Best Video Film & Cultural Center’s seven-movie, Oscar-oriented film series continues on Monday, Jan. 25 with a screening of “Straight Outta Compton.” Each screening starts at 7 PM and admission is $7.
“Straight Outta Compton” tells the story of the rise of Los Angles rap group N.W.A., which broke through in the late 1980s by delivering hard-hitting rhymes offering a street-level view of Black life in the L.A. Compton neighborhood. It’s a tale of violent drug dealing, oppressive policing, ambitious and creative musicians, and shady managers and record label honchos.
New York Times reviewer Manohla Dargis writes:
[The opening scene]— a churn of menacing theater and darting action — seduces you with its noirish vibe while laying down a few recurring themes, including the urgent refrain that black lives are at stake. That melody wends through the movie, which shares its title with the group’s 1988 record and tracks a fistful of upstarts who — with beats, smarts, corrosive poetry and powerful rhetoric — helped introduce gangster rap to an alternately freaked-out and receptive world. It’s a story driven by classic tensions: struggle and triumph, division and conquest, group and individual. In some meaningful ways, it is as familiar a bootstraps account as “The Social Network,” David Fincher’s dramatization of Mark Zuckerberg’s ascendancy, even if “Straight Outta Compton” is also about black art and autonomy as means of resistance.
But, unlike “The Social Network,” “Straight Outta Compton” was mostly—more on that in a moment—shut out of Oscar nominations. And the lack of attention by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences to “Straight Outta Compton”—as well as other films by Black filmmakers such as Ryan Coogler or featuring prominent performances by Black actors like Idris Elba—has engendered a controversy trending under the hastag #oscarsowhite.
A New York Times roundtable discussion of the controversy between critics A.O. Scott, Manohla Dargis and Wesley Morris was prefaced thusly:
Are these the whitest Oscar nominations ever? Or just the most recent Academy Award whiteout? For the second year in a row, the nominations failed to recognize any minority actors. Movies about black lives like “Creed” and “Straight Outta Compton” did receive recognition, but their nominations were for either white writers (“Compton”) or a white performer (Sylvester Stallone in “Creed”). The black directors of each movie along with their nonwhite actors were shut out.
Director Spike Lee and actress Jada Pinkett Smith—wife of Will Smith, not nominated for his role in “Concussion”—announced that they would boycott the Oscar ceremony in protest.
Come to Best Video Film & Cultural Center on Monday, Jan. 25, to watch “Straight Outta Compton” and consider these questions.
Watch a trailer for “Straight Outta Compton”:
Jan. 25: “Straight Outta Compton”
Feb. 1: “The Martian”
Feb. 8: “Sicario”
Feb. 15: “Suffragette”
Feb. 22: “99 Homes”
• Thursday, Jan. 21. WORLD MUSIC/FOLK: DR. CATERWAUL’S CADRE OF CLAIRVOYANT CLAPTRAPS
• Friday, Jan. 22. INDIE ROCK: THE FURORS, JACKET THOR
• Monday, Jan. 25. OSCAR SERIES FILM SCREENING: “STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON”
• Wednesday, Jan. 27. SURF ROCK: THE CLAMS; SHADOW PUPPETS: KIM MIKENIS, THE HUMAN LIGHT BOX
• Thursday, Jan. 28. BLUEGRASS: THE DUDLEY FARM STRING BAND
• Friday, Jan. 29. NHV REMEMBERS DAVID BOWIE—THE EARLY YEARS (1964-1987)
• Monday, Feb. 1. OSCAR SERIES FILM SCREENING: “THE MARTIAN”
• Wednesday, Feb. 3. YIDDISH SWING/JAZZ VOCALS: THE SELTZER SISTERS of the NU HAVEN KAPELYE
• Thursday, Feb. 4. AMERICAN PRIMITIVE GUITAR: SWAMP YANKEE, ALEXANDER
• Friday, Feb. 5. INDIE SINGER-SONGWRITER: MERCY CHOIR, PAGEANT DOVE
• Sunday, Feb. 7. BLUEGRASS JAM 2-5 PM (FREE)
• Monday, Feb. 8. OSCAR SERIES FILM SCREENING: “SICARIO”
• Friday, Feb. 12. ROCK: HAPPY ENDING
• Monday, Feb. 15. OSCAR SERIES FILM SCREENING: “SUFFRAGETTE”
• Wednesday, Feb. 17. ACOUSTIC BLUES/FOLK: DITTYMACK
• Thursday, Feb. 18. JAZZ: THE MONK PROJECT BAND
• Friday, Feb. 19. GUITARISTS/SINGER-SONGWRITERS: RANDY COLLINS, IAN ETHAN CASE
• Monday, Feb. 22. OSCAR SERIES FILM SCREENING: “99 HOMES”
• Friday, Feb. 26. INDIE ROCK: PROCEDURE CLUB
• Thursday, Mar. 3. SINGER-SONGWRITER: JOY IKE
• Friday, Mar. 4. JAZZ: JOVAN ALEXANDRE
• Friday, Mar. 11. ACOUSTIC GUITAR: SHAWN PERSINGER
• Thursday, Mar. 24. ROCK: PARKER’S TANGENT
• Wednesday, Mar. 30. INDIE ROCK/SINGER-SONGWRITER: EUGENE GALLAGHER, WESTERN ESTATES
• Thursday, Mar. 31. SINGER-SONGWRITER: FRANK CRITELLI