US, 2017, 109 minutes, Colour.
Danielle Macdonald, Bridget Everett, Siddharth Dhananjay, Mamoudou Athie, Cathy Moriarty.
Directed by Geremy Jasper.
This is definitely a film for audiences rapt in Rap.
While Rap is an American phenomenon, especially developed by African-Americans?, it has spread in more recent years right throughout the world, many indigenous groups drawing on the traditions of Rap to explore ideas and feelings in the lyrics and the rhythms.
Basically, this is a familiar story about young people with musical ambitions, developing their talent, spreading their hopes, experiencing setbacks, working through them to achieve some kind of success. It has been seen as the foundation for many films about singers and musicians. This time about Rap. The director of the film is obviously an enthusiast because he has contributed to many of the songs throughout the film.
Patti is a young woman living in New Jersey with her mother and grandmother. She is played by Australian actress, Danielle Macdonald, and one might she is in the tradition of Rebel Wilson. And she loves rap, composing songs, practising, getting a few local gigs. She is joined by a young man who works in a local pharmacy, Indian background, who is enthusiastic as she is, even more so in performance. The other member of the group, by contrast, is a rather laconic African-American?, replete with facial rings, who goes under the name of Bastard field, is Bob.
Patti works as a caterer, fairly successful in a restaurant but then going out to cater for various functions – including a dinner for a celebrated rap artist, slipping him the CD that she and her group have made, he proving to be an arrogant snob. She is disheartened and prepared to give up. At home, there is a crisis with her grandmother, with whom she is great friends (Cathy Moriarty) having a stroke and then dying. Her mother (Bridget Everett) as they might say is a tough broad, a big strong woman, a talent for belting out a song, which she does in a local club – but finds her moment at the culmination of the film in joining Patti in song.
The film fills in the background of life in the suburbs of New Jersey, indicating the this is not necessarily the place to build a musical career. However, Patti does get an opportunity to revive her group, apologise to the others for her harsh treatment of them, gets her mother to dye her hair, dresses up, goes to a local club to perform in a competition. The group is on its way…
1. The specific niche audience for this film? Lovers of rap? The effect of the film on those not keen on rap music? An American story, New Jersey – universal?
2. The New Jersey settings, the suburbs, the cities, homes, clubs, the streets, bars, catering events, wealthy clients? The ordinary background, shops and pharmacies? The hut in the woods? The hospital? Real/unreal?
3. Rap music, the genre, origins? Popularity in the United States? African- Americans? White Americans? The rhythms, verbal skills and rhymes, the use of language, music and accompaniment? Topics, the origins, African- American, social issues? Extending rap to such artists as Patty herself?
4. The focus on rap? The director of the film, and his contribution to the rap compositions? The performances, the range, the audiences and their response? Rehearsal sequences? The rap star, his mansion, catering, his drink, his snobbery and snapping of Patty? The forming of the group, rehearsals, their zest, making the record, giving them away in the streets? Patty at the bar mitzvah, the catering, encountering the rap artist? The later opportunity? The ups and downs of the performers? And the finale?
5. The ordinary story of musicians and their hopes, New Jersey, Patty as a character, her relationship with her mother, the mother as strong, performer? Her song in the bar, the performance at the end? Doing Patty’s hair? The men in her life? Her injury in the club, on crutches with the finale? The grandmother, tough, supporting Patty, her stroke, in the hospital, her death? The funeral – and Nearer my God to Thee?
6. Ray, the catering firm, his attitude towards Patty, her proving herself, her hard work, going to the mansion, the snobbery of the staff? Her ability to make the absinthe drink? Taking it to the star, his reaction, the CD, his humiliating her? Her being upset, leaving, loss of confidence in her career?
7. The other members of the group, Bob, African- American, his rings, nose and mouth? Quiet? Musical skills, life in the hut? Laconic towards Patty? Performance, with Patty, the emotions, sex and the relationship? His leaving, the return, the bond?
8. The Indian background of the other performer, his zest, performance, costume? His reaction to Patty, the group, that CDs? The breakup of the group? His work at the pharmacy, Patty coming to buy things, discussion with him? His being hurt by the breakup, yet his return?
9. Patty, going down in self-esteem, the phone call from the rap artist, meeting her friends, getting her hair done, going to the club, her nerves? Going on stage, performing, her mother joining her?
10. The group, the hopes? Being oneself, fulfilling ambitions?