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Dolemite Is My Name

For all his cinematic sins, actor Eddie Murphy has made many cool movies. Most would know at least one of his films with ‘Beverley Hills Cop’ a favourite. His motor-mouth style of delivery and gusto in throwing himself into the action fray has made him popular. Based on true events, ‘Dolemite is my Name’ is a perfect vehicle for him. Exploring the life of a determined film-maker, it effectively utilises Murphy’s charisma in every inch of the film’s frame.

Rudy Ray Moore (Eddie Murphy) is a struggling rapper/comedian looking to hit the bigtime. It’s the 1970’s and the time of civil rights and blaxploitation movies. With ‘Shaft’ being one of the most popular in that genre, Rudy develops his own stage persona of Dolemite into a kung-fu fighting machine. Eager to make the film at any cost, his outrageous ways draw the ire and awe of those around him in equal measures.

Directed by Craig Brewer, ‘Dolemite is my Name’ is in the style of similar films such as ‘Ed Wood’ and ‘The Disaster Artist’. Whilst that duo explored film-makers who basically had little talent, ‘Dolemite is my Name’s protagonist had skills making him a charismatic personality. Moore’s infectious enthusiasm to further aim for the stars is vividly seen, with his refusal to never give up oddly inspiring. His comedic/musical style may have been taken from the well of profanity but has made him an influential figure in the rap community.

‘Dolemite is my Name’ wouldn’t work without Eddie Murphy. When he wants to be, he can be a great actor showing genuine emotional range. The rest of the cast give equally excellent performances with the early 70’s bought to lurid life. It’s all reminiscent of ‘Boogie Nights’ – another rags to riches tale set in the same era. The script pulls no punches in revealing the flaws of the lead character successfully drawing you into his strange world full of rough charm and optimistic showmanship.

A solid mix of drama and humour ‘Dolemite is my Name’ is consistently compelling. Rudy Ray Moore lived a full life doing things his way which the film effectively shows. His ability to speak to his audience through his work kept his in good stead despite his occasional excess. Here’s hoping Eddie Murphy finally makes more good quality movies giving his skills a chance to shine for new audiences.

Rating out of 10: 8

CURRENTLY STREAMING ON NETFLIX

Uncut Gems

‘Uncut Gems’ proves again how comedians often make fine dramatic actors. They manage to alternate between masques of humour to a masque of tragedy with equal skill. Whilst seeing an Adam Sandler movie may fill some with dread, when he feels like it he can give a good performance. His previous rare dramatic turn in ‘Punch Drunk Love’ was a revelation. Away from the terrible comedies he usually makes, he’s got it in him to deliver the goods. ‘Uncut Gems’ is a solid Sander experience that won’t send you running for the door.

Battling a gambling addiction, New York gems dealer Howard Ratner (Adam Sandler) is desperate. With his personal and professional life in tatters and deep in debt, Howard wishes for a miracle. This he receives when he discovers a rare cluster of uncut gems. Keen to find a buyer who can solve all his problems, Howard’s troubles are only just beginning as shady characters aim to inflict more misery.

Directed by the Safdie Brothers, ‘Uncut Gems’ explores a life of an emotionally stunted person living in a world of chaos. Howard is a person thriving on this as he struggles with a myriad of personal issues. Sandler conveys the enduring desperation of his role perfectly. Although he may appear an eternal loser, Howard’s continual refusal to never surrender is well realised. It’s a quicksand world he exists in, one that is ably created by a great cast.

‘Uncut Gems’ also sparkles through its occasionally unusual artistic choices. The generally washed out cinematography reflects the hazy world Howard and his cohorts inhabit. The synth based musical score adds a quirky dimension too. It doesn’t always work as it cuts valuable tension to certain scenes but adds a unique flavour to proceedings giving it an edge.

Whilst he may not be on top of many people’s hit parade, Adam Sandler gives a rare compelling performance worth seeing. Like the gems his character handles, ‘Uncut Gems’ may not perfectly shine but it has an individual style. Sandler could do well to break free of his wholly comedic persona and dive into films like ‘Uncut Gems’ making use of a talent he rarely reveals.

Rating out of 10: 7

CURRENTLY STREAMING ON NETFLIX