Directed by Doug Pray.
Release Year: 2001
Review Date: 3/9/02
Mmm...the daytime matinee. What is it about
the daytime matinee that is so sexy? The cheaper prices? The wider
availability of seats? The fact that when you get done with the
movie, you've got the whole day ahead of you?
That's what happened today when my friend
Andy "Strippers or Bust" Kellam and I went over to the Lumiere to
catch the DJ documentary "Scratch." Andy and I both love hip-hop,
so seeing this film was a match made in heaven. But, while the
movie is good, it ultimately will disappoint the hard-core fan.
The 90-minute film follows the path from the
early days of DJs in the late 70s and early 80s, with interviews
with some of the early players like Afrika Bambaataa, Grand Master
DXT (the turntablist for Herbie Hancock's "Rock It"), and Grand
Master Theodore, who is widely credited with being the first to
intentionally scratch records for show. Then, the film
fast-forwards to the early 90s, and dedicates most of the final
two-thirds of the film to Mix Master Mike and Q-Bert, two of the
Invisible Scratch Piklz (pickles) that are apparently recognized as
the best hip-hop DJs in the country. The film also goes in-depth
with Bay Area and New York City DJs, on topics such as "digging"
(searching through record stores and crates for the next great
record), "battling" (DJ competitions) and "turntablism."
For both the hard-core fan and the casual
observer, there is some really great stuff here in "Scratch", mostly
coming in the form of the DJ's performances at competitions or in
their respective in-home studios. Just watching some of these guys
work is incredible stuff, no matter how many times you may have seen
some of these highlights before. Plus, watching the "digging"
portion of the film was mesmerizing to me, because I can't fathom
having a record collection that numbers over 100,000, like a couple
of the DJs in the film.
But, for the hard-core fan, there just isn't
much you haven't heard about before, and sadly, you won't learn too
much by seeing this film. I would consider myself a long-time fan
of hip-hop culture and rap music--by no means a scholar--but I have
heard of all of the major DJs interviewed in this film save for two
from Atlanta that seem to be included only because one of them is a
woman. The film seems just a bit dated; one of the taglines for
this film is that "the turntable now outsells the guitar", which is
true but has BEEN true for five or six years now. Around the time
that I was graduating from college in 1997, hip-hop was Billboard's
top-selling genre, and it was the most aired music genre on MTV a
year later when alternative music was fading.
The film also runs a little long, which is
saying something given that it is already short at 90 minutes.
Also, it feels like director/editor Doug Pray thought that the
period between Grand Master DXT's Grammy performance with Hancock in
1984 and the Invisible Scratch Piklz' rise in 1990-92 was
non-essential; this leaves for an odd transition and a total lack of
perspective from the older players on the current generation of
hip-hoppers. Something can be said for continuity, after all.
This film will both entertain and educate
the hip-hop newcomer, but for those already familiar with the
culture and the terminology, this one is just so-so.
Comments? Drop me a line at
Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard