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8 MILE

An insolent, secretly sensitive rapper must conquer his stage fright before he can show Detroit and the rest of the world that he is an artistic genius.


CAST: Eminem , Kim Basinger, Mekhi Phifer, Brittany Murphy, Evan Jones, Omar Benson Miller, Eugene Byrd, De'Angelo Wilson, Taryn Manning, Michael Shannon, Chloe Greenfield, Anthony Mackie, Nashawn Breedlove

DIRECTOR: Curtis Hanson

"As a camera subject, Eminem is resistant material--he has the general aspect of a walking hard-on--but he's fascinating, too, and his way of withholding himself is both a natural reflex and a method of teasing and dominating everyone else...Like the fighting in 'Rocky' and the dancing in 'Saturday Night Fever,' the rap songs in '8 Mile' possess a redemptive power. They release intolerable feelings of disgust, the fear of remaining a loser forever...In the tradition of 'Rocky' and 'Fever,' the movie is a shrewdly engineered piece of proletarian pop--a story of triumph--but, like Eminem's enraged lyrics, '8 Mile' has its own kind of vile candor...The movie says, 'Out of this junk, out of the self-hatred and anger that grow from living amid junk, rappers will make their art.'" --David Denby, The New Yorker

"Directed with superlative grace by Curtis Hanson from an uneven script by Scott Silver, the film takes place in the Detroit slums...The movie is positioned to be an anthem for finding one's true voice and making the right choices in life. Luckily, that's not all it's up to. What it's really about is the euphoria that talent can bring to those who are possessed by it. That euphoria lights up the screen. Eminem isn't a trained actor, but even when he's not in motion, he never goes slack...Who could have predicted that a rap movie starring Eminem would, at its best, be one of the year's sweetest joyrides?" --Peter Rainer, New York

"O.K., so I'm the wrong audience for this teenage junk. To me, rap is crap. Big news. And two hours of torture about the empty posturing of a no-talent loser who dreams of becoming the next Tupac Shakur does not fit my definition of upward mobility... I'm staying home with Cole Porter and the Gershwins...it seems like a shameless biopic about Eminem himself, but look closer and you'll detect a warmed-over, recycled Rocky in a high-speed microwave...The thought of Eminem as a movie star is horrible enough, but even if a lack of better judgment sentences you to two hours of this punishment, the sight of Eminem vomiting is not my idea of a 'Get Out of Jail Free' card." --Rex Reed, The New York Observer

"... watching Curtis Hanson's gritty and electrifying '8 Mile,' the first thing you notice about Eminem, the most scaldingly powerful artist in pop music today, is how vulnerable he looks... It's hard to tell, at a glance, if his jittery presence is a reflection of all the anger he's got pent up inside or of how nervous he is about letting it out...Eminem holds his aggression back, projecting the scurrilous, soft-eyed yearning of a hip-hop James Dean...All of the performers are terrific..." --Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly

"The film's star, Eminem, doesn't appear to have a great deal of range, but he can play himself. Even though the protagonist is named Jimmy Smith, the thoughtful '8 Mile' is a raw version of the rapper's own story...maybe the project doesn't make sense in the abstract, but once you submit to it, it works." -- Elvis Mitchell, The New York Times

"For the final 15 minutes, viewers have the electrifying experience of watching Eminem do what he does best, improvising in a rap contest that constantly ups the ante in creative insults, personal invective and tribal provocation. But the payoff comes after an hour and a half of a long, criminally tiresome setup…director Curtis Hanson (who directed the overrated ‘L.A. Confidential’ and the underrated ‘Wonder Boys’) squanders the opportunity to make the ‘Raging Bull’ of rap movies. Instead he opts for foursquare melodrama, taking viewers through the lumpenproletariat squalor of Rabbit's home life, a disastrous love affair with a would-be model (played by an authentically skanky-looking Brittany Murphy) and the rapper's tendency to freeze up when he's in front of an audience…For some reason Hanson has decided to make a rap movie in which fists fly more often than words do." --Ann Hornaday, The Washington Post

"What makes ‘8 Mile’ actually fascinating is its depiction of a poor urban America in which issues of race have been submerged by class and diluted by the total cultural triumph of rap…Eminem is no Madonna: He's perfectly convincing within a limited range, as you would expect from his performances in music video and on record…Kim Basinger, sad to say, is woefully unconvincing as trailer trash - her perfect Hollywood haircut doesn't help." --Jonathan Foreman, The New York Post

There are a lot of stale—and nefarious—clichés in ‘8 Mile,’ but most of the time they're overwhelmed by the pulsing, grinding, hopped-up camerawork and the soulful star turn of Eminem. This is basically a new-style boxing movie, only the matches happen in a giant industrial warehouse in Detroit called the Shelter, and the punches are the lyrics—or, more accurately, the rhyming insults—of the raps…Eminem has a good camera face—at once soft and hard, woozy and defiant, like a punk Robert Mitchum…At its best, the movie presents a universe in which everyone raps for his or her dignity…The movie is at its most retro whenever Brittany Murphy shows up in her red-leather minis and fish-net stockings to tempt the hero away from the work he must do. Murphy is a terrific actress: It will be a shame if she becomes a star via this embarrassing siren turn." --David Edelstein, Slate