The Independent Film Forum: 3. Notorious

Our new film forum is your chance to pass judgement on a recent release. Here's a selection of your views on this tale of Nineties hip-hop.
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Jim Toynbee: It started well, with a pretty interesting and honest portrayal of Smalls as a nerdy and picked-on school loser, then a charting of his stuttering rise to stardom. However, I was disappointed to find that the film descended into a tabloid account of the media-hyped East vs West Coast "beef". It made it seem more like a PR project than an insightful account of the life of one of hip-hop's most important figures.



Remington Alton: I suspect, in fact I know, that 'Notorious' is not a very good film. As might be expected from a biopic co-produced by the rapper's mum (Voletta Wallace) and his best mate (Sean Combs), there's a fair amount of glossing-over of the rapper's life story going on. And there's far too much casual misogyny and glorifying of the gangsta lifestyle here, which feels a little old-hat. But Jamal Woolard puts in an engaging performance as Biggie and Angela Bassett as Voletta is fantastic.



Cellubefront: The commoditising power of money is the real protagonist of this film and its degenerating effects are exposed in their almighty cruelty; a golden chain and a woman are depicted as equally interchangeable for they are two objects – that's what the "free country" where he was born has taught Christopher Wallace. It's just a movie... with a ridiculous finale that even the tightest Christian belt would find hard to believe.



Menlo Byrne: A disappointment, though hardly surprising... I was hardly expecting it to be a big warts-and-all exposé but it would have been nice to get more insight. Obviously the best thing about it was the music; but once the film attempts to go beyond the music, it's riddled with clichés that over-simplify everything. The actors playing Biggie and Lil' Kim are strong but the portrayal of Puffy (or Diddy or whatever) is weak and you can pretty much only recognise Tupac because he's wearing a "thug life" hat.

Next week: Do chick flicks make you smile or do they make your blood boil? The next film up for discussion in The Independent Film Forum is 'Confessions of a Shopaholic'. Air your views at www.independent.co.uk/filmforum and we'll print the best ones next week.

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