Scott Thomas continues her ascent to European cinema royalty as dispassionate surgeon Anna, who returns to work after a holiday but something has clearly unsettled her
Eventually, she walks into a police station and makes a disturbing statement about being held hostage by grieving husband Yann Ochberg (Pio Marmai) because he holds her responsible for the death of his wife following a Caesarean section. However, Anna’s carefully worded version of events to the police is not the whole story.
Stockholm syndrome, loneliness and despair kindle sparks of sexual attraction between captor and captive, nudging Doillon’s film into volatile emotional territory.
I Am Bruce Lee (15): On July 20, 1973, the world mourned the sudden death of martial arts legend Bruce Lee. In subsequent years, fans and theorists have suggested that the actor faked his demise or was the victim of an elaborate conspiracy.
Almost 40 years later, film-maker Pete McCormack celebrates the enduring legacy of Lee with this documentary that chronicles his meteoric rise from Chinatown in San Francisco to the bright lights of Hollywood, and explores his pivotal role in popularising Chinese martial arts movies in the West.
Lee’s wife Linda Lee Cadwell and his daughter Shannon Lee provide fascinating contributions interwoven with archive footage and testimonies from celebrities, actors and sportsmen such as Mickey Rourke and Kobe Bryant.
Lola Versus (15): Twenty-nine year-old Lola (Greta Gerwig) is working tirelessly towards her PhD while enjoying a long-time romance with handsome artist Luke (Joel Kinnaman) in the swanky loft apartment they share in New York. Just three weeks before their wedding, which was to be the happiest day of Lola’s life and provide her with the perfect springboard to turn 30, Luke dumps his bride-to-be. She struggles to make sense of this abrupt change of heart and looks to her hip and extremely loving parents (Bill Pullman, Debra Winger) for answers.
Without any glimmers of hope in sight and her biological clock ticking louder and faster than ever, Lola turns to her best friends Henry (Hamish Linklater) and Alice (Zoe Lister-Jones), who inspire her to embark on a madcap journey of self-discovery.
Revenge of the Electric Car (PG): In 2006, film-maker Chris Paine made Who Killed The Electric Car?, a fascinating documentary about the rise and fall of one of the most clean-running cars on the planet, the EV-1.
Now he’s back with a new documentary narrated by Tim Robbins. The premise is the electric car is on the brink of a revival and Paine is granted unprecedented access to General Motors, Nissan and Tesla Motors. Paine examines the data to paint a rosy picture for the future of electric vehicles.